A Deep Dive Into the Ominous New Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer

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Why does Rey have a foldable, double-bladed red lightsaber in the new D23 special look at The Rise of Skywalker? That’s the searing-hot question on the mind of every fan of Star Wars this morning. Is there a chance we could see her become a Sith in J.J. Abrams’s upcoming Star Wars finale? Or, perhaps this is a dream sequence–Rey and her teacher, Luke Skywalker, have been known to see visions both nightmarish and poetic in the past. But what’s even more probable, though, is that this image of “Dark Rey” in some way represents the finality of the decades-spanning Skywalker saga.

It’s likely that Rey will somehow merge the Sith and the Jedi in this upcoming finale, reducing their ancient warfare to a new kind of peace, and at long last, bring balance to the Force. It was said that Anakin Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s grandfather, the so-called “Chosen One,” would bring balance to these dueling factions. And if the D23 trailer for Skywalker tells us anything, it’s that Abrams is openly contending with the history of the franchise in his new film. The “balance” of the force is a loose end that’s been hanging since the early ’70s. If this is really the conclusion to the Skywalker saga that Disney has been saying it is, then it’s not hard to wonder if Rey must descend into the darkness of Sith-liness to really be able to even out the odds on both sides.

But keep in mind, Abrams is known to throw huge misdirection before. Whether Rey becomes a Sith in the new movie or not, there’s a lot to learn from this new trailer for The Rise of Skywalker. Let’s start from the top.

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Disney

The Binary Sunset

One of Star Wars’ most iconic images is a familiar double-sunset that has linked the triple all nine moves for four decades and counting. Seeing it here at the beginning of this montage could mean a lot of things–it acutely represents the other-worldly mythos that Lucas created for the franchise, but it also shows the theme of duality. The white sun, of the Jedi. And the red sun, of the Sith. Already, this new film is reminding us that generations of conflict between the light and the dark began in the earliest days of Star Wars.

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The Original Trilogy Montage

Abrams has chosen to show us some of Star Wars‘s most memorable moments to connect A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker. Our first glimpse of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Our first meeting with Han Solo. Luke and Leia’s embrace following the Rebellion’s victory over The Empire in A New Hope. We see all the usual faces here. But there are also some characters who show up that are a bit surprising–the montage features images of Boba Fett, Yoda, and even Lando. The latter has already been shown to play a special role in The Rise of Skywalker. Could the former two supporting characters also be popping up again in the new film?

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The Prequel Trilogy Montage

For years now, Disney has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge George Lucas’s massively disappointing Star Wars prequel trilogy from the early 2000s. When Kathleen Kennedy and the House of Mouse took the franchise over from Lucas, they seemed dead-set on course-correcting the series. And correct it they did, bringing us two new films that have been extremely well-received, both by audiences and critics alike. But here, for what feels like the first time in years, Disney is showing us the events of the prequels side-by-side with their other trilogies. Again, though, there are some surprising appearances here. They show us Darth Maul and his double-sided lightsaber. Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu. A young Obi-Wan, and his master, Qui Gon Jinn. Why Abrams has chosen to use these brief seconds of footage to show these characters is anyone’s guess, but you have to admit, he seems to have chosen them deliberately.

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Disney

The New Sand Planet

And when we finally see some images from the past decade’s sequel trilogy, it begins as a quick rundown of the big events between The Resistance and the First Order. But then, Abrams treats us to new moments from the upcoming film. Here, we finally get confirmation that the mysterious desert planet seen in the previous Skywalker trailer is not Tatooine, or even Jakku for that matter. It seems to be something completely new, and from the red-colored flags here, perhaps even Rebellion-friendly. Have they found an old Rebel outpost?

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The Farewell of Princess Leia

It’s been said that Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia will be at the heart of this new film. Using unused footage shot for other films in the sequel trilogy, Abrams is reportedly cutting together a farewell to General Organa, something that would respect the legacy of Carrie Fisher and pay tribute to the enduring significance of the character. Here, we see a completely new image of Leia, in somewhere deep in the woods that resembles the forest scene from Force Awakens, but really, could be anywhere.

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The First Order is in Full Form

Damn, that’s a lot of Star Destroyers. This fleet of First Order ships is the biggest we have ever seen in the franchise. It is staggering. Where the First Order has suddenly found all this extra artillery is anyone’s guess, but something tells me that Palpatine, whose laugh (and voice) we can hear throughout the trailer, has something to do with it.

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Dark Three-P-O

Dark Three-P-O. What else is there to say here. Bullied for four decades by literally every character in the franchise. It’s about time our boy’s gone dark.

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Help, It’s a New Super-Weapon

Abrams received a ton of flack for bringing out yet another mega-powered planet-destroying weapon in Force Awakens, with critics calling him derivative of the original sequel’s “Death Star” narrative. Rian Johnson was able to steer Episode Eight in a new direction, instead focusing on the First Order’s overpowering of the Resistance, not their ability to destroy entire planets. But by the looks of this gigantic laser hitting a planet’s surface, it looks like Abrams isn’t done with super weapons just yet.

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The Foldy Blade

This is the image Star Wars fans will be theorizing about like crazy for the months that remain before Skywalker‘s big December release. It’s startling, for sure, but we have to remember, the thing with the Jedi is, they’re always fighting the temptation to go dark. Rey did that herself in Last Jedi, as she trained with Luke on his island, seeing a form of herself deep in the depths below the Jedi tree that she didn’t exactly love (it was spooky). It’s really hard to predict where this image may be coming from, but if you look closely at the wall behind Rey, you can see that she’s not outside, in the woods, or on any familiar planet. The walls behind her are thick metal, and they look a bit dented up. We’ve seen images of the remains of the Death Star already. With the sound of Palpatine’s laugh, and his echoing voice saying, “Your journey is nearly complete,” it just may be that Rey is training under Darth Sidious in his almost-destroyed Throne Room, deep in the depths of the wrecked Death Star.

The Rise of Skywalker premieres on December 20, 2019, and you can watch the full trailer below:

Dom Nero is a staff video editor at Esquire.com, where he also writes about film, comedy, and video games.