Overflowing with new characters, worlds, and revelations, J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduces more questions than it could possibly answer in its 142 minute runtime. Though the film has been sold to audiences as the grand finale of the long-running Skywalker saga, a story that kicked off in 1977 with George Lucas' comparatively nimble space adventure Star Wars, fans know that Disney, the company that purchased the franchise in a $4 billion deal in 2012, won't let the franchise die. The Rise of Skywalker is most likely not a definitive ending. It's more like an inflection point.
Where might the narrative go next? That's a question that's doggedly not answered by the actual hug-filled conclusion of The Rise of Skywalker, which seeks to close a series of loops by rhyming certain images from the original trilogy and bringing back ghosts from previous films in the same way Return of the Jedi did back in 1983. Of the major characters from the original trilogy, only Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Lando Calrissian, the charming scoundrel pilot played by Billy Dee Williams, survived the Disney-era trilogy; Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia each died at different intervals, providing shocks and tear-jerker moments along the journey. Emperor Palpatine, who improbably re-emerges as the series Big Bad in The Rise of Skywalker, has now died in the saga twice -- but more on him later.
The new characters proved to be more resilient. Daisy Ridley's young Jedi master Rey learned her true lineage and ended the film on Tatooine, where she buried Luke and Leia's lightsabers in the sand, adopted the Skywalker name, and wielded a lightsaber all her own. Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron got promoted to general of the Resistance and led a daring aerial assault on a giant army of Star Destroyers, likely securing a strong political future if he chooses to pursue it. John Boyega's Finn redeemed himself in battle and showed signs of having his own Force powers, suggesting that he could one day become a Jedi as well. BB-8, Rey's soccer-ball-like droid companion, is still jaunty and indestructible. It wasn't all sunshine: Adam Driver's Ben Solo, formerly known as Kylo Ren, found himself in the ill-fated Darth Vader role, sacrificing his life to revive Rey and sharing a kiss before dying.