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The closing chapter of the Skywalker Saga has sparked heated debates about what the film means — and even about what it should have been. Some viewers were looking for more fan service, while others were seeking a film that focused more on the characters of this trilogy, rather than one that would serve as a conclusion to a nine-film story. Despite these conversations, most can agree the final moment of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a fitting end to the story, one that feels very George Lucas in nature.
At the heart of Star Wars, there is the Skywalker family. The word “Skywalker” has become synonymous with Star Wars, and regardless of how vast this galaxy far, far away has become, audiences will always come back to this one bloodline as the soul of the franchise. The end of Rise of Skywalker featured Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) fulfilling their destinies and standing side-by-side against Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). It’s fitting that the grandson of Anakin Skywalker and the granddaughter of Sheev Palpatine stood together against the one Sith that has been responsible for much of the bad in the galaxy for the past three generations.
Rey, heir to the Sith throne, came to terms with her past and stood firm as a Jedi. Kylo, redeemed as Ben Solo and holding his grandfather’s lightsaber, stood with her, armed with the determination that his mother Leia (Carrie Fisher) left him as she sacrificed herself. Rey eventually tapped into the Force, calling out to the greatest Jedis of all time to give her life energy. Here, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker all gave her the strength to rise and finally defeat the Emperor once and for all.
For a film called The Rise of Skywalker, perhaps more Anakin Skywalker could have taken the moment to even greater heights. Yet, a good consolation prize was Anakin prequel actor Hayden Christensen speak multiple times to Rey, telling her to bring balance to the Force as he once did.
In the final sequence, Rey returns to the place that started it all, Tatooine. It was the planet on which Anakin Skywalker was born. In the moisture farms were the ruins of the Lars Homestead, the place where Luke Skywalker was raised with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. It is the place where Luke Skywalker looked out to the binary sunset over Tatooine’s vast deserts, brimming with a sense of adventure and the destiny that awaited him.
It is fitting that the Skywalker Saga comes to an end here. Rey walks around Luke’s old home, with the same sense of adventure that was instilled in her as she scavaged through Jakku when we first meet her in The Force Awakens. She finally unveils the two Skywalker lightsabers: one belonging to Anakin and Luke Skywalker, the other to Leia. She wraps them up and uses the Force to bury them on the planet that will serve as their final resting place. Leia’s lightsaber was key to Rey’s journey, a journey that Leia foresaw during the final months of training with Luke. She knew someone would finish her journey, and Rey eventually did.
The Skywalker lightsaber has had a long history as well. It served Anakin Skywalker throughout the Clone Wars; it was the blade he used when seduced by the dark side during Order 66. It was the lightsaber that was used to fight Obi-Wan Kenobi, ultimately coming into his possession before Obi-Wan passed it on to Luke Skywalker. The blade was used by Luke to battle his father, Darth Vader, on Cloud City. Finally, it was used by a Palpatine, Rey, to bring balance to the Force once more by defeating her grandfather, the Emperor.
The final scene of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker serves as the final word of the Skywalker story. Rey ignited her own new lightsaber, with a golden-yellow hue, signifying a new beginning ahead for the Jedi. A woman asks Rey who she is, perplexed with how long it’s been since someone has come to the Skywalker home. Rey looks out into the Tattoine distance, seeing the Force ghosts of Luke and Leia smile back at her. Here, she takes the advice that Luke gave her, that she is not tied down by her bloodline. She also takes in the lesson of Leia, who trained her despite knowing she was the granddaughter of Palpatine.
Destiny and fate are two concepts Lucas played within his Star Wars story. Are you tied down by destiny? Is your bloodline that final say in what you can become? Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One. Luke Skywalker redeemed his father. Leia sacrificed herself to redeem Ben Solo. Skywalkers are meant to be redeemed. Rey could have been doomed due to her bloodline, signifying the worst of the Sith. Palpatines and Skywalkers have been inherently tied together since Sheev Palpatine manipulated the Midi-chlorians to create Anakin inside of Shmi Skywalker. At the end of the Skywalker Saga, Rey both atones and abandons the name and legacy of the Palpatine bloodline, choosing one that she respects and truly honors, the one her surrogate parents Luke and Leia died for, and one that truly signifies the legacy of Star Wars. “Rey Skywalker.”
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