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Final 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' trailer arrives, hints at tragic conclusion

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

It was a mystery on par with Rey’s parentage and Supreme Leader Snoke’s backstory: when was the galaxy going to be treated to a new trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? Well, that particular mystery ends... now. The final trailer for J.J. Abrams’s saga-capping adventure has premiered at last, and our already sky-high expectations have officially hit hyperspace after getting our first look at the whole gang aboard the Millennium Falcon, as well as teasing glimpses of the villain we all love to hate, Emperor Palpatine. Heck, there’s even a glimpse of the good ship Ghost from the beloved animated series Star Wars Rebels, which suggests that Abrams is going to be pulling from more than just the previous eight Skywalker Saga episodes for this last hurrah. (Watch the trailer above; the Ghost pops in at 1:02.)

As with its predecessors, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker trailer premiered during Monday Night Football on ABC, which, like Lucasfilm, is owned by the Walt Disney Company. The debut also coincides with the official launch of online ticket sales for the film, well in advance of its Dec. 20 release date. But the most auspicious thing to happen on Oct. 21 was the birth of the one and only Carrie Fisher, who died suddenly in 2016. In the Star Wars universe, though, her groundbreaking alter ego, Leia Organa, lives on through unused footage that Abrams previously filmed with the actress for The Force Awakens.

Carrie Fisher's final film appearance, comprising unused shots from 'The Force Awakens,' will come in 'The Rise of Skywalker.' (Photo: Lucasfilm)

In the scene — which has been shown in earlier trailers — Leia embraces a teary-eyed Rey in a forest setting. Judging from their faces, it could be a final farewell for one or both characters. Fittingly, Fisher also gets the literal last word in the trailer; just before the title card comes up, we hear Leia whisper, “Always.” (As in, “May the Force be with you...”) It’s the second most moving Carrie Fisher tribute we’ve seen today after her daughter, Billie Lourd’s, rendition of “American Girl.”

Meanwhile, we have more tantalizing evidence of the return of Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), presumed to have perished in the destruction of the second Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi. His resurrection was hinted at in the first trailer, when his unmistakable laugh playing out over the final moments. Here he’s afforded some time for appropriately ominous monologuing — “Long have I waited and now your coming together will be your undoing” — and what appears to be a brief glimpse at the end of the preview.

Palpatine's empty throne is briefly glimpsed in the final 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' trailer. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Even with the trailer officially out in the world, it’s safe to say that Abrams hasn’t gotten to the bottom of his Mystery Box just yet. We already knew that the film’s structure would be something of a road movie, as the trio of Rey, Finn and Poe (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac) planet-skipped through the cosmos on a quest that would involve visits to some familiar planets and the return of some familiar faces (and voices), including Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker, who intones, “Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi, your destiny,” remarks seemingly intended for Rey. And the director is giving himself plenty of time for this final lap around the galaxy: The Rise of Skywalker’s rumored runtime is 155 minutes, which would make it the longest Star Wars installment yet.

The trailer also hints at potential doom — doom! — for one of the franchise’s most enduring characters, C-3PO. The protocol droid and BFF of R2-D2 is seen being hooked up to a computer, apparently to deliver some kind of message that might prove terminal. “What are you doing there, Threepio?” ask Poe. “Taking one last look, sir... at my friends,” comes the bittersweet reply.

Is C-3PO doomed? The 'Star Wars' fixture could be making his final appearance in 'The Rise of Skywalker.' (Photo: Lucasfilm)

It goes without saying that Twitter is already abandoning protocol by crying over the gold-plated protocol droid.

And what of everyone’s favorite non-couple, Reylo? It definitely doesn’t look like Kylo Ren has forgiven Rey for rejecting his offer to jointly rule the galaxy, trading lightsaber blows with her on a spaceship adrift atop storm-tossed seas. At the same time, another shot shows the two of them jointly smashing another figure to smithereens, which means they may put their differences aside in time for the former Ben Skywalker to rise back into his family’s good graces. As for Rey, there’s plenty more smoke — but no fire...yet — about those Dark Rey predictions. “People keep telling me they know me,” the warrior from nowhere says ominously. “But no one does.” To which we hear Kylo respond with three little words that are giving life to online ‘shippers: “But I do.”

It’s worth noting that there are some big reveals not glimpsed in the trailer. For example, we don’t see or hear very much of Zorri Bliss, played by Keri Russell. Triple Force Friday toys revealed that Zorri (who hails from the ice planet, Kijimi) and Poe have a firefight with some First Order Snowtroopers at one point during the movie. Two other newcomers to the toy line are also largely omitted from the trailer: a new Millennium Falcon crew member named Boolio, and the mysterious droid builder Babu Frik.

So yes, this trailer raises as many questions as it answers. But here’s something we do know for sure: the box-office Force is going to be strong with The Rise of Skywalker.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on Dec. 20. Tickets are available now at Fandango.

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