Games of throne
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters now.
Star Wars fans are some of the most involved people from any fandom, and as everyone involved in making the films know, they take their Galaxy very seriously and very personally — so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the years leading up to The Rise of Skywalker were filled with intense theorizing about the saga’s endgame.
While some of the wild fan theories never came to fruition, others were confirmed in Episode IX. Let’s take a look at which ones audiences nailed.
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Games of throne REYLO
Reylo, the portmanteau word that defines the romantic relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, was only a spark of a ship when The Force Awakens premiered in 2015, and back then, even the most devoted Reylo shippers didn’t quite believe their dream would come to pass. However, The Last Jedi gave them hope and a galore of romantic imagery, and The Rise of Skywalker went out of its way to confirm that the Force bond between Rey and Kylo Ren was not only a fascinating power but also the Star Wars equivalent of a soulmates’ link.
In The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren remembers his Episode VIII proposal as him offering Rey his hand, a very matrimonial term, and she retorts that she wanted to take Ben Solo’s hand. And yes, they get an on-screen kiss before Ben becomes one with the Force.
Games of throne BENDEMPTION
The redemption arc for Ben Solo was the theory that Kylo Ren would abandon the dark side of the Force, motivated either by the love he felt for Rey or by the immense regret he felt after killing his father and join forces with the good guys to defeat the Emperor. Although this idea was often linked with Reylo, it wasn’t exclusive of those that defended the ship, because redemption is one of Star Wars major themes, and because Disney and Marvel had been releasing comics and short animated cartoons that featured Ben Solo and Kylo Ren in a very sympathetic light.
Bendemptionists were also divided into two groups: those that believed that Ben Solo would live after being redeemed and go on to have a relatively happy life while he tried to repair the damage he did, and those of the Anakin Skywalker school of thought that saw the writing on the wall about Ben Solo dying immediately after his redemption. J.J. Abrams went with the latter choice, mirroring Darth Vader’s redemption in Return of the Jedi.
Games of throne REY PALPATINE
The Rey Palpatine theories had been around since The Force Awakens, but to be fair 2015 also brought a flurry of “Rey Kenobi” and “Rey Skywalker,” with every human of the Galaxy becoming a candidate to be Rey’s mom or dad. When The Last Jedi doubled down on Rey Nobody, a bold move that pushed the franchise into a more egalitarian direction where anyone, regardless of bloodline, could have the Force, the appearance of Dark Rey in the D23 trailer reignited the old Rey Palpatine flame.
Episode IX not only confirms that Rey is Palpatine’s grandaughter, but just in case the detractors of that bloodline wanted to argue that Palpatine is only the father of lies, she deploys one of good old Sheev’s signature moves: Force lightning, which apparently now is genetic and not an unstable Sith ability as it was in Legends.
Games of throne DARK UNION VS. DIVINE COUPLE
This theory, originally crafted by Marie-Claire Gould from What The Force Podcast, was a latecomer but a goodie nonetheless. It proposed that one of the main plot points of The Rise of Skywalker would deal with the Emperor’s coveting of Rey (the “Dark Union”) in opposition to Rey’s more natural affection for Kylo Ren, someone closer to her in age, temperament and nature than a power-crazy old raisin could ever be.
Dark Union vs. Divine Couple was one of Campbell’s favorite story structures and can be found in other works like Swan Lake, Tristan and Iseult and, more recently, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In The Rise of Skywalker, the Emperor does not only covet Rey’s youth, but his endgame is to possess her body through the enactment of an ancient Sith ritual, confirming that Kylo Ren was a decoy and a bait all along. Too bad for him that true love wins the day.
Games of throne GAME OF THRONES DEATH
The rushed finale of Game of Thrones left many fans of that show in shock, and the similarities between some of Episode IX‘s trailer scenes and the HBO finale had some fans jumping to the conclusion that there would be a traumatic Throne Room death in The Rise of Skywalker.
