Star Wars: The Last Jedi was trying to teach us so many things, but The Rise of Skywalker simply failed to learn some of its most important lessons.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi proved to be one of the most divisive entries the fandom had ever seen. Whether you loved or hated it, there’s no changing the role The Last Jedi will continue to play in what The Skywalker Saga ultimately turned out being.
There are inconsistencies when looking at The Skywalker Saga as a whole, but there are still lessons from The Last Jedi that could’ve better informed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Lessons that Rian Johnson tried to teach us, and J.J. Abrams chose not to learn.
1. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”
One of the central themes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is encapsulated most perfectly with a line from Kylo Ren when he’s speaking to Rey. Ren wants Rey to stop holding on to the potential mystery of her past. He sees how that need for closure is actively hindering her. There was power in Rey being someone from nowhere.
Instead, that’s not what The Rise of Skywalker did at all. The decision to have Rey’s lineage not be crucial was clearly not something Abrams cared to acknowledge as truth, and we instead learn she’s a Palpatine.
On top of that, The Rise of Skywalker also seemed genuinely afraid of death. One of the most powerful moments in the film was what looked (briefly) to be the death of Chewbacca. As Rey and Kylo Ren were fighting, Rey tried to stop an escaping transport that was believed to be carrying Chewbacca, who had been captured by The First Order.
Rey used her immense Force power to keep the transport from flying away, whereas Ren was using the Force to try and allow it to escape. As they struggled for control over the craft, power suddenly burst from Rey and Force Lightning hit the craft, causing it to explode.
Rey screamed “Chewie” in anguish over what she’d done, but mere minutes later it was revealed that Chewbacca had been on a different transport and was safely in the custody of The First Order. Chewbacca’s death had the potential to be a lynchpin in the movie, and to inform much of Rey’s fears over her powers, but the desire to have Chewie there later for a callback to the original trilogy by giving him his medal was apparently too strong for such a big choice.
However, perhaps the most jarring reason this lesson could’ve better informed The Rise of Skywalker is the decision to have so much of Carrie Fisher’s deleted footage become the foundation for the entire film. There were so many ways to handle her loss, but Abrams essentially chose not to deal with it, and instead crafted the movie around her in a way to keep her here past her own death.