The Road to Star Wars: Episode IX

In my last Star Wars-heavy article, I put forth an honest and complete review of The Last Jedi. I can’t fully comprehend the level of hatred the film is getting; but I think it’s mainly based on what I referred to as “broken nostalgia” and perhaps a little bit of good ol’ fashioned butt-hurt over not getting the story they had been picturing in their mind’s eye for 2 years. But you can go check out my full review in due time.

This article is going to be about what to expect going forward, because I think I’ve got this whole messy thing figured out. Cocky, I know. And part of me fully expects to be wrong on this…but bear with me. Just go with it.

1.gifTwo things have been revealed to the public since the release of The Last Jedi. The working title of Episode IX in development right now is “Black Diamond.” Working titles are place-holders for a film’s final title, sometimes an inside joke, sometimes an element of the story. For instance, the “working title” of the upcoming Han Solo stand-alone flick was “Red Cup.” Red Solo Cup. Get it?

The other nugget that has been revealed was a little bit more information about Supreme Leader Snoke, an ominous and mysterious evil character whose life (and body) was tragically cut short in the latest trilogy installment.

What we learned, from an official LucasFilm tie-in magazine called The Souvenir Guide to the Movie Star Wars: The Last Jediwas that aside from Kylo Ren, Snoke has trained at least one other apprentice. Now, what could this mean? Maybe something, maybe nothing. But I’m willing to believe that either he is Darth Plagueis and his “other apprentice” was Darth Sidious…or this information is just another meaningless mislead.

Here’s where you need to go on this little ride with me, because it’s going to be intense, and maybe a little unbelievable…but if I’m right, Episode IX is going to explore some very interesting themes.

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 5.51.18 PMbelieve that Star Wars: Episode IX is going to focus on the character of Supreme Leader Snoke. His origins, his fate, and his ongoing presence in this Universe. “Black Diamond” almost has to refer to the ring Snoke wears.

The black “diamond” ring is actually a piece of Obsidian from the catacombs beneath Darth Vader’s Mustafar Castle. It is inscribed with Dwartii lettering. According to canon, the Sages of Dwartii were philosophers from the old Galactic Republic. Darth Sidious’ master, Darth Plagueis, had statues of the Sages of Dwartii in his possession. When Sidious “murdered” his master, he took the statues and put them on display in his own quarters.

So now we have a link to both Darth Vader, The Emperor, and Darth Plagueis. I don’t think your Snoke theory” was bullshit after all. Either Snoke is Darth Plagueis himself (which would make him the being who created Darth Vader as a virgin birth in the Force) or he is simply a new character with all of the packaging and characteristics of Darth Plagueis.

Furthermore, Luke Skywalker mentions Darth Sidious in The Last Jedi. Why use that name? Why not say “The Emperor”? Luke never knew The Emperor as “Darth Sidious,” so why include that line in the film? Because there is a connection to the prequels through Snoke. So let’s say for the sake of the next argument I’m going to make that Snoke isn’t Darth Plagueis…but he is still the timeless Force User/Prime Jedi who used the Force and the midi-chlorians to create Darth Vader. He can transcend death and be one with the force, but when he is in a body, he is confined to that body. So now that he is “dead” he can become more powerful.

And as we know, the only thing in this universe more powerful than Mary Sue Rey… is Snoke.

Now, you’re going to have to strap seat-belts to your brain because I’m about to take it on the ride of its life…

Let’s move on to new-trilogy creator JJ AbramsJJ kicked off this whole sha-bang with The Force Awakens and has been tasked with helming/writing Episode IX as well. JJ Abrams is a talented writer and director who is known to explore similar themes in many of his projects. Why not? He’s interested in mythology and he sticks with certain ideas.

Well, way back in September of 2004, JJ Abrams premiered a television phenomenon called…LOST. According to the mythology of LOST that many people found confounding and difficult to follow, the ISLAND was a sort-of birthplace of good and evil. In order to keep the evil confined to the ISLAND, the good guy killed/buried him. The ISLAND then acted as a sort of “cork” to hold the evil in place.

The evil took a very familiar form: Smoke.

In The Last Jedi we get a very similar mythology. An ISLAND where good and evil coexist, a birthplace of the Jedi. Luke attempts to keep Rey’s attention away from one specific location on the island…a mysterious hole; a hole where it looks like something has broken free.

The ultimate evil: Snoke.

If you recall the shape and appearance of this hole in the Island (Ahch-To), it bears a very striking resemblance to a certain symbol:

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Familiar? Coincidence?

