Special Edition Podcast

Special Edition – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Show Notes

Our semi annual holiday tradition continues! It’s time to gather around the fire and talk about the final chapter of the Star Wars (Skywalker) Saga — Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker! Josh Flanagan and Conor Kilpatrick welcome back special guest Ron Richards to break down the last step in a 42 year journey.

(Disclaimer: Ron Richard’s opinions are his own and do not represent Marvel Entertainment or the Walt Disney Corporation.)

Running Time: 00:56:15

“Fanfare and Prologue”
John Williams


“Victory Celebration/End Title”
John Williams


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  1. I fall somewhere between Josh and Ron. This wasn’t a good movie but there is a lot of fan service for better or worse

  2. I enjoyed the movie. Yes, there could have been some improvements and there were some plot holes left, but overall I was happy with the movie.

  3. “There are always two a master and an apprentice” is a bad idea if you unpack it as there are only ever two Sith. I choose to interpret that line as a Sith lord is always training an apprentice. Not that there are always two Sith. That just makes the Sith more interesting. Also they contradict the there is only two idea constantly even before this movie so

    I liked it overall. I liked it more than the Last Jedi certainly. I think you guys are right about it being weighed down by the baggage of the last movie and clearly the plans were hindered by the death of Carrie Fisher. I like that they chose to try and make this movie a tribute to her, but at the same time I think it went a bit too far into the “on the nose” territory with that. I think I would have rather she went out in a heroic military action that have her die from a vague force induced heart attack like Luke, but this is probably the result of them not having more footage to use for her story.

    Also too much false jeopardy like you guys said. I’m okay with some of that. Certainly Indian Jones has tons of false jeopardy in his movies and for the most part it works. That said this felt like the script called for more bad stuff to happen to characters and they pulled all their punches. The Chewie one felt like jumping through hoops for example. Didn’t they see the other transport? The C3PO one though is the one that felt the most wrong. They have Anthony Daniels a really fantastic moment. I legitimately got misty there. Giving that character the chance to sacrifice it all for his friends I think is a nice choice, but the moment is somewhat lessened when they just re-download him. The idea that he wasn’t killing himself, but he was effectively sacrificing what had made him the character we know felt like a fitting heroic end for a character who has been mind wiped before in the story.

    • It is literally called the Rule of Two because there are only two Sith from the time of Darth Bane on which is still canon. There used to be thousands of Sith, but there are only two at a time for 1,000 years where there can be as many Dark Jedi as they want with the Inquisitors, Ventress, and Savage Opress. They aren’t fully fledged Sith though without the Darth title and aren’t considered Sith in the hierarchy.

    • Well. It’s the rule of two except when it isn’t. Sidious was long at the top with his respective chief lieutenant, but we learn that they often have secret apprentices and that Sidious himself has all these backup apprentices. That’s not just in the retconned Legends material, but in stories in the new Disney lore. They’re bad guys, so they play by the rules only when it suits them.

    • It just feels like an aspect of the lore that’s better forgotten considering it clearly handicaps them when telling a story if there are suppose to be literally only two Sith. The idea that there can be more Sith but only two “Darths” makes the Sith seem needlessly pedantic. Especially when they have an entire Galaxy to menace. Was Dooku waiting for Maul to get cut in half before he could take his title as Darth Tyranus? He is still effectively a Sith as is Ventress even while Maul is running around. They clearly are master minding things and have dark side powers. So if the rule of two is just about titles it actually is quite meaningless. Maul didn’t seem any more powerful than Ventress or the Inquisitors. If this is the case then it seems like Yoda’s comment is really only meant to point to the fact that there’s definitely at least two Sith running around.

    • Dooku was still a Jedi in TPM and Palpatine turned him after Maul was thought to be dead by using Qui-Gon’s death as a way to get to him. He tried to turn Anakin once he found out about him. That was part of the point where Palpatine needed to find someone quickly to replace Maul while having Anakin waiting in the wings. Maul in Rebels easily took care of Inquisitors and wasn’t part of the Sith anymore at that point. Vader proved that he was much better than the Inquisitors in a comic and it was also obvious from Rebels. That’s why the Sith are allowed to have as many Dark Jedi as they want since they are still a step below them which includes Ventress and Savage where Dooku trains them, but they aren’t considered true Sith. Dooku laughs at Ventress in Tartakovsky’s show when she claims she is one. It is a title that has to be earned.

