THE LEGEND OF THE SKYWALKER
Anakin Skywalker existed with his kind of inherent power thanks to the actions of Palpatine before his birth. It was his actions that’d directly led to Anakin becoming a Jedi Padawan, eventually turning him against them and into Darth Vader. This, in turn, led to figures like Luke Skywalker eventually rising up to fight his father and help bring peace back to the galaxy. The entire reason the Skywalkers played a major role in the galaxy is because of what Palpatine made them into.
That’s what makes it so fitting to see Rey forsake her own birthright as a Palpatine. After being turned into a killer by Palpatine’s influence, Anakin lost his connection to the rest of what would have been his family. Palpatine essentially took away his Skywalker name when he made him into Darth Vader. By virtue of being the final Palpatine seemingly alive in the universe, it means a lot when Rey ends The Rise of Skywalker choosing to be something more than just the heir to an evil empire. This also makes being a Skywalker more than just being related to Darth Vader, but about becoming the kind of person heroes could look at with pride. It gives the film a thematic connection to the prequels, even while being largely removed from those films.
THE THEMATIC THROUGHLINE
Even if the Star Wars films have all come together thanks to various producers and creatives across over forty years, there’s been a thematic core to the series. It’s not just the Force but what it represents, a balance between light and dark not just in the universe within ourselves. It’s a somewhat simplistic saga, but that’s sort of the point. While The Rise of Skywalker may not have been exactly what George Lucas had envisioned, it feels like a fitting end to the story that he started. Rey and Ben Solo actively have to confront the same kind of quandaries that caused war across the entire galaxy. But instead of giving in to their anger they find peace, ending the Jedi/Sith conflict without actually striking down anyone. Palpatine being killed by his own reflected powers makes a perfect poetic sense, instead of having to be cut down by Rey in anger.
That’s what helps the film work even beyond the flaws within it. It may make viewers jump through a number of plot holes and it may be over-indulgent with the references at times. But in terms of tackling the thematic throughline that the franchise has long-established, The Rise of Skywalker actually manages to complete the war for balance in the Force, all concluding in the final battle.
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