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A casual Star Wars fan’s guide to ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

Here are the top three things you need to know before watching ‘The Rise of Skywalker.’ No spoilers ahead!

A casual Star Wars fan’s guide to ‘The Rise of Skywalker’
[Photo: courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures]

With the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes the end of a cinematic era that spans four decades. Episode IX brings to a close the Skywalker saga, with director J.J. Abrams back at the helm. Despite a rather rocky press run right up to the film’s release (not to mention surprisingly low reviews from critics), Abrams and co-screenwriter Chris Terrio managed to deliver a sound ending to such a sprawling saga. If spending your whole weekend rewatching Episodes I-VIII (or seeing them for the first time) just seems too daunting of a task, here are the top three things you need to know before watching The Rise of Skywalker (no spoilers ahead):

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Who is Palpatine?

Throughout Episodes I-III Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is depicted as an influential and persuasive politician in support of the democracy. However, his true identity is revealed as Darth Sidious, the lord of Sith. The Sith is basically a cult that practices the dark side of the Force, aka the anti-Jedis. Palpatine manages to turn Anakin Skywalker to the dark side becoming Darth Vader. In Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Vader turns on Palpatine saving his son, Luke Skywalker, and killing himself and his master in the process . . . or so we’re led to believe. At the end of the first trailer for the The Rise of Skywalker, we hear Palpatine’s infamous cackle. What role he plays in Episode IX is for you to find out.

Who are Rey’s parents . . . for real this time?

One of the biggest mysteries in this current Skywalker trilogy has been the identity of Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) parents. This ragamuffin scrap collector turned out to be a lightsaber-wielding badass by the end of The Force Awakens, taking on the likes of the incredibly powerful and ferociously driven Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). So she must come from some grade-A stock, right? Toward the end of The Last Jedi, Kylo tries to convince Rey to join him in a new world order. He offers her the truth about her parents—that they were “filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money . . . . You come from nothing. You’re nothing.” Not quite true, Kylo.

[Photo: courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures]

Kylo and Rey’s telepathic bond

In The Last Jedi, while Rey is trying to convince a stubborn Luke to train her and believe in the Jedi cause and Kylo is raging somewhere, the two begin having some inexplicable connection. Despite being on completely separate planets, they begin to communicate telepathically. More than that, they’re able to see, hear, and physically interact with each other worlds apart. It’s how Rey learns the truth about why Ben Solo—Hans and Leia’s son—turned into Kylo Ren: Luke sensed the dark side in young Ben and considered killing him. Kylo saw Luke with lightsaber in hand and flipped out. Through this temporal connection, Rey and Kylo form an actual connection. All of the above intensifies in The Rise of Skywalker.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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