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Biggest unanswered questions in the Skywalker Saga

WARNING! SPOILERS for The Rise of Skywalker follow!

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is here and with it, the end of the epic Skywalker Saga. The film answers some big questions, chief among them the riddle of Rey's lineage — which stretches back to the villainous Palpatine, who hopes to use his granddaughter to finally dominate the galaxy. We also learn more about the backstory of Poe Dameron, and a few nuggets about what Lando Calrissian has been doing ever since the end of Return of the Jedi.

Still, beginning with the first Star Wars film in 1977 and encompassing nine full-length motion pictures, the Skywalker Saga is over 40 years old. Between A New Hope and The Rise of Skywalker, the stories have given us lots of questions, and there are still plenty left unanswered. There are resurrections we can't explain, revivals that we expected but never happened, mysterious births, inexplicable cases of memory loss, Jedi and Sith powers we still don't understand, and a lightsaber that seems to be able to travel between solar systems all on its own. 

Here are the biggest unanswered questions we're left with at the end of the Skywalker Saga.

How did Maz Kanata get Luke's lightsaber?

In the first entry in the most recent trilogy, The Force Awakens, we learn the diminutive Maz Kanata somehow has Luke's first lightsaber — the one Obi-wan Kenobi gives him in A New Hope and that originally belonged to his father Anakin. Han asks Maz how she got it and she answers only, "A good question. For another time." Well, whatever "another time" means, it's outside the Skywalker Saga. The Rise of Skywalker ends with Luke's first lightsaber alongside Leia's, buried near Luke's old home on Tattooine. 

It's a question not easily answered. Luke loses his first lightsaber when Darth Vader chops off his hand during their climactic duel at the end of Empire Strikes Back, in Cloud City on the planet Bespin. Luke's hand and his weapon fall down the same long shaft Luke drops down himself. The planet Maz's tavern is on is Takodana — in a completely different system from Bespin. 

It isn't unthinkable the saber could find its way to Maz's hands. Presumably someone found it and eventually sold it to Maz Kanata. Maybe she found it herself, maybe she acquired it through less than legal means. Whatever precise path it took, we may never know. 

Is Boba Fett alive?

The bounty hunter Boba Fett falls to his apparent death in Return of the Jedi – right into the waiting maw of the mighty Sarlacc. But there's been a lot of speculation that the only unaltered clone of Jango Fett survived. In spite of his relatively brief appearances in the original trilogy, Boba Fett has proven to be a fan-favorite villain. Fan reaction to the character was so surprisingly positive, George Lucas says on the Return of the Jedi commentary track that he considered adding a shot in the special edition that would show the bounty hunter escaping the Sarlacc. 

In fact, in a way the story's already been written. In the Star Wars expanded universe that's no longer considered canon, the bounty hunter's armor helps him survive the giant monster's slow but painful digestive system long enough to escape. "A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett" — a short story appearing in the 1996 anthology book Tales from Jabba's Palace – tells us exactly how Boba Fett escapes. 

But with the Skywalker Saga ended and no reappearance, we may never know if Fett does eventually escape or if he's still being digested along with Jabba's other goons.

Does Yoda have any connection to Baby Yoda?

We can't really count The Mandalorian as part of the Skywalker Saga, but the emergence of the Child –  better known as Baby Yoda — is for now linked to the tiny Jedi Master Yoda who appears either in person or just through his voice in most of the Skywalker Saga films.

Fan theories sprang up almost immediately upon Baby Yoda's appearance at the end of The Mandalorian's first episode, with many guessing the toddler is either a clone of, or directly related to, Master Yoda. On one hand it's kind of silly to assume the child has anything at all to do with Yoda other than being members of the same species. After all, if you're introduced to a human character in a Star Wars film you don't immediately assume, "Oh, that must be Han Solo's nephew." On the other hand, the assumption is understandable since we know so very little about Yoda and the Child's species. We don't even know their species' name, which George Lucas purposely left out of the mythology. 

If there is a deeper link between the two, we'll likely have to wait until future episodes of The Mandalorian to learn it. The Skywalker Saga offers no answers.

Why doesn't Obi-wan remember the droids from the prequels?

One of the biggest surprises in the Star Wars prequels was the discovery that it was the young Anakin Skywalker who created C-3PO. The protocol droid's best friend, R2-D2 appears in all three prequels as well, yet when Obi-wan is reunited with them in A New Hope he doesn't seem to recognize them and we never learn why.

Of course the real reason is most likely because The Phantom Menace came out over 20 years after the first Star Wars film and George Lucas had no idea in 1977 the droids would appear in any prequels. But there are some possible narrative explanations too.

