Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ahead!
Before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's release, director and co-writer J.J. Abrams said that he wanted the film to give the Skywalker Saga a cohesive ending, while simultaneously answering as many questions as possible. And J.J. Abrams was true to his word because the film did provide answers to many of the Sequel Trilogy’s biggest questions. However, there remain some huge questions that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker didn’t answer.
While there will be, and is, a very divided opinion on the answers we received, we did find out the truth about Rey’s parentage and where Supreme Leader Snoke came from. But there were plenty of other questions, both already part of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, as well as ones raised by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker itself, that remain a mystery.
Now to be clear, I’m not particularly interested in questions that involve Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s perceived plot holes or logical leaps, like why there was an ancient Sith dagger pointing towards the 30-year old wreckage of the Death Star or why Emperor Palpatine didn't just stop using his Force Lightning when Rey was reflecting it back into his face. No, I’m interested in questions about the story itself, the characters and the lore.
So without further ado, here are 10 huge questions that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker didn’t answer.
How Did Maz Kanata Get Anakin's Lightsaber?
Look, in the grand scheme of things, where Maz Kanata got Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, which Rey later found in her castle on Takodana, is rather inconsequential. However, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata said that how she came by the lightsaber would be a story for another day. Well, that day never came; at least, not in the movies. It’s a pity too, because the way she said that, it sounds like it was an interesting tale.
The lack of a firm answer was somewhat surprising given how much The Rise of Skywalker endeavored to address the mysteries of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Many thought that Lando Calrissian had something to do with how the lightsaber came into Maz's posession, but even though Billy Dee Williams’ character was in Episode IX, this question went unanswered. Anakin/Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber is an important relic of this saga and we still want to know about its missing time.
How Is Emperor Palpatine Back?
Okay, this is probably the biggest one. Prior to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the last time we saw Emperor Sheev Palpatine chronologically-speaking, he was falling down a reactor shaft in the second Death Star and exploding in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. He was dead as far as we knew until his return in this movie. That return was abrupt, with the opening crawl announcing that the dead speak and not much else. After seeing Episode IX, we still don’t know exactly how Palpatine returned.
On the surface, given his appearance, it seems that the Dark Lord of the Sith simply survived his tumble and explosion, but it’s also possible that he resurrected himself in some way. Sheev alludes to a comment made in his iconic 'Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise' speech, but even if Palpy used Darth Plagueis’ method, we don’t know if it kept him from dying or actually brought him back from the beyond. Cloning is also a possibility given his use of that practice with Snoke, but why his clone would be such a ragged and decrepit version of himself is unclear.
How Did Palpatine Control Snoke?
After two films of wondering who Supreme Leader Snoke was, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we found out that he was the Wizard of Oz and Darth Sidious was the man behind the curtain. The Phantom Menace till the end, we learned that Emperor Palpatine created Snoke and saw that he had multiple clones of the late Supreme Leader on Exegol, but there are still questions about how all of that worked.
Was Snoke a person before Palpy cloned him or did the Sith Lord make him out of whole cloth? We know that Palpatine was pulling Snoke’s strings, but to what degree? Was Snoke a loyal agent of Palpatine working on behalf of the Dark Lord and following his orders? Or was Palpatine using the Force to control a sentient being? Or was this a case of Snoke merely being a vessel that Palpatine inhabited? I tend to think it’s the latter, but without explicit clarification, we can’t say for sure.
How Did Snoke Turn Ben Solo?
In my mind, this is one of the great mysteries of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. In the Prequels, we saw how Palpatine turned Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. We witnessed his manipulations and saw Anakin’s fears that the Dark Lord preyed upon and weaponized. Unlike Anakin, who came from poverty and suffered great loss, Ben Solo had a loving mother in Leia and a wise teacher in Luke. Even if Han Solo was a deadbeat dad, he still loved him, so how did Snoke turn Kylo?
In The Force Awakens, Leia tells Han it was Snoke who turned Ben to the dark side, and in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke tells Rey that Snoke had turned Ben’s heart. But how? This might be revealed in the Marvel comic Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren, but at least through the first issue, the two already know each other, with no explanation as to how. It’s unclear whether they have met in person before, whether Snoke’s manipulations took place in person or from afar, and how Ben’s family knew about it.
Who Are The Knights of Ren And What’s Their Deal?
Outside of that flashback cameo in The Force Awakens, we didn't see the enigmatic Knights of Ren participate in the first two installments of the Sequel Trilogy story, and ahead of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker I asked this question in hopes we would get some answers. Although the group showed up in ultimately disappointing fashion in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we don’t really know anything more about them, including what they look like behind their masks. We are getting some clarity on this topic in the Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren limited comic book series, but questions remain.
