In case you missed it…

WARNING! This article may contain spoilers for Star Wars The Last Jedi. More likely, it contains information that’s totally irrelevant and meant to throw us off the trail. There’s really no way to tell. That being said, continue at your own risk.

By now, you’re bound to have heard all sorts of speculation regarding the sequel trilogy. Is Rey a Skywalker? Is Snoke Mace Windu? How did Maz Kanata get the lightsaber? What’s with the Force vision? The Force Awakens opened up a slew of questions. These questions are impossible to answer with just the information we know from the first film. Luckily, Star Wars isn’t confined to the silver screen. Books, comic books, and TV shows have given plenty of hints. As we’ve seen from Rogue One, Lucasfilm has no problem intertwining them.

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Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep up with the outpouring of new stories with couple comic books a week, a book every month or so, and Rebels a few glorious weeks every year. Luckily, you have me to handle all of that for you! Taking everything we know so far, we can piece together what might happen or what will be important in The Last Jedi. More likely, though, extra background information will just make the new movie more rewarding. Plus, you’ll understand why that kid in the front is shouting and clapping at “random” points.

Let’s dive in to who, what, and where might be important.

***NOTE: This will be updated in the coming months as three books, two comic book series, and one video game are released. If this doesn’t prompt you to check them out, keep checking back here***

Jakku

A backwater desert planet that’s so far removed from the galaxy people aren’t even sure if Luke Skywalker exists. Before Rey met Finn, nothing important happened there. Except for the hugely important things that happened there a thousand years ago. And 69 years ago. And 34 years ago.

A millennia ago, Jakku would have been unrecognizable to even Rey. It was a fertile planet that was filled with plants, oceans, and possibly sentient beings. A thousand years before the Death Star was destroyed, something happened at a place called the Plaintive Hand Plateau. From then on, the planet became an insignificant desert.

Some believe this is the origin of the dark side of the Force. Most people just forgot about the planet altogether.

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All those years, almost no one went to Jakku unless they were stranded or hiding from something. Several religious groups and beings did pop up from time to time, though.

The Anchorites, for example, stayed by the Plaintive Hand and ran an orphanage. Sixty-nine years before the events of The Force Awakens one orphan found a drilling site. He spied a man in a large hat, who we know as Yupe Tashu, adviser to Emperor Palpatine . This orphan, Gallius Rax, followed Tashu onto his ship to escape Jakku. The stowaway was found by Sheev Palpatine himself. Befriending the boy, Sheev gives him an important job. Rax returned to Jakku to guard the construction site and kill anyone who came near.

Rax did so for ten years, until “the artifacts were all placed and the drilling was done.” Once he did, he was rewarded by being dubbed “The Outcast” to now Emperor Palpatine. He became an enigma of the Empire.

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Fast forward to the end of the Empire, 34 years before The Force Awakens. After the second Death Star is destroyed, a few measly troops continue to fight for the Empire. The final battle is held with a Star Destroyer crashing to the surface, AT-ATs being sent to their final resting place, and X-wings going down with their pilots.

The battle was so brutal, it covered up the real major event that happened that day: The Contingency Plan. 

Why it’s important: There’s an air of mystery on Jakku. Having kept the interest of the Sith for so long, it’s easy to assume it’s some type of dark side nexus. Plus, if people we now know are important to the galaxy (Rey and Lor San Tekka) purposefully ended up there, we can’t be done with it’s story.

The Contingency Plan

So what actually happened that day during the Battle of Jakku? To understand, think back to when Rax was first asked to stay back on the planet. Here was a little boy being asked to kill those who came too close to a construction site that was later filled with artifacts.

Palpatine was building an Observatory that he would use as his Contingency Plan. This deep well housed ancient computer systems that charted out pockets of the Unknown Regions. Mostly it had access to the core of Jakku, which Palpatine believed still held a spark of the life it had 1,000 years ago.

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The Emperor believed that if something were to happen to him, the entire galaxy had to be destroyed. Those who failed him didn’t deserve to live. He set up a two-fold plan where the galaxy would be destroyed, but those he believed were worthy of starting over, like Gallius Rax and Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, were sent to the Unknown Regions.

When he died, the plan was initiated. The final part of the plan was setting off the Observatory through an ancient Sith ritual. While this part of the plan was foiled, certain key players of the soon-to-be First Order were able to escape to the Unknown Regions.

