The Rise of Skywalker was the most highly anticipated movie of 2019, and it’s not hard to understand why. This thing was supposed to wrap up the central storyline of the most beloved movie franchise of all time. It had to resolve a bunch of different plotlines and offer satisfying conclusions to numerous Star Wars character arcs, while at the same time providing emotional closure for fans who’ve been following along for the last four decades. Everybody was dying to see if writer Chris Terrio and writer/director J.J. Abrams could pull it off.
So did Terrio and Abrams pull it off? Unfortunately, a lot of critics and fans knocked The Rise of Skywalker for its lack of imagination. And when it comes to the big picture stuff, these complaints were mostly right. When you watch the film for the first time, The Rise of Skywalker does not seem to break much new ground. That being said, now that the movie is available to stream on Disney+, people are finding all sorts of Easter eggs, references, and callbacks they did not notice before. And these subtle references add a lot of rich emotional context.
Want some examples of what we’re talking about? Below are five awesome easter eggs that will make you want to go back and rewatch The Rise of Skywalker.
WARNING: major spoilers ahead!
Luke's Lightsaber Reference
At one point in The Rise of Skywalker, Rey becomes disillusioned with the Force and decides to exile herself on Ahch-To like her old master, Luke. Once there, she attempts to throw away Luke’s old lightsaber. However, Luke shows up as a force ghost and catches it. Then he admonishes Rey and tells her that a Jedi must treat her lightsaber with respect. This short sequence is an obvious reference to the beginning of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, when it was Luke who irreverently discards the lightsaber. And you can’t help but wonder if this is J.J. Abrams’s way of saying Rian Johnson should have treated Star Wars with more respect.
The 42-Year Festival's Hidden Meaning
Early on in Rise of Skywalker, Rey and company set off on a mission to find a Sith Wayfinder so they can locate the planet Exegol and destroy Palpatine before he destroys the Resistance. However, when they arrive on Pasana, they are surprised to learn that the entire planet is taking part in a massive celebration that only occurs every 42 years. What’s so significant about the number 42? When Rise of Skywalker was released in December of 2019, it had been 42 years since the premiere of the original Star Wars. So that party on Pasana was basically a giant Star Wars birthday party.
Back in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine tells Anakin that the Sith have discovered how to bring people back from the dead, implying that the only way Anakin can save Padme from death is by joining the dark side. In The Rise of Skywalker, while talking to Ben “Kylo Ren” Solo, Palpatine repeats what he said to Anakin word for word: “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” This is a callback to THE central choice that drives the entire Skywalker Saga—Anakin’s choice to join forces with Palpatine. However, Ben eventually discovers that Palpatine is lying. Joining the dark side is not the only way to prevent the ones you love from dying. Rey shows him that the light side of the Force can be used to heal, and in the end, Ben sacrifices himself so that Rey can live. In doing so, Ben makes his grandfather’s life that much more tragic. If Anakin wasn’t so consumed by fear and anger, he really could have saved Padme.
A lot of fans didn’t like the way Kylo Ren had a pretend convo with his dead dad on the ocean moon of Kef Bir. However, there’s no denying that this scene provided one of the most touching callbacks in the entire sequel trilogy. In it, Kylo admits to Han Solo that he is feeling the pull of the light, and he tries to tell his dad that he loves him, but he can’t quite get the words out. Luckily, Han helps him out, saying, “I know,” which is exactly what Han said to Leia when she told him she loved him right before he was frozen in carbonite back in Empire Strikes Back. However, whereas the Empire “I know” shows how cocky Han Solo is, in Rise of Skywalker it’s the perfect way to cap a beautiful moment of reconciliation between a father and son... even if it imaginary.
Justice For Chewbacca
One thing that’s bugged Star Wars fans for over 40 years is the fact that only Luke and Han receive medals at the end of A New Hope, while Chewbacca— who did just as much to save Princess Leia and destroy the Death Star as either of them—has to stand on stage and watch. Talk about an insult to Wookies! Of course, George Lucas later explained that Chewie didn’t get a medal because Wookies don’t care about awards, and a Star Wars comic recently rewrote history and said Chewbacca actually did get a medal, but that he gave it away. However, The Rise of Skywalker rectified the oversight in a much more emotionally satisfying way. At the end of the film, after the bad guys are defeated, Maz Katana presents Chewie, the last surviving member of the heroes of the original trilogy, with Han’s medal.
If that doesn’t give you goosebumps when you rewatch The Rise of Skywalker, nothing will.