We’ve been on quite a rollercoaster ride since the release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS back in 2015. In just 4 short years we’ve seen 4 new installments in cinema’s most beloved franchise (Sorry FAST & FURIOUS fans). Audiences are now bracing for the 9th and “final” installment in the main series — STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.

I’m sure anyone reading this has already seen the teaser from this year’s Star Wars Celebration a bazillion times by now, so I’m just going to hit hyperdrive and get to speculating. The trailer was fun, and had a few cool shots such as Lando back in action, Rey flipping over Kylo’s starship, a lot of our new heroes hangin’ out, and an emotional hug between Rey and Leia. BUT it’s actually the two things we didn’t see that prompt the most serious speculation.

1.) After Luke’s voiceover says “No one’s ever really gone“, we hear Emperor Palpatine’s perfectly evil laugh.

Let’s all talk about the Palpatine in the room. Yes, it seems like the galaxy’s worst damn nightmare survived being thrown into a bottomless pit AND blown to crap. But alas, this is STAR WARS we’re talking about. Chances are, if Anakin doesn’t scissor your head off with a pair of lightsabers, you may still be alive. Just look at Darth Maul if you need me to explain more…

I’m thinking Palpatine had some sort of contingency plan for when he “died”. He does explain to Anakin in REVENGE OF THE SITH that powerful Sith know how to bring people back from the dead. Guess we never thought he was talking about himself.

As for how I feel about bringing back yet another legacy character…I’m not only fine with it, I think it’s pretty damn awesome. THE LAST JEDI sucked me dry of any kind of excitement for Episode IX, but the return of Palpatine, in whatever form it may be, is something to get excited for. Was he pulling Snoke’s strings this whole time? Will he be back as an evil force spirit? Will we get some sort of flashback for how he survived like what we saw in the beginning of THE TWO TOWERS with Gandalf? So many options to consider…

the rise of skywalker

2.) The new title of the film: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

Skywalker. A name synonymous with STAR WARS. Shmi (Anakin’s Mom), Anakin, Luke, Leia, Ben (Kylo Ren). All have Skywalker blood flowing through their veins. We never did learn who Anakin’s father was, assuming he had one. Shmi told Qui-Gon in THE PHANTOM MENACE that Anakin was conceived by The Force. There was no father. Is that true? Was it maybe…I dunno….Palpatine! Did old Sheev (Fun Fact: Palpatine’s first name) ever visit Tatooine? Perhaps visit Shmi in the tender hours of the night? Methinks it’s possible.

And this theory is blowing up the internet: is “Skywalker” an evolution of “Jedi”? Jedi have a lot of constraints that really mess with people’s head and cause more harm than good. Think about it, a lot of what pushed Anakin to the Dark Side were the Jedi’s strict rules including how old you should be when trained, strict rules against love and relationships, always having to make decisions via your Jedi Master and serving the damn Republic. If the Jedi were a little more chill, Vader probably wouldn’t exist. So basically, is Skywalker to be read as a plural like “Samurai”? Are Skywalker’s loving and compassionate protectors of the light? Maybe Luke saying “It’s time for the Jedi to end” wasn’t cynical, but in fact hopeful. The more I think about it, being a Jedi seems kind of rough. I think the kid in me just wants to wield a lightsaber minus all the rules.

On the other hand, maybe this is literal and Luke isn’t physically dead yet. Maybe he’s found a way to traverse between the physical and spirit realms. Maybe he just needed a recharge at the end of THE LAST JEDI. This may be denial kicking in, but I hope this one is true.

And lastly, maybe they are referring to either Kylo (Ben Skywalker) or Rey (Still may be a Skywalker if Kylo was lying). Can they flip Kylo to the light side in just one film? Is Rey a true Skywalker and Kylo is just a liar liar pants on fire? These seem like uninspired and cheap paths, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one came true.

At the end of the day, I’m much more excited about STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER than I was before this tease. Nothing was spoiled. Speculation is now running rampant in my head. And the hype meter has begun to fill.

I’m stoked for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER which is landing in theatres December 20th, 2019.