Why it’s important: The Contingency Plan was meant to destroy the galaxy, but it really just kept the Empire alive in some way. Mostly, it was the escape to the Unknown Regions which are crucial in their own right.

The Knights of Ren Potential Origins

Just like in this galaxy, Darth Vader had a large cult following a long time ago. When he died, his followers banded together to form the Acolytes of the Beyond. They started off harmless enough, mostly spray painting “Vader Lives” in weird places.

Like most cults, things eventually went a little too far.

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Led by Yupe Tashu (Who could have thought he would be so important???), the Acolytes worked to earn their mask. Once a member of the group, they wore an ancient Sith mask. One member, Kiza, worked for this rank by helping bomb a local police department. This diversion helped other Vader worshipers break into a museum and steal a red lightsaber.

Kiza never felt truly evil before this and wasn’t sure about her role with the group. Until Tashu gave her the mask. As soon as she put on the Sith artifact, she acted with such power and darkness that she earned the red lightsaber.

Why it’s important: It’s not hard to believe that this group eventually went on to become the Knights of Ren. We also don’t know what happened to Kiza, who could play an important role in the future.

Snoke

There are plenty of theories, rumors, and leaks about Snoke. There isn’t much we know from the movie, but The Force Awakens novel and Bloodline give a lot more information. He’s described as humanoid, but not human, with cobalt eyes and a poorly reconstructed nose. What’s most alarming is that he doesn’t simply want to stop Luke from returning, but he’s convinced that he couldn’t beat Luke if he was challenged. That fear is what causes him to destroy five planets. He doesn’t want to run the risk of anyone finding Luke.

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One of the most alarming things about Snoke is that Leia knew he was interested in her son. She felt his presence and thought Luke could protect him. Oh, and she never told Han.

Why it’s important: Any information on Snoke seems important! But mostly that it seems Leia knows who he is.

Reylo

There’s a “few” people out there who are convinced Rey and Kylo end up together. Whether you agree or not, the books add a strange level to their relationship. When they first meet and Kylo probes into her mind, he’s amazed that she is truly just a scavenger. So amazed he feels the need to repeat it every chance he gets. Finally, when she takes the lightsaber from him, all he can manage to say is “it is you.” There’s no more clarification.

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However, as this fight is going on, Snoke says to Hux that it turns out Kylo may have been right about the girl, which is why he summons them back. Rey is always on her toes since she notices that Kylo knows more about herself and her past than she does.

Why it’s important: Rey was about 7 years old when she was left behind. This would make Kylo around 17. It’s safe to assume one of them would have recognized the other if they were cousins, siblings, or even classmates at Luke’s academy. Kylo doesn’t seem so much as to recognize her, but who she’ll become.

Unknown Regions

It’s clear from the diverse bars and cities we see in Star Wars that the galaxy is a big place. There are hundreds of planets on different maps between all the stories. The real mystery, however, has always been what lies in the Unknown Regions.

As it turns out, this was one of Palpatine’s main concerns. One fan favorite, Thrawn, comes from the Unknown Regions and helps Palpatine command his military. He claims to have left the Unknown Regions to protect his people from a force so terrible it would come for the Empire next. Whatever this threat was, Palpatine believed it would, in fact, come for them eventually. Together, they started sending Imperials to the Unknown Regions. The first to go was Eli Vanto, along with the Star Destroyer Eclipse, and then Rae Sloane , Brendol Hux, and his son, the future General Hux.

Why it’s important: Picture taking the population of New York City and sending them all to learn from Stephen Hawking and Winston Churchill (because that’s essentially who is in the Unknown Regions) for a few decades. Then they come back and form the First Order. Now assume they might have brought back a Hawking/Churchill as a Supreme Leader.

Objects

There are a few objects in The Force Awakens and some we can expect to see in The Last Jedi that might need a little explaining.

The most obvious one is Luke’s (or Rey’s) lightsaber. When Rey touches the lightsaber for the first time, she’s sent into a series of visions. Most people take this connection to mean she’s a Skywalker. It goes deeper than a family name.

There’s a Force power called “psychometry” that we’ve seen before, namely with regards to Quinlan Vos. When a Jedi would touch certain objects, they would not only have visions of where it had been, but they would feel the emotions the owner had felt. It seems Rey has this rare gift. Even at the height of the Jedi Order, Rey would have shown a strong power in the Force because of this unique ability.

