Heads up, there will be some spoilers for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in this story! Keep that in mind before reading.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters, which means that this new trilogy of Star Wars films is over halfway finished! Like any good middle point in a trilogy, The Last Jedi answers some lingering questions (and occasionally doesn't answer them, in this case) while introducing some new ones. Episode IX should tie a little pretty bow on the adventures of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. There are a number of plot threads still left hanging by the end of The Last Jedi, and here's hoping that J.J. Abrams can find a satisfying way to finish them all off.
Rian Johnson's Star Wars is interesting for a middle chapter in the sense that it doesn't really leave any clues as to where we can immediately expect to go for Episode IX. The Empire Strikes Back left the cliffhanger of retrieving Han Solo at the very least, but right now, J.J. Abrams isn't locked onto any certain path (which I think is a good thing). But he's going to have to provide answers and conclusions to long-running plot threads that he began all the way back in The Force Awakens. Here are six plot threads that need to be wrapped up in Episode IX.
Defeat The First Order
It seems pretty obvious, but The Resistance still has to defeat the main bad guys of the series. The First Order may be a can of Diet Empire, but they are still active by the end of The Last Jedi. They outnumber and outgun The Resistance 10 to 1, and now Kylo Ren is calling the shots, meaning they should be more unpredictable than ever. However, the spark of the rebellion has been lit thanks to the efforts of Luke Skywalker and the Resistance isn't through yet. In Return of the Jedi, the Empire wasn't really technically defeated, only the guy running the show was taken out. We can't say for sure if the whole First Order will be dismantled by the end of Episode IX or if they'll only be left leaderless, but The Resistance will have to come out on top all the same.
What Happens To Leia
Life doesn't wait for Star Wars, and Carrie Fisher tragically passed away before she could begin work on Episode IX. She reportedly had a big role in the movie, but she has been written out of it out of respect. That means that Leia won't be physically appearing at all in Episode IX. Leia was still alive and well with The Resistance by the end of The Last Jedi, and while some feel that Leia should have sacrificed herself in one of the best scenes in the movie, that's not what happened. Episode IX will have to explain her whereabouts, which could be anything from being on a secret mission to having passed away off screen. It's an unenviable situation and one hopes that Episode IX finds an exit for Leia that honors her character and satisfies her many fans.
The Romantic Couples
If there's one thing that this new Star Wars trilogy gave fans, it's a large number of characters to ship together. There are quite a few romantic plot threads still left hanging, which begs the question of who will be dating whom by the time Episode IX ends. Rey and Finn are the main love interests, but it feels like we've moved away a bit from that pairing. (I don't think they've spent more than three days together). The Last Jedi gave us a romantic subplot with Finn and Rose, with Rey as a possible love triangle. Then we've got the forbidden ship between Rey and Kylo Ren, which is a lot more plausible now than it was in The Force Awakens. Finally, there's Poe X Everyone He Talks To because Oscar Isaac has chemistry with everyone. It looked like he and Rey were eyeing each other a little at the end, but we'll have to wait until Star Wars: Here Comes the Smooch to find out what happens.
Kylo Ren's Ultimate Fate
Kylo Ren is perhaps one of the most interesting characters ever introduced into Star Wars. He feels pulled to the light but wishes to be a part of the dark. When killing his father doesn't fix all of this problems, he sets out to burn the past and forge ahead into a future with a balanced galaxy under his rule. Whether or not Kylo Ren can be redeemed is a big question. The Last Jedi paints him as a conflicted character. Now that he is in charge of The First Order, has he gone full villain or is there still hope for him like his grandfather before him? No one is every really beyond redemption in Star Wars, but Kylo Ren's story has proven to be one of the best things about this trilogy. I doubt he and Rey are going to be settling down or anything, but Episode IX has to answer what's in store for one of the last living Skywalkers.
Can We Just Get Something With The Knights of Ren, Please?
Oh, the Knights of Ren. They were a mysterious and cool looking group led by Kylo Ren that was first introduced in The Force Awakens, but outside of a brief vision, we've never actually seen them. During a flashback scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we saw Kylo Ren take a group of students away from Luke Skywalker's school, and it's possible those former students became the Knights of Ren. People are excited to see this group in action, but we really haven't gotten anything from them. Where have they been all this time? Episode IX could be the perfect place to put them to work. Now that Kylo is the Supreme Leader, he'll need some reliable soldiers watching his back. J.J. Abrams is the one who first teased the Knights of Ren, so the chances seem good that he'll finally find a use for them.
Rey Completes Her Training
Rey spends a lot of her time in The Last Jedi trying to learn the ways of the Jedi from Luke Skywalker. He ultimately isn't able to teach her much, but he places her on the path to become a Jedi in her own right. In addition, she managed to smuggle some of the original Jedi texts off of Ahch-To, which means that she has the means to learn all she needs. She could also use the texts to recreate the Jedi Order and begin training her own students. The little boy at the end of The Last Jedi proved there are more Force-sensitive people out there and someone has got to train them. Rey's growth from a nobody on Jakku to a Jedi warrior is one of the most important arcs in the trilogy. How Episode IX decides to wrap it all up could decide the fate of Star Wars stories for years to come.