Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Writer Explains Why The Last Jedi Is a Gift

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in theaters fans of the franchise have gotten to see how the Skywalker Saga ends, but they've also gotten to see how the final chapter moved forward from Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's something that has led to lots of discussion and debate as to whether Rise of Skywalker dismisses the development of The Last Jedi or presented writers things to change, but according to Rise of Skywalker co-writer Chris Terrio, The Last Jedi was a "gift" heading into the final film as it gave them a lot to build on and work with.

Speaking with Indiewire, Terrio explained that the character arcs Johnson began in The Last Jedi gave them ways to show the growth of characters, especially when it came to Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron who grows into a real leader in Rise of Skywalker.

“We wanted to show all the characters growing in some way. Poe, in The Last Jedi, there’s a question of whether he can step into Leia’s shoes,” Terrio said. “There’s very much a subplot in The Last Jedi of teaching Poe how to be a leader in the way that Leia was. That really became the nugget of Poe’s story, which is to say he’s learning to be a leader in the course of the movie. He has a falling out with Finn, who tells him, ‘You’re not Leia,’ which I think is really hurtful to Poe, because that’s what he’s been trying to be. And then of course, after Leia passes, he’s sort of sitting holding vigil for her, really alone with her, and saying, ‘I don’t know if I can be what you were.’ In the course of the movie, he has to step into her shoes.”

Another gift from Johnson's The Last Jedi? The connection between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) -- both literally and figuratively.

"That was a great gift of The Last Jedi, in that their relationship seems very intimate and specific,” Terrio said. “There’s a way in which, in The Last Jedi, Rey and Kylo Ren interact, and they just seem like they’re part of the same whole, that spiritually, they’re really one person. That really helped us in thinking about Rey and Kylo Ren, which is to say that we wanted to elaborate on the idea that Snoke bridged their minds in The Last Jedi. But what we wanted to say is that there’s something deeper there and leave it to debate about at which point they became this dyad in the Force, where they were really two, or were they one, whether that was a mistake that Palpatine made by bridging them and therefore creating this thing. But regardless, their relationship is extremely interesting and complicated, and it was one of the things that J.J. and I loved about The Last Jedi that we luckily inherited and could build.”

Yet, for all of the gifts The Last Jedi gave The Rise of Skywalker, Terrio has been direct about some of the challenges as well. He previously told Awards Daily that one of the trickier things to deal with was the destruction of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) in that middle film that left them seeking a new big bad.

“We felt that right from the beginning, when J.J. [Abrams, director] established Kylo Ren in Episode VII, there was a war going on inside him and that he had been corrupted by something bigger than himself and had made bad choices along the way. J.J. and I felt we needed to find a way in which he could be redeemed, and that gets tricky at the end of Episode VIII because Snoke is gone. The biggest bad guy in the galaxy at that moment seemingly is Kylo Ren.”

But it turns out, the conflicted new Supreme Leader was subjected to years of secret manipulation by Palpatine, who still existed through means some consider to be unnatural.

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“There needed to be an antagonist that the good guys could be fighting, and that’s when we really tried to laser in on who had been the great source of evil behind all of this for so long. That’s when we really started aggressively pursuing this idea that there is old evil that didn’t die,” Terrio said. “The source of the evil in the galaxy is this dark spirit waiting for its revenge and biding its time. The entity known as Palpatine in this version — his body died in Return of the Jedi — is patient and has been waiting. He dug his fox hole and has been waiting for his chance to re-establish his total domination.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.

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