And with that, the Skywalker saga is over. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s ending is the culmination of 42 years of storytelling, nine mainline movies and a whole universe of stories besides. While Star Wars will continue long into the future in TV shows, games, books, comic and, yes, new movies, this is the real culmination of what George Lucas began in 1977.
Of course, this isn’t the first “last Star Wars film”. The series technically first ended in 1983 with Return of the Jedi, when Lucas walked back his original sprawling plan and ended Luke Skywalker’s story in a trilogy. Then, over two decades later in 2005, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith rounded out the prequel trilogy, sealing the Star Wars saga as The Tragedy of Darth Vader. Now, 14 years later, The Rise of Skywalker does it again, rounding out the sequel trilogy and, per the marketing, the Skywalker saga.
Being a multi-faceted ending, to end both the 42-year story and the more pressing and recent arcs began in The Force Awakens, weighs heavy on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is equally as aware of the state of the fandom, attempting to actively undo decisions made in the divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi while delivering the movie that audiences seem to want. That means the 142-minute movie has to gallop through its big moments, leaving a lot of questions about the narrative and its intended meaning up in the air. We’ll answer all of those questions in our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ending explainer.
How Did Palpatine Return In Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (& What Was His Plan?)
Before diving deep into the ending, it’s worth clarifying the prime narrative of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is powered entirely by the inexplicably-returned Emperor Palpatine. How exactly the villain, killed by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, is back isn’t even posed as a question, but the implication is either that Palpatine was never truly dead and was saved by his followers or transferred his spirit into a clone body a la Expanded Universe novel Dark Empire.
Regardless of the how, what matters is that Palpatine is back and has been puppetmaster for this entire trilogy. Before the movie even begins, he’s made his presence known to the galaxy, and very early on reveals that he’s been manipulating Kylo Ren via Snoke and Darth Vader visions all along. The white-eyed zombie promises Ben Solo the Sith fleet he’s been storing on the hidden planet of Exegol, but it’s all just another step in his plan to get his real target: granddaughter Rey Palpatine. He wants her to kill him in a Sith ritual, transferring the power of him and all the previous Sith into her body, creating a new, even-more-powerful Empress Palpatine who can rule the galaxy with the full power of the dark side and hundreds of Star Destroyers equipped with Death Star tech.
The ending of Star Wars 9 is, rather simply, built around stopping that coming to pass. The Resistance forces, aided by a last-minute militia of regular citizens, lead a daring attempt to bring down the fleet, while Rey and a Ben Solo redeemed by his dying Leia and memory of Han take on the Emperor. Note: With These Characters Crossing Paths At Some Point
Rey Is A Palpatine, But Who Were Her Parents?
So, yes, the answer to the Star Wars sequel trilogy’s biggest question is that Rey was a Palpatine. Her father was the son of the Emperor who went into hiding to protect his daughter. Rey’s parents were killed by Ochi of Bestoon as Palpatine searched for his granddaughter.
This is, of course, a sly contradiction of The Last Jedi, where Rey and Kylo together revealed her parents were “nobody”: Ben stated they sold her for drinking money and were dead in a paupers grave in the Jakku desert. Now, this can be read as true from a certain point-of-view: in going into hiding, Palpatine’s son became nobody, they did leave her behind, and they were left to die. But the inference, that Rey wasn’t important in the bigger picture, has obviously changed. But, regardless, it does explain why Rey was so powerful in the Force – she was the direct descendant of the last Sith Lord – and why Snoke (who was a creation of Palpatine) took such an interest in the scavenger girl. Note: Vincent Appears To Have A Spiritual Experience
Star Wars 9’S Final Scene: Rey Creates A New Yellow Lightsaber – And Becomes A Skywalker
Everything thus far is warm-up to the real ending of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, an epilogue to the whole Star Wars journey. Rey (who is now in possession of BB-8) travels to Tatooine and the Lars homestead first seen in Star Wars (and revisited in Attack of the Clones). She explores the sand-filled home (riding down a dune similar to how she initially traversed Jakku) and proceeds to bury both Luke and Leia’s lightsabers in the sand, revealing she has crafted her own yellow-bladed version from her staff. When asked by a local who she is, Rey sees the Force ghosts of the Skywalker twins appear and responds definitively, “Rey Skywalker.”
If the Jedi living through Rey was the Rise, this is the moment she can be defined as Skywalker. Rey has spent her entire life not knowing who she was, left by her never-returning parents and along her three-movie adventure struggling to find a home: Han Solo was killed, Luke Skywalker rejected her (at least initially) and Kylo Ren wanted different things. At the start of the movie, that question of identity is still incredibly raw: when first asked by a Pasana child what her last name is, she’s shaken. But now, Rey has purpose and clarity: she may be a Palpatine by blood, but by action she is a Skywalker. Note: Recent Rumors Have Suggested That Conner’s Genetic