Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (Part I)
…look, it’s not that I don’t like the Sequel Trilogy. Or, OK, maybe it is that I don’t especially like the Sequel Trilogy, but at the same time I also don’t hate it. At the very least, I remain perpetually perplexed at the sheer level of vitriol and angry discourse the fandom is capable of conjuring up for it (though having lived through, well, a good chunk of the history of this fandom, I guess I really shouldn’t be). My general attitude about the ST overall is that happened, it exists, nothing in it will ever be my favorite, it’s probably someone else’s favorite and I’m happy for them, the end.
I’ve vacillated for years over whether or not I’d ever recap something from the sequels. For one thing, I felt like I couldn’t really dive in until I knew for sure where it was all gonna end, which of course wasn’t a done deal until late 2019. But my biggest concern was whether or not I could bring the same sort of vibe to recapping them that I have for the other films, or anything else I’ve ever featured here. It’s one thing to lovingly mock something that you do really entirely enjoy at the end of the day, but the sequels really aren’t my thing — and just plain old complaining and meanness is not my brand.
So then, you may ask: why the hell am I writing this?! This doesn’t sound like fun, it sounds like yet another snotty write-up about someone not liking the sequels, which absolutely NOBODY ON EARTH NEEDS MORE OF AT THIS POINT. We came here to laugh, and not be judged for our taste in Space Wizard shows, damnit! Reader, that’s a good question — for another time! HA! See? I can brush off REASONABLE QUESTIONS WITH NO INTENTION OF EVER ANSWERING THEM, TOO, JJ.
…I kid, I kid. I solemnly promise that is not going to be the tenor of this recap. I feel pretty confident that as long as you are OK with the same general level of lighthearted mockery I aim at everything in all of my recaps, you will not be walking away from today’s entry feeling bad. I decided to undertake this because I wanted something akin to a fresh challenge over here, and the site’s fifth anniversary seemed like as good an excuse as any. (It turns out it was a lot more fun, and a lot funnier, to write this than I thought it would be.)
In an effort to bring you the best Snark Wars Experience that I can, I’ve opted to cover the last installment of the sequels, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. I chose this film A) because no matter how you feel about it, it is by a WIDE margin the most unhinged entry in the trilogy, B) because Sidious is there and that’s always at least SOMEWHAT funny so I know I’ll have some things to say, and C) because there is no way I could have started with The Force Awakens, which for a great many reasons that I will not make you sit through is my least favorite Star Wars movie (I know, I KNOW: I’ll go to bat for Attack of the Clones any day of the week, but I won’t go to bat for The Force Awakens, the sequel movie “everybody liked”. YES I KNOW. I’m not asking you to agree with me; I’m just telling you all my truth here, OK?)
I also chose to start with this film because I have two really excellent stories/fandom memories about it that in and of themselves will ALWAYS make me have a wee tiny soft spot for this one:
- As I’ve related here before, when we went to the main stage event for this movie at Star Wars Celebration and the Big Sidious Return Reveal happened, I laughed so hard I cried and a woman seated by me very sweetly handed me a tissue and gave me this kind look and I realized that she thought I was crying because I was Overwhelmed By Soft Fandom Feelings and not because I was laughing so hard at this ridiculous nonsense that it caused me to shed tears;
- I don’t wanna oversell it, but the lead-up to this film was one of the funniest and most secondhand-embarrassment-filled moments this fandom has ever EVER had, and it was glorious. If you’re the type of person who never reads spoilers before a movie comes out, I am sorry, but you sincerely missed out on something AMAZING. The entire plot of this film leaked in full months before it came out, and as you may have noticed from ANY recap I’ve ever written, Star Wars often sounds SO INCREDIBLY STUPID when written out. And this movie? Is, to be fair, RIDICULOUS, and appears to have taken the bold approach of trying to surmise what each individual fan may have wanted out of the trilogy and given them all exactly 5% of that thing, all but ensuring Maximum Nerd Rage. So just picture it: you’ve got all these internet dweebs, clamoring for any morsel, any sliver of news about what the plot of this film involves or what happens to the characters, and they’re told that it’s…what happens in this movie. Which is a lot. You guys, people were a MESS. Some people were SO MAD, some people flat-out refused to believe it, a few sweet innocent souls were like “I dunno it sounds pretty fun to me!”, as if THAT attitude has ANY place around these parts. My personal favorite were the people who SWORE that the plot that was leaked was Fake News, and that this conspiracy went all the way up to like, Bob Iger. Just you wait and see! It’s all fake info planted to throw us off the trail! LOOK IT UP EVERYBODY! IT’S BEEN DONE BEFORE! Then something else would come out that would validate the leaks and everyone would lose their shit all over again. It was incredible and I am SO glad I was there to witness it.
