Beyond The Saga: What might Episode IX set up for the future of Star Wars?


Four decades after a young California director decided to give us his take on Space Opera, the Saga of the Skywalker family comes to an end this year. With two trilogies and a number of TV shows in the future though, it doesn’t look like Star Wars will be slowing down any time soon. Could Episode IX do more than just end one story? Could it plant the seeds for another entirely?

Although we are still waiting for both a trailer and even a title for Star Wars: Episode IX, there’s been quite a few bits of information trickling out the last couple of weeks.  From leaked costumes to rumors about the Millennium Falcon to JJ Abrams’ remarkable tweet picture announcing the end of principal photography, the internet is ripe with tidbits and speculation.

We know however the end is not nigh for the Franchise. Aside from Star Wars: Resistance, which continues to air, and the upcoming return of The Clone Wars, the live-action series The Mandalorian has reportedly wrapped its first season. The as yet unnamed Cassian Andor series is lurking out there as well, with a little buzz from Alan Tudyk, surmising K-2SO might return.

On the movie front, an HBO executive may have revealed that the Game of Thrones creative team of Weiss and Benioff’s new Star Wars project may in fact be a trilogy. And impressively this week, when a site reported that Rian Johnson was no longer working on his trilogy, Johnson himself stepped in to kill that rumor with a quickness:

So, two trilogies, two live-action shows, at least two cartoons…Star Wars’ “slowdown” after the relatively week performance of Solo is anything but. However, with all this we do know about the future, there is plenty we don’t know.

Something that has stood out for me is the absence of information on Keri Russell’s role in Episode IX; speculation is all there is right now. I saw something on Twitter yesterday that kicked my Star Wars thoughts into hyperspace:

Not only was this a great analysis of the way Star Wars in general has used aliens (and shoutout to the Eleven-ThirtyEight crew and Mike Cooper!), but they too speculate briefly on whether Keri Russell may be playing not just an alien, but a Twi’Lek. When I think of a Twi’Lek engaged in fighting tyranny, there’s a character who of course springs to mind: Hera Syndulla.

I’ve professed by keen admiration for this character before, but it occurs to me how well suited for the role Keri Russell might be. Certainly, my preference would be to have Vanessa Marshall play Hera in a live action version of the character, but Russell has shown great ability as an actress and how she’s able to handle action scenes in her role in the TV series The Americans.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 30: Actress Keri Russell arrives at the For Your Consideration red carpet event for FX’s “The Americans” at the Saban Media Center on May 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Russell has a fine couple of genre credits behind her as well, both voicing Wonder Woman in an delightful animated film, and with a role in one of the modern Planet of the Apes films. She could certainly handle a couple of lekku.

Hera as a character is about ten years older than General Leia, but aging aliens in Star Wars has always been a bit ambiguous (Chewie continues to look great, and Admiral Akbar has appeared in all three trilogy eras). Hera would be a character that would add extra-terrestrial diversity to the Resistance, and be a great gateway to get audience members who may not be familiar with her to look back at her history. Keeping her as a surprise to her long time fans would also explain why we have not had more information on Russell’s character.

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Now, I am being careful not to fall into the trap of being so wrapped up in my own speculation that when it proves untrue I decide the movie must be bad; Keri Russell could be playing anyone, but the real point is Episode IX can give us any number of jumping off points into a new Saga. If the First Order falls, whatever takes its place — Republic again or not — is going to face challenges. The leaders of that organization may well be worth their own set of stories.

If Rey starts a new type of Jedi Order, there again is the basis for a new Saga, facing a world Galaxy against groups of Dark Side Force users who cannot be easily categorized into something like “Sith;” after all, where did Snoke come from?

If Finn and Poe end up leading the New, New Republic, I doubt they will be any less heroic than anyone with “Sky” in their name (and more heroic than a FEW of them).

Yes, the Skywalker Saga is ending. But it could be the beginning of the Rey Saga, the StormPilot Saga, and if all of my wishes come true, the Syndulla Saga.  There are two trilogies out there still coming that need to be filled.  I will be watching Episode IX not only to see how it ends the stories of the last 40 years, but what it portends for the stories of the next 40 years.

Skywalkers coming to rest or not, the simple fact is Star Wars, in a flavor for every taste, lives on. What will rise like Phoenix Squadron from the end of that story is a JJ Abrams Mystery Box I can’t wait to open.

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Will we see the future of Star Wars set up in the end of the Skywalker Saga? Who do you think Keri Russell is playing in Episode IX? What might those other trilogies be about? Sound off below and join the speculation!