      Grievous before he was turned into a joke by Filoni was the boogeyman who would be the ultimate Jedi killer and Dooku trained him. Dooku thought the plan was to have a Sith army with Anakin leading them from the ROTS novelization which George Lucas looked over, but Palpatine lied to him. Palpatine just wanted to live and rule forever where he was fine with constantly replacing apprentices and using Dark Jedi. He only considered his equal to be Anakin until the duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar. Darth Bane caused all of the Sith to essentially destroy themselves since he felt they were too weak and made the Rule of Two where a master would teach an apprentice until that apprentice would kill the master when the apprentice passed the master. Each Sith would be more powerful than the last one with the cycle. They could share power with random people, but never fully train them. They also kept things a secret for 1,000 years. Palpatine broke the cycle with Maul who he only used as an assassin and didn’t want anyone to pass him. Dooku never tried to take down Palpatine. Bane also brought back the Darth title since the Sith weren’t using it anymore. It doesn’t handicap them with the acolytes and followers. That’s the point of the Rule of Two until Palpatine and Plageuis who wanted to live forever. There’s plenty of examples where there were more Sith in the past and then the One Sith in the EU with thousands of them in the future. Darth Krayt was still at the top of the totem pole with the One Sith. I was just glad that the Sith troopers legions from TROS are named after Sith from the EU with Revan, Andeddu, and Tenebrous. Tenebrous was the master of Darth Plageuis.

    • Maybe they did the leg work to figure it all out, but I still think it’s a weak plot point that they need to work around rather than an interesting plot point that inspired more story lines. It limits rather than grows the franchise. My opinion obviously.

      Grievous was turned into a joke by Filoni? I think Filoni was just continuing the characterization from RotS. I actually liked Grievous better in Clone Wars than in Revenge. The Tartakovsky interpretation is in line with your description, but in RotS Grievous just coughs, runs away and loses a sword fight. That was the beginning of his deflation. If you didn’t watch the Tartakovsky stuff that’s all you knew about Grievous.

    • No Sith was out in the open for 1,000 years in order to set up the grand plan. That was the point where the Jedi thought they were dead. I think you should read the Darth Bane trilogy honestly or Jedi vs Sith at minimum. The Jedi vs Sith comic is available on ComiXology and a lot of it was adapted in the first Darth Bane novel. Then Darth Plageuis is a must read where George Lucas and Howard Roffman had input on that book. It was also marketed as canon before Disney bought Star Wars. Here is the problem with Grievous in Filoni’s show. I don’t believe that character could kill any Jedi when he is supposed to be the Jedi killer and that moniker doesn’t make sense. He was introduced in Tartakovsky’s show where he was the individual who scared Jedi and George Lucas said in featurettes on the volume 2 DVD that the show was the prologue to ROTS since the last 5 episodes led directly into ROTS. You see Grievous get his cough with getting crushed by Mace Windu so he was much weaker. Jedi would run away from him instead of the other way around which also was in comics and The Labyrinth of Evil novel. Then Filoni went full on joke Saturday morning cartoon villain. It’s not the character’s fault that most people were introduced to him in ROTS and doesn’t take away from the prior characterization. When Ahsoka has the most plot armor and gets Grievous to accidentally cut off his own hand as a 14 year old, you have gone too far with making him so terrible.

  4. Enjoyed listening to your iFanboy podcast review, but it’s just because I love listening to you guys 🙂 I’m not seeing this movie, like I haven’t seen “Solo” or “The Mandalorian.” I’ve loved Star Wars since ’77, even embraced “The Force Awakens” a few years back. But “The Last Jedi” extinguished any connection I felt to Disney’s version of Star Wars. Just took something I had so much fun with my whole life and strangled it. Now the idea of new Star Wars makes me nauseous.

    • If you, like me, loved THE FORCE AWAKENS but hated THE LAST JEDI, I really do think you would enjoy this one. They almost treat it like the last film didn’t really happen.

      But if you want to walk away, emotionally, from the new stuff that’s totally fine too!

