A new trailer for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," released at Disney's D23 Expo, reveals that Rey may turn to the Dark Side in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga.
The earlier sections of the trailer review the previous eight "Star Wars" films, and in a sense they deserve as much attention as the glimpses of footage we also receive of the upcoming one. A full 34 seconds is spent at the beginning showing favorite characters and iconic moments from the original "Star Wars" trilogy ("A New Hope" from 1977, 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," 1983) while only 12 seconds are devoted to recapping the prequel trilogy ("The Phantom Menace" in 1999, "Attack of the Clones" in 2002 and "Revenge of the Sith" in 2005). Given that a trailer which followed the internal chronology would feature the prequels before the original movies, it is fair to assume that Disney wanted to remind audiences of the more popular "Star Wars" features in their opening shot, even if doing so doesn't make strict sense if this is going to be characterized as a great saga. This would also explain nearly three times as much attention being paid to the originals than the prequels.
Once we do get a look at clips from "The Rise of Skywalker" — which are blended seamlessly into footage from the earlier two sequel trilogy movies, 2015's "The Force Awakens" and 2017's "The Last Jedi," with those first two flicks being given roughly 15 seconds of screen time — it is clear that this is being conceived as a grand conclusion. We see iconic older characters like General Leia Organa, Chewbacca, C-3PO and Lando Calrissian as well as the newer ones from the sequel trilogy like Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, Finn and, of course, Rey. The latter's appearance is particularly striking because of a clip in which she holds a double-bladed lightsaber with red, uneven lasers that seems for all the world like the villainous Kylo Ren's weapon of choice. Between that and her donning dark robes, one could be forgiven for wondering if Rey turns to the Dark Side in the closing chapter of the series.
It will also be interesting to see how this film winds up being tied into the previous installments. Some audio clips of Darth Vader's ominous breathing and the sinister voice of Emperor Palpatine (who was also heard laughing in an earlier trailer for "The Rise of Skywalker") suggests that those characters, which had been presumed dead at the close of "Return of the Jedi," may in fact have been behind the villainous activities in this trilogy as well.
Regardless of how director J. J. Abrams decides to close the series, his challenge will be in walking a fine line between subverting expectations enough that audiences aren't given something entirely predictable (a common criticism of "The Force Awakens" is that it hewed too closely to the plot beats of "A New Hope") while simultaneously not going so far toward subverting expectations that he makes unsatisfying or illogical plot choices (a criticism that many, including myself, had of Rian Johnson's handling of the story in "The Last Jedi").