Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the cinematic equivalent of Marmite – dividing the Star Wars fandom into two categories: those who loved Rian Johnson’s irreverent take on the galaxy’s greatest franchise, and those who felt that the director did what Palpatine and Snoke failed to do and destroyed the rebellion and the Jedi in one fell swoop.
Personally, I loved the film – sure, I understand how audiences may feel cheated out of major reveals and backstories, but that is what the Expanded Universe is there for – I’m sure we’ll find out more about Snoke and his rise to power in spin-off novels, but his shocking demise midway through the film actually generated an emotional response because it bucked the trend. While I’m a bit more annoyed about Rey’s parentage, I cannot deny that it takes the franchise into new ground – in fact, the bleak ending and the complete dismantling of expected Star Wars tropes left me truly clueless as to where the series will go next, and isn’t that a wonderful feeling?!
Since seeing the film, it has buzzed about in my brain – moreso than any other movie in the past few years – and so I have come up with nine theories as to where J.J. Abrams may take the final episode of Rey and Finn’s trilogy.
- Kylo Ren will undergo a physical transformation
After receiving a facial scar in The Force Awakens and destroying his mask in The Last Jedi, it seems that Kylo Ren is still in a transitional stage when it comes to his identity. After killing both of his teachers (Snoke & Luke), I suspect that we will see Kylo Ren adopt a new costume or possibly undergo some physical changes due to his increased exposure to the Dark Side. Because of this, I think we may see the darkness inside of him manifest in a physical manner akin to how Palpatine changed his appearance when becoming Darth Sidious.
- Luke will reappear as a Force Ghost
By dying and leaving no trace of a body, Luke Skywalker has followed in Obi-Wan’s footsteps so it is not unreasonable to expect him to appear in a Force Ghost form during Episode IX. However, rather than reaching out to Rey, I suspect we may see him attempting to rehabilitate his nephew, Ben Solo. I wouldn’t be surprised if he also brought Han (and maybe Leia?) along with him in the afterlife to mess with the emo Sith Lord’s mind. Kylo Ren’s struggle to deny his parental roots has been a theme throughout this trilogy and with all of his bloodline dead (assuming Leia is written out), Force Ghost Luke will be the best option for Abrams to revisit this story-arc in the final chapter.
- Rey and Poe will be a in a romantic relationship
Finally crossing paths in the closing scenes of The Last Jedi, there’s an awkward encounter between Rey and Poe which seems to indicate a potential romance between the pair. While Rey and Finn were initially paired together after the events of The Force Awakens, the plot of The Last Jedi seemed to throw obstacles in the path of true love with Finn becoming attached to Rose and Rey finding her own path. Given Poe’s cockiness and leadership position in the rebellion, I wonder whether the pair will become this generation’s Han and Leia, albeit with slightly different roles. I wouldn’t be surprised if Episode IX opened with the pair already in an established relationship, dependant on the time-jump between instalments.
- Finn and Rose will be in a romantic relationship
More overt than a potential Rey/Poe pairing, Rose and Finn clearly had a romantic element to their storyline in Canto Blight and the First Order star destroyer, which culminated in a stolen kiss on the planet Crait. While Rose has taken Finn’s role as ‘lead character in a coma at the end of the film’, it seems highly likely that she will recover and a romantic relationship will occur between the two. Finn’s fixation on Rey seems to have transferred onto Rose, as evidenced by his blasé attitude towards her reappearance at the end of the film and attentive behaviour by Rose’s side. I doubt that J.J. Abrams will create a love-triangle between Rey/Finn/Rose and instead, it’s more likely he will pair each couple off together. After all, someone has to give birth to the next generation of force-sensitive kids!
- Finn will inherit the Millennium Falcon and become Chewie’s new partner
One thing that most critics and fans agree upon was that the Finn/Rose side-mission to Canto Blight felt like filler that existed mainly to prolong the Rey/Luke and First Order/Rebellion storylines. Finn’s narrative journey in the film closely resembled his story-arc from The Force Awakens, moving from coward to hero and I think that the next film will firmly establish him as a hero of the rebellion. I also strongly suspect that Finn will be a natural replacement for Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon, despite Han offering Rey the very same position. The Force Awakens established a relationship, albeit strained, between him and Chewbacca and without Han left to co-pilot the Millennium Falcon, it seems that there is a vacancy to be filled. With Chewbacca under-utilised in The Last Jedi – pairing him with Finn (and Rose) would provide an ideal opportunity to unite these disparate characters together under one group.
- Benicio Del Toro’s DJ will make a return and get his comeuppance
Again subverting the traditional redemption story-arc seen in Star Wars, Benicio Del Toro’s morally ambiguous DJ acted like Han Solo, but without the epiphany and character development. With no formal conclusion to his story-arc, it feels like karma owes DJ a comeuppance and I think it’s highly likely that Rose and Finn will cross paths with the duplicitous code-breaker in Episode IX to put an end to that open-ended plot thread.
- Captain Phasma will make another miraculous recovery and return to duel Finn
While it was great that Captain Phasma survived the destruction of Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, she was given a rather unceremonious demise in The Last Jedi. Sure, she acted as a nemesis for Finn but I feel the character deserved more development and prominence than she received. Many have compared her to Boba Fett – a character who radiated potential but was given little screen-time and died a rather low-key death. While Boba Fett received more development in Expanded Universe stories and the prequels, I think Captain Phasma will make a reappearance in Episode IX – cementing her role as the cockroach of the Rey/Finn trilogy. After all, we never saw a body – and, if Darth Maul and Boba Fett can both survive and reappear, so can Phasma.
- Leia’s Funeral or off-screen death will be used to inspire people to join the Rebellion
Despite the real-world death of Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia survived the decimation of the Rebellion movement during The Last Jedi. Early reports indicate that the character would have had a larger role in Episode IX had Fisher not died, so I predict that J.J. Abrams will use her in-universe death as a pivotal moment for the Rebellion, either inspiring others to join or teaching one of the new generation to embrace their role – perhaps Poe? Carrie Fisher was such a beloved actress and integral part of the Star Wars franchise that I would be utterly surprised if she made no impact on the Episode IX narrative, and giving the character’s death some meaning would be a worthy tribute to the actress.
- Either an Ewok or Jar-Jar Binks will make an appearance
There is less evidence for this potential prediction to come true, but my gut instinct tells me that J.J. Abrams will once again pull at that nostalgic thread. Given that they were such a pivotal aspect of Return of the Jedi, I’m surprised the Ewoks haven’t made a return appearance in the main franchise – only reappearing in the direct-to-TV movies, Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor. I think that Abrams could tap into nostalgia by featuring a cameo appearance of the furry warriors, or if he really wanted to truly tap into the millennial audience, he could feature the infamous Jar-Jar Binks in a cameo to redeem (or further demonise) the character. While there’s very little chance of either of these cameos coming to fruition, I would be very excited to see The Phantom Menace or Return of the Jedi revisited in such a manner.
So, those are our predictions for Episode IX – and the beauty of The Last Jedi is that it has shattered the expectations of the Star Wars fandom into pieces, reinventing what a middle film in trilogy should be like. As a result, J.J. Abrams has a relative fresh slate to build the concluding chapter of this latest trilogy, and literally any theory that one can think of has the potential to be brought to life.
On that note, what theories do you have for Episode IX – do you have any bold predictions for what awaits Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren in this final chapter of the trilogy? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment down below.