The ending of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is easy to predict: The brave Resistance will beat the First Order. But then again, isn’t that the most boring thing you can imagine? Since Episode IX is also the final episode of the Skywalker saga and the leader of the First Order — Kylo Ren — is the youngest Skywalker left, it’s possible that The Rise of Skywalker could change the trajectory of the Resistance in unexpected ways. If the Resistance is just the Rebel Alliance 3.0, the film will be really limited in what it could accomplish. So, for Rise of Skywalker to work, the Resistance will have to change, and there’s actually some evidence it already has.
Here are three ways Rise of Skywalker could radically alter the Resistance, and in doing so, create a Star Wars movie unlike one we’ve seen before.
Speculative spoilers ahead.
The time jump already means the Resistance is quite different than we remember
The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi both take place over the course of probably like a week or possibly just a few days. But The Rise of Skywalker will begin after a substantial time jump since the end of The Last Jedi. Recently, leaks suggested there’s a new Resistance base on a jungle planet called “Ajan Kloss.” Plus, actor Dominic Monaghan’s recently released costume for the film sure brings to mind those Rebel commandos from Return of the Jedi.
We also know that Rose Tico is now Commander Rose Tico, which is kind of like what happened with Luke in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back; he became Commander Skywalker. The biggest takeaway here is that the Resistance seems to have their shit together in a way they didn’t in the two previous films. The Last Jedi really made it seem like no one was left, but now, a few years later, that’s not the case. So where did all these people come from? The trailer also shows us a shitload of old-school Rebel ships, which means the recruitment for the Resistance must be freaking great by this point.
The Resistance has always been more hardcore than the Rebels, but is that still true?
Part of the backstory of The Force Awakens suggested Leia was too radical for the politics of the New Republic. Sure, she lost some of her public credibility after politicians found out she was Darth Vader’s daughter (in the novel Bloodline), but that hardly matters now, since all those politicians were zapped by the Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens.
But what is the Resistance like after that clear grab for galactic dominance? In Rogue One we saw the intriguing suggestion that aspects of the Rebel Alliance were too brutal and extreme to be publicly acknowledged. And, in a very Saw Gerrera move, one unseen backstory for The Force Awakens had Leia herself develop a superweapon to destroy the First Order. If the Resistance is restoring to more hardcore tactics, this superweapon could shake things up. After all, if the Resistance has to win by becoming just like the First Order, Rey might not be cool with that. And if Kylo Ren thinks the war is getting too crazy, even he might turn away from the First Order.
You could also argue that when Kylo Ren looks at the Starkiller Base firing on those planets in The Force Awakens, it seems as though he’s not totally cool with it. Could Kylo Ren be anti-superweapon? Maybe.
The Resistance could conceivably lose
In the original Star Wars, it was pretty cut and dry that the Rebels were good and the Empire was evil. Since then, the politics have gotten muddier. In the prequels, the Jedi weren’t 100 percent just and wise, and Rogue One essentially demonstrated the Rebels were capable of war crimes. Sure, the Resistance defeating the First Order so everyone can live happily ever after makes sense, but it’s not particularly interesting. In a sense, Kylo Ren had a larger point about the story of Star Wars when he suggested that Rey “let the past die.” If the Resistance is just a one-for-one copy of the Rebellion, then it kind of can’t hope to achieve any kind of lasting peace in the galaxy. This isn’t to say the First Order should take over, because, duh, that would be terrible. But an outright victory for the Resistance doesn’t mean things will automatically get better.
Right now, there are a lot of plot twists in The Rise of Skywalker that we can’t predict with total accuracy. Palpatine is back. Dark Rey will be explained somehow. And in all of that, the band of Rebels struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy might find that the best way to end the wars in the stars is to just stop fighting.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.