Hear Us Out

Hear Us Out: A Star Wars: Episode X Could Actually Be Great For Everything Not Skywalker

The Star Wars saga is so much bigger than the Skywalkers, and an Episode X is inevitable. Here's how and why we think it can work.

by | January 10, 2020 | Comments

In its rush to close out the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker left a lot on the table. Pretty much everything not directly related to Rey, Luke, Leia, Ben Solo, and Sheev Palpatine was left hanging for future storytellers to resolve in comics, novels, television shows, and, yes, future films. And, as it happens, at least a few ideas directly related to them are still in the margins as well. But with so much about the other characters (and the galaxy for that matter) unresolved, it would seem there is plenty of material for a direct follow-up to The Rise of Skywalker – an Episode X, as it were.

So let’s go on a thought experiment and consider what an Episode X might look like and why it may eventually be vital for Star Wars to continue to the episode saga… if perhaps in a slightly different way going forward.

Episode X Was Part Of The Original Plan

TM and ©copyright Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by TM and ©copyright Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved courtesy Everett Collection)

In the very early days of Star Wars success, George Lucas’ vision was very much in flux. As he has mentioned in numerous interviews, the film was the result of a massive 200-page script that more or less formed the backbone of the Original Trilogy (and, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, the eventual Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace). Early drafts also hinted at the sequels, with one revision directly telling the reader the Leia character would have a larger role in the next film.

But even as The Empire Strikes Back began to coalesce into a shooting script, Lucas and his collaborators considered a 12-episode series. That sequence was envisioned as more of a James Bond-style format, with fewer narrative ties between episodes and certain films acting more as preludes or epilogues to larger story ideas like the Clone Wars. It was abandoned in favor of a nine-episode story in which the later sequels would see Leia become “queen of her people,” Luke finding his sister (who was not initially intended to be Leia), and an Episode IX introduction of the Emperor. All of this changed as Lucas became disenchanted with Star Wars during the development of Return of the Jedi, which condensed several ideas from the later episodes into its plot.

Nonetheless, we totally expect the early references to the 12-episode cycle to become part of the Lucasfilm narrative when it inevitably announces Episode X.

And make no mistake, Episode X is inevitable.

A Matter of Timing

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Although inevitable, the timing of Episode X is less of a certainty. After its experiment with yearly Star Wars films proved untenable, Disney pulled back and cancelled all of its Star Wars Story spin-off pictures. A film is scheduled for a 2022 release – with a director reportedly already on board and subsequent films scheduled every two years afterward through 2026 – but it is understood this project will not continue story threads from the Skywalker Saga.

Granted, the possibility still exists that this film could be labeled as Episode X.

But presuming Disney sticks to its new plan of slightly more sporadic Star Wars film releases, an Episode X might be what people want after a decade away from the episodic saga and, seemingly, the forward momentum of Star Wars into an uncharted, post-Palpatine age.

A New New Republic?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, © Lucasfilm)

As much as the films are about the Skywalker clan struggling to save the galaxy, the are also about the galaxy’s own failure to prevent its fall into an Empire. Even in the Sequel Trilogy, we see its influence continue and the New Republic unable to cope with those remnants coalescing into the First Order.

It leaves the galaxy with the problem the Republic faced in the infamous Phantom Menace senate scenes: the centralized government is ill-equipped to prevent its own collapse. In its final form, the Sequel Trilogy was also not equipped to address this problem; it chose to wipe out the New Republic instead. So it leaves the remains of the Resistance with a different set of questions than those the Rebel Alliance faced after the Battle of Endor. For the latter, there was a stated goal of restoring the Republic. But will the weary Resistance fighters of the Sequel Trilogy want to do that?

In lieu of a Republic, Episode X could take us into a galaxy without that central leadership. It could be an era when the hyperspace routes are patrolled by more localized coalitions with uneasy alliances and a tacit agreement not to disrupt trade. If we need some familiar faces to give it Star Wars continuity, the Trade Federation could re-emerge as a power player as it maintains security along the spaceways.

