Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been in theaters for a few days now, and it's introduced some unexpected elements into the iconic saga. Among the new familial connections and the questions about where the franchise is headed next, The Rise of Skywalker injected quite a lot of Easter eggs and references to the saga's previous installments. These ranged from obvious callbacks and homages to details of the more blink-and-you'll-miss-it variety -- including one allusion to the Skywalker Saga's oldest chapter, A New Hope. Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker below! Only look if you want to know!
Early on in the film, The Resistance learns that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has returned, and they attempt to find a way to stop his evil plan within less than a day. This leads Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and BB-8 on a mission to track down a Sith Wayfinder, which was last used by a bounty hunter named Ochi. Ochi's ship is tracked to a desert planet called Pasaana, where the Aki-Aki people hold the Festival of the Ancestors, an epic celebration of their culture. When the group first learns about the festival, C-3PO remarks that the event is only held "every 42 years".
While this length of time doesn't have much significance within the plot of The Rise of Skywalker, it provides a unique in-canon homage to A New Hope, which was released 42 years earlier on May 25, 1977.
The sequel trilogy's connections to A New Hope have certainly been a topic of discussion in recent years, with many arguing that 2015's The Force Awakens was too narratively similar to the original film. But as director J.J. Abrams - who returned for The Rise of Skywalker - put it, the homages to that part of the past are well-intentioned.
“The fun of asking, ‘Where are these existing characters?’ and revisiting some of the themes — and in some cases, some of the locations from the original story — was part of doing this thing as a continuum," Abrams said in an interview earlier this year. "Which is to say, it’s not just about going to new lands and meeting new characters, it’s about embracing what’s come before so that the characters that you meet in Episode VII — imagine chapter seven of a book. It’s not about having entirely brand new, rebooted [characters], it’s a continuation of the one story.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.