It could be that Kenobi does remember the droids but is keeping that to himself. After all, he clearly doesn't want to tell Luke about his father, and explaining his acquaintance to the droids brings him closer to that difficult truth. It's also possible he genuinely doesn't remember them. Kenobi isn't depicted in the earlier films as being particularly attached to droids. A story in The Clone Wars shows Kenobi is not nearly as concerned as Anakin when R2-D2 is presumed lost; Anakin only convinces his master to let him rescue the droid by telling him there's sensitive military data in its memory. 


What was Finn going to tell Rey in The Rise of Skywalker

When Finn, Rey, and the other heroes believe they're sinking to their deaths in The Rise of Skywalker, Finn tries to tell Rey something but he never gets the chance. Thankfully, the heroes survive and when Rey asks Finn what he was going to tell her, he says he'll tell her later. Poe teases Finn about it, but by the end of the film we still haven't learned whatever it was Finn meant to say. 

The most obvious possibility is that he was to going to profess his love for her. The two obviously care for one another and shortly after they first meet in The Force Awakens Finn asks her pointedly if she has a boyfriend. 

According to a CinemaBlend report quoting Rise of Skywalker director/co-writer J.J. Abrams, however. Finn's motivations may have been decidedly less romantic. Rather than making a play for Rey, he was apparently going to confirm something suggested repeatedly throughout the sequel trilogy — namely, that he's Force-sensitive.

Exactly what happened during that meal in Cloud City?

In Empire Strikes Back, Lando Calrissian betrays the heroes to Darth Vader and Boba Fett, who we learn arrive in Cloud City just before the Millennium FalconLando reveals his duplicity by leading the rebels to a dining room where Vader is waiting with Boba Fett. Han gets a few futile shots off, a squad of storm troopers shows up, and then the doors close behind the heroes, leaving them with the Sith lord and the bounty hunter.

It isn't exactly the most pressing mystery of the Skywalker Saga, but we can't help but wonder what a meal with Darth Vader and Boba Fett looks like. What do you talk about? "Hey, how's the whole trying to kill us thing going?" Can Vader even eat without taking off his helmet? Did Boba Fett remove his helmet to eat or is he as stubborn about not removing it as Mando on The Mandalorian

The folks at Robot Chicken took a stab at what the meal might have looked like, though we have a feeling it isn't considered canon. 

What's the deal with Force Lightning?

The first time we see a Sith using Force Lightning is in Return of the Jedi when Emperor Palpatine nearly kills Luke Skywalker with it. Since then, it's been clear that some Sith can use it while others can't. But it isn't really clear what governs who gets to use it and who doesn't. 

We never see Darth Vader using Force Lightning but considering how much of his body is mechanical, it's a safe assumption that using it would be dangerous to him. But we also never see Darth Maul use it. Supreme Leader Snoke never uses it as far as we know — though admittedly his death in The Last Jedi doesn't give us much chance to see what he can or can't do. Kylo Ren doesn't appear to be able to summon the stuff, and considering his temper and overall lack of subtlety we're pretty sure if he could, he would.

One might assume that Sith Masters like Palpatine purposely refrain from teaching their students how to use Force Lightning to make sure they have an advantage should the student try to kill them. But that wouldn't explain how Count Dooku knows how to use it, nor how Rey, without even consciously trying, summons Force Lightning in The Rise of Skywalker

How did Palpatine survive?

Even if you missed all the promotional lead-ups to The Rise of Skywalker mentioning Emperor Palpatine's return, his resurrection is made clear in the beginning of the film. What isn't answered at any point is exactly how the Sith Master survived his supposed death at the end of Return of the Jedi

In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine says he knows how to bring the dead back to life and uses this claim to seduce Anakin Skywalker — who is plagued by premonitions of Padme's death — to the dark side. Still, even if we assume Palpatine is telling Anakin the truth, that doesn't explain how the Sith Lord can resurrect himself, particularly when you consider the manner of his death. The dying Vader hurls Palpatine off a catwalk down a long shaft, and the Emperor appears to explode when he reaches the bottom. 

We're not suggesting Palpatine's resurrection is uniquely unlikely in a narrative so full of making the impossible possible, but Rise of the Skywalker nevertheless fails to explain exactly how he survives not only his drop down that shaft but the destruction of the second Death Star.

Why does no one seem to remember Qui-Gon Jinn after the prequels?

In spite of the fact that he personally trains Obi-wan Kenobi, he's the one who finds Anakin Skywalker, and he's the first Jedi we see communicating from beyond the grave, Qui-Gon Jinn is never mentioned in the original trilogy or in the more recent films of the Skywalker Saga. The only teacher Kenobi mentions is Yoda, and says he took it upon himself to train Anakin — never mentioning that it was Qui-Gon's dying wish. 