  5. Glad to hear at least one of you love it as much as I do. But unlike you Conor, I also love Last Jedi. I think Johnson’s film perfectly teed up the last act. To me TLJ was a fairly standard Act 2 and effectively masked the major reveals of Ep IX. I disagree that Abrams erased The Last Jedi. He just concluded the 3rd Act character arcs and narrative turns that the 2nd Act had appropriately set up for him. Of course the narrative veered away from aspects of the 2nd Act—that’s how stories work!

    I severely doubt Johnson expected Ep IX to be chocked full of Holdo maneuvers. Or that it would focus on a Finn-Rose love story. And really Rose’s drop in screen time was basically on par with Yoda or Lando from ESB to ROTJ. For me she was always a secondary character that served a specific, limited purpose. A character that I loved, but I was fine having her step aside so that other new secondary characters could be introduced.

    After Force Awakens, I saw plenty of Rey-is-a-Palpatine fan theories. After Last Jedi-that theory was dead. As it turns out “your parents were nobodies” was the equivalent to “Vader killed your father.” It was a half-lie that, thank god, threw us off the scent.

    And can you imagine if we went into the last chapter with Snoke as the main villain? The reason the “Your Snoke Theory Sucks” meme was so resonant…is that all them did suck. It would have been terrible if at the end of Rise of Skywalker we learned that Snoke was Yoda’s father or the reanimated time-travelling corpse of Han Solo. Snoke was an uninteresting villain, and I’m happy he was just a red herring all along. Again, thank you Last Jedi for dispatching him and allowing the more appropriate and emotionally satisfying major villain to step in.

    Having the galaxy’s worlds seem scared or indifferent to the First Order in Last Jedi allowed the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings “the Eagles are coming” moment with all the ships appearing.

    I could drone on but I’ll stop. Anyway, I loved Rise of Skywalker. My 8 yr old daughter loved it. I’m really pleased it ended on such a strong note. And very grateful to both Johnson and Abrams for 3 excellent, complimentary films.

    • I agree that Last Jedi killing Snoke was the best thing about that movie. He died a lame death for a lame villain, and it gave us an excellent fight scene against his guards. I also didn’t mind Rose. I felt kinda sad for the character that she was pushed to the back in this one.

      So is this movie saying that Snoke was some sort of invention or byproduct of Palpatine’s immortality project? A half baked clone or something? If so I do kinda like the idea that Snoke was just a smokescreen for the Sith to give everyone something meaningless to focus on while they worked in the shadows.

    • @philomaster: I don’t know if he was a failed clone of Palpatine, but there was definitely a container of floating Snoak bodies in Palpatine’s lair.

    • The thing I was wondering about, were all the Sith acolytes in the arena also Snoke clones? I wish we’d got a sense if they were a hodgepodge of various alien species, a bunch of Snokes, or a bunch of Exogol-ians (?) On second thought, it was probably creepier to keep them hooded and mysterious. I loved all those Exogol scenes. Was more Giger than McQuarrie, but it was a perfect vibe for a Sith wizard fortress/mad scientist lab.

      Phillosmaster, my favorite thing about TLJ was the budding of the gothic romance thing. The Rey-Kylo relationship was disturbing and enthralling. To me it was the central relationship of the trilogy, and TLJ was largely responsible for its trajectory. The Force Awakens seeded it–with Daisy Ridley’s wonderful acting when Kylo took off his mask in the interrogation room. But then it really took off in Last Jedi with all the Force-time touching hands stuff and the “join me” moment in the throne room. In Rise of Skywalker, “I wanted to take Ben’s hand” really hit me–and plot-wise was an integral ingredient in the Rey-Han-Leia trifecta that finally cracked Kylo open. The kiss moment, on paper seems really hokey, but my breath hitched both times I saw it. It was extreme catharsis that I didn’t see coming.

      Also-I get that a lot of fans don’t like TLJ, and I completely respect that take. Not trying to win anyone over or score points. Just my own flawed viewpoint.

