‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Needs to Answer This 1 Huge Question

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the line for the saga’s central family. After nine movies focused on Anakin Skywalker and his legacy, director J.J. Abrams will somehow end the story George Lucas started back in 1977. How exactly he’ll do so remains to be seen.

After The Last Jedi‘s divisive response and Solo’s underperformance, the Star Wars fandom can use an undisputed win. Sure, Baby Yoda-mania continues over on The Mandalorian, but cinematically, Star Wars remains in a dark place. While we know The Rise of Skywalker will not answer every question we have, there’s at least one that it has to definitely resolve.

The cast and crew of 'Star Wars:  The Rise of Skywalker'
The cast and crew of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

The story must connect all three ‘Star Wars’ trilogies

The Rise of Skywalker is the final chapter of the sequel trilogy. As such, fans will learn the fates of its two main characters, Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. Whether the former actually does come from a Force-sensitive lineage or the latter achieves redemption, their stories end here.

But the film has a much grander responsibility. The Rise of Skywalker — and the sequel trilogy as a whole — are part of the ongoing story Lucas started, chronologically at least, with The Phantom Menace. With decades of adventures behind it, The Rise of Skywalker is the grand finale to not one but three Star Wars trilogies.

That means its ultimate narrative cannot be tied to simply Rey, Luke, or even Anakin. To truly unite all nine stories, The Rise of Skywalker has to get at something much deeper than any one protagonist. It has to identify the connective tissue that brings all three sets of heroes together.

The Skywalker bloodline needs to come to an end

On one level, the nine-part Skywalker saga is — as its name suggests — about a single family. In the prequels, we see Anakin become a Jedi, fall in love, and adopt the Darth Vader persona. Then, in the original trilogy, Vader faces off against his own inner goodness in the form of his children, ultimately choosing to sacrifice himself to preserve it.

The sequel trilogy expands the focus a bit beyond simply the Skywalkers. As far as we know, Rey has no genetic connection to that family. Yet, Anakin’s burden falls to his grandson, Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren. And much like Vader, he is torn behind darkness and light throughout the trilogy.

Both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi toy with the notion of Kylo’s redemption. Some fans assume his bond with Rey will lead to Kylo embracing his inner Skywalker. But even if it doesn’t, The Rise of Skywalker won’t feel like a true end to the Skywalker saga if he survives. Assuming Leia’s story concludes, Kylo would be the only remaining Skywalker.

The film must definitively explain balancing the Force

This, of course, leads us to the ultimate question that has plagued the Star Wars saga from the beginning. As Lucas intended, Anakin was the chosen one who an ancient prophecy proclaimed would bring “balance” to the Force. However, fans still aren’t sure if he ever accomplished that task or — really — what balancing the Force truly means.

Some see balance as the extinction of the Sith. In that interpretation, Anakin achieved this — at least for a time — by tossing Emperor Palpatine down that reactor shaft and sacrificing himself in the process. In another take, balance could have been reached in Revenge of the Sith, which concludes with literally two Jedi and two Sith left standing.

The Rise of Skywalker has a real opportunity to clear up that ambiguity once and for all. Throughout the three trilogies, the galaxy has been anything but balanced, going from the Republic into the chaos of the Empire and then the First Order. In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata touches on the epic battle of good and evil through the ages. But what if the saga’s destiny isn’t to land on one side or another?

J.J. Abrams could redefine the true nature of the Force

The sequel trilogy — and The Last Jedi, in particular — focuses more on internal balance. Rey and Kylo Ren each have darkness and light in them, after all. So perhaps The Rise of Skywalker will see the extreme ideologies of the Jedi and Sith fall by the wayside completely in favor of a more individualized version of balance.

Clearly, embracing one radical perception of the Force or another hasn’t worked for either the Jedi or Sith long-term. Bidding farewell to both — as Luke himself wished in the previous film — could give The Rise of Skywalker the sense of finality it needs and finally provide closure to the Skywalker saga.

Could Abrams play it safe and deliver the rousing adventure fans want? Of course. But we already know — or, at least, suspect — Abrams isn’t afraid to recontextualize elements of the saga. Besides, for The Rise of Skywalker to live up to its name, the Skywalker family needs a true legacy which will live on in the canon. Changing the very nature of the Force would certainly qualify, even if such a move would (once again) anger fans.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.