There appears to be no love lost between the directors of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and The Last Jedi, and J.J. Abrams certainly seems to go out of its way to undo some major plot points from Rian Johnson’s movie — but it’s not like the final movie in the Skywalker saga ignores everything that happened in the previous film.
Rise of Skywalker addresses and expands on the Force connection between Rey and Kylo in interesting and exciting ways. Poe’s promotion in Last Jedi also carries over, while Rose is notably sidelined in what feels like a nod to Star Wars’ most antagonistic fan base. Johnson’s understanding of Force ghosts and what they can do also gets further attention here, though it comes at the expense of one of Luke Skywalker’s best moments in Last Jedi.
So while Rise of Skywalker might pick up some of Last Jedi’s more interesting loose threads, there’s plenty more it cuts away or simply ignores. Sometimes that feels like an insult to what came before, but sometimes it actually improves the larger story of this trilogy and the entire saga.
With that in mind, here are the nine most notable Last Jedi retcons in The Rise of Skywalker, ranked from actually pretty good to the most annoying and stupid.
Spoilers ahead for The Rise of Skywalker. Duh.
9. Rose and Finn aren’t dating
While Rose and Finn shippers are probably pretty disappointed, this film doesn’t seem to address Rose and Finn’s possible romance in Last Jedi. It doesn’t outright say they aren’t dating, but it’s just not something we see. It’s still a retcon, but not the worst one, especially since that relationship was probably the least interesting thing about either of their characters.
8. The Falcon’s navigation dish is back
The Last Jedi broke the square navigation dish on the top of the Millennium Falcon, but here, right at the start of The Rise of Skywalker, we’ve got the old round dish back on the ship, with no explanation. This seems like less of an intentional retcon and more like basic oversight.
It isn’t the worst change either, but it is a little weird in terms of continuity. It would have been cool to give the Falcon a new, third kind of dish? Maybe a triangle?
7. The Skywalker lightsaber is fixed
It was pretty cool that The Last Jedi broke the famous Skywalker lightsaber in half, but here, it’s just fixed without explanation. It’s implied Leia fixed it, but it’s frustrating that this was totally inconsequential. At the very least they could have made the blade look unstable.
Again, it’s one thing to cleverly retcon the plot. It’s another thing to just pretend it never happened.
6. Kylo Ren’s helmet
Kylo Ren threw a hissy fit in The Last Jedi and broke his helmet. Here, he hires a monkey in a welding mask to fixe, even though it really seems like those pieces were far too small. This is fine, but also a little weird. It’s also not that big of a deal since he stops wearing his helmet again pretty quickly.
Oh, and also, gluing your broken helmet back together is totally impractical according to the samurai armor expert we asked.
5. Snoke gets a backstory, sort of
Snoke was never real! This isn’t exclusively a Last Jedi retcon, since in a sense, this retcons Force Awakens, too, but it makes Snoke’s claim about bridging the minds of Kylo Ren and Rey strange to think about now.
Did Palpatine bridge their minds through Snoke? That wouldn’t explain why he was surprised by the idea that Rey and Kylo Ren were more powerful together than apart. If Snoke or Palpatine really did bridge the minds of Kylo Ren and Rey, it’s not at all clear what the goal of that was. It’s not an offensive retcon, but it does make matters more confusing.
4. The allies of the Resistance exist now
In Last Jedi, the Resistance put out a distress call during the Battle of Crait and literally nobody came. This is mentioned in Rise of Skywalker, yet Lando is conveniently able to rally like five billion space ships to come to help out with the battle against the Sith Fleet.
We’re told that these are “just people,” implying the Rebellion is made up of civilians in their regular spaceships. This is fine, but it’s also confusing. Was Lando just more charming when they asked for help?
3. The “Holdo Maneuver”
Rise of Skywalker goes out of its way to reference the “Holdo Maneuver,” suggesting that the moment where Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) rammed a Star Destroyer by briefly jumping into lightspeed has become the stuff of legend in the Star Wars galaxy.
While the Resistance plans their attack on the Emperor’s new Sith Fleet, it’s suggested that everybody use the Holdo Maneuver, but it gets shut down with a vague explainer that this strategy is “one in a million.” In other words, Admiral Holdo’s selfless sacrifice was really just a lucky shot.
This exchange manages to negate a key moment in Last Jedi while also not really serving any purpose of Rise of Skywalker. If screenwriters J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio were worried about people getting out of the movie and wondering why the Holdo Maneuver wasn’t used against the Palpatine’s Sith fleet, I guess this sort of works.
In nerd-writing parlance, talking about the Holdo Maneuver and then just pivoting to talking about something else is called “lampshading.” In some ways, lampshading is the easiest and laziest form of retconning. And, again, it’s also just not necessary.
2. Rey’s parents are “nobodies”
Rey’s parents are neither filthy nor drunk. But in The Last Jedi, that’s what Kylo Ren says about them. But, as Kylo explains in Rise of Skywalker, her parents became “nobodies” in an attempt to hide from Pappy Palpatine, so he wasn’t totally lying either.
In some ways, Rey’s parents intentionally leaving her on Jakku retcons both the earlier entries of the sequel trilogy. It seems really unlikely Rey’s parents would believe that Jakku was a good place for Rey to grow up, even if she was safe from Palpatine.
1. Luke’s attitude about lightsabers
Near the end of Rise of Skywalker, Rey returns to Ahch-To and throws her lightsaber into a fire in a symbolic attempt to renounce her Jedi training. That’s when Luke’s Force ghost appears, catching the saber and scolding her for mistreating it.
This is easily the most frustrating point in the movie, especially if you liked the scene where Luke tossed his lightsaber over his shoulder in Last Jedi.
But even if you didn’t like that scene, Luke’s joke about treating the weapon of a Jedi with a “little more respect,” is over the top. Is it cool for Luke’s ghost to catch the lightsaber? That’s fine. Corny. But fine. Did he need to get in the extra dig just so everyone knew what was being referenced? No.
Maybe, if we’re lucky, J.J. Abrams will pull a George Lucas and edit that moment (and a few others) out of the Blu-ray release.
The Rise of Skywalker is out now in wide release.