  6. The Rise of Skywalker has prequel connections where those fans weren’t screwed and it happens in the first 10 minutes before continuing later in the movie. Kylo Ren is on Mustafar in the beginning which was revealed in the Visual Dictionary where it is apparently healing so the wayfinder not being in Vader’s castle from Rogue One doesn’t make sense. I don’t get why it was buried in the woods. I also don’t understand how the second Death Star blew up and then somehow fell onto the moon of Endor with the throne room intact along with that door to the other wayfinder still working. Then the Sith dagger would had to have been made from the exact spot to perfectly line up after the Death Star crashed, but I digress.

    The entire justification for Palpatine returning is a line from ROTS that Palpatine says again in TROS which Chris Terrio as the writer confirmed at a Q&A with Palpatine saying, “The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” That is not in any way a good explanation especially compared to Dark Empire whether people liked that explanation or not. There was no real attempt made in the movie to explain how he returned. Ben resurrecting Rey was also a link to ROTS with Anakin’s grandson accomplishing what Anakin never could by saving the woman he cared about from dying. I thought that was pretty clear and obvious.

    Then there is a cameo from a battle droid behind C-3PO when his memories are about to be wiped which was revealed in the trailer in October at the 1:17 mark.


    JJ didn’t ignore the prequels at all. I found The Rise of Skywalker to be fun and entertaining if you question absolutely nothing since it has a lot of flaws and illogical things. If you do the math with Palpatine’s son being played by an actor who was 30 when Rey was left behind around 8, then Palpatine was around 65 when he impregnated a woman which is also around the time of ROTS. The threat that was referenced in the crawl also was recorded and ended up in Fortnite. I wish I was making that up where the crawl must have been made last minute since it’s unbelievable that the movie didn’t start with the threat where everyone hears him and you see their reactions. It’s completely baffling and doesn’t make sense like many things in the movie. Everything leaked from the movie where it was a production disaster and the kiss was a reshoot. Finn says he needs to tell Rey something twice which is that he is Force sensitive, but he never does where there isn’t a pay off. Here is the link to that threat in Fortnite by the way:


  7. Ditto to pretty much everything Conor said. ESB and TFA remain my favorites, but I had a blast with this one too.

  8. Saw it opening night in the local shoebox theater with a great crowd that was really into it. Then a second viewing with the fam on the huge IMAX screen in Indy. I don’t believe there were ever any full IMAX scenes, but it really didn’t matter. The PQ was great and the sound was one notch below deafening, just the way I like it. The crowd was a bit more staid, but still the appropriate amount of tittering when the kiss happened. In 2D of course. We’re not savages.

    Star Wars
    Return of the Jedi
    Force Awakens
    Rise of Skywalker
    Last Jedi
    Rogue One
    Revenge of the Sith
    Phantom Menace
    Attack of the Clones

    I legitimately love episodes 4 through 9. Am lukewarm on the two “a Star Wars Story” films. And actively dislike the prequels (apart from Ian McDiarmid’s performances, I suppose).

    Top 10 films all time, why not:
    Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars, Casablanca, Sunset Blvd., Seven Samurai, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mulholland Drive, Nausicaa, Spinal Tap, Dr Strangelove. ROTJ honorable mention.

  9. Porg bashing?! Really? You guys need to unclench your fist of hatred you have for Last Jedi to single out Porgs from the endless pointless product placement characters from the Disney/Star Wars film canon to pick on those lil’ guys.

    Really just redirect threat anger to double down on the new force powers created…physical objects moving through space? Or just back to more rainbow lightsabers….So much hate to go around

    My favorite part of the film was going to the 9am Fri show and having no one sit on either side of us…otherwise it was an enjoyable enough crammed mess. Once you survived the prequels, the bar for how bad a Star Wars film needs to be in order to be upsetting is quite high.

    The C3PO memory resurrection was unnecessary. He still had his personality for future capitalist exploitation and it undid any aspect of sacrifice. But maybe now that I’m older I identifying with him more, it’s my lot in life to suffer…

    And if you guys were old enough to have seen Original Trilogy in the theaters, Empire would be number one on your list. That movie blew my almost seven year old mind…it had to be equivalent to Gwen Stacy’s death in Amazing to readers at that time. Unprecedented…well maybe Watership Down…shudder.

    Also I would love to see someone’s proposed outline to the latest trilogy that they think was set up by Force Awakens had there been no Rian Johnson…Not sure how interesting these mythical films were going to be with such a rehashed set up.

