You’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, right? No? Go to hell!
As for the rest of you, prepare to dive into this extremely SPOILER-FILLED post, as we prepare to talk about the end of Episode VII, and what it means for Episode VIII.
For real now!
So Rey flew away from the Resistance in the Millennium Falcon, leaving behind her new pal Finn and Poe Dameron (Who Is Quite Simply The Most Interesting Man In The Galaxy). Following the MacGuffin Map, she takes the Falcon to a far-away planet — an Island Globe that sort of looks like Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea and/or just Ireland. There, she meets a lonely robed figure: Luke Skywalker, with a Kenobi beard and a predictably mournful look on his face.
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Rey is going to learn how to use the powers of the Force. And fortunately for her, she’s already pretty far along. At the end of the first Star Wars movie, Luke was “using” the Force mostly to sharpen his aim; it wasn’t until he met Yoda that he started doing airtime somersaults and going saber-to-saber with Vader. Rey’s already got some key Force powers down: She pulled the whole “These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For” trick on Stormtrooper Bond, she telekinesis’d a lightsaber, and she generally held her own against reasonably well-trained Darksider Kylo Ren.
So it’s an easy bet that Episode VIII picks up with Rey, getting trained by Luke. A longer bet: Will Episode VIII do for Luke what Episode VII did for Han? We’ll talk about this more in our post about that big scene, but suffice it to say that the first sequel in this new trilogy is constructed, in part, as a victory lap and a send-off for the Han Solo character. In that sense, it’s not too surprising that they held off the Luke reveal until the very end.
Luke does, after all, have unfinished business. The Force Awakens features a few distant holographic appearances from the new Emperor-level Big Bad: Supreme Leader Snoke. Nothing about Snoke is made explicit in Force Awakens: Although he appears as a hologram the size of the statue in the Lincoln Memorial, he’s presumably a standard-sized being. (I can’t think of any sentient Giant species in the Star Wars universe. Unless Snoke is the vengeful second cousin of the Rancor.)
We know that Snoke has some sensitivity to the Force, and you could say that Kylo Ren is his “apprentice” — although Force Awakens doesn’t go out of its way to line up with the master/apprentice Sith doctrine established in the prequel series. (Notably, nobody in the new movie is named “Darth.”)
Some other questions left unanswered in Force Awakens:
1. Precisely who is Snoke?
He doesn’t appear to be human, which would seem to imply that he isn’t a former member of the human-first Empire. (Although, in fairness, the notion of the Empire as an exclusively “human” concern comes more from the Expanded Universe — and even the EU found a place for the alien Thrawn.) If he is some kind of Dark Side Jedi, that could imply a link to the Emperor.
2. Who are Rey’s parents?
This mystery is so mysterious that it’s not even clear if it’s actually a mystery. Rey’s parents left her on Jakku a long time ago — we never see them, but we do catch a fleeting sight of them leaving in her Force Flashback, which also features a shot of Kylo Ren being evil and faraway Luke hanging out with R2-D2.
The idea that Rey was the daughter of Han and Leia was floated throughout the making of Force Awakens. The movie would seem to deny that idea — Han and Leia don’t talk about having a daughter, and don’t react to Rey’s presence in any meaningful way — but Todd VanDerWerff at Vox has floated the idea that some Jedi mind-wiping might have been involved. It’s possible that Rey’s parents are just a red herring — that she is supposed to be a random orphan with a glorious future. But there aren’t too many random parents in the Star Wars universe. So: Is she secretly Kylo Ren’s brother? Is she even-more-secretly Luke’s daughter? (When Ren reads Rey’s mind, he sees visions of an ocean and an island — is that a vision of Rey’s future, or her past?) Is she, most secretly of all, Snoke‘s daughter?
3. Where did Maz Kanata find Luke’s original lightsaber?
Force Awakens sees the return of Luke’s original blue lightsaber — previously held by his father, Anakin, and presumed lost in the skies of Bespin after Luke’s first battle against his father. Maz has the lightsaber — she promises to explain how she got it another time. (Presumably it involves Billy Dee Williams cameo?)
The fact that that specific lightsaber calls out to Rey would strongly imply that she has some greater link to the Skywalker lineage. Indeed, there are so many things hinting that Rey is someone powerful’s daughter that it’s not totally crazy to theorize that Snoke is actually some heretofore unseen half-sibling of Luke and Leia, fathered by Vader sometime between trilogies. Maybe? Or not?
4. What’s Poe Dameron’s deal?
He’s the greatest man alive. Remember when Colin Farrell was on Scrubs? That’s Poe Dameron in anything.
5. Was Kylo Ren secretly Luke Skywalker the whole time?
This was never a question. No. Who thought that was actually a thing? That was never going to be a thing.
6. How many desert planets are there in the Star Wars galaxy?
7. What does all this mean for Episode VIII?
If the sequel holds true to Star Wars form, we’ll join up with our characters months or even years after Force Awakens, possibly with Rey finishing her training as a Jedi and setting off on a new adventure. At some point, the injured Finn will awaken and probably become a member of the Resistance alongside Poe.
There’s one major bit of original-trilogy business left on the table in Episode VII: A meeting between siblings Luke and Leia. Will that happen in Episode VIII?
By the end of Force Awakens, the First Order has decimated the seat of government for the Republic, using Starkiller Base. I actually thought the planet that they blew up was Coruscant, which would have been a hilarious and sad middle finger to anyone who loved the prequel-era continuity. But most evidence online argues that it was another big-city planet.
Regardless: The Republic is in disarray, which presumably means the Resistance (which operates as a vaguely-independent army for the Republic) is in a spot of trouble. Presumably, either Episode VIII or IX will be about taking the fight back to Snoke — The Resistance Strikes Back, anyone?
8. Why is there a Resistance and a Republic?
Shut up, that’s why!