All right, Sheev’s ghost or whateverthefuck he is isn’t getting any younger — or maybe he is, I still have no idea what the hell was even going on there — so let’s get this show on the road.
Sheev Palpatine, Self-Promoter
OH GOD I FORGOT HOW THIS MOVIE STARTS and now I am beginning to feel much more confident in my ability to write this up because FROM THE GET-GO it is filled with craziness and I have a lot to say about it. So here’s the thing: the powers that be, for whatever bizarre reason, did not, you know, “have a plan” for this trilogy. Like they just started throwing darts at a dartboard covered in Star Wars Tropes and/or they wrote the script as Mad Libs or something, and what ended up happening is that the presumed Big Bad of the trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke, died in the second movie. And since JJ et al also decided they didn’t want Kylo to be the sole Main Evil Guy in this trilogy’s conclusion (and since they had Redemption Plans in the works for Kylo too), they had to scramble to come up with a thoroughly wicked villain who could be the Final Boss and be believably threatening. Given that the only other bad guys we’d encountered up to this point in this trilogy were lower-tier assholes like Hux, they decided that the only way to get themselves out of this jam was to bring back the all-time greatest Star Wars nemesis, the master himself, Sheev Palpatine.
One catch on that, though: the once-Emperor was, prior to this movie, you know, kind of dead. And while being dead has never stopped anybody in Star Wars from showing up to work, his death HAD been one of the more spectacularly dramatic and un-surviveable ones we’d witnessed, given that he had been thrown into an abyss by a powerful cyborg and then vaporized in an enormous explosion. This wasn’t like, say, being cut in half, where you can just walk that shit off on your robotic spider legs. Adding to this narrative pickle was the fact that — because again, THERE WAS NO PLAN — there had been nary a whiff of Sidious’ triumphant return leading up to this movie. Hysterically, after The Force Awakens came out and there was all this wild speculation about what would happen, there was a bunch of stuff from the cast and crew about how Oooooooooh, Snoke is just SO much darker than Sidious JUST YOU ALL WAIT and NO, THIS ISN’T THE SITH IT’S DIFFERENT BAD GUYS THIS TIME and on and on and on. I’m here for the messiness of this, while also being still unable to understand why they didn’t just at LEAST write up a 3-film outline? Like, just the bare bones? GUYS THIS IS A BILLION-DOLLAR FRANCHISE, COULD YOU JUST PUT DOWN THE BASIC PLAN ON A COCKTAIL NAPKIN OR SOMETHING?
…well they still made bank, so what the hell do I know, I guess. SO: in order to bring back Sidious and have him be back immediately so that they could get the actual plot of the movie underway, they needed to set up the fact that he was not nearly as dead as a reasonable person would have thought right out of the gate. Because remember: we as the audience had NO DIRECT INDICATION OF THIS at any point prior to this within the context of the films. And their brilliant tactic to accomplish this setup was as follows:
Just straight-up, right there in the OPENING CRAWL. Hey guys! Palpatine’s back! And he’s…broadcasting hype material about himself to the galaxy! THIS IS SO FUNNY AND I LOVE IT. Wh…wh-why? JUST WHY. My favorite part of this, which I have covered elsewhere before, is that as I understand the story, Palpatine doesn’t even WANT anybody but Kylo and Rey to find him right now. And we find out that he’s been telepathically connecting with Kylo for years, so he could have easily just told him where to go directly. AND Kylo has his weird Force bond with Rey so it’s not like Sheev couldn’t have also told Kylo to lure Rey over there himself. There is no reason for him to be bragging to the entire universe about his being back BEFORE he’s managed to retake the galaxy. We’re supposed to think that Sheev, the sly master manipulator who is precise and smart and has enormous patience, went ahead and blabbed to everyone about his not being dead even though that helps his plan not at all, AND if anything makes it more likely to fail, because now the whole Resistance has been tipped off that he’s alive in some capacity? Did he accidentally BCC the galaxy on an email that was only supposed to go to Kylo? Did he mistakenly press send on a draft that wasn’t supposed to go out until AFTER he’d become overlord of the universe again? GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, MY LORD.
