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How The Rise Of Skywalker Trailers Are Probably Lying To Us

The final installment in the Star Wars Skywalker saga, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, is going to be a momentous occasion for a few reasons. It's not just that Rise of Skywalker's release on December 20 is going to be a major holiday movie season event (although that's definitely part of it), but it is also the final entry in a saga that began more than 40 years ago with 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. All the loose ends left dangling before this movie will no doubt be tied up in addition to the more recent character arcs begun during the first installment in the final trilogy of the nine-part Skywalker saga, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.  

Before we dive in to The Rise of Skywalker, all we're left to look at, ponder, and theorize endlessly about are three trailers released between April and October of this year. Within these three trailers are some big teases about what to expect from this Star Wars installment. As is often the case with trailers in general — but especially trailers in the Star Wars universe — there is always the chance we're being misled to expect plot developments in The Rise of Skywalker that will no doubt turn out differently in the actual movie. Sure, it gets us hooked while we're watching the trailer — but we should prepare for plenty of misdirection. 

So where are the potential lies in the Rise of Skywalker trailers? Turns out there's a handful of pretty obvious ones — and we're going to unpack them now.

Rey turns evil in Rise of Skywalker

One of the most surprising shots in any of the Rise of Skywalker trailers comes from the second clip, which was released at the D23 Expo in August. Toward the end of the trailer, there's a shot of Rey (Daisy Ridley) in a hooded cloak, holding a lightsaber with two red beams. We've never seen a lightsaber like that in a Star Wars movie, so it's an intriguing reveal on its own — but then it unfolds into a double-ended weapon reminiscent of Darth Maul's in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

This is a shot deliberately meant to make prospective audiences wonder what they can expect from Rise of Skywalker. In the previous chapters of this trilogy, Rey has been the primary protagonist, destined to discover and cultivate her Force sensitivity so she can become a warrior powerful enough to help the Resistance defeat the First Order. Even though Rey has had contact in the past with the dark side of the Force (whether it's fighting Snoke or communicating across great distances with Kylo Ren), it's still a big leap to assume this shot from the second trailer has revealed Rey will be going over to Team First Order to fight for the bad guys. 

A couple explanations come to mind. The first is that Rey is having a dream or vision. Another possibility is that the dark version of Rey we see in the second trailer is a clone that could be used as a secret weapon by the First Order to infiltrate the Resistance. Of course, there's always the possibility that Rey, however briefly, does end up under the influence of someone from the First Order (or Palpatine himself) and the Dark Rey we see in the second trailer is real. But the only fathomable outcome for The Rise of Skywalker — and the Skywalker saga as a whole — is that good will prevail over evil, with Rey landing in the former category.

C-3PO's red Rise of Skywalker eyes hint at an evil turn

Also seen in the second Rise of Skywalker trailer is a brief but curious shot of everyone's trusty (and perpetually anxious) protocol droid, C-3PO, with some very curious red eyes. C-3PO appears to be on a ship; perhaps in a lab of some sort. It's most likely somewhere on the Millennium Falcon or another Resistance ship, since the droid shows up again in the final trailer in a very similar-looking room with Rey, Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and Finn (John Boyega).

The big implication here is that somehow C-3PO has been tampered with in some way. The droid's red eyes are a first in his Skywalker saga arc and they seem to imply that some entity has infiltrated C-3PO. Why else would they go red?

C-3PO's red eyes seem like a misdirect, intended to mislead viewers by encouraging them to think that the droid has turned to the dark side. Is it a temporary malfunction? Maybe a simple problem with some faulty wiring? Our favorite golden droid isn't getting any younger, so it's not surprising that he might need a tune-up or upgrade 40 years on. But the red eyes somehow indicating C-3PO is going to become a tool for the dark side is probably one idea we should drop.

The nature of Palpatine's Rise of Skywalker return

Decades after Darth Vader seemingly tossed the Emperor to his death, Palpatine is back — but how can we be sure he's returning in physical form? All three trailers for The Rise of Skywalker have allowed us to hear Palpatine's voice or see items associated with him, like his throne in the final trailer. To further assuage doubts of Palpatine's return, the actor who played him in previous Star Wars films, Ian McDiarmid, is credited on the movie. Palpatine looks like the big bad of The Rise of Skywalker, and defeating him appears to be the ultimate goal of the Resistance.  

While Palpatine's return is inevitable, it's dangerous to assume he'll take on a corporeal form. Following the Star Wars villain's death toward the end of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, the Skywalker saga has led us to believe Palpatine's gone, and we shouldn't expect a zombie Emperor to rise up and try to take control of the galaxy. On the other hand, Palpatine was one of the strongest Force users to ever live, so it's not impossible that he could appear as a Force ghost. Some Force ghosts have even been able to interact with their surroundings, which could absolutely be a possibility in Palpatine's case, considering the power he had during his life. 

