Clues The Last Jedi gave us about Episode 9

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has finally arrived, meaning it's lost its spot on our list of insanely anticipated movies—and taking its place is the impending finale to the new Star Wars trilogy, the still-untitled Episode IX. If The Last Jedi is any indication, speculation as to where the next film will take the characters (and how it will end) will be running rampant for the next two years. Fortunately, it's not entirely a mystery. While nothing is stated explicitly, it's pretty clear where a few stories and characters will be going based on the indication of a few choice clues in The Last Jedi. Needless to say, look out for spoilers.

No more Skywalkers

The Skywalkers are done, guys. After the events of of The Last Jedi, it's become abundantly clear that Episode IX will see the end of the bloodline that has defined the Star Wars saga since 1977. With Luke transcending and becoming one with the Force and the lack of Leia in the next film (we miss you, Carrie), the sole burden of the Skywalker name rests on the shoulders of Kylo Ren. And based on franchise history, his fate isn't looking too good.

The way we see it, Kylo Ren's journey has two potential endings in the next film in the trilogy. He could stay evil, which means he has to fall in a climactic lightsaber battle with Rey, or he can turn good and sacrifice himself for the sake of the Resistance and the Jedi. Either way, he's dead, and with him, the Skywalker name. It's an appropriate ending, as so much of The Last Jedi focuses on the idea that the sacred bloodlines of the Force aren't its future. The Skywalkers have played their role, but the journey of that bloodline is reaching its end. How it finds that end is uncertain. But it's coming.

The Resistance grows

Outside of the ongoing saga of the Skywalker family, Star Wars has largely been about the struggle between the Rebellion (and now the Resistance) and whatever name the forces of evil are taking on. In The Last Jedi, we see the good guys as we've never seen them before: truly, horrifyingly close to defeat. We've seen them in close quarters before, pulling off Hail Mary missions out of desperation. But we've never seen them like this, broken and with their numbers at an all-time low. Much of their story in the film revolves around their systemic decimation at the hands of the First Order. And by the film's end, they're hanging on by a thread, with what appears to be only a few dozen members remaining. But they won't be down for long.

If the film's ending is any indication, this incarnation of the Rebellion is just getting started. It's branching out. The message is spreading to military allies and children telling its stories alike. Its numbers may be low now, but more will come to its light every day. The Rebellion we see in Episode IX might not be as massive as the one we see in the original trilogy, or even The Force Awakens, but it will be as vibrant and courageous as ever.

Darth Ren

With the death of Supreme Leader Snoke, the First Order isn't the only thing Kylo Ren now finds himself the steward of. He's also the new de facto leader of the Force's dark side in the Star Wars universe. And seeing as how every king must have a crown, we wouldn't be surprised if he were to take on a new title in the next installment.

Kylo Ren crowning himself with a new title is the logical next step in his progression as a villain. It's even more fitting, given his character arc, that he be the one to give it to himself. There's nobody left to tell him otherwise, and if there were, he wouldn't listen. Given his eagerness to burn down the old ways and forge a new rule, we'd be somewhat surprised if he honored the past by going with something like Darth Ren, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Force ghost Luke

One of the more pleasant surprises in The Last Jedi is the return of Yoda, making his return as a Force ghost as we've seen Obi-Wan Kenobi do in films past. His scene with Luke is poignant and funny to boot, a real highlight of an already great film. And if that's all it is, a nice moment between two old friends, that's fine. But what if it isn't?

The rule of Chekov's Gun necessitates that if a plot point is introduced it has to pay off. Now, don't get us wrong here. Yoda's appearance in the film is imperative to its narrative and pays off in the form of Luke returning to face down the First Order. But the underlying purpose of Yoda's return might have been to remind the audience of the existence of Force ghosts, of the idea that a Jedi leaving this realm of existence doesn't mean they'll stay gone. And seeing as how Luke passes on into the Force at the film's end, it stands to reason that writer-director Rian Johnson may have been reminding us that even if Luke is gone from this world in his human form, it doesn't mean he's gone for good.

Poe takes charge

The Resistance numbers are distressingly low by the end of The Last Jedi, and that includes their leadership. We see Vice Admiral Holdo die in the film, Admiral Ackbar dies offscreen, and it's fair to conclude that countless other high-ranking officials die in the many ships that are bombed out of space by the First Order. With General Leia Organa standing as the only real semblance of leadership at the film's conclusion, it stands to reason that the Rebellion is going to need some new heavy hitters by the time Episode IX rolls around. Good thing they've already got one.