Another clue to Snoke’s possible connection to the island of Ahch-To is an interesting symbol we catch several glimpses of in The Last Jedi. It depicts the Prime Jedi, the one who started the First Jedi Order. The Prime Jedi is even defined by the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary as “the first of the order.”

What happens when you take the Jedi out of the “First Jedi Order”?

The First Order. Is Snoke the FIRST Jedi?

The Jedi knew that Snoke was too powerful as he was well-versed in both the light side, and the dark, and as all Jedi know…if you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

So–like the Smoke Monster/Man in Black in LOSTSnoke was imprisoned and confined to the Island. There, he communicated with Kylo Ren. Luke was attempting to keep the cork in the bottle, but Kylo Ren was too powerful. Kylo Ren released Snoke from his prison, bringing the Darkness back into the Galaxy. THIS was Luke’s failure…this is why Luke felt so responsible.

But because all of this was a Jedi secret, Kylo Ren only knew that Luke was some bastard keeping a prisoner locked up…a prisoner who promised Kylo Ren that he could be more powerful…and that Luke had been holding him back. So Snoke and Kylo Ren flee and create the First Order, not as Sith Master and Sith Apprentice, but something new.

Because Luke never told Kylo Ren about the nature of Snoke or why he was being confined to the Island, Kylo has no idea that killing his new Master will make him even stronger. This is how we get Snoke back in Episode IX. And all of these flashback plot details will be revealed to the audience then.

As for the rest of the plot of Episode IX, my best guess is that–similarly to The Last Jedi–the other characters don’t really matter all that much. We’ll get a complete wrap-up of Darth Vader’s story, ending with the reveal that his “father” was Snoke. All of the original cast members are dead, and the Skywalker Saga is over. This is also why it doesn’t really matter who Rey’s Parents are, but I’d still really like to know. I don’t think they’re “nobody.”

So here’s what I believe will happen in Episode IX, with all the hypothesis I’ve just laid out…

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Luke will appear to Rey, informing her that she is the Galaxy’s last hope. He’ll tell her that Snoke is still “alive” and more powerful now. And he’ll explain his failure to keep Snoke contained…and the effects of what Kylo Ren has done. Essentially as a “god” now, Snoke can destroy the Resistance pretty easily. He must have some limitations, but who knows?

Luke will say that even he has no idea how to stop Snoke. There was only one place to find those kinds of answers, and they were the ancient texts he protected in the tree back on the island…but stupid YODA had to go and burn them all up! OH WAIT–Rey saved the texts! We saw this at the end of The Last Jedi when Finn goes to get Rose a blanket (the only thing Finn did throughout the whole movie to serve the plot, interestingly enough).

So now Rey has to do some studying. Good, keep her occupied for a while. She’ll find out something along the lines of: the only way to kill a Force Ghost is to sacrifice your life, or to kill another force ghost, or to give up something special, whatever…you get it.

Throughout this series, Rey has only been vulnerable once so far. And she is saved by Kylo Ren. Because he felt a connection to her, because of Snoke. But Snoke kept some information from both of them…he convinced Kylo Ren and Rey that her parents were “nobody.” Because if Snoke allowed Kylo Ren to access the true information, he would definitely join Rey–since he’s weak and conflicted and all. Kylo Ren and Rey are brother and sister. They were kept separate on purpose (like Luke and Leia).

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 5.51.18 PMKylo Ren learns this little tidbit and it leads to him sacrificing his life to both kill Snoke (like Vader kills the Emperor, but a ghost this time) and save Rey’s life one last time. So, in a sense, he finally fulfills his destiny and becomes the new “Darth Vader.” Happy ending.

Meanwhile, we will get another Finn & Rose subplot that will have no connection to the main story.

In this installment of the Adventures of Finn & Rose, the Resistance has to regroup. Everyone is sort of tasked with gathering reinforcements to build the Resistance up to Rebellion levels. Finn and Rose have a discussion about loss/family. Finn will explain that he never knew his family and he was taken by the First Order as a baby.

This grinds Rose’s gears because family is super important to her, remember?

So Finn & Rose go looking for Finn’s family. But where do they start? Maybe someone who has access to things that are locked or missing? BOOM–we bring back Benicio Del Toro’s mysterious “Don’t Join” character. This will also re-up Finn’s hesitation moment about the Resistance not being as pure and perfect as he’d imagined.