We’re further told that Leia has sent people out to gather intelligence about this message (they call it a “broadcast”, which I assume they intended to be taken as like, a hologram snippet that went out or something, but I am instead choosing to believe that Sheev bought airtime on public access TV and did an entire infomercial about how he was back.) Meanwhile, Rey’s been training as a Jedi, and Kylo’s off on a Sheev Quest, intent on killing the undead Emperor because he can’t handle the idea of anyone getting more attention than he is.
Recurring Theme: Supplemental Material Required
Our opening shot pans down to a dark, lava-ish looking planet where Kylo is wailing on some dudes in a somewhat desolate forest.
Fun fact: this planet is actually Mustafar, a thing that got added after the movie came out, via the Visual Dictionary or whatever. It does not LOOK like what you and I know as Mustafar, because at the end of the wacky adventures of ILMxLab’s VR series Vader Immortal, the planet’s curse or whatever is lifted and it begins to “heal”, which it is apparently still in the process of doing. I don’t believe it was the filmmaker’s intention here for this to be Mustafar (I’m just going to say it — and I promise this will be the bitchiest moment I have in this recap — having seen his work for this franchise I’m not entirely sure JJ Abrams has actually seen all of Star Wars), but I think the nerds at Lucasfilm just realized it’d work pretty well with the Vader Immortal story, and make a dent in tying this whole thing back to the other films a bit more. Obviously this isn’t remotely the first time we’ve had to circle back on something because the powers that be tweaked it after the fact.
He makes quick work of these guys, so, add a few more hash marks to the Skywalker Body Count:
He finds what is CLEARLY A FUCKING HOLOCRON, which for some reason is repeatedly referred to as a “wayfinder” in this movie’s script. I’d rag on the Story Group for not making them change this, but I also know they don’t have that kind of power (evidently) AND that whatever Nerd Angst I’m feeling about this OBVIOUSLY WRONG THING being allowed to stand in a Star Wars movie probably can’t even begin to compare to theirs. It’s a HOLOCRON. Anyways, Kylo looks his usual level of cheerful about this:
I…OK, look. I’ll say this: I didn’t think we needed another Tragically Fallen Skywalker, I still don’t think we needed one, and I will always sincerely harbor bad feelings towards anybody who threw out that whole “now THIS is Anakin done RIGHT this time” bullshit after The Force Awakens came out because A) no, and B) stop, but I have come to a place of begrudging Kylo Acceptance in my heart, I guess.
Kylo looks closely at the, er, holocron, and it’s got a teeny little glowing red speck:
I think the story is that Vader left this thing — which was OUTDOORS, in a very obviously-Sith-labeled chest — on Mustafar, and Kylo finds it because of some crap that happens in the comics. (Cut me some slack; by my last count there are about 700,000 Star Wars comics in the new canon and even I don’t have that kind of time.) There’s another holocron that was Sheev’s (? I think?) and the Resistance Gang is gonna find that one later. I am laughing all over again because there is just…so much information to absorb? Sheev and Vader had holocrons to spell out where the undead Emperor’s Lair would be? Vader just left his outside? (He would. We all know Anakin was a terrible employee.) Sheev could activate them from a distance while partially dead? (I’m sure I’m getting some of these details wrong. I do not care and please do not send me messages about them.)
Whatever: Kylo’s got this holocron, and he takes off in his weird TIE fighter and he…plugs in the holocron, I guess?
I…don’t think I knew they could work that way? WHY DOES IT NEED SO MANY MICROPHONE JACKS.
