The Star Wars gods blessed us this week with new footage for The Rise of Skywalker. Nestled in a packaged montage of highlights from all three trilogies are a handful of peeks at Episode IX, including the much talked about “dark Rey” moment at the very end. That tantalizing scene is hogging most of the attention, but look closer and you’ll see a number of other fascinating possible avenues The Rise of Skywalker could go down.
One of them involves General Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher, who will reprise her iconic role in the final film thanks to repurposed deleted scenes from The Force Awakens and a little bit of CGI trickery. We’re anxious to see how that plays—it could look either amazing or dubious—but in the meantime, we’re grateful to have our Princess back for one last installment. We imagine Leia will have a reduced role in the film, but that doesn’t mean her spirit won’t be integral. As director J.J. Abrams told the crowd at the D23 Expo over the weekend, “the character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story.”
We know from the first teaser trailer that Leia will have an emotional moment with Rey in the film, but other than that, her place in the adventure tale isn’t all that clear. However, the new footage does make us wonder if she might play a pivotal role not just in the emotional arc of the story, but in Rey’s training. This might be a leap, but there’s evidence in the scenery.
We see a brief but powerful moment of Rey tossing her lightsaber through a forest planet, in what looks like a fit of rage. It chops through a few trees and then swings back into her hand. At first glance, this looks like a simple moment of frustration, but upon closer inspection you’ll see that there’s a training remote in the shot, similar to the one Luke used to practice his lightsaber skills in A New Hope. This means Rey is training.
But what if Leia is training her? With Luke gone and no other Force users besides Kylo known to her, it would make sense that Leia has been guiding Rey in her practices. Leia is also strong in the Force, although in canon we learn that she chose to tame her powers and focus on galactic leadership instead. Still, she’s the only living person left in Rey’s orbit who could teach her. And that we see them both in this same jungle location—in both the teaser and this new footage—means that, at the very least, Leia is around as Rey sharpens her skills.
It would also make sense that Leia would want a hand in Rey’s training. In The Force Awakens, she confesses to Han that sending her son Ben Solo away is what led to his corruption. Free from her knowing watch, he was manipulated by the evil Snoke. Maybe Leia wants a hand in Rey’s training after seeing how quickly she ran towards Kylo and the dark side in The Last Jedi. And maybe Rey channels Leia if or when she is drawn to the dark in The Rise of Skywalker.
We’ll find out for certain when Episode IX arrives in theaters on December 20.
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