Since that first viewing of The Last Jedi in theatres, I’ve had no doubt the title for Episode IX will be Spark of Hope. Not only does any prospective title need to inspire optimism, being the end of a new trilogy, but also imply a fitting end to this forty-plus year journey. It is supposed to be the Skywalkers’ last huzzah on the silver screen, after all. Mulling over the title inevitably leads to a deeper meditation on what this final chapter will entail. As well as wanting to get my own thoughts down, I also wanted to see how closely aligned my wants and predictions are with the rest of the fanbase. And so here we are.
Our boy Ben Solo
Let’s begin with perhaps the biggest issue that Episode IX must deal with – the fate of Ben Solo. I’m firmly in the ‘Bendemptionist’ camp here and I truly believe he will be redeemed. At the same time, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will die. As that oft-repeated George Lucas quote tells us, the prequel trilogy rhymes with his original vision and so it serves to follow that the sequels will honour this tradition. As the Vader figure of this sequels, I think Ben Solo will give his life protecting what he loves. There’s a symmetry here, one which also fits within the themes established throughout The Force Awakens and, more overtly, in TLJ.
However, I don’t think it’ll be a straight lift from Return of the Jedi. While Anakin needed that quiet moment with his son to rekindle his love, Ben’s defining flaw, much more than Vader’s, is his anger. For that reason, I think Ben will go down fighting. He’ll die with a saber in his hand, fighting for the light. For Leia. For Rey. I’m not sure we’ll get the fulfilling love story many of us want between these two, but I do think we’ll get a passionate, desperate kiss before Ben inevitably gives his life. Perhaps they’ll even spend a night together (nudge nudge, wink wink) and Rey continues the Skywalker bloodline, albeit one guided by her own unique experience of the Force and the Jedi teachings. This might usher in the much-mooted balance that the Force has hungered for across these three trilogies.
Gays in space
Speaking of love. I’m still holding out hope that we’ll see Finn and Poe romantically involved. I’ve thought about this a lot and I think it would work best if IX began after a time skip when they’re already together. Like it’s no big deal. That way this final chapter isn’t bogged down by too many plot threads and heavy exposition, and how they got together can be explored in a comic or novel later. Much as I want this though, I do have reservations. The biggest being bigotry, prejudice and protecting the bottom line. A gay couple front and centre in a movie of this magnitude would send such a positive and powerful message… but conservative values still rule the roost and featuring a gay couple would lead to the film being boycotted in Russia and China. The other issue is that in TLJ, Rose kisses Finn potentially alluding towards a future pairing whilst Poe gets flirty with Rey. That’s hardly concluding evidence, of course, but a lot can be extrapolated here.
Now that Finn has finally found his place in the universe, it’s time for him to take proactive action. As soon as I heard Skytalkers podcast talking about Finn freeing the stormtroopers from the First Order’s brainwashing, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. So rather than blowing all them Storm Troopers up – as we’ve seen plenty of times before – Finn can become a symbol of rebellion and freedom among them. As well as providing a great character arc, it could also be how the Resistance bolsters its ranks and overthrows the First Order once and for all. Just think about it for a moment. A young stormtrooper overcomes his brainwashing and eventually leads all his people to freedom. That’s powerful stuff.
Anakin bloody Skywalker!
While there’s concept art of an Anakin Force ghost, it’s not something we’ve seen yet in the sequels. With Mark Hamill re-appearing in IX as a spectral Luke, it’s incomprehensible to me that we wouldn’t see Anakin. And when I say Anakin, I mean Hayden Christensen. Seriously, bringing Hayden back would be something special. He really did flesh out Vader rather than demystify him, adding so much extra emotion to the franchise that needs closure. J.J. Abrams has said on numerous occasions that IX will tie everything together and I can’t imagine that happening in a satisfying way without Anakin.
Padmé is one of my favourite characters, so call me biased, but she’s too often left by the wayside. Just one reference, just hearing her name again in the cinema, that’s all I ask. I mean, if I could have my own way, I’d have Luke ask Anakin about his mother and Anakin would tell him how brave, beautiful and brilliant she was and how truly sorry he is for the way he treated her while ‘Across the Stars’ swells and now I have to stop because I’m going to cry.
Locations, locations, locations
Although we’ll almost certainly be treated to a new planet or two, I really want to see Coruscant again. As the historic mantle of the galactic government, I really do think the film will take us here, whether at the end as the Republic is reinstated or halfway through for a major battle scene. Again, if J.J. really is serious about tying everything together, I don’t see how Coruscant can’t feature.
What I don’t want
I won’t go into much detail here, as it’s more interesting what people are excited about than what they’re not. But one thing I absolutely want Episode IX to avoid is destroying the Millennium Falcon. It would be a cheap and lazy move designed to play off nostalgia for an easy emotional payoff. We’ve seen it happen plenty of times in the Star Trek movies and this concluding chapter deserves better.
But that’s enough about what I think, what do you all want from Episode IX? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter and I’ll round up the best responses in another post.