I know I just made a post about my excitement for The Rise of Skywalker, but now I have to make another one. Turns out the D23 content drop wasn't a behind the scenes reel, it was basically a second teaser that felt about as big as the first. This is definitely enough to keep me fed until the first full trailer, which I assume will be in October based on what the other movies did.
Overall summary: I love it, Episode IX still feels tailor-made for me, and I remain excited to see it. It looks like a big fun adventure in a galaxy far, far away, and based on what we've seen so far I fail to see how I couldn't at least get some enjoyment out of it. This D23 Special Look gave us some shots that clearly connect to stuff in the teaser, some shots that confirm leaks like the festival on Pasaana or the Sith fleet hiding in the stormy Unknown Regions, and some shots which are entirely new. What I didn't expect at all was a big shocker at the end. Dark Rey maybe isn't on the same level as 'Palpatine is back!' or 'It's called The Rise of Skywalker!' but it's still a more evocative end than I was expecting. Let's get into the footage in more detail.
Damn. I mean, I thought Dark Rey was a popular cosplay BEFORE Episode IX, but now? One at every con. Guarantee it.
I agree with the most popular takes that this is probably a vision Rey has of an alternate path she could take. If this were real, some time would've had to pass between Rey falling to the dark side and this scene. Anakin Skywalker didn't get dark robes and a red lightsaber the day he became Darth Vader - there were far more pressing matters he had to attend to. It's possible Rey goes to see the Emperor, we lose track of her, then she re-emerges some time later under Palpatine's spell, needing to be snapped out of it by Finn or Leia or someone. If you look at the shot in motion, you can see a bit of black fabric fluttering at the right edge of the frame, which could mean she's standing in front of the Emperor, being given orders. Interestingly, this Dark Rey would have to be a Sith Lord if, as everyone assumes, she's under the influence of Palpatine in this sequence. Because he's a Sith, Darth Sidious, that would make Rey part of the Sith tradition of masters and apprentices, meaning she'd have a 'Darth' name. If nothing else, I'm sure it'll show up on merch.
I'm surprised by how okay I am with the idea of Rey falling to the dark side. I love her, she's one of my favourite characters, but I know whatever happens to her in TRoS will be done with care. J.J. had a big hand in creating the Sequel Trilogy characters by writing and directing The Force Awakens, so I'm sure his deep understanding of who they are as well as his personal attachment will guide them all to an ending that feels natural, regardless of what that ending is. That being said, I do think this is a vision, because Dark (or Darth) Rey isn't an ending. When Anakin became Darth Vader in Episode III, that was a problem that took all of IV, V, and VI to solve. I'm sure there will be a X, XI, and XII, because money is forever, but Disney and Lucasfilm clearly don't want us to be thinking about that yet. As far as they want us to think, IX is the end, and a twist this juicy demands to be followed up on. For that reason, I don't believe Rey is really turning evil. It'd be interesting, but unlikely. Still, the not knowing is why this is so wonderful. Comparing it again to the two reveals from the end of the teaser, it's as deep a topic for speculation as 'how is Palpatine back?' and 'what does 'The Rise of Skywalker' mean?'. I give these shots a chef kiss out of excellent. *M'WAH!*
Oh, and that lightsaber is fuckin SWEET. Holy SHIT.
Seeing Carrie as Leia again is lovely. The fact they have shots of her in both the D23 footage and the teaser makes it seem like she's going to be heavily involved in the plot beyond just being the off-screen leader of the Resistance. That being said, this shot seems to be from the same scene as the hug from the teaser, so maybe they only have one or two really good Leia bits.
If I really look and think about it, I can identify the moments from The Force Awakens these alternate takes were lifted from to create the new footage of Leia, but they look different enough that it doesn't bother me or take me out of the fiction at all. Part of what sells it is her new outfit, cleverly combining the general shape of her Episode VIII outfit with the sleeves of her Episode VII look to make the hug footage work. It's nice that Leia is still an active presence in Star Wars, like how The Sarah Jane Adventures memoralised Elizabeth Sladen with 'And the story goes on forever'. Knowing that these heroes are still out there is lovely to think about.
All My Faves Hanging Out
I'm looking forward to the squad from The Force Awakens going on a quest together after a time jump. They've had a chance to get to know each other off-screen, and now they're actually getting to talk on-screen, instead of being seperated into their own subplots like in The Last Jedi. Particular highlights for me include the festival on Pasaana and the brief shots of Rey training with the lightsaber against remotes in the forest. They're both nice little moments of the characters hanging out while not being shot at by the First Order. I've seen speculation that the green forest planet could be Yavin 4, which as it happens is where Poe was born, so that might be a nice opportunity to get the characters talking about themselves and their backstories. I hope we get a bit more from Finn and Poe in the first full trailer to make the group feel more like a proper ensemble, although I obviously understand that, as Luke says in the voiceover both here and in the teaser, this is Rey's fight.
Rey vs. Kylo Ren
Speaking of Rey's fight, here's Rey fighting. Of course Rey and Kylo are going to have another duel in Episode IX, but I kinda didn't expect to see it as early as the D23 footage. I mean, I know it's already been mentioned and shown in the Vanity Fair shoot but now we actually have a shot of the fight in motion. While this might be from Act 3, I suspect because we're seeing it now that this isn't the ultimate climax of the film. The big finale will probably involve Palpatine as well as Rey and Kylo to help bring the entire saga together. When I first saw the Vanity Fair photo, I thought they were dueling on top of the Falcon in flight across an ocean, but fighting on the wreckage of Death Star II is also acceptably cool. I'm assuming it's Death Star II because it's where Palpatine died and stuff. Looks like it'll be a good rematch.
That's All For Now I Guess
The next post I make about TRoS will probably be for the first full trailer, unless it isn't, it which case it'll be for whatever it's about. Glad we got a shot of Jannah in the D23 footage, but I still want a shot of the other new characters, Zorri Bliss and Allegiant General Pryde, so hopefully they'll be in Trailer 1. I'm sure Trailer 1 will also give us our first shots of the red Sith Troopers and the Knights of Ren, because around October they'll probably want to start making toys out of them. In the teaser we got confirmation that Palpatine is back and in the D23 footage we got a new line from him ('Your journey nears its end'), so it's possible Trailer 1 might give us our first good look at Ian McDiarmid in TRoS. It's also maybe potentially possible that we could get Luke Skywalker as a force ghost in Trailer 1, maybe as the big shocking final shot. He's clearly going to have more screentime in this film than he did in The Force Awakens - he's had dialogue in both teasers so far and there's even a photo of him in the Vanity Fair shoot. I can't imagine Leia will have more screen time than Luke given Carrie Fisher isn't around to film new scenes, and yet shots of Leia also appear in both teasers. We all know Luke Skywalker is in the film and that he's a ghost, so they might as well put him in the trailer (unless of course Luke isn't the Skywalker who's Rising in this film, and I OOP-).