With the plot still largely under wraps, at least until we see the final trailer, we don’t really know quite what to expect from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Here’s what we do know though: Episode IX will be the end, not just of the Sequel Trilogy, but of the entire nine-film Skywalker Saga that began with George Lucas’ Star Wars over four decades ago in 1977. And The Rise of Skywalker will give the this Saga a “cohesive” ending, that’s according to director J.J. Abrams who said:
For Star Wars fans, this is about the best thing that you could hope to hear from J.J. Abrams coming off the most controversial installment in the entire franchise and heading in to the Skywalker Saga’s climactic final chapter. He wants The Rise of Skywalker to close out the Saga in a way that results in the most cohesive story possible over the nine films.
J.J. Abrams wants The Rise of Skywalker to end the Saga in a way that is emotional and meaningful, but he is not losing sight of the fact that this movie needs to meet more than just those emotional and thematic requirements. Episode IX must also answer the Saga’s lingering questions in order to be truly satisfying as a movie and to work as the end of the Saga as a whole.
Many will likely note that J.J. Abrams is far better known for raising interesting questions than he is for answering them, but the director understands the responsibility he has to try and answer questions in The Rise of Skywalker. He knows that’s a key component of ending the Skywalker Saga in a satisfying way and what’s especially noteworthy is that he says that he wants to answer as many questions as possible.
The idea in J.J. Abrams’ mind is that, as he told Entertainment Weekly, the nine-film Skywalker Saga will operate as a story that is as cohesive as possible. He wants audiences years from now to be able to watch the Skywalker Saga as a nine-film story, with an arc that feels cohesive from start to finish. The ending is a crucial and probably the most crucial part of making that happen.
That is no easy task and the amount of pressure J.J. Abrams has to pull it off is unimaginable. It would have been different if this was just pitched as Episode IX and the door was left open for Disney to do Episode X, XI and XII or to retroactively make IX the end, but when the cast list was officially announced for Star Wars: Episode IX, it included the reveal that this would be the final film in the Skywalker Saga.
That means no take-backs and no do-overs, this is it and it has to count. That’s a tremendous burden. J.J. Abrams also told Entertainment Weekly “We’re not screwing around,” referring to his understanding that The Rise of Skywalker is the end of a trilogy and it has to be a satisfying ending. So he gets it.
As to what J.J. Abrams’ desire to make a cohesive Skywalker Saga with The Rise of Skywalker means for the film itself, we can only guess. We know that the big question about who Rey is will be answered in the film. The return of Emperor Palpatine also makes sense from J.J.’s perspective as he’s viewing the nine films as one story and one overarching villain makes sense.
Those rumors about Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker showing up also would make sense given that the Prequels are part of this Saga and to make things cohesive, they should be referenced in some way. When I wrote about what Episode 9 had to do to bring closure to the Skywalker Saga, two of the things I said were tie back to the Prequels and answer lingering questions, so if his words are anything to go by, J.J. Abrams may very well pull it off.