Unanswered Questions from the Sequel Trilogy

Palpatine image courtesy of Starwars.com
Palpatine image courtesy of Starwars.com /

There’s no doubt that the Star Wars sequel trilogy gave fans many things. We were given great new characters, battles, and planets, along with many familiar faces and starships. There were some things we were not given, however. Answers. With each movie, new questions arose, and some never received closure or follow up.

Now, we’re going to ask these questions strictly based on the information presented in the movies The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. There may be more information and answers that have come out in the years since the movies have premiered, but we should have been able to get at least some of these questions answered during our original viewing of the films. Here are some of the unanswered questions from the sequel trilogy.

Who is the elder villager in the beginning of The Force Awakens, and how did he get the map to Luke Skywalker?

In the opening scene of the new trilogy, we see Poe Dameron meeting with an older man in a village on a desert planet we find out to be Jakku. This man hands Poe a map to Luke Skywalker, in the form of a piece of equipment that somewhat resembles a flash drive. “This will begin to make things right,” the man says. Who is he? How did he get this map? Not only is The Resistance looking for it, but so is Kylo Ren. Speaking of, there is an exchange between the two where Kylo says, “Look how old you’ve become.” There is familiarity here. Was this man a friend of the Skywalker/Organa family? He most definitely has known Leia for a very long time, because he responds to a comment from Poe regarding her with “Oh the General? To me, she’s royalty.”

Who is this man? How did he get a portion of the map to where the last Jedi in the galaxy was hiding? Since Kylo Ren kills him during the raid on the village in Jakku, we never get to know more about him or his past affiliations with Leia.

How did Maz Kanata get Luke’s lightsaber?

The most famous lightsaber in all of Star Wars lore has bounced around for the last 55 years or so. Starting with Anakin Skywalker, it has changed hands to Obi-Wan, Luke, and eventually Rey when it calls to her while at Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana. Maz has “had this for ages,” locked away in a chest in the lower levels of the castle, but how did she get it? The last time we saw the sword was when it tumbled down to who knows where, with Luke’s severed hand during his confrontation on Cloud City with his father, Darth Vader. 30-plus years later, it shows up again in storage. How did it make its way to Maz Kanata’s hands? “A good question, for another time” is her response to Han Solo when he asks the same question all us fans were asking. Well unfortunately, that other time never happens and the question remains unanswered. We see Maz again in both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, but the saber is never brought up again.

Who are the Knights of Ren?

Speaking of Luke’s lightsaber, when Rey touches it she has a vision where she sees many different things. One part of the vision shows her Kylo with his group, the Knights of Ren. Who are these warriors? They wield weapons and fight behind the command of Kylo (for the time being), but we don’t ever get any sort of backstory or explanation of where they came from or who they are. In fact, other than the vision in The Force Awakens, we do not see them again until The Rise of Skywalker when they are referred to as “Ghouls” by a Stormtrooper. In all three movies, they are seen for five occurrences in total, ending with their defeat at the hands of Ben Solo on Exegol.

Who is Snoke?

A question that was only partially answered was the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. When we first meet this character, it is via hologram in The Force Awakens. He is leading The First Order, and has been training Kylo Ren in the ways of the dark side. For all intents and purposes, Snoke was the new Emperor. He appeared to be very, very old with decaying skin and incredibly advanced physical features. In The Last Jedi, we again see more similarities to the Emperor. He has a Praetorian Guard, and is extremely powerful with the Force. Then the hammer came down in The Rise of Skywalker with Palpatine informing Kylo Ren that he in fact “made Snoke” and has been pulling the strings the entire time.

So was Snoke just cloned/created in a lab on Exegol and then randomly appeared to Kylo Ren/The First Order? I think we as fans can all insinuate that there were many years of build up with Snoke, and we do hear Leia and Han refer to him more than once in relation to his training with Ben and seducing him to the dark side. Outside of those short comments though, we get next to nothing for a backstory or prior world building. Another piece of the puzzle left unanswered.

How did Palpatine return?

The biggest question of the sequel trilogy, and one we never got any legitimate answer to. Fans everywhere have had to accept the uninspiring explanation to the origins, intentions, and Puppet Master of The First Order as “Somehow Palpatine returned.” This is problematic and disappointing for multiple reasons.

First, Palpatine died in Return of The Jedi. We all saw his body plunge down into the abyss of the second Death Star. A space station that was in orbit at the time by the way (that’s important). Palpatine even admits he died to Kylo during their first interaction on Exegol. So if he died, how was his body recovered? Again, when Darth Vader killed him, his body would have been lost into outer space, or most likely disintegrated as the Death Star exploded. Okay, let’s assume both of those things didn’t happen. Let’s assume his body was somehow preserved enough and tumbled down with the wreckage of the Death Star to the ocean waters on the moon in the Endor system. Who went and recovered his body? “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural,” he says to Kylo, repeating the same exact line he once told to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith 50 years prior. If he was brought back to life through the dark side, one could assume that would be an extremely difficult process. Who would be strong enough in dark side knowledge and ability to pull off such a feat? Snoke? Palpatine made Snoke, so it couldn’t have been him. Palptine’s return to mortality (or lack thereof) is a major unanswered question from the sequel trilogy.

Second, let’s accept the fact that he was somehow brought back to life after his body was somehow exhumed from the Death Star wreckage. How has he been building the Final Order, the largest fleet the galaxy has ever seen, without anyone knowing? The sheer logistics of it are staggering to think about, yet not a whisper was caught by The Senate or The Resistance. Even his new allies (Kylo) and his old allies (General Pryde), were unaware and kept in the dark for 30 years.

One person did find out about it, however. Luke found out about it somehow (again “somehow” see the overarching, recurring theme here?), yet told nobody. Why wouldn’t he at the very least tell his sister, the leader of The Resistance? Well, he did tell one other person, Lando Calrissian. In The Rise of Skywalker, Lando shares that he and Luke were pursuing leads, in particular Ochi and his ship, in hopes it would lead them to the wayfinder that could direct them to Exegol. Why was something this important, the terrifying possibility of Emperor Palpatine’s return, not communicated to anyone at all? This, to me, is possibly the biggest and most important unanswered question from the sequel trilogy.