What Happens After Rise of Skywalker

When it was announced that there would be a new Star Wars Holiday Special, everyone scratched their heads and said, “Well, this is sort of cool, I guess.” The original Star Wars Holiday Special, released in 1978 and aired only once because of how utterly awful it was, has lived on in bootlegs and become something of an ironic favorite. If you can sit through the two hours of it, you’ll be treated to some really cool animated Star Wars segments and some of the most bizarre skits ever put to film. 

However, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (currently streaming on Disney+) takes a more modern and straightforward approach, crossing space adventure with silly comedy and a Dickensian tale of ghosts showing someone filled with doubt the possibility of their future.

The new Holiday Special revolves around the Wookiee holiday of Life Day, just as the original did. But instead of just random asides to show us Itchybacca watching VR porn and an Imperial Officer jamming out to the holographic tunes of Jefferson Starship (yes, that is what happens in the original, if you’ve never seen it), we’re given two parallel stories, both of which aren’t exactly canon but do suggest a future beyond the polarizing The Rise of Skywalker

The first is Poe Dameron’s desire to create the best Life Day celebration he can for his friends, with all the tip yip they can eat. The other story is Rey’s quest to train Finn, and how inadequate she feels as a teacher. She embarks on a journey through time to learn what it will take for her to be a good teacher, a mentor, and a friend. Naturally, she gets a little help from the ghost of master Yoda on the way.

This post contains some minor spoilers for The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special.

The Future of Star Wars

It’s this second story that gives us an interesting glimpse into what the future of the Star Wars timeline and Rey’s journey in particular could hold. Though it’s not canon, the best of the LEGO Star Wars adventures (read: The Freemaker Adventures) were always what was called “canon adjacent.” The storytellers took the established (or yet-to-be-established) canon as their jumping off point and then told entertaining tales in that space. 

For some watching The Rise of Skywalker, they got the false impression that Rey had resigned herself to the deserts of Tatooine, but since there has been no storytelling beyond that point, it’s been left up to the imaginations of Star Wars fans to wonder what she does next.

For Finn, actor John Boyega felt (rightfully) slighted that he was used as a marketing tool to imply he might become a Jedi, and then the movies never paid it off. The glimpses of what we got next look to address at least some of those issues.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special shows us just how the future of Star Wars storytelling beyond Episode IX is likely to play out, with Rey acting as a struggling teacher to bring the ways of the Jedi to Finn. Would she still adhere so closely to the ancient Jedi texts? That’s the lesson she’s able to learn through the course of this special: that adhering to the doctrine is not as important as being someone’s friend. 

It’s a powerful message for something billed as a holiday special. In fact, it actually feels a little subversive in a landscape of specials that are overly religious in tone or metaphor. This is beautifully agnostic and anti-establishment.

Setting the Stage

This special sets the stage for the possibilities of storytelling we might see in the future from these characters. Granted, this isn’t canon and it can be overwritten with abandon, but having Rey train Finn as a Jedi and letting Finn have his own adventures with that training is a powerful direction to take and would go some of the way to right the wrongs John Boyega has long spoke about.

This also establishes that Rey would be taking knowledge from the ghosts of the Jedi from her past. She never met Yoda, but is able to meet him here in a Jedi temple, much like Yoda was able to commune with Ezra, temple to temple, mind to mind, in Star Wars Rebels. Rey is powerful in the Force and has a responsibility to continue the spark of resistance that Luke Skywalker created back on Crait.

Luke Skywalker promised that he would not be the last Jedi and this is really the first glimpse we have of Rey working to ensure that she’s not the last Jedi either.

Short on Politics

The only thing missing from our LEGO glimpse at the future was how the galaxy would be put back together politically. With Palpatine and the First Order dead once and for all and the entire New Republic government murdered with the destruction of Hosnian Prime, will Rey and her friends help rebuild the government? With Leia dead, does that responsibility get left up to Poe?

This was one of the chief problems with the sequel trilogy as well, so it’s no wonder that it doesn’t get addressed in the LEGO Holiday Special. Also, it’s a LEGO Holiday Special, so why would I be expecting all that much political action anyway? But this is still one of the big unanswered questions for the universe as we move forward. What does rebuilding look like?

For Rey, that means learning from the lessons of the past in a way her master, Luke Skywalker, struggled to. It means reinserting friendship and camaraderie into the foundations of the Jedi, rather than the cold, dogmatic order they became.

But how to rebuild the galaxy? That’s a bigger question.

Perhaps the heroes left in the Star Wars universe can find a better way than the representative republic entrenched in capitalism that they built and destroyed twice in the span of a few generations. Maybe that’s the way to stamp out extremism like the First Order in the first place, before it ever gets a chance to flourish.

What Comes Next

There is no word at all for any official storytelling that takes place after the end of the Skywalker Saga. Everything so far announced happens during or long before. But the Holiday Special gives us a blueprint of what that future may well look like when that storytelling happens. 

Some speculate that we’ll eventually get an Episode X, XI, and XII, but I think the Skywalker saga itself is over. I think this promises something inherently more interesting. The sequel characters in their own trilogy, divorced from the legacy of the past, have a chance to shine as they carve their new way.

There’s a moment in the Holiday Special where Rey keys in on the fact that the best master/apprentice teams were friends. And that friendship was one of the most important ingredients of those relationships. And that’s the promise this implied to me: that one day, whether it’s in live action or cartoon, in a movie or a TV show, we’ll get Rey and Finn as a wisecracking pair of friends who also happen to be Jedi, back to back, righting the wrongs of the galaxy.

And, to me, that’s something to look forward to.

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