Sure, it sounds a little dry – and maybe too much like The Phantom Menace for some – but it offers a new context in which to set up a new adventure. Perhaps a core group of Resistance fighters are still trying to restore the Republic. Or, maybe, just trying to survive in this more lawless galaxy is enough motivation for heroes new and old to engage in a star war.

The Fate Of The Jedi

John Wilson/© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

(Photo by John Wilson/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

We’ll be honest, the only final end for the Sith and the Jedi would be a galaxy-wide repudiation of the Force itself – something it seems cannot actually happen, as the Force will always find sentient beings happy to access its power. This means the fate of the Jedi must be decided beyond the vague allusions to the future at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. And while Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) story is seemingly done with her finding an identity, the Expanded Universe has taught us – to borrow a Watchmen line – nothing ever ends.

Your desire to see the restoration of the Jedi depends entirely on how much you like their view of the Force. We’ll admit the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game and its sequel colored our understanding of their absolutism. In that light, we hope the Order can emerge in the post-TROS time period as something more gray. Both the Prequel and Sequel Trilogies seemingly call for a notion of balance as well.

But it is possible that subtext is just too unruly for a continuing series of space adventure movies. Maybe the Order just needs to be unambiguously restored with Rey and Finn (John Boyega) leading the way. An Episode X in this vein could mirror something like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, with a young adherent learning the ways of the Force and, perhaps, undergoing a trial to face their own Dark Side. While the conflict would be more personal, it would reveal an Order more stabilized than we ever see in any of the films.

And in an interesting quirk, this new Order could be filled with all of those escaped stormtroopers like Finn and Jannah (Naomi Ackie), who felt the pull of the Force so strongly that it prevented them from engaging in the First Order’s oppression. Also, for just this moment, we’ll disregard the fact a bunch of former child soldiers are learning to become warrior magicians because we’re still trying to get an unambiguous victory here for the Jedi.

Allowing Other Stories To Advance

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, © Lucasfilm)

In concluding the Skywalker story, Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn, and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) were left by the wayside. New characters like Jannah, Zorri (Keri Russell), and Beaumont (Dominic Monaghan) barely had a moment to establish themselves before the final iris-out. And though the actors all seem pretty burned out on Star Wars at the moment – a common occurrence at the end of these trilogies – the characters deserve better.

Giving any one of them the lead position in Episode X would lead to interesting new directions and satisfy fans of those characters – yes, they exist – who felt they all got short shrift in the resolution of Rey and Ben’s (Adam Driver) story.

And since some of them are certainly underdeveloped, Episode X could be a film in which they receive that much-needed development. An ace X-Wing pilot, a former Stormtrooper, a mechanic, and a smuggler form a pretty strong starting point in terms of character dynamics. No doubt many Star Wars RPG parties are composed of that exact mixture right now. With the burden of Palpatine and the Skywalkers off their backs, this group could go chart some of the uncharted new galaxy left in The Rise of Skywalker’s wake.

Breaking The Trilogy Cycle

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Throughout this discussion, we’ve avoided looking at a potential Episode X as the beginning of a new trilogy for a very specific reason: the format no longer works for the open-ended narrative Star Wars evolved into. The fans’ love of the EU, the success of The Mandalorian, and Disney’s investment in the property as a whole means there can never be a true conclusion. Star Wars is a suite of storytelling tools now. And though commodified by a gigantic corporation, it is the modern mythology early fans always hoped it would become. Star Wars would continue even if there wasn’t a huge monetary benefit in its longevity.