To be fair, J.J. Abrams doesn’t stab Kylo Ren’s heart on Exogol (that happens in another scene,) and he’s not explicitly killed because he’s too dangerous to live, but by giving his life Force to Rey. But there was a Throne Room death precedent in The Return of the Jedi… and the similarities are still eerie, and these Star Wars/GoT fans called it.
Games of throne SNOKE WAS A CLONE
In The Rise of Skywalker, it is revealed that Snoke was a clone of other Snokes, created in vats and controlled by Palpatine, something that contradicts the novelization of The Last Jedi, where the readers can see the world from Snoke’s point of view, and he doesn’t think that he’s Palpatine nor knows at all that he’s a clone. In any case, these Snoke clones were born from the ashes of the Expanded Universe and the prequel trilogy, where Palpatine was, to put it mildly, a crazy clone hoarder.
Snoke’s “cloneliness” also attempts to fix the problem that many fans had with his death in The Last Jedi, which is a little disturbing in and of itself, particularly since games like The Force Unleashed and The Clone Wars cartoon went to extreme lengths to value clones as valuable individuals, despite the design that their creators had for them.
Games of throne THE DAGGER IS A WAYFINDER
The dagger that Rey wielded in the trailers was thought, by most of the fans, to be an ancient weapon — maybe the Mortis dagger from The Clone Wars — that would be key to defeating Palpatine.
Though the dagger is not the Wayfinder perse, it acts as a map that leads to the actual one, and it is never wielded as an actual weapon in the present-day events of the movie.
Games of throne ANCIENT SITH PLAY A ROLE
In one of the most terrifying scenes of The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine explains that all the Sith will enter the body of Rey as she kills him — not just him. The creepy amphitheater of Exogol is also filled with dark hooded people that chant as the ritual of transferring the Sith souls to Rey begins.
To be fair, it was a very interesting idea that explains a lot about the Sith “Rule of Two,” in regards to Palpatine; no wonder that he preferred young, intact apprentices over crippled (Maul) or old (Dooku) ones, if taking over their body to prolong his own life was the whole point.
Games of throne LEIA BECOMES ONE WITH THE FORCE
Carrie Fisher’s death left a massive plot hole in The Rise of Skywalker, which was originally planned to be Leia’s movie, just like The Force Awakens had been Han’s and The Last Jedi had been Luke’s. Although J.J. Abrams tried his best to film around found footage from The Force Awakens and some CGI for the younger Leia scenes, there was only so much that he could do to give the Princess General the farewell that she deserved.
Leia’s passing happens almost off-camera as her body vanishes under a sheet to become one with the Force. The Resistance General eventually joins her brother as a Force ghost watching over Rey later in the movie.
Games of throne THE TWIN SUNS OF TATOOINE
This idea had been around for a long time; J.J. Abrams claimed to be a fan of the Original Trilogy, and Star Wars tends to rhyme its episodes. As Tatooine’s twin suns were the establishing shot of Luke Skywalker’s call to adventure in A New Hope, and the saga deals with duality, it made sense to believe that the final shot would include the white sun and the red.
In Episode IX‘s final scene, Rey is standing with her back to the camera, alongside Poe Dameron’s droid BB-8, contemplating the sun rising on Tatooine in front of the Lars homestead.
Games of throne SITH FLEET AND SUPERWEAPONS
While the Sith Fleet is technically called the “Final Order fleet,” and the Imperial design and red trimming of the Star Destroyers that appeared on the trailer gave the game away long before Episode IX‘s release, fans were right about the massively sized fleet belonging to the Emperor and not to the First Order.
They were also right in their remarks about each Star Destroyer carrying Deathstar technology, something that was foreshadowed in The Last Jedi, both with the planet-killing Dreadnought that Paige Tico takes down and at the siege of Crait when the First Order brings out a miniaturized Death Star cannon, implying that the technology had been around for quite some time.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.
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