Recurring Theme: Ostentaciousness Is Our Speciality
Kylo ends up on Exegol, one of the WEIRDEST FUCKING PLACES STAR WARS HAS EVER GIVEN US, which is really saying something. There is a giant trapezoid, surrounded by mist:
LOL. When the leaks for this movie started talking about how Kylo was gonna track Sheev to this sort of Black Death Cube thing, people were like WHAAAAAAATT? THAT SOUNDS SUPER FAKE, STOP MAKING SHIT UP, and then it turned up in one of the trailers or something and everybody flipped the fuck out once more all “OMG THE LEAKS ARE REAL, but SURELY that can’t mean ALL of the leaks, RIGHT???? RIGHT?????” Again: it was really, sincerely, a wonderful few months. I genuinely had a fantastic time.
Kylo stomps his way into the Death Zone, and I just…I can’t even do this place justice. It’s incredible. It’s got an elevator and everything:
What the hell is that thing to the right of him? Is that supposed to be a chain? ONE LINK ALONE IS BIGGER THAN KYLO. This place is unreasonable. Sheev didn’t have to go this hard, but the fact that he did anyways is what makes him the best.
Oh oh oh! This part! Hee! Oh my God. All right, self, pull it together, you can do this. (You know what? I was pretty hesitant about this recap going into it, but I am having a BALL now. I kind of feel like this was the recap I’ve been training for.) OK OK: so, Kylo hears a mysteeeeerious voice (saying “at last…”), and he peers around a corner. Now, first of all, I need you all to note that there is a level of poor lighting in here that the Jedi Order could only have dreamt of. And THIS is the decor:
So what I’m picking up here is that the Force makes you extremely photosensitive AND incredibly into enormous statuary. Remember that time the Jedi — and by “the Jedi”, I obviously assume it was Anakin — carved what I’m just going to refer to as Obi-Wan into the SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN on Jedha like some sort of Hottest Mount Rushmore Ever?
Recurring Theme: The Confused Dudes of Star Wars
Kylo, his lightsaber drawn, continues to cautiously walk forward. The voice tells him that Snoke trained him well, to which Kylo makes that one face every guy in his family is always making where they simultaneously look unhappy but also like they are not even a little bit sure what the fuck is going on:
I’ve got no beef with Adam Driver, and I think he did a fine job in these films, but there is just SOMETHING about his Kylo Ren Voice that absolutely KILLS me and I cannot ever stop myself from laughing. It’s like…Kylo’s whole Dour Himbo thing just OOZES out in his voice. He’s REAL SCARY AND EVERYTHING, YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT. HE’S THE SUPREME LEADER. HE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A BEDTIME.
Anyways, Mr. Badass over here continues: not only did he kill Snoke, he’ll kill the owner of this Creepy Suspicious Voice, too!
Sheev Palpatine, Great Impressionist
The voice is unimpressed: my boy, it says…
Um, Star Wars? Can we back up for a second? I’m sorry, Sidious did WHAT now? I feel the way Kylo looks here. Also Sheev, for Force’s sake you KNOW you can’t throw these kinds of twists and turns at this doofus. You met Anakin; it took that guy God knows how many attempts before he finally figured out you were implying that you were a Sith Lord, and then pretty much only after you literally said as much in as many words. This is too much for a Skywalker. His brain is going to overheat.
My favorite thing about this is that Kylo just stands there looking like he’s in the process of rebooting and does not SAY ANYTHING IN REACTION TO THIS. Like, come on: the Emperor’s alive somehow, and he just dumped on you that he “made” the sinister creep you spent presumably years training with, and your immediate reaction is not to be like “WHAT IN THE ABSOLUTE BLAZING FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT”? People in Star Wars are the WORST at asking follow-up questions and I really feel like a LOT of the galaxy’s problems could be avoided or at least significantly mitigated if they would.