Why it’s important: This debunks the Rey is a Skywalker theory, since her connection to the lightsaber isn’t through Luke, but a gift Luke isn’t known to have. It also changes what we’re seeing in those visions. For example, some people assume that Rey is seeing a vision of an attack that will come in the future and she’ll be there. In reality, it would have been an attack that already happened and she’s experiencing the fear and confusion Luke felt at the time. I would even take it a step further to the The Last Jedi trailer. The opening shot is her running out of a cave in a panic and short of breathe. Theories go as far as to think Luke was Force-choking her. I think instead of hearing about events that forced Luke into hiding, she’ll touch an object and see for herself. Whatever it is, it’s too much for her to handle.

You may have heard after the trailer came out that it’s really important that we see books and paper in the trailer. It’s something we’ve never seen before.

But it is. At least three times. Once when children are drawing, once in a handwritten note that Palpatine is said to have done repeatedly, and again in a Moff’s library.

Why it’s important: Don’t be fooled! The books in the trailer aren’t as important as you might think. I’m sure what’s in them is incredibly important, but what you really want to look for is a holocron. Paper alone is unique, but doesn’t provide any big clues – this is just a misdirection.

The Force

We’re used to seeing the Force as Jedi vs. Sith. Like most translations of ancient texts and prophecies, there are hundred of ways of interpreting things. We’ve seen all different “religions” from the Church of the Force, Guardians of the Whills, the Brother/Sister, the Bendu, the Ashla, and the Bogen.

Why it’s important: It’s clear the Jedi need to end. Odds are, Luke realizes they’ve interpreted something wrong or one of their doctrines was totally off. Understanding the different interpretations could give us a clue, but of course everything can be defended “from a certain point of view.”

Additional Characters

There’s a number of characters that fans would love to see again. For each characters, there’s a handful of theories for how we’ll see them (or their daughter/granddaughter) again. Some names to pay attention for:

Ezra – Rebel soldier who was trained as a Jedi

Sabine – Rebel soldier who fought alongside Ezra. She’s a Mandolorian with a very long history on both sides of the war. Both her and Ezra can be seen in Rebels, which will be going into the final season this fall. With their fates unknown, there are more than a few theories about these two and how they can come into play

Eli Vanto – Mathematical genius who was the first Imperial soldier sent into the Unknown Regions in Thrawn.

Grand Admiral Thrawn – Easily the most popular character outside of the movies. He’s the ultimate leader. He has a well drawn out life in pre-Disney (Legends) material, but his new story hasn’t been determined just yet.

Rae Sloane – Grand Admiral in multiple comic books and books. She loves the Empire because she’s convinced it’s the best thing for the most people. She was part of the convoy that was sent to the Unknown Regions.

Ransolm Casterfo – A senator who may or may not have been sentenced to death. A friend, but political opponent, of Leia’s who helps her discover the formation of the First Order. He’s a young man who didn’t think Emperor Palpatine was the best leader, but admired the Empire and the order it stood for.

Iden Versio – For starters, she’s one of the most well-rounded characters in Star Wars, and the actress who plays her, Janina Gavankar, is a fan’s dream. We won’t get her full story until Mone, but if I were Lucasfilm, I would keep both Versio and Gavankar around.

Why they’re important: Some of these characters are fan favorites, but others have drastically moved the story forward. All of them have open endings (for now) and would be easy to bring back.

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One of the reasons Star Wars draws so many fans in is because you can pick your level. If you want to only watch the movies, you can easily follow along. If you want to catch a few books here and there, you pick up on a few more things. You get what you put in. I would expect all the new characters in Rey’s trilogy to be just that- new characters. The movies will always be able to stand alone without having a deep knowledge of the universe.

Still, there will be Easter eggs and some minor tie-ins to what we know. It’s also much easier to disprove certain theories with more information to narrow down what might actually happen.

Of course, there are dozens of other characters and plot points that might come into play, but I would say the most important are the ones discussed here. Are there others you would add?

Keep checking back here in September, as we learn more about Captain Phasma’s backstory in September, some of the legends the galaxy’s heard about Luke and more on Leia’s past in October. And, most importantly, in November when we see how Versio plays into the Contingency Plan.

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