Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feels like the kind of movie that was destined to disappoint fans. After all, its release came on the heels of the divisive The Last Jedi and carried the weight of wrapping up more than 40 years of Star Wars movies.
So the fact J.J. Abrams’ movie fell flat with critics and many fans seems like it was always unavoidable. But author Rae Carson — who wrote The Rise of Skywalker novelization — recently shared her own take on the film’s controversial ending.
Fans were less than enthusiastic about the end of Rey’s story
One of the most-talked-about elements of The Rise of Skywalker is how it concludes Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) story. The film reveals she is the descendant of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), seemingly retconning The Last Jedi‘s revelation about her past. Then, in the closing moments of the sequel trilogy, Rey travels to the Lars homestead and adopts the Skywalker name.
Some fans were not too pleased with this development. Those who loved Rian Johnson’s work in The Last Jedi mostly felt betrayed. Meanwhile, The Rise of Skywalker‘s journey back to Tatooine underwhelmed those hoping for a fresh direction. Some consider “Rey Skywalker” to be cheesy, and the moment became widely mocked online.
To be fair, The Rise of Skywalker also ends on one of Tatooine’s famous binary sunsets. The original moment with Luke dreaming of adventure beyond Tatooine is a fan favorite but one often referenced in the saga, including in The Last Jedi. Going from the Skywalker name-drop to yet another callback left a sour taste in some fans’ mouths.
‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ makes a bold statement
In fleshing out The Rise of Skywalker script into a full-length novel, Carson had to grapple with the story’s many twists and turns. In the end, she likens Rey’s adoption of the Skywalker name to her own decision to take on her stepfather’s name in her youth. Rey wants to honor the family she has chosen for herself, Carson told StarWars.com.
The entire Skywalker saga is about Palpatine turning or trying to turn Skywalkers to the dark side. He especially hopes that Rey will prove a worthy vessel for his own power and ambition and become the Skywalkers’ final downfall. But in spite of all his efforts over the course of three generations, he fails. Rey rejects everything about him and takes on the Skywalker mantle and legacy. In the end, it’s a Palpatine who turns to the light, thus handing the Skywalkers their ultimate victory.
This Palpatine/Skywalker struggle would have been more successful if it was threaded throughout the Star Wars sequels. But to Carson’s point, Rey is the “Skywalker” who represents a new dawn for the name and the Jedi. Luke and Leia’s Force ghosts look on approvingly, as the Skywalker family name is redeemed. The good within Anakin, Luke, Leia, and Ben defines them.
Will fans get the opportunity to see Rey continue the Skywalker legacy?
After all the fuss about where The Rise of Skywalker leaves Rey, there’s a good chance Lucasfilm won’t give fans a direct follow-up. Ridley appears to be done with her commitment to the franchise. And even moreso, Star Wars may need to take a deliberate step away from the Skywalker legacy. That means leaving Rey and the rest of the sequel trilogy characters off the table.
For now, Star Wars focuses on addressing storytelling gaps left between the movie trilogies. Disney+ series The Mandalorian takes place a few years after the Empire’s fall. Meanwhile, the upcoming Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi shows will cover the dark period between the prequels and the original trilogy.
Lucasfilm hasn’t released any plot information on director Taika Waititi’s recently announced Star Wars movie. But again, it’s unlikely to delve into what “Rey Skywalker” does next. Perhaps that’s for the best. While the Skywalker family ultimately wins out, the fatigue fans have felt with that storyline indicates a change is definitely needed.