Sheev then shows off his A+ impersonation skills, informing Kylo — in Sheev’s own voice, Snoke’s voice, and Vader’s voice — that he’s been “every voice [Kylo] has ever heard inside his head”. I…I don’t even know where to BEGIN here, people. For one thing, Kylo’s head has apparently been VERY CROWDED. For another thing, finding out that you were actually talking to Sheev the whole time that you thought you were talking to somebody else is like, the WORST episode of Catfish ever. Also: he thought he heard Vader? And believed it? WHAT IN THE HELL HAS BEEN GOING ON IN THE SKYWALKER FAMILY FOR THE LAST 3 DECADES. I know there’s stuff in the expanded universe content about how they all kept the Secret of Anakin Being Darth Vader under wraps until Kylo was in his late teens or early 20s or something, but SURELY Kylo knows or finds out at SOME point that Vader defected back to the Light Side. ANAKIN IS A GHOST WHOM LUKE HAS SEEN WITH HIS OWN EYES. Am I supposed to buy that Luke NEVER MENTIONS THIS TO KYLO EVER?! Or that Anakin has NEVER dropped by to say hello even ONCE since Ben was born? Having seen the redeemed spirit of your dead father, who was Darth Vader but no longer is, is just so ho-hum and boring that Luke doesn’t think it’s worth bringing up ever to his nephew WHOM HE IS TRAINING TO BE A JEDI?! And then one day Kylo just starts getting psychic transmissions into his brain from Radio Vader and doesn’t think to like, mention this at all? I would ALSO like to point out, again, that the ENTIRE SEQUEL TRILOGY could have been avoided if Anakin would have just gotten the fuck off of the couch and HELPED HIS FAMILY. Seriously: one five-minute Force call. “Hey Ben, just FYI I was Darth Vader but now I am Anakin Skywalker again and I do not condone the Dark Side in any way and also I would never contact you using the Darth Vader voice, so if you get any weird calls like that, hang up because it’s a scam.” There.
You Know The Eventual Backstory For This Is Gonna Be Something
So once Sheev is done saying this completely insane thing, Kylo takes a few more steps and we see a…I’m sorry. I can’t go on. Gimme a minute.
All right: it’s like, a lab of sorts. And there are people WORKING THERE:
Yep, I don’t know about you guys, but I know I’ve always done my best labwork with my eyes partially obscured by a giant hood, in a dank cellar with nothing to illuminate my workspace except for intermittent lightning. Seems like a great setup they’ve got going here.
This is immediately followed up with — and please keep in mind just how MUCH Star Wars content I have recapped at this point in my life — possibly THE ballsiest unexplained mic-drop of a shot in the ENTIRE franchise:
WHAT THE FUCK. So…Snoke clones. In a tank.
A) why are they all crowded together in there like an overstocked tropical fish tank at a disreputable pet store? This place is HUGE, they can’t put in a few more clone tanks? Just had to save that room for another seventeen 1,000-foot statues of some dead wizards?
B) This? This is not how clones work. Clones do not COME PRE-LOADED WITH SCARS IN SPECIFIC PLACES. I’m actually surprised they’re nude and not floating around in there in Snoke’s full garb, like they’re just gonna fish them out and put them directly into action as needed. I am also unclear as to why full adult-sized Snokes would still be in a tank. It’s not like the GAR were all floating in brine until 5 minutes before they went off to war. You have to raise your clones! Teach them stuff! Prepare them for their lives! There is an ENTIRE SEQUENCE showing this in one of the previous films and MULTIPLE episodes of The Clone Wars that address this.
C) So, let me get this straight: Sidious — who I feel like I should acknowledge IS a huge liar with a LONG track record of saying crazy shit just to get a Skywalker to do something for him, but let’s take the old goblin at his word here — “made” Snoke. I presume this means he was suggesting that he created Snoke in a lab, and not that Snoke was originally a real guy (or like, if he was, that original guy was just used as the template and then killed or whatever.) OK, fine: so he created Snoke because he needed a pawn he could control, and I guess I’m on board so far. And sure: if you’re gonna have a pawn trying to take over the universe at your behest, you might want a couple of backup clones, since Evil Overlord types do tend to attract assassination attempts. But then…Kylo killed Snoke! Old Man Sidious had this whole economy-sized jug of Snoke backups sitting around and he didn’t even bother to use one?! And if his intent was to allow Kylo to take Snoke out and let Kylo become Supreme Leader as part of some Long Con, then WHY IS HE STILL KEEPING A TANK OF SNOKE CLONES? What possible point is there to this, unless he just likes the way they look and he’s keeping it as like, a sort of lava lamp?
