HomeArticlesThe Rise of Skywalker: A Time to Grow Beyond

The Rise of Skywalker: A Time to Grow Beyond

One year since its release, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker offers up several thematic threads that are worth digging into. We watched our newest generation of heroes not only grapple with comparable struggles to those who came before them, but also strive to come into their own as individuals with their own personal identities. Did they finally “grow beyond” or are they forever relegated to exist in the shadow of their predecessors? The film sees the new characters forge their own places within the mythos while providing hope for a new, brighter way forward.


The Hero with Passion

Despite suffering waves of tragedy that would have undone many, Rey’s beautiful heart would never be dimmed. We see this plainly in how ready she is to give all of herself when confronting Emperor Palpatine for the salvation for her loved ones. Refusing to stop there, Rey’s undying compassion would save an entire galaxy as well.

In her predecessor, Luke Skywalker, there dwelled the similar drive to protect, yet his case of self-actualization was as a paragon of pacifism and of inner peace. For Rey, when it came her own time to end isolation on the Jedi island, just as Luke did, while she acted in defence on the Sith world of Exegol, she was more actively engaged within her own journey, such as when she struck down the Emperor’s guard. To save what she loved, Rey showcased a fierce, defiant determination in rising back to her feet and standing unbreakable in the wash of Sidious’ dark onslaught. It was the indomitable will of her convictions alone that served as the shield that would turn evil’s power back onto itself, ensuring its own self-destruction. While undoubtedly preserving the peaceful values of yore, the beginning for the new Jedi seems like it will have all the scrappy makings of our scavenger who now spearheads it.

Ben Solo

A Humble Purpose

The Rise of Skywalker saw Ben Solo, caged in the persona of Kylo Ren, at the precipice of finalizing his breakaway out from under the shadow of his grandfather, Darth Vader, through his chance to assume the ultimate power of the Sith from Palpatine. Such a concerning prospect begged for the emergence of an equally powerful counterbalance. One that may very well rival that of Anakin Skywalker’s light at the end of Return of the Jedi. And one that saw itself fulfilled when Kylo found the strength inside to overcome his demons and recover his true self.

Unlike his grandfather, amid his return to the light Ben acted not as a Chosen One figure, destined to be the focal point in restoring good to a galaxy. His contribution to that very event on Rey’s part was essential, of course. But rather than his opportunity to be a new, dark emperor of cosmic-shifting proportions, the Skywalker prodigy embraced his role of simply being selfless for the right cause. Purpose equally as valuable to that of any Chosen One. After all, it did have the power to restore life itself to the woman he loved.    


Democratization of the Force

In a chaotic universe, one constant is that Finn always ultimately lights his path ahead. Whether leaving behind the wrong side that he was indoctrinated into from infancy in The Force Awakens, or valuing the moral obligation to oppose it in The Last Jedi, he always demonstrated an extraordinary clarity. 

This did not change when he fully interpreted greater truths in Episode IX—that throughout all his decision-making, he had been channeling the energies of the Force, a reality he shared with fellow ex-stormtroopers: his newfound companion Jannah and the company she led.

For the majority, Star Wars sees those developing their potential in the Force becoming involved in religious orders, supernatural abilities, and the complexities of balance. That could very well await Finn in the future. Although there is a crucial moment where he senses the new location of the Final Order’s navigation signal and senses Rey’s death, during much else of the story, when it comes to Finn and those he assisted in illuminating direction, like Jannah, a journey in the Force can be more grounded within everyday life. Heeding that intuition and that instinct to bring you closer to people and to performing the bravest of heroics for them. That connection and the courage to aid those in need is the fundamental truth to human nature.


A Rogue’s Hope

As The Rise of Skywalker reveals, Poe Dameron’s struggles to devote himself to the collective dependency of the cause, so that he might serve best as future leader to the Resistance, run deeper than a classic flyboy’s incentive to shoot first and ask questions later.

Poe turns out to have a past with the criminal underworld, a realm notorious for breeding cynicism to reliable relationships and promoting the lone wolf mentality. Even when leaving this life behind for the straight path, drillings like these would seemingly be validated for Poe regardless, as he was forced to betray his companionship with the guild on Kijimi, including his old friend Zorii Bliss.

Dameron would underestimate her however, as it was her soft words shared at a rooftop reunion telling him that he was not alone. And when the time came for him to step into Leia’s shoes, this renewed optimism knew no bounds, as possessing now the opportunities that had not been available to Leia previously, he was able to succeed where she could not on Crait. More than just a summons of Resistance allies, Poe coordinated the ultimate unification of an entire galaxy, to march into the heart of darkness and prevail.


The Power of the Commoner

While her duration in the film was disappointingly brief, that will never stop Rose Tico’s presence from always shining bright. She may not have been inducted into the ancient, influential order of the Jedi, like a thousand generations before her. She may not be a galactic leader on a far-reaching scale. But in no way at all does that diminish her from being the adhesive holding all of this together in the first place.

The galaxy needs people like Rose because unlike so many in eras past having to undergo unique transformations for self-actualization, all that she has ever been required to be is fundamentally, who she already was to begin with. A humble technician first and foremost, Rose continues applying her trade in Episode IX to momentous effect. Having taken on the mantle of greater responsibility within the Resistance, she uses her smarts to analyse the new Sith Fleet, from where she is able to report its weaknesses in the later war briefing, including the shot required to destroy each cruiser via their cannons.

Even more special, Rose’s capacity for love can shift the course of events just as dramatically as any Death Star trench run. For it was during the concluding battle that Finn and Jannah’s rescue from the crumbling flagship was only possible through Rose relaying their mortal peril to others in the first place. With those like Rose, we are reminded that anyone can make the difference no matter who they are. They are already more than enough.

“There are more of us.”

The mission to maintain balance in the Force is an ongoing one, that much is certain. It can take several forms, such as the eras of war that we have witnessed more than once in the Skywalker Saga. But it can be in the everyday acts during peacetime, also. The choice within to strive for good and not be swayed by evil. What specific form awaits next for our heroes and their galaxy, beyond the borders of this saga, are as of yet unknown. But so long as they continue to recognize that the past is only their heritage, not their shackles, they need not be bound to any negative cycle they do not desire.


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