Very soon, all your questions about how Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker ends will be answered. If you don’t care about spoilers, those questions can be answered if you stray too far into the gravity wells of Reddit or other pockets of Twitter. So, if you want to be spoiler-free for the next few weeks or so, your best bet is to keep your enthusiasm focused on the old-school films.
If you don’t want to binge the entire classic trilogy before The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters, here are 10 moments from the OG films which will set you up for the themes and specific plot points of the epic grand finale. In terms of time-stamps, we’re using the contemporary versions of the classic films, as found on Disney+.
10. A New Hope (00:33) : Obi-Wan explains the force, lies about Anakin
In terms of exposition, this single scene did more for Star Wars lore than any other. Here, we get Obi-Wan Kenobi’s simple, straightforward explanation for what the Force really is, and nobody has ever done it better. Bonus points for Obi-Wan’s crazy lies about his “good friend” Anakin Skywalker, “the best star pilot in the galaxy” who, as it turns out, accidentally flew straight into a droid control ship when he was nine years old, then in his rowdy early twenties scraped some buzz droids off of ‘ole Obi-Wan’s wing.
9. Return of the Jedi (01:18) “You have a power I could never have…”
As everyone continues to ponder Rey’s mysterious origins, everyone forgets that nobody was asking these questions about Princess Leia back in 1983. Yet, we had a “who is Leia” question answered anyway. Obviously, Luke learns Leia is his sister much earlier in the movie, but when he breaks the news to Leia herself, it’s a much more tender, and interesting scene. Leia says to Luke: “You have a power, I could never have.” Of course, in The Last Jedi, we saw she had learned to use the Force in a big way. Though Carrie Fisher might not have a ton of screen time in The Rise of Skywalker, she’ll almost certainly use the Force.
8. Empire Strikes Back (01:20) “Why, you slimly double-crossing no-good swindler…”
Because Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian, you might be asking yourself, what’s the best Lando scene? The answer is: His very first appearance in Star Wars. What’s so great about this scene is that in less than five minutes, we get the sense that Lando is cool, dangerous, and perhaps most telling, forgiving.
7. A New Hope (1:32:) “Run Luke, Run!”
In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey will almost certainly get some telepathic ghost advice from Luke Skywalker, and if you read the trailers a certain way, maybe Leia, too. So, what’s the first instance of this in the classic movies? That would be the famous moment with Obi-Wan makes a noble sacrifice, only to tell Luke what’s what a few seconds later. One thing we tend to forget about Force ghosts: The very first Force ghost was audio only, and that was just fine.
6. Return of the Jedi (01:31) “It is you who are mistaken…”
The Emperor is back in The Rise of Skywalker, so yeah, you should probably brush upon your Palpatine a little bit beforehand. This scene in Return of the Jedi, where Luke and Palps trade insults, is essential Dark Lord action. It’s also 100 percent a scene in which it’s very clear Palps doesn’t give a shit about dying.
5. Empire Strikes Back (01:03) The Cave
Even if Dark Rey turns out to be Rey’s secret twin Sith sister named Becky, it stills stands to reason that Dark side visions will play a big part of what makes The Rise of Skywalker tick. The trippiest, and perhaps most unique sequence in all of Star Wars is probably when Luke Skywalker fights Vader — and eventually, himself — in the spooky cave on Dagobah. This scene was vaguely homaged in The Force Awakens when Rey touched the lightsaber is Maz Kanata’s castle, so it makes sense to remember the original version of this kind of thing.
4. Return of the Jedi (01:23) “Obi-Wan once thought as you do…”
Everybody remembers that Darth Vader turns back to the Light side of the Force and saves Luke in Return of the Jedi, but what about that cool moment where he sort of apologies to Luke about being such an asshole ahead of time? When Vader says “Obi-Wan once thought as you do,” it’s a heartbreaking moment that really puts a button on the entire saga in one statement of regret. And, nobody sighs like Darth Vader.
3. Empire Strikes Back (00:55) “I’m not afraid!”
In many of the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker, Luke talks a mean game about how “confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi.” So it’s interesting to note that when Luke told Yoda he wasn’t afraid in Episode V, it’s pretty clear he was lying. In fact, the only time Luke seemed totally without fear was at the end of Return of the Jedi and later in The Last Jedi, when he doesn’t even care if Kylo Ren hates him.
2. A New Hope (1:18) “Somebody’s got to save our skins”
We’re all calling The Rise of Skywalker the end of the Skywalker saga, but it’s also the final farewell to Princess Leia Organa, the most famous Skywalker who never even needed to use the name. In many ways, Leia’s best scene is still the moment when it’s clear that she’s the best leader in pretty much any situation.
1. Return of the Jedi (01:55) “And now young Skywalker, you will die.”
It’s not clear just how much Palpatine we’ll see in The Rise of Skywalker, but in any event you’ll want to watch his most famous scene. Yes, this is also the moment where Palpatine “died,” so let’s take some time to watch this frame-by-frame and see if there’s anything we can learn from this moment that makes us go: “Yeah, I’m sure that guy planned for Darth Vader to grab him right there.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere, this weekend, on December 20, 2019.