D) Upon closer inspection, it’s possible these Snokes don’t have a lower half, and you KNOW that this is because nobody at Lucasfilm wanted to be the one to have to make the foam model or CGI representation of Snoke’s Fully Exposed Southern Hemisphere. The world is not ready for Snoke Peen, OK?
E) If he’s growing Snoke clones with no lower half on purpose for a different reason, that is insane.
F) I’m just thinking about this musty, crusty old lab setup contrasted against Kamino’s grade-A, pristine conditions and bright white tubes and all and I’m laughing. The quality of cloning operations in this galaxy has REALLY deteriorated in the last 50 years. That, or Dex really wasn’t kidding when he went out of his way to tell Obi-Wan that the Kaminoans were particulary damn good cloners.
Recurring Theme: You Poor Unfortunate Soul, Go Ahead, Make Your Choice
Then, it’s time once again for Sidious to belt out his beloved hit classic “Hey Idiot, Join Me”. He tells Kylo that the First Order was only the beginning, which makes me feel very overwhelmed because I am still not 100% clear on what the fuck the First Order was or where it came from, and now I’m hearing that that was just the START? Sidious says he’ll give Kylo so much more, and Kylo’s bored, replying that Sidious will die first.
Sidious drops this on us:
I mean, why the hell not? There was exactly zero chance Kylo OR I was ever going to understand what the exploding hell is going on here, so sure, Star Wars: just keep piling it on. I love that their big-brain solution to “the audience watched this guy get blown to smithereens but also he’s in this movie somehow” is for Sidious to just be like “Death? Oh yeah, been there done that a time or two.” Please understand that THEY DO NOT EXPLAIN ANY OF THIS IN ANY FURTHER DETAIL THAN WE ARE GOING TO GET HERE. This is it, this was the story as presented. You guys, someone for-real just told Kylo Ren that they’ve “died before” and this absolute doofus has, AGAIN, no follow up questions about this. None. Now, maybe I’m an outlier here, but if somebody tells me they’re not merely not dead — as I had previously believed them to be — but that they have been dead at some point in the past but no longer are, I am going to want some additional information about this. I guess Kylo and I are just two different people.
Sidious then busts this old standard out as we round the corner to get a look at him:
Wow, he’s playing all the biggest hits from his back catalog! What a showman. I think they were trying to go for like, a pulpy old-timey-haunted-house/Frankenstein’s lab kind of a vibe here with this set, but the strobe light effect of the lightning is really evoking more of an “ornate in-store display at a Halloween Express” thing. One of those bats with the glowing red eyes that plays spooky sound effects wouldn’t be out of place here, nor would a good old-fashioned rendition of The Monster Mash. I was working in the lab, late one night…
Kylo takes one look at Sheev and is immediately compelled to pull his lightsaber on him, but pauses just in front of his face:
He stops, you see, because Kylo has a question:
Sheev just replies with “everything — a new Empire”, which is disappointing only because I was hoping he’d just go right back to making Big Promises about saving people from death that he has no intention of following through on. He lifts his gross zombie hands and out from the ground come a whole bunch of Classic Star Destroyers:
I…don’t get it? Why were these under ice? Where did they come from? Who is manning these ships and how long have they been there? Sheev proclaims that “the might of the Final Order will soon be ready”. K.
He promises Kylo he can have all of these fabulous prizes and more — all he has to do is one itty bitty thing:
He encourages Kylo to do this, and “become what your grandfather Vader could not”. I…I just really, REALLY feel like these movies just whooshed right past a lot of the details that would help me better understand why Kylo is so hung up on Vader, a guy even VADER HIMSELF ULTIMATELY CHOSE NOT TO BE. Does Kylo think Vader wants him to do this? Is that what the voice in his head was saying? BUT SHEEV LITERALLY JUST TOLD HIM THAT WASN’T EVEN VADER, THAT WAS SIDIOUS PRANK CALLING KYLO.
Anyways I guess Kylo is moved by this, because he turns off his lightsaber. Sidious continues: Kylo’s totally going to be emperor of the universe, but BEWAAAAARE: Rey? Is not who you think she is!
