When facing his old master in A New Hope, Darth Vader says, “The circle is now complete.” Fans should hope to utter the same phrase at the end of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. The ninth and final installment of this forty-two-year journey has to tie up all the loose ends that began in The Phantom Menace. The prequel trilogy created as many questions as it answered, and some of those questions are still lingering all these years later. With the drop of the Episode IX trailer, the last movie has some ‘splaining left to do.
The Star Wars universe is immensely complicated. The twisted fates of our most beloved characters weave endlessly in and around each other, and the Force controls it all. George Lucas has always said he focused this entire saga on Anakin Skywalker and his place in the galaxy. Twenty years ago to the day of writing this, Episode I: The Phantom Menace opened, taking us back to his beginning. For his time, little “Annie”, as Jar-Jar called him, had a big effect on everything he touched. Here are some mysteries he left behind:
Phantom Menace Mystery One: Will we finally have balance in the Force?
“You were the Chosen One! It was said you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!”Obi Wan Kenobi
The canonized junior novelization for Return of the Jedi makes a clear statement on what action by Anakin brought balance to the Force:
“In the end, Anakin did what no Jedi—not Luke, not Obi-Wan, not even Yoda—could do. In killing his master—the mighty Sith Lord Darth Sidious, known to the galaxy as Emperor Palpatine—Anakin fulfilled his destiny and restored balance to the Force. And so, though the galaxy will not honor him… Luke will.”Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleburger
That’s it. By tossing Palps in the Death Star reactor, he achieves balance—or so we thought. The laugh at the end of the Episode IX trailer flings a little Bantha poodoo on this parade. If Sidious still lives, balance has not been achieved. Since it appears Palpatine is back for Episode IX, this leads us nicely to mystery number two.
Mystery Two: What is the endgame for Palpatine?
The Emperor’s gifts from the Force included one the Jedi feared: visions of the future. So how far ahead, exactly, was he looking? What did he see? The Rise of Skywalker should reveal this information and close this plot hole. The proverbial Phantom Menace himself, Palpatine has been orchestrating chaos through the first six films. Manipulating the Separatists, the invasion of Naboo, Dooku’s turn to the dark side, Darth Maul, the creation and fall of Anakin, and when he became the Emperor, it got worse. He has stirred the pot to a boil, now we want to know what he’s cooking.
“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”Emperor Palpatine, in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
One thing we know for sure about the Emperor, he’s all about advanced planning. If he foresaw his own death at Vader’s hand, there had to be a plan in place. That cackling laugh at the end of the new trailer tells us he’s still around in some capacity. After experiencing the Battle of Jakku in Battlefront II, we know his evil scheming lives on in his Sentinel Droids. How did he do it? What is his end goal? The next mystery explanation should cover that nicely…
Phantom Menace Mystery Three: Who is the “Chosen One”?
The great Jedi prophecy. It has hung over the head of every fan for forty-two years and no one even knows for certain what it actually says. Will we finally find out for certain who it is? Qui Gon believed the midi-chlorians caused an immaculate conception of Anakin. Shmi said there was no father. This Phantom Menace revelation—mixed with the unprecedented midi-chlorian count in Anakin’s blood—led Qui Gon to believe he was a vergence in the Force; the “Chosen One”. Pile on Lucas’ interview comments on who the “trilogy of trilogies” are really about, and this all makes sense.
Then, That Hashtag Show‘s own Greg Evans drops the bomb with his article on Marvel’s canonized title, Darth Vader #25—by manipulating the force, Sheev Palpatine has technically become Anakin Skywalker’s father. And it’s canon.
For further evidence, in season three of The Clone Wars, we are introduced to the arc of events on Mortis between the father, the brother, and the sister. Over the course of those episodes, the identity of the Chosen One is clear: it’s Anakin. However, this mystery still divides fans, and we still don’t know for certain. Is it really Anakin? Is it Luke? Some say it might be Leia, or could it be Rey?
We now know Palpatine manipulated the force to create Anakin. Did the same thing happen with Rey? The fervor after Episode VII over speculation on her parentage is still going at a fever pitch today. It’s one of the big reveals we all hope for in Episode IX. For now, no one knows except perhaps the Emperor, himself (and maybe J.J. Abrams). If it truly is Anakin, he has to show up somewhere in Episode IX, and I can’t wait to see that!
What Phantom Menace mysteries do you want answers to? What is the one final thing you want to see settled when Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker opens everywhere on December 20th? Let us hear it!