So as the Resistance/Rebellion grows, Finn, Rose and “DJ” go Family huntin’. Through records and First Order/Empire activity in various areas, they’re led to Bespin only to find out that Finn’s father is….dun dun dun…come on, it’s totally Lando Calrissian.

We get a solid excuse to bring Lando back into the movies, and we get a closing to the trilogy that’s all about family, loss, revelation, and peace. With Snoke destroyed and the New Rebellion a success at wiping out the rest of the remaining First Order, The Galactic Republic can start anew…but Finn can go “but this time, we do it the right way” because of all the shady stuff he learned from “DJ.”

What about Poe Dameron? He’ll be doing whatever he does with the Resistance. Maybe they’ll bring Maz Kanata back and we can figure out how the fuck Poe knew who she was in The Last Jedi.

So there’s your movie. Will it all turn out that way? Maybe. Maybe not. Based on all the clues available to me, this is what I came up with–and, frankly, this is actually a movie I’d really like to see. And I think it would be a fitting end to the Skywalker Saga.

No need to continue on Rey’s story for another trilogy. The Jedi are over, the Darkness has been destroyed, we’re done!



Rox Trash Radio, Ep. 205

We kick this episode off with Net Neutrality and why everything you heard is wrong / My ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ thoughts and review with spoilers / Turning to local politics with the rise of the Asians / Helen Gym embarrasses herself and wheels out a bewildered black woman on DemocracyNow / The ‘Different Kind of Democrat’ coalition becomes the ‘Lady B Army’ and diverts all of their attention to getting a washed up DJ re-hired / The new Eminem album is a stale mess of nonsense references and tired Trump insults / A Christmas Story: Live ruins A Christmas Story / TJ Miller is the next Little Weinstein and Pete Davidson loses what was left of his mind.



Join the Roxborough Always Rants & Sometimes Raves Facebook Group for the inside scoop! #RTR


The Last Jedi: Most Divisive ‘Star Wars’ Ever?

As an unapologetic Star Wars apologist, I feel that we need to get several things straight right away regarding a personal and a public response to this latest trilogy installment, The Last Jedi.

Let’s start with the personal. With the unquestionable exception of the Wookiee-related sections of the Star Wars Holiday Special, I can watch anything in the Star Wars franchise with varying levels of joy. There is little doubt that the Star Wars films, television shows, and spin-offs display widely inconsistent levels of quality; however, I am one who happens to be both realistic about those faults, and also someone who can enjoy the films almost equally based on their own merits.

My personal quick-review of The Last Jedi without spoilers (spoiler alert pending) is that it is, like every other film in the franchise, a flawed but exciting cinematic adventure. Films like The Last Jedi are why we go to the movies. I’ve only seen it once (so far) and my opinion may fluctuate in various areas over multiple views. But I loved every second of the movie during my initial theater viewing.

As we go on, you may find that the issues that you found ultimately franchise-breaking or trilogy-damning may be the same things I considered to be forgivable flaws, passable plot holes, or simply elements inherent to a mid-trilogy film that I may be able to change your thinking on.

1First, we need to discuss the critical and public response, which I find genuinely suspicious. Disney has been enjoying consistent critical success with a majority of its contemporary productions. Critics are often over-kind to Disney to the extent that they can almost do no wrong.

For example, the previous two “nothing to write home about” DISNEY/MARVEL movies Spider-Man Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok BOTH sit at a 92% with critics and 88% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now, despite universal criticism (not from me, btw) that The Force Awakens was little more than a modern remake of A New Hope, it enjoyed a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating from critics…and an 88% from the audience.

The Last Jedi also received a 93% critical response, but for some reason, a jaded and reactionary 56% from audiences. Why?

To put that number in perspective, it is at least 1-3 percentage points lower than all three Star Wars prequels. Was The Last Jedi truly a worse film than any of the Lucas-directed prequel trilogy installments? Objectively and categorically, no.

This is clearly a concentrated effort to devalue and dismiss the series, and I have some ideas what specific elements caused people to lose their minds and a theory on what it was that set them off: broken nostalgia.

benWe tend to like things when they’re new, misremember what made us fall in love with them, miss them when they’re gone, and appreciate them even more when they return. Pop culture has a lifelong love affair with Star Wars that runs so deep into t-shirts, slogans, special events, references, toys, collectibles, and gimmicks that the actual romantic feelings toward the franchise have been jaded by sexual depravity.

My assertion is that, essentially, fans–passive and former–have clung so hard to the Funko Pop-figurines and tattooed models in Princess Leia chains that they forgot what it was like to see these movies for the first time. If they’re not already divorced from this relationship, they’re headed toward a passionate murder-suicide at light-speed.

