What Did We Just See?!? My thoughts on the Star Wars Episode IX Trailer

Thousands of Star Wars fans are gathered in Chicago right now for Star Wars: Celebration (which is a massive Star Wars convention, for those who might not know). They were just treated to an hour-long panel with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and the cast of Episode IX, moderated by Stephen Colbert. The panel was streamed live online, and will probably be available to watch on YouTube soon, if not already. At the very end, everyone left the stage and they aired the very first teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX.

Here's a link to the trailer, if you haven't seen it yet: https://youtu.be/adzYW5DZoWs

Below is my breakdown. For the purposes of this summary, anything in all-caps represents the text displayed during the trailer. Italics is voice-over, and plain text is descriptions of the visuals with my interpretation.

The Trailer
We start with a black screen.

Rey: [breathing, as if she had just been running.]

The shot opens up looking at Rey, standing in a desert. Is it Jakku or Tatooine? I'm leaning towards Tatooine, since this film is supposed to wrap up the nine "saga films," in which Tatooine has been very important. I suppose it could also be Jedha, the desert planet from Rogue One, but I tend not to think so. It only popped into my head because the rock formations reminded me of the overturned ancient stone statues of Jedi Knights featured in Rogue One.

Luke: We've passed on all we know.

Rey unhooks her lightsaber - the very same lightsaber that once belonged to Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and was broken in half during The Last Jedi - and holds it at the ready.

Luke: A thousand generations live in you now.

We hear the infamous sound of a TIE fighter, as a ship approaches Rey from the distance. At this point, I couldn't tell what type of fighter, although I had my suspicions.

Luke: But this is your fight.


At this point in the trailer, I got chills, because it reminded me of the text from the first Phantom Menace trailer over 20 years ago. ("Every generation has a legend. Every journey has a first step. Every saga has a beginning.")

We cut to a different view of the desert, and Kylo Ren's TIE fighter zooms across the screen, leaving a trail of dust.

Meanwhile, Rey ignites her lightsaber, and turns away from the fighter, looking like she's ready to start sprinting.

We cut to the inside of Kylo's fighter, and he accelerates.

Rey looks back at the approaching ship, and then starts running as fast as she can. Just as the TIE catches up, she leaps up into the air in a backflip. She's either going to jump over the ship, or land on top of it. I'm thinking it will be the latter.


We get a series of short shots, cut quickly. (This seems to be a pattern in trailers these days, which encourages viewers to pause and play the trailer and hunt for details.)

A planet at night. A ship flies across the shot, past some mountains, and approaches some kind of city. This looks like a new planet, from the brief glance we got.

Kylo Ren wielding his lightsaber in a forest. The shot has a red tint. He hits someone with the hilt of his saber and throws him to the ground. He is flanked by Stormtroopers.

Kylo reassembling his mask, which he had angrily shattered in The Last Jedi. It's hard to say how much he'll be wearing the mask in the movie. He wasn't wearing it in the previous shot, and the Celebration panel showed an image of him with no helmet on, sitting in a throne very reminiscent of the Emperor's Throne from Return of the Jedi.

Back to the desert planet (presumably the same one as before), but this time we see Finn standing in the foreground, with Poe up on a rock formation in the background.

BB-8 and new droid D-O look towards the camera, and tilt their heads.

Interior of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, flying through hyperspace. Chewie is in the co-pilot seat. We switch angles and see Lando in the pilot seat, laughing. The ship exits hyperspace, but it cuts away before we see where they are.


Another callback to the Phantom Menace! Oh my gosh, you guys! They really are concluding the entire saga!

We cut to the desert planet again, to a large flat sandy plain with a grid-like arrangement of metallic spikes coming out of the ground. Some of them look like moisture vaporators. A skiff (looking a lot like the ones at the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi is being fired upon. Trailing the skiff are either Stormtroopers with jetpacks, or possibly even Mandalorians.

Aboard the skiff are Finn, Poe, and C-3PO.

We get a couple more quick shots.

A fighter - which looks like an A-Wing, being shot down. I couldn't get a good look at what planet that was on.

Someone's hands holding a medal, which looks like either Han's or Luke's from the ceremony at the end of A New Hope.

Rey and Leia embracing. A tear streams down Rey's face. I'm wondering if this is an alternate take from The Force Awakens, being repurposed to tell Leia's story in this film. Carrie Fisher tragically passed away in December 2016, long before filming began on Episode IX. Abrams stated that they had found a way to properly conclude Leia's story in this film using cut and unused footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Luke: We will always be with you.

In a grassy plain, Chewbacca, BB-8, C-3PO, Rey, Poe, and Finn are looking - from the viewer's perspective - over our right shoulder. The shot reverses, and we see what they're looking at. Across a body of water, there is a huge piece of metal, which looks like the edge of a concave disc. Unless I'm very much mistaken, it's the ruins of the Second Death Star.

Luke: No one's every really gone.

The trailer cuts to black, as we hear an evil laugh. A cackle. The laugh of Emperor Palpatine.