    Cripes, I must really want to avoid Xmas gift prep to be writing this long. Thanks for another year of shows, good health and happiness to most of you…ok fine, all of you…it’s the holidays after all.

  10. While I’m largely with Conor on this (which is a bit of a change as our tastes tend to differ a lot) I must say, I liked it a lot more the second time around – which is uncommon for a post-OT Star Wars film. My appreciation for them tends to go down by at least a little bit on the second or third viewing. Hell, I loved episodes I and II the first time around and it was only on later viewings that I accepted how weak they are. ! But for this one, between worrying that they would let the side down and really noticing the flaws on the first go around, I was able to just sit back and enjoy all the tons that it gets right. Tons of manipulative fan service? You betcha. And yet so much of the best stuff to do with RoS was all about Rey and Kylo Ren. Whatever else you might say about the sequels, they were worth it for those two characters and actors alone.

    Here’s the big point of departure, though: I absolutely love The Last Jedi. I think it is, pretty easily, the best non-OT Star Wars movie to date and I just love how audacious Rian Johnson was with it and how he gave it a thematic complexity that’s not all that common for the series.

    The problem is – and this is where I’m once again back to all of your lines of thinking – that Rian Johnson and JJ Abrams have such radically different views on storytelling and on Star Wars that it became impossible to make a cohesive trilogy between the two of them. I’m a fan of both directors but they should each have been given their own trilogy to see all the way through.

    Instead, this final installment ultimately felt rushed precisely because JJ landed up trying to effectively cram the final two films in his trilogy into one movie, while also trying up or “correcting” (as he sees it) loose ends left by the Last Jedi. That it works as well as it does is actually pretty impressive.

    I do think this trilogy was badly planned but less in the sense that they didn’t have all the major plot points worked out (Lucas himself clearly made stuff up as he went along) but that Lucasfilm couldn’t decide on a single vision for the trilogy so they hired two radically different directors for the first two films and then when the third director fell out, had to rely on Abrams to close out the series, despite the series moving in a way that he undoubtedly would not have gone in himself.

    I absolutely agree that, in broad strokes, this is how the final installment should have played out (I think even Johnson would have given us an uplifting finale – that is what he was building to) but between the negative reaction by some to TLJ and Abrams being so different a filmmaker to Rian Johnson, the film spent so much time “playing nice” that the apparent death of Chewie, Hux’s turn and even Rey’s “death” (yeah, they do overuse this trick) are dealt with at such a sprint that they barely get a chance to register before they’re completely undone.

    Overall, despite bringing out the absolute worst in fans (I must admit, I laughed a bit with each new Force trick Rey was able to perform just because of how much it must have royally pissed off all those horrible “incel” people), I liked the sequel trilogy quite a bit. Is it my ideal followup to Return of the Jedi? Nope. Especially because I was such a fan of the Expanded Universe novels and comics when I was younger. It is a gigantic leap up from the prequels, though, and I do think it had waaaay more good things about it than bad (especially its note-perfect cast). I do hope that the powers that be spend a bit more time next time coming up with an actual vision.


    1. Empire.
    2. Star Wars
    3. Return of the Jedi (possibly my fave but even a hint of objectivity shows it to be the weakest of the OT)
    4. The Last Jedi
    5. The Force Awakens
    6. The Rise of Skywalker (5 and 6 are super close)
    7. Revenge of the Sith
    8. Rogue One
    9. Solo
    999. Attack of the Clones
    1000. The Phantom Menace

    • “Instead, this final installment ultimately felt rushed precisely because JJ landed up trying to effectively cram the final two films in his trilogy into one movie, while also trying up or “correcting” (as he sees it) loose ends left by the Last Jedi. That it works as well as it does is actually pretty impressive.”

      This is my biggest takeaway. The fact that it’s as good as it is and is as fun as it is shows what a talented filmmaker Abrams is.

  11. B.E.T. bump to Josh. Collectively, you guys pretty much feel as I did. This is the Aquaman of Star Wars films…overpacked, but enjoyable.

    “…was once a man….yesssssssSSSSSS”

  12. The Sith in the stands were ghosts weren’t they? I thought they were the spirits of the old Sith.

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