Kylo, really rocking the Confused Doofus Face now, asks who she is, then. And Sids? All he can do is smirk:
Well I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face if I knew where this part of the plot was going either, dude. Fair enough.
Recurring Theme: Stuck In a Nostalgia Loop
We’re now on board the Falcon, and we’re treated to some Hijinks involving Chewie, Finn, and Poe playing dejarik. You guys remember dejarik, right? I, too, remember the first Star Wars movie.
Their game is disrupted by their actual mission here, which involves connecting up with some dude named Boolio, who looks like this:
Boolio tells Finn that there is — gasp! — a spy in the First Order! A new ally for the Resistance! He doesn’t know who this secret new ally is, but he has information from them to pass along to Leia! You’ll never guess who gets charged with downloading and safeguarding THAT info:
A whole mess of TIEs arrive and Poe is like HURRY HURRY and of course the information finishes downloading JUST in the nick of time and they tear off with the TIEs in hot pursuit. It probably doesn’t need to be stated but I would like to be on record as having noticed that Poe and Finn both look super handsome here. If Star Wars was gonna give me a couple of dudes’ faces to look at and they couldn’t be Obi-Wan and Anakin’s, we could do way worse than these two.
Then, something unexpected happens: Poe jumps them in and out of lightspeed in an attempt to throw the TIEs off their trail, and things are looking dicey indeed when Poe throws them into a final jump — “maybe forever!” (but I’ll go ahead and spoil it now and tell you that two of the main characters do not, in fact, die in the first 10 minutes of this movie.)
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Apparently Too Damn Busy Doing Nothing To Come to the Phone Right Now
With the boys’ fate uncertain, we cut to a jungle setting, where Rey is being a big ol’ showoff:
She’s doing some sort of meditation, chanting “be with me”, and just generally looking Zen-esque:
Her face falls flat: whoever she’s imploring to be with her, they’re not there. She harrumphs and comes back down to the ground, discouraged. Good thing mom is here!
Aww, Carrie. 💔 Rey tells Leia that she is starting to think that she’ll never hear the voices of the Jedi of the past, to which I say: I’m pretty sure, as we’ve established, those guys are apparently a lot harder to get in touch with than we all thought. ANAKIN GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE AND TALK TO THIS GIRL. Don’t give me that “oh she has to LEARN and GROW and BE READY to hear me” bullshit. You’re the Chosen One and you’ve got all the time in the world. I’m pretty sure you can take a phone call now and again.
Rey decides to run her training course, and Leia hands her Anakin’s lightsaber, which was destroyed in the last film in a pretty major way. Like Sidious, it is also back again with no explanation, but at least in this case there’s a LITTLE bit more of an excuse, seeing as they had to re-use footage of Carrie from before her untimely passing.
Rey sets off:
Recurring Theme: Kylo Ren, Has Written a Lot of Darth Vader Fanfic
As should surprise nobody, while another character works their ass off at self-betterment, the Skywalker stands around sulking and trying to mess them up. We find Kylo in our next scene just sort of lovingly stroking the melted helmet of Darth Vader that he has for some insane reason:
So given that Kylo I guess at some point thought Vader was talking to him, did Kylo think he and Vader were actual friends or something? Why do I get the impression this helmet was Kylo’s prom date one year? Anakin, I of all people understand how distracting Obi-Wan can be but can you PLEASE come over here and DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS TRAINWRECK?
Kylo’s using the helmet as a sort of meditation aid, closing his eyes and presumably trying to figure out where Rey is. They have some sort of weird-ass Force moment that plays out like a high/lowlight reel of the last two movies and some traumas from Rey’s past and possible future, and then it stops and Rey is shaken:
I feel ya, Rey. The Skywalkers make me wanna have a nervous breakdown, too. What’s more, poor little BB-8 got scuffed up and damaged during all of this, so Rey feels even worse. So…I think you did it wrong, Kylo, because I am unclear on how any of this is gonna help you find Rey. You did succeed in interrupting her while she was trying to do something real, and making her relive some trauma, though! That’ll win her over for sure. What about their Super Special Bond? Why doesn’t he just dial up another Shirtless Skype Call instead?
