Star Wars Episode IX- Taking One Last Look At My Friends

There was a time, only a few short months ago, where I came here pondering if my Star Wars fandom was broken. Like Luke watching the two suns of Tatooine set, I pondered what would come next for me within this fandom. Was I just tired of a franchise that has meant such a great deal to me? Was I even excited for Episode IX or had I reached a point in my life where I was more excited about the stories of the extended universe within this galaxy far, far, away? Things like Star Wars Rebels or the upcoming The Mandalorian had piqued my interest in ways that the main franchise had failed to. Even that thought seems a bit unfair because if you recall I initially loved The Last Jedi. I raved about it. I wept during it. Then over time, two years to be exact, I have yet to re-watch the movie outside of its theatrical run. Now, this was a film I made my then-girlfriend, and soon to be wife, go to a “midnight” showing on her birthday eve. At twelve o’clock I whispered “Happy Birthday” and went back to watching Yoda explain why the Jedi had failed and why that’s a teachable moment. And she said yes to marry me! Since then… I have yet to watch again. As I’ve said in the past, I feel that this is a massive indictment of how I currently feel about Episode VIII. A theory that is no doubt going to be put to the test as Luke once returned to Tatooine (“you’re gonna die here”), I will return to The Last Jedi. I have to. It’s a part of my DNA. The sum of my parts. Hell, I own all the prequels, of course, I’m going to rewatch this movie.

 We are now two months away from Episode IX, the final film of the newly labeled Skywalker Saga. This may not be it for Star Wars, as Disney has big plans to expand this universe even further, but it will be the end of my Star Wars. To a degree. My Star Wars really ended with the Ewoks singing “Yub Nub” on the moon of Endor and then was murdered with Darth Vader screaming “nooooooo” at the end of Revenge of the Sith. This final trilogy in the Skywalker Saga has made up for a lot of the prequel errors, though nothing can purge Attack of the Clones from my mind, and for that I’m thankful. Has it been perfect? No. But for the most part, it reminds me of the better times of being a Star Wars fan. Before the Dark Side. Before the Empire…

Taking all of those emotions into account, I had zero clue what to expect with the release of the final trailer to The Rise of Skywalker but I did know one thing… I was excited. The anticipation levels were high and I actually sat through more of that Monday Night Football game then I’d like to admit. While Sam Darnold was seeing ghosts I was casually whistling “Luke’s Theme” and praying for halftime. I imagine the Jets were praying for a mercy rule but under the shroud of the “evil empire” that is the New England Patriots, there was no way Darth Belichick would ease up on his Force Choke. As a Jets hater, I may have enjoyed this.

Finally, the time came. I sat there on my couch with Hudson the Cat, the Chewie to my Han, and allowed myself to be carried off by childhood nostalgia. To remember sitting on my living room floor while it rained outside watching Return of the Jedi with my mother. To open the door to that nervous/excited feeling you get in your belly right before the Star Wars crawl kick in. You know the one, right before the trumpets hit. I sat on my couch and traveled back to that galaxy far, far away.

Usually with new trailers we take that deep dive and explore all the avenues. It’s something we’ve done with movies like Captain Marvel, Endgame, and the latest season of Stranger Things. I’ve learned over time that it’s a dangerous game to play as it leads taking away the elements of surprise from watching. I’ve limited my trailer consumption to three times the day it’s released and then one or two times thereafter. A trickle-down effect that makes me sound like an addict.  Maybe I am recovering because I would much rather the full experience of the movie and I’m finding trailers have been robbing me of it. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop breaking down trailers on the site because there are ways to break things down and theorize as oppose to ascertaining definitive plot points. Theories fine. Piecing the film together bad.

With The Rise of Skywalker, I just wanted to take it all in (that’s what she said). I want to wonder why Kylo and Rey are fighting at some points and teaming up to take down some kind of Darth Vader monument the next. How is Emperor Palpatine alive? Is Rey a clone and why was Darth Rey absent from this trailer? I want to allow Threepio to bring the tears when he says he’s “taking one last look at my friends” and I want Leia to make them roll down my cheek when she says “always”. This is a goodbye to friends that have been with me since childhood. I’m not ignorant, there’s no way that one of these characters doesn’t show up again in a future Star Wars film but for Luke, Leia, and Chewie this feels like a goodbye. That in itself makes this different than any other Star Wars movie. Finality makes me sentimental. 

I found the trailer to deliver in ways I didn’t expect. I still have no idea what this movie is about and that excites me. I foolishly believed that the trailer was a bunch of gorgeous shots showing us nothing about the film until a friend on Twiter corrected me. The trailer is giving us a bunch of gorgeous shots completly out of context that makes me want to know more about the film. That makes me want to park my self in a seat on December 20th with that giddy childlike anticipation. With tears dancing in the back of my eyes as I let the suns set on this chapter of the Star Wars saga. At the end of the day, I just want to see my friends one last time. They’ve been with me for so long, how could I not?

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