[WARNING: MAJOR STAR WARS SPOILERS BELOW!]
Return of the Jedi’s controversial revelation that Leia was actually Luke’s twin sister all along has never really bothered me. In my mind, it was always as much a part of the series’ DNA as Vader being Luke’s father; it was, after all, added to the canon before I was born, so I just accepted it, no questions asked.
It sure pissed off plenty of viewers back in 1983, though.
From my first viewing, I have considered The Rise of Skywalker to be perfectly enjoyable; its visual style is absolutely breathtaking, and its various chase scenes, sword fights, and space battles are fun and exciting in the moment. My personal problems with the film exist on a broader, more fundamental level: I simply feel that it fails to serve as a satisfying grand finale because it refuses to build on the themes introduced in the previous installments.
The earlier episodes of the Sequel Trilogy laid such a promising foundation: The Force Awakens explored a galaxy trapped in the shadows of its own dark past, while The Last Jedi argued that the new heroes would need to learn from their predecessors’ mistakes in order to break the cycle of war and violence. The Rise of Skywalker squanders nearly all of that tantalizing potential, instead recycling old, familiar twists and plot devices. Consequently, it’s about as generic and formulaic as the franchise gets—safe, comfortable, and utterly predictable.
As I reflect on my… complicated relationship with the movie, however, I am forced to acknowledge that it doesn’t truly belong to me. When future generations of Star Wars enthusiasts sit down to experience The Rise of Skywalker for the first time, their eyes unclouded by hype and overinflated expectations, will they even care that J.J. Abrams needlessly revised Rey’s origins, or that the unexplained revival of Emperor Palpatine was gratuitous at best?
As an unrepentant Prequel Trilogy apologist, who the hell am I to judge?
This will be my last word on the topic of Episode IX; it’s time to take Yoda’s advice and let go of my anger—before the Dark Side of this fandom consumes me as it has so many others.