The real world reason is probably no more complicated than the fact that George Lucas hadn't yet conceived of Jinn in the original trilogy, but no narrative reason has been offered. One possibility is that — not wanting him to learn the identity of his father — Kenobi and Yoda chose to give Luke as few details as possible. It could also be that Jinn's reputation is spotty. After all, he brings Anakin to the Jedi and Anakin does eventually defeat the Emperor, but a lot of blood is spilled before Anakin is redeemed. 

Is Palpatine dead for good this time?

At the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey uses the strength of all the Jedi before her and reflects Palpatine's power back at him, killing him.

But... is he really dead?

Palpatine's death seems pretty final at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. We see him blown to pieces. But arguably his death doesn't seem any more or less final at the end of Return of the Jedi. In the earlier film he's thrown down a long shaft by the dying Darth Vader, and his drop to the bottom is followed by a blast of energy, suggesting he's exploded. Not to mention that shortly after this, the space station he's on is utterly destroyed. If Palpatine can come back from that, what can't he come back from?

Further complicating things is the fact that we're never told exactly how Palpatine survives Return of the JediIf we knew that, we might see that somehow the same or similar explanation doesn't apply this time. But we don't know what we don't know. In the end, it may be best to assume that we don't know whether or not this is really the end for Palpatine.

Why is Lando wearing Han's clothes at the end of Empire Strikes Back?

If you didn't notice it on your own then you may have been educated by the Family Guy parody Something, Something, Something, Dark Side – at the end of Empire Strikes Back, when Lando and Chewie speed away from the Rebel Fleet to save Han from Jabba the Hutt, Lando has inexplicably changed into Han Solo's clothes. At the very least, it's weird, if not edging just a bit toward creepy, and it's never explained. 

One popular theory explains it by saying that, in fact, it's the other way around — Han has been using Lando's clothes. We know Han won the Millennium Falcon from Lando, and the theory assumes Han took the ship without giving Lando the chance to retrieve his clothes. So, as the theory goes, when the heroes escape Cloud City, at some point Lando finds his old clothes and changes into some of them.

We have one issue with this theory. We do see in Solo: A Star Wars Story that Lando keeps a closet full of clothes on his ship before Han wins it from him. Beckett catches Han and Qi'ra making out in it. But from what we see Lando clearly prefers clothes with a lot of flair. He regularly wear capes, for Pete's sake. A button-up white shirt and a black vest with no cape in sight? That doesn't sound like something you'd find in Lando's closet.

Does Finn have the potential to be a Jedi?

There are two big hints in The Rise of Skywalker that Finn might have enough of a connection with the Force to be trained as a Jedi. First, there's when Finn assures fellow reformed storm trooper Jannah that it was the Force that made it possible for his true self to emerge from the First Order's conditioning. Later, in the battle against the Final Order fleet, Finn says he knows the Order has transferred their navigation from the ground tower to the command ship only because he can feel it. 

When we think back to The Force Awakens, there were hints since the very beginning. Finn makes a memorable impression on Kylo Ren after the village is slaughtered in the movie's opening. Later, when he escapes with Poe, Kylo knows which storm trooper he was right away. Both moments suggest Finn is either causing, or being affected by, ripples in the Force which Kylo feels as well. Meanwhile, General Hux and Captain Phasma seem confused since he had shown "no prior signs of nonconformity." 

The Rise of Skywalker ends without any firm word either way, but it seems at least possible the man formerly known as FN-2187 might be due a lightsaber of his own.

Who is Rey's grandmother?

The Rise of Skywalker finally answers the question of Rey's parentage. We learn she's the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine and that her birth parents sold her into servitude on Jakku to save her from the Emperor, after which her parents were murdered by a Jedi hunter. The only missing piece is Rey's grandmother. Emperor Palpatine isn't exactly a stunning paragon of charisma, so it's natural to wonder exactly who agreed to make a union with the Sith Lord. 

The prequels give us one possibility. Seen often standing next to Palpatine in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith is a quiet, pale, and eerie-looking bald woman named Sly Moore. The official Star Wars website describes her as "Palpatine's senior administrative aide during his chancellorship" and says that rumors surrounded the enigmatic woman.

The expanded universe offers a couple of other options, though they're from stories no longer considered canon. In the 1995 novel Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly, Roganda Ismaren is introduced. The former Jedi youngling is captured by the Empire and made Palpatine's concubine. There's also Ysanne Isard, introduced in the Dark Horse comic book series X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. At one point Isard is the Director of Imperial Intelligence, and actually takes over leadership of the Empire after Palpatine's "death" in Return of the Jedi. Her position suggests she likely at one point had a close relationship with the Emperor, though anything romantic is left to speculation.