Here's What 'The Rise of Skywalker' Ending Means, From Rey's New Saber to All Those Ghosts
'The Rise of Skywalker' managed to jam pack a lot of plot into a single film, so the ending naturally needs to be explained for some of us.
The Rise of Skywalker is a divisive film that people seem to either love or hate. Heck, even actors who've had significant roles in the Star Wars universe, like The Mandalorian actor Jake Cannavale, are pretty vocal about their feelings toward the new movie. Regardless of what your feelings about Episode 9 are, it's hard to deny that it's an ambitious film that packs in a lot of plot, so some folks need the ending of it explained for them.
Rise of Skywalker has some plot holes.
OK, remember what I was saying about the film packing in a lot of plot? Well, when that happens, there's a greater chance that the script will have a few plot holes, especially after a movie like Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi. From a technical standpoint, Rian's foray into the galaxy far, far away was fairly impressive for the way it subverted many cinematic tropes, especially in the Star Wars universe.
This was met with severe backlash from some fans, backlash that many believed carried itself to the box office for the Solo spin-off, which underperformed for a Lucasfilm title. This backlash is what many believed to be the impetus behind bringing J.J. Abrams back to direct the closing chapter of the new trilogy. Judging from The Rise of Skywalker's plot, it looks like there was some significant work done to retcon some of The Last Jedi's major developments.
Like when TLJ revealed that Rey's parentage wasn't significant at all: she was actually just some gutter kid scavenger... only to discover that Kylo Ren lied and she was actually the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. Speaking of which, just how was he alive at the end of Return of the Jedi? The movie doesn't really offer any explanation, aside from, "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural." Thanks for the vagueness, you old evil pale scrotum.
Learning that Snoke was just a clone created by Palpatine wasn't a big deal, but discovering he was growing more of these guys was kinda strange, considering the first Snoke was his "Final Order" and all. Speaking of the Sith, the "dagger" that's supposed to be very old... despite the fact that it's designed to point folks to the Death Star... which has only been around for a few decades. Plus the dagger only works if you're standing in a very specific spot... what?
Also, it's kind of weird that Threepio speaks the Sith language, because the Old Republic thought the Sith were extinct since Darth Bane, who precedes Threepio's existence.
Then there's how Kylo Ren manages to get off of Kef Bir in the first place. Rey escapes in his ship, stranding him there after their Death Star wreckage duel and there aren't any other ships, save for a few old and messed-up TIE fighters. But these didn't have hyper drives, soooo... yeah.
Also, after Rey isolates herself on Ahch-To where the first Jedi Temple's located, she wrecks Kylo's TIE whisper in an effort to strand herself there so she doesn't fall prey to the dark side. Luke's ghost appears, convinces her to keep fighting the good fight, and then brings his X-Wing out from underwater, the same one in The Last Jedi that was a rust-bucket incapable of flying, and the same one The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary says he intentionally destroyed. Uh-oh.
While we're still talking about ships: Palpatine's super secret fleet buried under ice on Exegol, the Sith planet, is as idiotic as the "miniaturized" Death Star tech. Were the fleets built on the planet with zero resources? Or flown in there, despite the place being so secret there are only two Wayfinders to even locate the planet? Plus, the two previous Death Stars were supposed to have used all the Kyber stores in the entire galaxy... it makes no sense.
Neither does Poe Dameron's new backstory as a spice smuggler, which seems like the writers were trying to make him more of a Han Solo-esque character. It just felt forced and out-of-nowhere. And what's the deal with all of the Stormtroopers? How many do they have where they can just send soldiers going door-to-door looking for Rey, and why doesn't the First Order just use clones? And why is this the first time we're hearing of Stormtroopers defecting from the First Order en masse?
Jannah says platoons of them have gone AWOL in the past, so many former stormtroopers are out there just walking around the galaxy?
Babu Frik and Zorii Bliss' survival from the planet Kijimi after it's destroyed by Palpatine's Death Star Destroyer fleet also doesn't make any sense. It also takes away from Zorii's kind gesture to Poe, you know, giving him that only ticket she had out of there.
One of the biggest plot points of The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker is the Force Dyad, aka, the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. However, Palpatine, despite being this evil mastermind, seems to have not known about their bond until he changes his plan to drain their Force Power for his own. But if Snoke was his puppet all along, wouldn't he have known about it, because Snoke mentions that in TLJ?
One of the most poignant moments of the film is when the spirits of Jedi past give their power to the young force wielder to defeat Palpatine in her darkest hour. What's weird about this is that Qui-Gon Jinn was supposed to be the first Jedi after generations who could still hold on to his consciousness even after he died. So who are all those Jedi who died before Qui-Gon urging Rey on? Did he somehow find their force energy and teach them how to become ghosts?
Rise of Skywalker ending explained:
OK, so there are some questions you have at the end of the film, like what did Finn want to talk to Rey about, then decline to bring up at the end? Well, he's a little force sensitive, (why he was able to hurt Kylo Ren in a lightsaber fight despite not ever using one before) and wanted to talk about it.
You might be wondering why she buries Luke and Leia's lightsabers in the sand on Tatooine. It's a sign of respect to the two force wielders who guided her.
It also sets the stage for Rey's rise as a new Jedi, because after burying theirs, she whips out an all-new lightsaber, one that she made herself. Crafting a laser sword is a Jedi right-of-passage, and the fact that Rey's saber is now yellow suggests that balance has been restored to the force, something I wrote about at-length here.
It's important to note that before this nice and tidy final shot, that when Rey fought Palpatine, she killed him with his own power.
This is important because by not striking him down herself and instead deflecting his force lightning with two lightsabers and disintegrating his ass with his own magic, she hasn't carried on the Sith legacy of striking down your master and assuming their position of evil power. The Resistance manages to defeat the Star Destroyers thanks to Finn and Jannah's handy work in knocking down their communications, so there's no more larger galactic threat. Peace endures.
It's definitely a lot to unpack, and we've learned that, yes, people can be brought back to life with the Force, thanks to Kylo Ren's selfless sacrifice for Rey's life after her struggle with Palpatine. Are you planning on seeing the movie? Or maybe multiple times to make sense of everything J.J. and co. have poured into it? It almost feels like it needed to be broken up into two other films.