Commander (or is it still Captain now?) Poe Dameron's arc in The Last Jedi revolves around his hotheaded cockiness and how he learns to regulate that, to show some calm in the face of danger. While they certainly make for fun set pieces, Poe's strategies tend to be reckless at best and stupid at worst, often costing the Rebellion greatly even if said strategies achieve their goals. But he seems to have grown by the film's conclusion, now understanding the necessity of rational strategy in the face of adversity. At this point, the Resistance needs new leadership. Who better for the job? While there's no telling what rank he'll have achieved by the time the next film rolls around, one can safely assume that we'll be seeing a Commander, Admiral, or even General Dameron come 2019.

Rey and Kylo Ren's final showdown

The relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren becomes even more complex over the course of The Last Jedi. The link forged between the two of them by Supreme Leader Snoke brings them closer, each recognizing a piece of themselves in the other. For a moment it genuinely seems like the two will be joining forces and fighting for good. But it all comes crashing down in a lightsaber tug-of-war between Light and Dark. It's the last they see of one another before the film ends. But it won't be their final encounter by a long shot.

It's inevitable at this point. Luke and Snoke have been removed from the playing field. There are new key players standing as the stewards of the Jedi and the Sith. Episode IX will now undoubtedly come down to Rey versus Kylo Ren in a battle for the fate of the Force—and the galaxy as we know it. How it will happen, when it will take place, and who will come out on top is a mystery right now. But this storm is far past brewing. It's here. And it's going to reach its head in the trilogy's finale.

The future of the Jedi

The Jedi should be done, right? The title of this movie refers to Luke being the LAST of them. And he's gone now, so the Jedi are too, right? And even if Rey is the last Jedi now, she's just one person, right? Wrong. The Jedi are more alive than they've been in decades come the end of The Last Jedi. And their future looks bright.

The past, as the movie is eager to remind you, has to die in order for the future to come. And the future of the Jedi is coming. Luke's realization that the old ways of the Jedi failed him as well as the galaxy is one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the Star Wars universe. The next generation of Jedi won't be tied to the old ways, nor will they be tied to the old bloodlines of Skywalker or Kenobi. As we see in Yoda literally burning the old ways of the Jedi to the ground—and in the film's last, hopeful shot—the Jedi's past is gone. But their future is brighter than it's been in a long, long time. 

There's still good in Kylo Ren

Oh, Ben Solo. You were so close, man! The Last Jedi sees Kylo Ren close as ever to a true redemptive moment in his lightsaber battle alongside Rey (and in his ridding the galaxy of Supreme Leader Snoke). He's right on the precipice of returning to the side of Light. Unfortunately, it doesn't last, and he's back to his villainous ways by the film's conclusion as the new Supreme Leader of the First Order. The question is, how permanent is this?

Sure, there's a fair chance that Kylo Ren is bad for good this time. But what if he isn't? What if that last shred of good in him hasn't died quite yet? Based on what we see in The Last Jedi, there's still a chance that he turns back to the light. Kylo Ren has, over the course of these last two films, become a remarkably complex character, and it's a testament to how well he's written and how well Adam Driver performs the role that even in his darkest hour, our understanding of his motivations and where he comes from leave a shadow of doubt remaining in his commitment to the dark side. It's not out of the question, and if Star Wars' track record is any indication, we may be in for a final redemptive arc for Kylo Ren in the next film.

DJ is still out there

One of the more pleasant surprises in The Last Jedi is Benicio del Toro's appearance as DJ, a stutter-prone scoundrel who plays a significant role in the film's second act. Having escaped the clutches of the First Order (by way of betraying Finn and Rose and leaving them for dead) he's still very much alive and on the loose by the film's conclusion. And we highly doubt it's the last we've seen of this sleazeball. 

It seems hard to believe that such a small role—in terms of screen time, that is—would go to an actor like del Toro if there weren't bigger plans for him, and our bet is on him returning in some form or another in Episode IX. Whether this is as a reluctant ally or a fully antagonistic role is anybody's guess. But we'd be shocked if he didn't make an appearance again soon.

The many loves of Finn

Right up until the end of The Last Jedi, this trilogy has been notable for its lack of a real romantic subplot. There's no Han/Leia or Anakin/Padme (not that we're missing that one too much, mind you) dynamic between any two characters quite yet, though we did get our first taste of it in Rose kissing Finn on the Crait battlefield. The question that seems to be posed by the film's end is how Rey might feel about this.

Love triangles and romances are by no means a necessity to Star Wars movies, but it seems like we might be in for one in Episode IX. We don't yet know how Rey's feelings for Finn have developed in their absence from one another (what was it she told Chewie to tell him if she didn't make it back, by the way?) and we don't know if Finn reciprocates Rose's feelings for him. It could make for some complex tension by the time the next film comes around. And that's not even taking into consideration the fact that Rey and Poe Dameron have finally met, and was it just us or was there something going on between the two of them when they did? We can't say for sure, but it seems pertinent to note that Oscar Isaac has romantic chemistry with basically everybody he's onscreen with in this movie, from Finn to Leia.