The likeliest outcome here is that Palpatine may be heard or seen in some other way. But a physical return to power? Not a chance.

Rey and Kylo Ren will team up in Rise of Skywalker

The final trailer for The Rise of Skywalker features a stunning shot of Rey and Kylo Ren fighting side by side. Considering the shot is featured in a clip that also shows them fighting each other, it's tough to gauge what The Rise of Skywalker wants us to believe about these characters. 

Seeing them team up to defeat a possible common enemy feels like more supporting evidence for the notion that these two are destined to team up. We've already seen Rey and Kylo Ren work together to defeat Snoke and his guards in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. They've also shared a connection through their Force sensitivities, even communicating and tracking one another's movements. It would be easy to think the Skywalker saga was gearing up to make some grandiose statement about finding and embracing the gray area between the light and dark sides of the Force and teaming with your presumed enemy against a far bigger threat.

On the other hand, Rey and Kylo Ren returned to their respective "teams" after defeating Snoke in The Last Jedi and remained enemies through the end of the film. Even if they briefly team up at any given point in The Rise of Skywalker, it's hard to take this brief glimpse as proof that Star Wars will see the two finding a happy medium. 

The big question that comes from the shot of Rey and Kylo Ren teaming up in the trailer is why they're doing it in the first place. Is there a mutual recognition of their power and capabilities they wish to exploit in one another for their own personal gain? Are they trying to lure one another into a false sense of unity before one of them betrays the other? Or is it just a vision?

A Rise of Skywalker battle will reveal the truth about Rey's past

Rey's backstory has been a perpetual mystery and source of consternation for Star Wars fans. Very few clues have been dropped about her life before we meet her in The Force Awakens. To date, all we know is that she was abandoned on the planet Jakku, which led her to a life of scavenging, believing she was "nobody." Through interrogations and tense conversations, Kylo Ren has frequently hinted that he knows the truth about Rey's past, even insisting in The Last Jedi that they were "filthy junk traders" who sold her for drinking money. 

Knowing this makes one particular moment in the Rise of Skywalker trailers all the more intriguing. During the final trailer, as they face off in the rain on a piece of wreckage on the planet Kef Bir, Rey is seen looking at Kylo Ren while her voiceover states, "Nobody knows me." The camera cuts, revealing Kylo Ren as he activates his lightsaber and his voiceover replies, "But I do." 

Putting these two shots and their corresponding voiceover one after the other in the final trailer certainly implies Kylo Ren will reveal Rey's past — or some other potentially earth-shattering truth about her — that will change her direction in The Rise of Skywalker. But this is assuredly a misdirection, a trick in editing the trailer together to make it seem more compelling and ominous than it really is. 

If anything, this trailer moment is designed to excite rather than preview what is actually going to happen, which means prospective audiences should prepare for the truth of Rey's past to remain a mystery. If it hasn't been revealed by this point, when we've already watched Rey reckon with so much about herself during her Jedi training, then it's very unlikely it would come out during a tense moment with Kylo Ren. The Rise of Skywalker has so many bigger things to focus on as it wraps up its story.

Rey and Kylo Ren will switch sides in Rise of Skywalker

The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi hinted that Rey and Kylo Ren have either straddled the line between the light and dark sides of the Force or have lived close enough to it that it's felt as if they could switch sides at any given time. As Rey has evolved into her role as the trilogy's protagonist and Kylo Ren has countered her, both have had flashes of gravitating toward the light or the dark. Along those lines, the Rise of Skywalker trailers have hinted that Rey and Kylo Ren — essentially two sides of the same coin — could switch sides, with Kylo Ren ultimately returning to the light side while Rey turns dark.

It's an intriguing idea, but the Star Wars films have typically taken a more fixed view of their Force-sensitive characters' alignments. Consider Anakin Skywalker's journey — he was raised and trained to be a Jedi, but ultimately succumbed to the dark side. Despite having love and support from allies and loved ones, Anakin's transition from Jedi to one of the Empire's most notorious villains seems like a strong indication that the dark side doesn't readily release those who choose it.

With that in mind, it's worth preparing yourself for Kylo Ren to remain on the dark side. Even if he earns a small bit of redemption by opting to team up with Rey at some point, he's never convincingly shown a willingness to be pulled back to the light side of the Force. The same goes for Rey — she's felt the dark side, but her attraction to the light seems too strong to break. We're doubtless going to get numerous surprises in The Rise of Skywalker, but a reversal of roles for its main characters is unlikely.