Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

When the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted, it was our first real look at the final installment of the Skywalker saga. There were plenty of new details to obsess over and theorize about, but much of what we saw still left us in the dark about exactly what we were seeing. However, thanks to Vanity Fair’s new cover story, we can look back at the trailer and have a much better idea of what’s going on in the teaser trailer, who is involved, and what we can expect from the sequel.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Rey’s Training is Nearly Complete

Initially, fans thought the opening minute of the teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker was some kind of face-off between Kylo Ren and Rey. But after spending some time with the footage, it appears that maybe Rey may merely be testing the strength of her abilities. After all, she seems to expect that the TIE Fighter is coming, almost anticipating it, and waiting to leap over as it flies close. Plus, the ship isn’t shooting at Rey as it gets closer, which would be foolish if it were going in for the kill.

So Rey may be pushing herself to new levels in this scene, and that’s because Vanity Fair notes that their own sources say she has “progressed in her training since the end of The Last Jedi to the point where it’s almost complete.” What exactly is left for her to do in order to complete her training? Well, she has clearly put Luke Skywalker’s previously broken lightsaber back together again, but she hasn’t built her own yet. Is there a chance she has one that she built herself that will be revealed at a key moment in the movie, or maybe she has to still fashion her own weapon in order to complete her training.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Does a New Character Have Ties to Rey’s Parents?

One of the shots in the teaser trailer features a ship flying through snow covered peaks at night towards some kind of mountain city. The ship in question looks a lot like the one seen leaving Jakku as a young Rey cries out after being left behind with Unkar Plutt. Could it just be a coincidence? Is that a common ship model where you’d find a bunch of them around the galaxy like the Star Wars version of a Toyota Prius?

It’s likely not just a coincidence that this ship resembles the one seen in that flashback from The Force Awakens, but now that we have details on a new location and character in The Rise of Skywalker, we might have a hint of who that ship belongs to and maybe a character who has some kind of link to Rey’s parents.

Keri Russell’s character has been revealed to be a “masked scoundrel” named Zorri Bliss. We’ll meet her in the Thieves’ Quarter of the snow-dusted world Kijimi. That description sounds an awful lot about the location seen in the photo above. Could Rey’s parents have crossed Zorri Bliss? Is that how they ended up in a pauper’s grave on Jakku? Is there any chance Keri Russell is Rey’s mother?

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

The Knights of Ren in Pursuit?

Supreme Leader Snoke previously referred to Kylo Ren as the master of the Knights of Ren, a seemingly deadly group who appeared to help him take down Luke Skywalker’s temple and all of his students. However, since seeing them in Rey’s rainy vision from The Force Awakens, we’ve yet to hear anything about them. But that changes in The Rise of Skywalker.

A new photo from the set shows at least six members of the Knights of Ren in the bright sun of the Jordan desert. It looks very much like the same setting in which there’s a skiff chase involving Finn, Poe Dameron, and C-3PO (more on that later). So it looks like our heroes will have a brush with these characters and have some kind of battle with them. Furthermore, more set photos reveal that Rey, Chewbacca and BB-8 appear to be part of this action sequence on a skiff of their own.

These Knights look even more badass than they did in the rain too. They each have their own unique armor, though they’re all black. Their weapons include staffs, axes, swords, big blades, and even a massive blaster attached to one of their arms. These guys are going to be a force to be reckoned with for sure.

Has Kylo Ren enlisted the Knights of Ren to help him deal with the growing spark of the Resistance? Other than some First Order Stormtroopers who appear to have jetpacks in the trailer, we’re not sure who is chasing our heroes, but it just might be this villainous group.

Are the Knights of Ren Bad Guys?

Well, this is certainly interesting. Even though it would appear that the Knights of Ren are involved in some kind of conflict with our heroes, it seems they might be at odds with their leader as well.

In Vanity Fair’s article on the Knights of Ren, they confirm that Kylo Ren is taking down a member of the knights in the shot where he charges into a dark-clothed character with his lightsaber clenched tightly in his fist. That’s right, apparently Kylo Ren and the First Order are fighting the Knights of Ren in that sequence. What is going on here?

Could the Knights of Ren be unsatisfied with what Kylo is doing as the new leader of the First Order? Have they chosen to carve their own path as the galaxy becomes embroiled in all-out war again? Could the Knights of Ren end up being turned by the Resistance when they see the strength of Rey’s powers, thinking that she should be their leader instead? Maybe this is a flashback to an early conflict where he defeated them and became their leader. One could argue that this could be a hint at redemption, but the Stormtrooper fighting alongside him in the background likely debunks that. Either way, this is all very intriguing.

UPDATE: Vanity Fair has since updated their story to say “An earlier version of this article mischaracterized a scene including Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren.” The entire last paragraph which previously theorized about why he was fighting the Knights of Ren has been removed. Did they accidentally reveal a spoiler too soon or was this a genuine mistake? We don’t know.

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker Details

The Final Battle

Vanity Fair’s photos also tease another lightsaber battle between Kylo Ren and Rey. The last time they held the elegant weapons in their hands near each other was when they teamed up to take down Supreme Leader Snope’s Praetorian Guards. Now it appears they are wielding their weapons against each other in the middle of a rain storm. But based on what we’ve seen in the trailer, there’s a little more than meets the eye going on here. I think.

At the end of the Rise of Skywalker trailer, we see a big chunk of the second Death Star laying in the middle of a large body of water, waves crashing in front of our heroes as they look at it. And if you look at the photos featuring Kylo Ren and Rey in the middle of large water splashes, they’re on a large, rusty metal panel. There’s an even better look at it in the video that goes behind the scenes of the photo shoot. That seems to indicate that Kylo Ren and Rey will have what may be their final confrontation on the remains of the Death Star as water rages around them.

It’s a setting that brings some nostalgia with it, but also gives us something that we haven’t seen in a lightsaber battle before. But the real question is what brings them there to begin with. Could the Emperor be somewhere nearby?

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These new photos and cover story from Vanity Fair certainly opened up The Rise of Skywalker for us, but it also raised a bunch more questions that we don’t have the answers to yet. Hopefully we’ll find out more sometime this summer, maybe at a San Diego Comic-Con panel. This is the final chapter of the Skywalker saga, so hopefully Lucasfilm wants to go out with a bang.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives on December 20, 2019.

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