I don’t want to say that real fans liked (or loved) this movie, while passive fans hated it; but I think that would be an almost entirely accurate representation. This reaction can’t be universal, but I think it’s the closest to truth we’re likely to get.

1In response to this, I recommend that everyone ignore reviews of any fan-base franchise, because it’s not for critics and it’s not for people who hate it. There would be nothing LucasFilm could have possibly done to win over the haters. These movies are for the people who love Star Wars conceptually and unapologetically.

The people who hate it aren’t wrong, they’re just not the kind of people you want to hang around…they’re Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter people. Fuck ’em.

Now…have the negative nancies in the critical and self-flagellating ‘fandom’ lost their minds? Certainly, some of them have. Some of them hate new things, and some of them are genuinely disappointed in what has become of a franchise they used to get excited about.

However, I’m about to offer an even more condescending theory: Maybe they just didn’t get it?

2But let’s start off on a good foot. First, I want to talk about what I liked about the film. Rian Johnson’s contribution to the franchise worked so well visually. Johnson’s career-long cinematographer, Steve Yedlin has a fantastic vision that can be seen across Johnson’s entire body of directorial work. If you’re familiar with Rian Johnson’s previous work such as Brick, The Brothers Bloom, or Looper, you may catch the similarities in style.

When it comes to the actual story, the nature of the force was expanded in such an organic way–if you’ve been paying attention to the canon–that it created a dynamic where every move the good characters made had an equal and opposite response in the realm of the evil characters. Let’s get into more detail…

***Spoiler Alert!***

The trailers and advertising campaign created an ongoing impression that our hero, Luke Skywalker, had turned to the dark side. And I’m still not so sure he didn’t. Although he gave his life to allow our new heroes time to escape in the film’s finale, he appears to be solely responsible for the rise of Kylo Ren. Had Luke not tried to murder his teenage student, perhaps he would have been able to save him.

The main theme that runs through The Last Jedi is hubris. Poe believes that he alone can be the hot-headed pilot who takes on the First Order. Kylo and Rey believe that they are much more powerful than they actually are, which leads to pain and suffering. Luke thinks he’s preserving the Jedi Order, which leads to galactic disaster. And Snoke thinks he has Ben Solo under his thumb, which leads to his early (for an ancient force-being) demise…or does it?

My biggest takeaway from this film were the overload of story elements, the vast amount of information we got all at once regarding the nature of the universe, the force, our new characters, and some old favorites.

Yoda popping in as a Force Ghost just to light shit up was one of the best moments of the movie. Yoda laid the ground work for Luke to have piece of mind by destroying the tree and (as far as Luke is aware) the ancient Jedi texts. In doing this, Yoda allows Luke to let the past die…even though unbeknownst to Skywalker, Rey has kept the books in tact.

One of the biggest themes in the Star Wars universe is characters misleading one another and hiding their intentions. This is why I believe that everything that was “revealed” in The Last Jedi was a lie. And if that disappointed you, or left you unfulfilled, I feel bad for you. Because, personally, it made me so excited for what comes next.

What did we learn? Snoke is dead. Rey’s parents are just anonymous junk traders. Force ghosts can impact the world around them more than we thought. Force-users can project their physical form across the galaxy. Kylo Ren wants to watch everything but the First Order burn. The most powerful place you can be in the force is not a Jedi/Sith, but somewhere in the middle. Luke is dead. The Resistance is operationally no better or worse than the First Order. And Rey is still a one-dimensional Mary Sue whose entire hero-journey is uninteresting.


What comes next (Predictions)? Snoke isn’t dead. He was either projecting himself in the throne room or his physical body is meaningless, as we all know, Jedi are more powerful when they return from death. Snoke is a Jedi; not just any Jedi, but the first Jedi. His image is on the floor in the center of Luke’s Jedi Temple. The ancient Jedi Texts were written (or partially written) by him. It will be through those texts, which Rey saved from the Tree before it was burned, that Rey will discover his true nature and how to ultimately destroy him.

1Snoke can’t be dead because he was in control of every element of this entire show so far. The fact that the recently revealed working title for Episode 9 is “Black Diamond” all but confirms my suspicions (Snoke wears a black diamond ring, an element found on Mustafar where Vader’s Castle is located).

2Rey is Kylo Ren’s sister. Snoke mentions the seed of Skywalker and hides this information from both of them because he knows Ben Solo is weak and will turn against him if he knew this. He couldn’t kill his mother, he won’t kill his sister.

