(sorry I didn’t get around to writing last week. I have a new job and life is kind of crazy right now)
As of next Friday, we are seventeen months out from Star Wars Episode VIII. We got a set visit by Prince William and a few bizarre pictures of on-location shooting in Europe. Beyond that, we have no plot details and no title. Considering the publicity timeline for The Force Awakens, the lack of info is not surprising. But at this point in the wait, everything is fair game for speculation, including the unrealistic expectations we’ve been nursing since last December. Here are eleven in-universe questions I have about what may or may not be happening in the next installment of the saga. Some questions will be answered as time goes on, but some will have to wait until December 15, 2017 (which, oddly enough, is the day after my 2_th birthday)
1. How long has it been since the end of Episode VII?
In between saga films, there’s a space of time ranging anywhere from several months to a few years. A friend of mine on Far Far Away Radio suggested that Episode VIII could break the mold and pick up right where The Force Awakens left off. In my opinion, that would be overdoing it. There needs to be time for Rey to do whatever she’s doing with Luke (Jedi training?) and for the Resistance and First Order to regather after the events of The Force Awakens and the events of this new story to begin. Of course, there’s an unspecified amount of time that passes between the destruction of Starkiller Base and Rey going to find Luke, but my thought is it can’t be more than a few days. Time in Star Wars is tricky, you guys. Just saying.
2. How is the First Order going to make up for losing Starkiller base?
Well, I doubt they’re going to build a new one. Plotwise, that would be suicide. In-universe, that would be stupid because the Resistance or whoever will find a way to blow it up. Chances are, the First Order is going to do the smart thing and focus their military strength on their starships and troops.
3. How will the Resistance continue to fight against the First Order?
Whatever trouble the First Order is stirring up, the Resistance will likely do what it takes to stop them. The thing is, the Resistance lost a lot of pilots on Starkiller base. They can’t fight off the First Order on their own indefinitely. But who else in the galaxy can help them?
4. What state is the galaxy in after the new Republic’s government was destroyed?
Galactic politics might be boring to some, but hear me out: whatever is left of the Republic will either capitulate to the First Order, or create a new government and supply ships and troops to the Resistance. Either way, Starkiller Base did enough damage to convince the rest of the galaxy that the First Order means business. No way people are going to ignore this. One thing that could happen is a lot of systems decide to not choose sides in the conflict and form an independent confederation if they unite at all. Wars are fought over allegiances. The Resistance either gets a lot of help or not much help at all (also, I’d like more ships instead of just x-wings, thanks).
5. How will Rey and Luke become involved in the plot of Episode VIII?
So Rey has found Luke living on a small island on a distant planet in a remote corner of the galaxy. Luke may or may not be training her to be a Jedi, so they have their own issues to worry about. So they have no real reason to get drawn into another mess unless they get a distress signal from the Resistance and there is something they can do about it…or if Leia or Finn sends one (or both) of them a personal request.
6. What is Finn doing?
Now that Finn has left the First Order, what is he doing with his life? He was programmed (brainwashed) from infancy, so he has to find some kind of a new life. I can’t imagine him having an easy time being a civilian, especially if the First Order is on the hunt for (I’m sorry, I have to say it) traitors. Also, Kylo Ren gave him a really bad back injury–have there been any complications with that? Assuming that Finn makes a full recovery, he’ll probably be working with the Resistance. I’d like to see Poe Dameron teaching him to fly a starfighter.
7. How is Finn dealing with betraying the First Order?
Leaving the First Order wasn’t easy for Finn from the outset. What would bring something new and unique to Star Wars would be to see him struggle with the emotional and psychological effects of that, just a little. Chances are, he is using his knowledge and training to inform the Resistance on how to fight their enemy, but, like I said, finding purpose and figuring out what to do with his life and how to live with the choices he’s made. It would be neat to see Poe helping him on that journey–since, after all, it was Poe who got him started.
8.How DOES Captain Phasma get out of that trash compactor?
If she comes back and she’s as awesome as we’re hoping she’ll be (a panel I went to at FanX suggested she could become Finn’s antagonist), that’s a story I’ll want to hear–or at least hinted at in Episode VIII.
9. What the heck happened to Maz Kanata and where will she turn up next?
The First Order demolished her castle and she went…somewhere. There are rumors about a deleted scene where she goes to visit the Resistance on D’Qar but there is nothing (so far) to suggest that it’s canon. Does the First Order know about her? If not, she doesn’t have any reason to go into hiding. I’m not sure she has much interest in working directly with Luke and Leia. She may just go off somewhere and set up another club. Maz Kanata is a really cool character and I can’t wait to see more of her. She’s getting her own post in a few weeks so stay tuned!
10. Does Rey REALLY want to be a Jedi?
In The Force Awakens, we watched Rey discover her Force abilities. Maz Kanata and Kylo Ren both suggested to Rey that she embrace them and be trained to use them formally. Everyone expects that since Rey has gone to find Luke that he is going to teach her to be a Jedi. But although Rey might learn more about using her powers, she might not necessarily take that path. If you remember, in The Force Awakens Rey initally refused to accept that she had the Force because her encounter with it hurt her so much. She might not want to associate herself with it in her way of life. The Jedi Order as it existed before the Empire was wiped out, and Luke’s attempt to restart it crashed and burned. In Star Wars Rebels and other recent canon material released by Lucasfilm, we know that Force users who aren’t necessarily Jedi or Sith are going to become more prominent. Fans on Tumblr are eager to point out that Luke himself is a maverick compared to traditional Jedi of the past. Rey might become one of these rogue Force users instead of following the formal Jedi path.
11. Will we learn the truth about Rey’s past?
This is the biggest question. I am going to say it will be answered in Episode VIII or even before then. I don’t think we have any reason to suspect that we will be left hanging on that particular question until Episode IX. As to what those answers are, I am going to write a speculation post next week. But let me end today by saying that Rey might already have some of the answers. From all appearances, she and Leia spent some time together at the end of The Force Awakens. At the very least, Leia told her the backstory about her family. She probably could have told Rey about Luke’s failed attempt at a new Jedi order and why he went into hiding. Chances are, if Rey is who I’m betting she is, Leia would know and would have told her. So Rey might know more about her past now than the audience does. (Basically what I really want to know is what did Leia tell her before they said goodbye.)