After the Trailer
At this point, at the Celebration panel, the lights on the stage come back on. But instead of blue lights, which had lit the discussion before the trailer, these lights are red. One man stands alone on the stage. It's Ian freaking McDiarmid, the actor who has portrayed Palpatine since 1983. The crowd erupted in cheers, and when they died down, McDiarmid spoke into a microphone, in Palpatine's voice, "Roll it again." And then they showed the trailer again. And then I went onto YouTube and watched it a few more times.

What Does it All Mean?
Leave it to a Star Wars teaser to show us so much, without really showing us anything. I have no idea what the central plot of this movie is going to be, and I don't think I'm meant to. What are our heroes trying to accomplish? What does the title mean? What's going to happen to Kylo Ren? What's Lando going to do? Who is Janna? Where's Rose? Well, I'll take a stab at each of those.

What are our heroes trying to accomplish? I'm not really sure what's happening on Tatooine. It looks like there's going to be some kind of confrontation there, between Rey and Kylo. But looks can be deceiving. Maybe they were there to retrieve information, or some kind of McGuffin, and the First Order found out they were there. I'm thinking their main quest will take place somewhere else. Specifically, wherever they were when they were looking at the ruins of the Death Star. You would think that would be the forest moon of Endor, but it didn't look like any part of Endor we saw in Return of the Jedi. But maybe it's just a different part of the moon. My theory is that they have found out that someone is pulling the strings behind the First Order, and it will turn out to be Palpatine, who somehow survived the events of Return of the Jedi.

What does the title mean? Aren't all the Skywalkers dead now? I assume it's not talking about Luke, because his story for the most part ended in The Last Jedi. I think his role in this film will be small, and he'll just be there to give advice to Rey. That seems most consistent with what we've seen of Force ghosts in the past movies - from Obi-Wan in the original trilogy, to Yoda in The Last Jedi. So I have three possible interpretations of the title. They could still make it that Rey is actually a Skywalker. Maybe Kylo was lying to her. Or maybe he didn't know the full story. But I don't think that's the route they go. Maybe Kylo Ren will come back to the light side. He is, after all, the nephew of Luke Skywalker, and the son of Leia (who was born a Skywalker). My third idea is a variation of the second, and I'll get to it in the next section.

What's going to happen to Kylo Ren? If the plot is going to focus on how Palpatine has been pulling the strings, how will Kylo Ren react to this new information? What if his idolization of Darth Vader has been manipulated by Palpatine? What if Palpatine was speaking to Kylo, pretending to be Darth Vader? One thing that could shock Kylo into changing his ways would be a message from the "real Darth Vader," by which I mean Anakin Skywalker. Could we see Hayden Christensen portraying a Force ghost of Anakin? In that case, the title could mean the fall of Darth Vader and the rise of Anakin Skywalker in the eyes of Kylo/Ben. This trilogy, then, would be almost an echo of the fall and rise of Anakin Skywalker. The repercussions of Anakin's story reaching into the future. If that's where they're going with the story, I'm onboard.

What's Lando going to do? I'm not really sure about this one. Maybe they just pull him out of retirement to help with the mission. Maybe he will take his rank of General and lead an attack on the First Order fleet, at the helm of the Falcon. Will they pay homage to what we learned about Lando and the Falcon in Solo: A Star Wars Story? The Falcon isn't just a ship to Lando; it houses the "soul" of his dear friend L3-37. Whatever his role is, I'm glad they brought him back.

Who is Janna? Janna a new character in The Rise of Skywalker, played by Naomi Ackie. I'm guessing she will be someone who lives on whatever planet is home to the Death Star ruins. She could lead them there. Maybe she's felt the effects of Palpatine's presence there (a la the darkness in Mirkwood in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit). But honestly I have no idea.

Where's Rose? She wasn't in the trailer, which makes me sad. It was really heartwarming to hear the crowd cheer for Kelly Marie Tran when she was introduced during the panel. I think she got a bigger reaction than anyone else on the stage. In the wake of The Last Jedi, she was on the receiving end of a lot of backlash on the internet. Apparently, people didn't like her character, and decided to take that out on Kelly with personal attacks, to the point where Kelly deleted her social media accounts. So hearing the crowd at Celebration made me proud to be a Star Wars fan. It proved to me that those cyber trolls are a loud minority who don't represent fandom at all. I'm guessing she still has a significant part to play in the movie, because J.J. Abrams said something along the lines of, "I really appreciate a lot of the things that Rian Johnson [director of The Last Jedi] did, but one of the best things was casting Kelly Marie Tran."

I'm sure I'll come up with more theories and ideas as I watch the trailer over and over again, and as I hear the theories and reactions of other blogs and podcasts. For now, I'll just say December can't get here soon enough.

What did you think of the trailer? What do you think The Rise of Skywalker means? Check out my contact information below for ways you can join the conversation.

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  1. That wasnt kylo putting the Helmut back together. Look again. Hairy, creature hands.

  2. Loving the Anakin theory. I really like the idea of them bring the story full circle.


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