The group existed before Ben Solo and Kylo Ren did not found it. So far the group’s objective is rather unclear, but it seems that they are not driven by any overarching goals and do not believe in any sort of morality. Instead they seem to be agents of chaos, destroying because it is in their natures to do so. They are all Force users as well, but we don’t know much more than that. So as of yet, we still haven't learned all the answers to this question, but thankfully, unlike some other entries on this list, we seem poised to get some.
What Was Finn Trying To Tell Rey?
So this question may have sort of been answered by J.J. Abrams, but given its glaring absence within the runtime of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, its inclusion feels appropriate here. Throughout The Rise of Skywalker, Finn attempts to tell Rey something. Although it could certainly be construed as Finn attempting to confess his love to Rey, that is seemingly not the case. Instead, it seems that Finn may have wanted to tell Rey that he is Force sensitive.
That makes sense in some ways given what we’ve seen from Finn across the Sequel Trilogy, but it also doesn’t work in certain aspects of The Rise of Skywalker. Like, why would you tell Rey that you’re Force sensitive when you’re both about to die; it couldn’t be less relevant at that moment. So this question has not yet received a satisfying answer. Perhaps we’ll see Finn actually tell Rey in a deleted scene on the home video release for The Rise of Skywalker. Or maybe it’s part of the totally real, not at all fake J.J. Cut.
Will The New Republic Be Reconstituted?
The Sequel Trilogy ignored politics through its first two chapters, and that held true with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Given the reception of the Prequels, this approach is understandable, but it also opens the door for many questions about how the galaxy moves forward after happily ever after. It’s akin to George R.R. Martin’s famous response to The Lord of the Rings, “What was Aragorn’s tax policy?”
In The Force Awakens, the First Order destroyed the seat of the New Republic and the Galactic Senate, Hosnian Prime. At the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the people of the galaxy unite on Exegol to take on Emperor Palpatine and the Final Order. But what happens after that? With evil vanquished, does the New Republic rebuild and try again? Or is there no longer a centralized government and the independent systems govern themselves? Whatever the structure, how does this interstellar society prevent further conflict?
Who Are The Other Members Of The Palpatine Family?
So it turns out that Sheev Palpatine wasn’t only training apprentices and oppressing the galaxy during his life. He was also making babies. Rey is the granddaughter of Darth Sidious, daughter to Sheev Palpatine’s son. This familial connection answers the big question about Rey’s heritage, but raises a couple of others. Firstly, who is the woman that had Palpatine’s baby, and when was that? At what point in his career from galactic representative for Naboo to Dark Lord of the Sith and Emperor did he procreate?
Is Rey’s grandmother still alive and who was she? She doesn't have to be famous, but I’d be curious to know if she was evil as well or just misled. We also don’t know about Rey’s father and mother other than the fact that they sought to keep her from Palpatine and to shed their family’s horrible legacy. Does Rey have any siblings or cousins? Hopefully we get to find out more about this history in a book or comic at some point.
What's The Future Of The Jedi Order?
Episode VI was subtitled Return of the Jedi, indicating the rebirth of the Jedi Order, but three films later and that hasn’t happened, at least not fully. Luke Skywalker promises Kylo Ren that he will not be the last Jedi, and that much at least seems true. In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers on Tatooine, but then ignites her new yellow saber, indicating that she is still a Jedi and will carry on that legacy, but does it die with her?
Will Rey pass on all she has learned? Perhaps Rey will succeed where Luke failed and train a new generation of Jedi. Maybe she’ll start with the apparently Force sensitive Finn as her first student. Add in Broom Boy and a few others, and that’s a solid inaugural class. But will Rey learn from the failures of the past and adopt more of a Gray Jedi approach? Or will she build another order where celibacy and a lack of emotional attachment is a path to the dark side? Maybe one day we’ll find out what the future holds for the Jedi Order, but for now it’s a mystery.
What Exactly Is A Force Dyad And How Does It Work?
In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we learn that Rey and Kylo Ren represent a Dyad in the Force, but there are still a lot of unknowns about how this new bit of Star Wars lore actually works. As far as we can tell, a Dyad is an ultra-powerful Force connection between two Force sensitive people that allows them to interact across time and space. We saw this play out in multiple ways in The Rise of Skywalker with their battles, lightsaber passing and Force-timing.
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Snoke/Palpatine bridged the minds of Rey and Kylo, so did he create the Dyad or did he merely take advantage of an existing Dyad? Are Force Dyads naturally occurring (the light rises to meet the dark) or do they have to be formed by a powerful Force user like Snoke? And can a Dyad be between dark side users or two light side users, or does it only come about through the balance of the light and the dark? This is a fascinating addition to the Star Wars lore and The Rise of Skywalker merely scratched the surface of it. Tthere is plenty more we want to know.
Some of these questions will inevitably and hopefully be answered across the vast multimedia Star Wars universe in the months and years to come. And with any luck, the answers will be just as compelling as the questions themselves, providing us with more to discuss and appreciate.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now playing. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see the biggest movies headed to theaters this year.