Star Wars is back. A brand new trilogy of numbered films has begun, and so far it’s looking pretty good! One of the most interesting things about the new trilogy to me is that, for the first time, Star Wars is a current franchise during the reign of social media geekdom. Star Wars was always a major tent pole of popular culture, but now information and wild mass guessing can be shared and propagated faster than ever.
So let’s get in on the fun! Probably mostly by design, Episode 7 has left us with a lot to think about and wonder at while we wait for Episode 8. Many fans’ appraisal of The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy itself will be affected by how Episode 8 answers the following questions.
SPOILERS ARE THE PATH TO THE DARK SIDE!
What is Supreme Leader Snoke’s History?
So at least he didn’t turn out to be Jar Jar Binks. But this Dark Force sensitive villain couldn’t have come from nowhere. I’ve seen every theory from Snoke being Darth Plagueis to the Grand Inquisitor to even a reanimated Darth Vader, but that last one doesn’t hold up even at face value.
Actor Andy Serkis has basically said that Snoke is a new character who’s aware of the events of previous films. But we still don’t know how he may have risen from the splintered Empire, or if he existed outside of it, how he became powerful with the Force, how became leader of the First Order itself.
We know that he was around long enough to influence Kylo Ren and turn him to the Dark Side while he was training with Luke. But we don’t know how long ago that was.
How Exactly Did Ben Solo Turn to the Dark Side?
One of the problems that Force Awakens could fall prey to as the trilogy continues is that the more interesting parts of the story may end up happening off screen. I mean, seriously, Luke Skywalker had started teaching a new generation of Jedi but was betrayed and ruined by his own nephew? Why couldn’t that have been Episode 7 of the new trilogy?
It seems like the sort of thing that would be perfect for a tie-in novel. My biggest worry is that it will be retold in the next movie in a cheap cursory way when it feels like such an important question for the main characters. But it’s also likely that it’ll come up through the course of further attempts at Kylo Ren’s redemption, because that seems pretty likely to me.
Those are more questions about how it will be handled, but we still don’t know how or why he turned. What fears and or dark motivations might Snoke have instilled and or played on? Han and Leia make it seem like they might not have been close enough to Ben and he mentions feeling the pull to the light. It could come from some sense of wanting familial belonging. Why, on the Starkiller Base, did Kylo decide to pursue the darkness and cut off his family?
There’s also the question of the rest of the Knights of Ren. Are they also former students of Luke’s fallen to the Dark Side? If Kylo Ren is their leader why aren’t they on hand for First Order Business?
Has The New Republic Been Completely Wiped Out?
Outside of the new expanded universe, the New Republic is basically meaningless to the average Force Awakens viewer. The movie barely established that the New Republic had been governing the galaxy after the Empire was dissolved and just barely managed to make the destruction of Coruscant (which never gets called back and named) as the first serious-business-now moment.
I mentioned in my lead up to Episode 7 that having at least 3 political bodies active in the sequel trilogy could be a good source for conflict and intrigue but judging by episode 7 at least it seems like the new movies won’t be interested.
The new canon makes it seem that Republic loyalists and forces mustering together would be at least possible. The galaxy is a big place, and if the Empire could rally after losing Palpatine, Vader and the second Death Star, perhaps the Republic could make a comeback.
Though, on the other hand, that’s extremely rare in the Star Wars Universe. Very rarely has establishment good, like the Republic or even the Jedi as a whole, beaten the bad guys. It’s always been a handful of destined heroes overcoming tremendous odds to banish darkness, then the establishment good and average person gets complacent or oblivious, evil makes a focused, spectacular comeback, rinse repeat. Is it too much to hope for a “Gondor Calls for Aid” moment in Episode 9?
What Will The First Order Do Now?
The Empire didn’t sit on their thumbs wondering how they would bully the galaxy without their Death Star. The First Order isn’t going to take the destruction of the Starkiller Base lying down either. Especially with Rey on her way to train with Skywalker, Snoke undoubtedly will expedite any other plans he has to spread the First Order’s control over the galaxy.
The First Order will probably take advantage of the chaos that’s sure to result from the destruction of Coruscant. They might even be able to get some legitimacy as the biggest governing body in the galaxy if they can convince some of the other core worlds that they can run the show better. The Resistance certainly doesn’t seem big enough to exercise any kind of authority on that scale.
