The Last Skywalker 🎥
There has been much discussion about the merits and failings of The Rise of Skywalker, and in particular the narrative tensions between that film and its immediate predecessor in the series, The Last Jedi. The character arcs seem to bend to the point of breaking, and in particular the romantic relationships are confusing and unsatisfying to many viewers. Why does Finn go from having three potential life partners to having none? Why does Rose also end up alone, and indeed barely even present? What is the purpose of introducing Zorii as one of Poe‘s past partners? Is Jannah supposed to be anything more than a potential love interest for Finn?*
And finally, why does the film largely revolve around the most controversial of relationships, that between Rey and Kylo/Ben? There‘s no reason that the redemption of Ben Solo requires having that last kiss. Are we to believe that it is Ben‘s pure love for Rey which prompts him to make the ultimate sacrifice and save her life? Or was it the literal last appeal of this mother, prompting his own memories of his father, which causes him to turn back to the light? Might it not have been a better and more fit ending for him to make that sacrifice, and as his last act to make a sincere and heartfelt apology for all of the vile and manipulative abuse to which he had subjected Rey in all three films?
One can speculate that Ben‘s redemption was part of the story from the beginning, an obvious parallel to that of Anakin/Vader in Return of the Jedi. In that case it was not romantic love but family bonds which broke the ties to the dark side; it would have been much better to make that explicit in the finale, with Leia serving as the family connection who opens Ben‘s eyes to the horrors he has committed and giving him a path to redemption. This is but one of the many sad consequences of Carrie Fisher‘s untimely death, that Leia was not really present to save Ben, and perhaps the last Skywalker film as well.
* She‘d better not be his sister. She certainly should not be a potential love interest for Lando. I mean, he’s old enough to be her father…