In less than 12 parsecs, fans dissecting the final trailer for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” are already blowing up the internet with emotional reactions and new theories about how the final story in the nine-film saga will end after 42 years.
We didn’t get many plot reveals, but there were plenty of hard-hitting emotional moments to tug at fans' heartstrings.
Leia gets the last word ... at least in the trailer
In this trailer at least, the late Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa gets the last word. We hear her right after Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) says, “The Force will be with you.” Leia’s voice says softly, “Always.”
Fisher, of course, died in 2016 after completing work on 2017’s “The Last Jedi.” Director JJ Abrams collected unused footage of Fisher from “The Force Awakens” (and “The Last Jedi,” according to her brother Todd) in order to help bring Leia’s story to a respectful end in “The Rise of Skywalker.”
“The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story,” Abrams said earlier this year during a panel at the Disney D-23 fan convention. “We realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia.”
How Abrams and the visual effects gurus at Industrial Light & Magic pull that off remains to be seen, although the filmmakers have insisted they will not use a computer-generated Leia, akin to the one seen in 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” (Fisher would have turned 63 on Monday.)
Will Leia will appear as a Force Ghost alongside her twin brother Luke, who faded away after valiantly saving his sister and her friends at the end of “The Last Jedi”? The trailer keeps that a mystery.
The fate of C-3PO
The trailer also features a key moment with the golden protocol droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) as he’s hooked up to some sort of wired contraption, pausing to tell Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) he’s “taking one last look, sir, at my friends.”
The sequence sure feels like and end. But hopefully this is just Threepio being paranoid Threepio, and Abrams being Abrams, teasing us about the fate of the universally beloved droid who spoke the very first line in 1977’s “Star Wars.”
Return of the Emperor
The trailer revealed more about something that was teased at the Star Wars Celebration Chicago fan convention earlier this year: Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is back in a big way. Last seen when Darth Vader supposedly tossed him to a long, fiery death in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” here the Emperor appears mostly in voiceover, but we do see what appears to be his new throne.
“Long have I waited,” the Emperor’s voice growls over shots that include heroes Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca and C-3PO in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. “And now, your coming together is your undoing.”
One brief shot appears to show the Emperor above Rey as the two come face to face. We also get a brief scene with Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) standing in what appears to be the ruins of the Emperor’s throne room from the Death Star in “Return of the Jedi.”
Space horses running in space
There’s a glimpse at an unusual scene featuring Finn (John Boyega) and a new character, Jannah, (Naomi Ackie) riding space horses (called “orbacks”) on what appears to be the surface of a Star Destroyer floating in space, as BB-8 rolls alongside during a pitched battle. Star Wars has never been one for accurate physics, but how this one gets explained will be fascinating.
Lots of wars in the stars
Fans are really geeking out at a two-second shot of the Falcon backed by what looks like hundreds of starships from across Star Wars lore, including the Ghost from the “Rebels” animated series (also seen in “Rogue One”) and the Razorcrest from the upcoming Disney+ live action show “The Mandalorian.” Will we get to see the characters behind the controls of these ships? Or will they remain safely anonymous, as Obi Wan says?
Rey and Kylo Ren again face off in a clash of lightsabers and complicated emotions. (“People keep telling me they know me. No one does,” Rey says. To which Kylo answers: “But I do.”)
Do they stay enemies? Or team up? Does their relationship go further, as “Reylo” fans hope? Hard to tell. Always in motion is the future. But one intriguing shot seems to have Rey and Kylo working together to destroy an object that might include Darth Vader’s helmet.
The trailer offers little in the way of major plot points or spoilers, which is perfect for superfans like Dan Zehr.
“I’m glad, because I get to be fully surprised by going to the movie theater,” said Zehr, a teacher and writer who runs the Coffee With Kenobi podcast network.
“My ears were tingling, I was on full-on adrenaline,” Zehr said. “I remember thinking, ‘Man, nothing makes me feel this way, and this is the last time it’s going to happen.’”
John Hoey, a senior writer at Star Wars News Net and co-host of The Resistance Broadcast, says the trailer delivers epic visuals, from Rey leaping across forest canyons to lightsaber battles surrounded by a raging ocean, to space battles involving thousands of ships.
“It looks like the biggest Star Wars movie in terms of scale and grandeur that I could ever have imagined,” Hoey said.
The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters Dec. 20.
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