Warning! “Star Wars” spoilers below!
Just when you thought you had all the “Star Wars” mysteries figured out, “The Rise of Skywalker” comes along, and now…
… and another… and another…
In closing out the main nine-film “Star Wars” storyline, “The Rise of Skywalker” offers surprising reveals: Rey was actually the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. But now fans are left pondering a number of conundrums: Why didn’t we learn more about how Palpatine survived? Why did Rey and Kylo kiss? Also, what was going on in that Jannah and Lando scene?
You’ve got questions, and “The Rise of Skywalker” editor Maryann Brandon has answers.
Brandon’s had to keep certain “Star Wars” secrets for years, ever since she was an editor on 2015’s “The Force Awakens.” So when she jumped on the phone recently with HuffPost, she was glad to finally be able to chat.
During the conversation, it became evident that some questions don’t have official answers that can be gleaned from the movie.
What was Finn trying to tell Rey? Brandon says she wants to leave that up to the audience. If Palpatine was Rey’s grandpap (Grand-Palp?), who was her grandma (or, put another way… who the heck had a relationship with Palpatine)? Brandon doesn’t know, but she figures it’s someone “badass.”
“I’m guessing behind every evil emperor there’s a bigger, badder evil empress,” Brandon said.
But those aside, there were plenty of mysteries the editor could shed some light on, so without further ado, here are some of the answers to your biggest “Star Wars” questions:
When Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo (Adam Driver) snogged, it was the kiss heard around this galaxy and those far, far away. The moment made Reylo fans shout for joy and detractors just shout. According to Brandon, there was a lot of back-and-forth about whether the scene would happen at all. She cut a lot of different versions of “should they/shouldn’t they,” she said.
“I always said, ‘The movie will tell us whether they should kiss or not. We will know by the time we get to the end of our process, if it should happen.’ And I felt it should, and [director J.J. Abrams] agreed with me, and other people who saw the film agreed.”
Brandon praised the performances in the scene, especially the moment Kylo Ren smiles, the first time the character has smiled in three movies.
“I know it’s not for everybody,” she said of the kiss. “I know there will be people who wish they hadn’t, but this is a film that was never going to please everyone, and I think that the reviews are kind of reflective of that. The things that certain people love, other people hated. And that’s the phenomenon of ‘Star Wars.’”
After using the Force to heal Rey and getting that infamous smooch, Kylo Ren disappears. But… why? Did he die from wounds incurred during the fight with Palpatine? Was Rey’s breath so bad it killed him? Maybe there aren’t a lot of Tic Tacs in space?
According to Brandon, dental hygiene wasn’t a factor. In order to save Rey, Kylo had to give up all that was left of his life force.
“He got his redemption, I think, in a lovely way. And right after he disappears, [his mother] Leia disappears. I’d like to think that they’re together,” she said.
The opening scenes with Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) were “tricky” in terms of how much of the character’s backstory to explain, how much to show of him and what he wanted, Brandon explained.
“It was kind of a delicate balance and went back and forth a lot about how much we wanted to reveal,” she said. “Some scenes changed quite a bit, the way that we wanted to present it to the audience. In the end, we ended up showing a lot less of it than we started with.”
There was originally “a little more information about it, what was keeping [Palpatine] alive,” but, Brandon said, “it seemed to go off topic.”
“There was so much information in the film and so many characters that we wanted to have an audience concentrate on. I think we felt we didn’t want to clutter the film up with things you didn’t need to know,” she said.
In the movie, Palpatine says if Rey kills him, his spirit will enter into her, and he’ll win. But she does kill him. So why doesn’t he actually win? Also, could Rey have just unplugged that big machine that was keeping Palpatine alive?
“She can’t,” Brandon said to the suggestion that Palpatine could just be unplugged. “She can’t kill him in anger.”
The whole reason Palpatine lost is because Rey didn’t strike him down in hate. By ending Palpatine the way she did, reflecting his Force lighting back at him, Rey was able to avoid playing by Palp’s rules.
Fans have been wondering about Former-Supreme-Leader Snoke’s mysterious background since “The Force Awakens.” Where did he come from? Why does he look the way he does? Has he ever heard the word “moisturizer”?
“The Rise of Skywalker” finally gives us some answers. A scene showing multiple Snokes held in glass containments seems to suggest he was a clone used by the Emperor, which Brandon confirms.
“I just think that came up as a visual effect that we thought would be really fun for an audience, to create a visual that would tell that whole story,” she said. “I believe that’s successful. We didn’t have to change a lot of dialogue. You just see one shot […] and you kind of get it. I love stuff like that. We can just have a moment where you just see something in the background and you go, ‘OK, I totally get that.’”
The role of Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) in “The Rise of Skywalker” is noticeably reduced from “The Last Jedi,” and Brandon said that came down to Abrams choosing to tell a different story.
“There were a lot of characters in the film, and because J.J. wanted to make this film about a journey of the three main friends and then Rey’s conflict with Kylo Ren, it became very hard to service a lot more characters,” Brandon said. “She’s an important character in the Resistance, and we tried very hard to show that in the film, and I think we did, but the film just really couldn’t handle much more character stories.”
The editor said she went to Rose a few times at the end of the movie to make sure she was given her due.
“We all love Rose,” Brandon said. “And we want to make her character sing. And that’s why she’s in the end battle. And I cut to her a few times in the end battle because I know she’s a fan favorite, and I wanted to show her being involved.”
Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) is a smooth guy. That’s not up for debate. What can be questioned is what’s going on in the scene between him and newcomer Jannah (Naomi Ackie) at the end of the movie.
In the scene, Lando offers to help Jannah, a former stormtrooper, find out where she came from. At first, it seems sweet. Some interpret it as a fatherly figure offering help. But the internet is where sweet intentions go to die: There are those who think perhaps Lando is hitting on Jannah rather than just being a good dude.
According to Brandon, you need to get your minds out of the gutter.
“I don’t think it ever occurred to any of us that he was hitting on her. I think it was always fatherly, you know, help you find your way home,” she said. “Yeah, it never went that way.”
Among the many deaths in “The Rise of Skywalker” was the demise of FinnPoe, the theory/fan dream that Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) would end up in a relationship together. The idea has been around since “The Force Awakens,” but Brandon apparently hadn’t heard about it until now.
“Because I’m cutting it together, I’m kind of taking it at face value, and I’m not reading as much into it as an audience. And maybe that’s just my nature. I don’t know,” she said. “But I think, again, they’re best of friends. There is a kind of brotherhood there where they understand each other, and they’ve got each other’s back.”
As for any future love between the two, she says, “That’s really up to Lucasfilm if they want to make that sequel.”
Warning! “Star Wars” spoilers below!