As for specific plans, Luke Skywalker is still undesirable number one. In interrogating Rey, Kylo Ren was able to glimpse the ancient isle where she eventually journeyed. Will Kylo and Snoke be able to piece together where this Jedi hideaway is and hunt Luke and Rey down?
How Will Captain Phasma Reappear?
Did Phasma have to get the Boba Fett screen time treatment? Can we at least get her hyped up memetic badassery expanded in the new EU?
Word of God has said that Captain Phasma’s role will be increased in Episode 8. Perhaps there will be an ongoing rivalry between her and Finn.
We can imagine what the story will be like for the Force Users going forward but what about Poe and Finn and General Hux and Phasma?
If the trilogy continues following the story beats of the original trilogy, then Phasma will likely hound the heads of the Resistance much the same way Fett tracked the Millennium Falcon. It really depends on what state the conflict is in by the events of Episode 8. Will the Resistance be a skittery defensive stance like the Rebellion was or will things be more even between the First Order and the Resistance this time around? Indications seem to point to the former. Hopefully we’ll get to see Phasma leading some fearsome campaigns.
Who Are Rey’s Parents?
It really does seem like Luke will end up being Rey’s father, although at this point I am definitely in the camp where it feels just too obvious. If it is true there are several questions that would have to be answered. First, who’s the mother?
In the Legends EU Luke Skywalker specifically amended the Jedi Order’s stance on romance, attachment and family to avert the taboos that contributed to Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. This left him free to pursue and have children with Mara Jade. We have no information that might indicate who the mother might be, not even a plausible cast actor in an unknown role. But it’s early for that.
If Rey is Luke’s daughter, and she was presumably training with Luke’s students, why wouldn’t she remember that? Why wouldn’t Kylo Ren remember it? Is it possible even Luke doesn’t know he had a daughter? Did some unknown party or maybe even the mother steal her/have her in secret and eventually leave her behind on Jakku?
The other popular theory seems to be that Rey could be a descendant of Obiwan Kenobi. For me this really revolves around why they decided to give Rey a British accent for the character. Was it a conscious decision, deliberately meant to jive with the character’s mysterious backstory or did they simply let Daisy Ridley keep her natural accent because it felt right?
At any rate, it definitely seems more like Rey has some specific connection to Luke’s lightsaber rather than being a totally random new manifest Force progeny.
By the way, can Rey get a saberstaff? She already uses that metal quarterstaff and she needs her own lightsaber.
Will Luke Rejoin The Rest of the Heroes?
The opening crawl of Episode 7 made it pretty clear that General Organa needed her brother’s help in the fight against the First Order. So now that Rey has found Luke, is that going to happen?
Is Luke going to end up being more like Obi-Wan in A New Hope or Yoda in Empire Strikes Back? Luke is not so onset in age as Yoda. He could still have some fight in him. Really, the heart of this question is how is Luke feeling about and dealing with all that’s happened since the events of Return of the Jedi? His isolation could imply any number of trains of thought. Is he doubting himself?
Is he primarily hiding from the First Order until new Force Sensitives like Rey find him? The Jedi have always been the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. That means that sooner or later Luke and Rey will have to emerge from hiding and confront their failure and their enemies.
What Will Be The Overall Arc Of The Trilogy?
What will the sequel trilogy be about? George Lucas originally conceived the Star Wars trilogy, and the prequel trilogy to a less cohesive degree, as many parts of one whole story. That was the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. What will the sequel trilogy be about?
There are obviously the threads of a narrative bigger than its own laid throughout The Force Awakens. Rey, Kylo Ren, the First Order and the Resistance all have further stories to tell. Will the sequel trilogy be another familial redemptive drama for Kylo Ren? Will it involve some revelatory reconciliation between Ben Solo and Rey?
Can Disney and Lucasfilm conceive of and present a true trilogy with a story worthy of Star Wars? The Force Awakens has the sequel trilogy off to a great start at least.
But here’s a real pipe dream scenario. George Lucas’s Star Wars movies comprised a tale told in six parts. What if Episode 9 doesn’t tie everything neatly together, like how Revenge of the Sith purposefully left off with Anakin’s children? Granted, the original trilogy had already been made, so that tie in was expected. But what if Disney and Lucasfilm are already talking about a second sequel trilogy? Episodes 10, 11 and 12? Maybe they weren’t before The Force Awakens became the fastest money making movie ever, but you can bet that somebody at Disney has floated the idea by now.
Do you have any other burning questions about Episode 8? Let us know in the comments!