Later that day, Rey explains to Leia that she got distracted and didn’t finish the obstacle course, and hands Anakin’s lightsaber back to her — telling her she’ll “earn [Leia’s] brother’s lightsaber” one day. AHEM. Luke used that lightsaber, but IT IS ANAKIN’S LIGHTSABER. Luke even had a new one that he made himself! YES I KNOW THIS IS A PETTY THING TO GET HUNG UP ON. Their conversation concludes, and Rey says this as Leia leaves and I cry a little:
Recurring Theme: The Falcon Takes a Beating
Rey is doing more Jedi Homework, reading some of those books she swiped off Planet Ireland, when the Falcon finally arrives back to home base. It’s seen better days, though it’s also seen worse:
Rey and Poe get into this whole back and forth where she’s mad about what happened to the Falcon, and he’s mad about what she did to BB-8, and it is a damn shame that they crammed the beginning of The Last Jedi right up against the end of The Force Awakens because MY GOD these friendships needed more time to breathe.
After a little while of this, Poe tells Rey that there is indeed a spy: a mole in the First Order! And they’ve passed on a message! Then Poe has another tantrum, this time about how Rey is always training to be a Jedi instead of going on missions with them, and he stalks off. Poe, look at what an absolute shitstorm the galaxy is with the Jedi mostly gone. YOU NEED HER TO TRAIN. Stop being a baby or Leia’s gonna ground you.
Maybe The Worst Line In Star Wars History
OK, so, I admit that “worst Star Wars line” is a very competitive category. And I will own that I personally love probably 90% of the top 100 worst lines, like, unironically. I can, have, will defend the honor of Star Wars’ beyond-weird dialogue any day of the week. I’m proud of this technological terror, I too will deal in absolutes and do what I must, and I LOVE SAND, OK? But this line…it’s something. Poe gathers the Resistance gang around, and tells them all that they’ve decoded the message from this First Order mole of theirs, and…
You can almost WATCH Oscar Isaac’s soul leave his body as he prepares to deliver this line. I NEVER WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING EVER AGAIN ABOUT HOW LUCAS-ERA STAR WARS HAD TOO MUCH TALKING OR POLITICS OR WHATEVER, IF THE ALTERNATIVE IS THAT WE GET PALPATINE RETURNING “SOMEHOW”. I like that Kylo spoke to the man himself and even he didn’t really get a better explanation than “somehow”, either. You know what? This is actually wrapping around to just being hysterically funny, and so in that regard it can’t actually be considered a truly bad line. I take it back: the title of Worst Line in Star Wars is still up for grabs, I guess.
I think my favorite part is that they got this from a decoded First Order message. What the hell kind of a day at the office must it have been for your average First Order employee when the Sheev news broke? One day you’re just going about your business and the next thing you know the top brass is telling you that the boss who died decades ago is indeed alive and looking to be in charge again? Imagine the talk around the water cooler that day. (“Did you guys see that one email?”) It’s like if Walt Disney’s reanimated frozen head showed up in Burbank next week and started barking out orders and the rest of the Walt Disney Company just went along with it. I mean, they probably would, but I’d like to think they’d have at least some questions for Ol’ Uncle Walt about how this all came to pass.
…Poe’s amazing, Classic Line right here? Seems like a PERFECT place to stop for today. Sheev’s back, and he’s ready to party! You do not need to know how he’s back; he just is! SOMEHOW! And with that: what do you know? I did it! A sequel trilogy recap! This was actually a TON of fun and I really enjoyed writing it — and there is still SO MUCH MORE CRAZINESS IN THIS FILM FOR ME TO YELL ABOUT. You guys like ridiculous side quests and incredibly confusing family ties and a record-setting number of death fakeouts, right? Of course you do; if you didn’t you wouldn’t be here on this site in the first place. I hope you enjoyed this outing with me, and that you got a chuckle or two whether you’re like me and you and the sequels never got past the first date, or you hold the sequel trilogy near and dear to your heart, or if you and the sequels went through a bitter divorce that the lawyers are still sorting through. As long as Star Wars continues to be crazy — which it has — I feel confident we’ll all always find something about it to make us laugh.