Rey has one more movie (we can only hope) to become an interesting character. And I hope she will, because I like Daisy Ridley and want her to do well.

There is also a chance none of this happens and J.J. Abrams takes Episode IX in a totally unexpected direction. The scene tagged onto the end of The Last Jedi enabled the franchise to excuse away any and all aspects of being “Force Sensitive” or learning about the Force as, essentially, a superpower.

When the stable boy force-pulls his broom… could be the new “jumping the shark.” Or, like everything else, it could be a pure misdirection.


Now let’s get into what I took issue with…

Princess Leia has a scene where her ship blows up and she flies through space, surviving it all because of…the Force, I guess? It’s basically a replica of a space-death scene from Guardians of the Galaxy but I don’t see why Disney would do that…ever. I couldn’t help but cringe during this scene.

Also, you may have noticed that a majority of the characters in this movie didn’t even get an honorable mention in the spoilers or the things I liked. That’s because all of those characters were irrelevant to the plot of this film.

Every scene with Finn and/or Rose could have been deleted from the movie and it would not have changed one bit. Having said that, I found Rose a lot less annoying than I thought I would.

The Force Awakens created an intriguing anti-hero in Finn, an escaped Stormtrooper who had no allegiance to the Resistance and was conflicted about fighting for anything but his obvious interest in Rey.

I want Finn to have a role in this story, and he just didn’t have one in The Last Jedi. I still believe he is the stolen child of Lando Calrissian, but I don’t want to believe that his only purpose is as a plot device to bring Billy Dee Williams into the fold.

The Finn and Rose story was meant to be the B-story of the film, but it wound up affecting nothing, having no worth, and having no impact on any other character’s path.

That being said, I loved Canto Bight and I was very excited for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s cameo. But I’m a sucker for ensemble creature scenes. I would’ve settled for arbitrary cuts to Canto Bight rather than a B-Story that doesn’t serve the A-story.

finnLet’s follow Finn’s story arc for just a moment:

  • Finn wanted to flee the existential crisis the Resistance was caught in just to protect Rey from returning to a trap.
  • He’s then caught by a crying Rose who explains that somehow a low level mechanic knows how to get out of this situation better than the military strategists.
  • They explain their plan to Poe Dameron who goes “Great, let’s do it.” They say, they can’t. Great plan.
  • Maz fucking Kanata inexplicably shows up on a screen to say they have to sneak in to another very specific place to find a very specific man. Can’t they find another capable man? No. Just one man can do this. Just. One.
  • Finn and Rose are caught by the police for illegally parking their car (yes, it’s true) and wind up in jail with Benicio Del Toro, who isn’t the man they needed to find, but for some reason, he’ll do.
  • Rose exposes her entire backstory to Finn and uses him to free some fucking horses from a horse-racing track.poe-run
  • Del Toro reveals a BOMBSHELL to Finn that the Resistance and First Order get their money and supplies from the same criminals and villains. This seems to matter to Finn, but you’d never know it, because it’s literally never mentioned again.
  • Del Toro gets them aboard Snoke’s Star Destroyer, as promised then immediately sells them out.
  • The Resistance has no idea about Poe’s private plan with Finn and make their own plan. Finn and Rose fail on their mission and barely escape with their lives.
  • Then they meet up with the Resistance on Krait where Finn decides NOW would be the right moment to sacrifice himself, but Rose stops him at the last second and tells him she loves him….out of nowhere.

So, none of it mattered and nobody cares. Finn being captured did serve one purpose, to bring Captain Phasma back just to kill her off.

1I didn’t like that they wasted Captain Phasma as a character, but I wasn’t that bothered by her death because she was never significant other than to nerds who read her novel and comics. She didn’t need to be in the films. Some people had issues with the deaths of the film, mainly the underwhelming death of a new (unimportant) character, Admiral Holdo, in an emotionally overwhelming scene.

Yes, The Last Jedi introduces a new character to make an ultimate sacrifice rather than utilize a death that would have mattered…like Admiral Ackbar…or an appropriate send off for Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia.

The scene, however, was dope.

And, honestly, that’s what this movie was…a lot of confusing moments, unnecessary scenes, and poor character exposition/development bookended by some of the most amazing scenes I’ve ever witnessed in a Star Wars film. I loved the call-backs, I loved the acting, and I loved the dynamic between every character, even if their role was secondary or completely unnecessary.

For all of it’s faults, it was Star Wars, and because it was Star Wars, it was perfect.