At the same time, it still needs a major storyline to anchor the various ways people interact with the mythology. Episode X could be the beginning of a new saga structure. Like the looser concept of the 12-episode cycle, new Star Wars episode films could be more complete story units on their own while furthering an overall vision of the post-Skywalker galaxy. Sure, it could become as vast and unwieldy as the old EU and its tiered canon structure, but the essential bits of Star Wars lore are for another civilization to agree on a long, long time from now. For those of us living in it, it means an almost boundless array of Star Wars ideas to call our own, while we occasionally gather together for a new episode. And that next new planet, character, or idea may be reason enough for Episode X to become a reality.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

YouTube Red crime drama Awards Tour hist die hard 71st Emmy Awards medical drama south america Elton John social media CNN psycho discovery nfl Awards ITV rom-coms Watching Series stoner E! Lucasfilm hidden camera boxoffice spinoff BAFTA mutant period drama IFC Films Summer game show archives cartoon space ghosts streaming GIFs Marathons 2016 Trailer joker crime thriller Spike CW Seed concert Netflix Christmas movies nbcuniversal The CW Polls and Games Rom-Com finale Endgame razzies singing competition Lionsgate President Opinion cancelled TV series reboot BET Awards remakes Columbia Pictures technology HBO LGBTQ Set visit Mudbound YouTube television Logo FX TIFF Sneak Peek Freeform Arrowverse indie Box Office Valentine's Day Apple TV Plus cults book Emmys Discovery Channel jurassic park documentaries SXSW prank Paramount Network ViacomCBS Hallmark 24 frames binge San Diego Comic-Con Disney streaming service best Turner Classic Movies Broadway Red Carpet Universal Heroines spanish language CBS All Access fast and furious sequels GLAAD 2020 Mary Tyler Moore Mary Poppins Returns festivals Starz superhero jamie lee curtis Marvel Pop TV YA First Reviews Anna Paquin child's play The Walking Dead mission: impossible Showtime See It Skip It The Arrangement Comedy Central Adult Swim video on demand Fall TV telelvision chucky scary movies nature Hallmark Christmas movies cooking Tubi zero dark thirty spy thriller Lifetime Christmas movies stop motion Disney movies CBS venice comiccon Crackle cars Fox Searchlight Avengers blockbuster toronto Tumblr Cannes Superheroe hispanic A24 Brie Larson universal monsters Nat Geo OWN natural history Walt Disney Pictures El Rey Disney Channel Infographic cinemax casting Drama Character Guide screen actors guild Travel Channel dragons festival politics supernatural asian-american TNT name the review boxing science fiction Horror tv talk Pop crossover DC Universe Emmy Nominations Disney Plus Fox News movie toy story news halloween tv cancelled television 007 Nickelodeon worst anime political drama pirates of the caribbean Mindy Kaling PlayStation comic books The Purge french slashers Acorn TV Holidays Hear Us Out richard e. Grant kids USA Network crime australia dramedy true crime spanish Christmas The Walt Disney Company indiana jones breaking bad classics obituary romance Toys PBS Year in Review Musical Marvel Studios Reality Competition BBC Thanksgiving Certified Fresh Black Mirror TV Land DC Comics series New York Comic Con Sundance FX on Hulu Spectrum Originals werewolf Grammys witnail Esquire Netflix ratings kaiju golden globes Chilling Adventures of Sabrina DC streaming service Extras Fantasy ABC satire Lifetime police drama The Academy PaleyFest YouTube Premium Writers Guild of America Pirates Star Wars twilight comic disaster TCA 2017 BBC One Reality Creative Arts Emmys TCA Awards Black History Month a nightmare on elm street video Syfy Paramount Plus vampires travel adventure Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Oscars docuseries Sony Pictures king kong football CMT Classic Film unscripted National Geographic 20th Century Fox batman doctor who harry potter foreign WGN Rock RT History Winners GoT Women's History Month IFC directors reviews comedies popular scorecard ESPN aliens romantic comedy Rocketman TruTV TBS Family superman fresh dceu franchise quibi renewed TV shows mockumentary A&E adaptation Dark Horse Comics First Look golden globe awards zombie SundanceTV Pixar ABC Family 21st Century Fox biography Binge Guide Song of Ice and Fire Epix Ovation worst movies black X-Men canceled Television Academy 2017 DirecTV dogs MCU films theme song deadpool cats TV renewals 2018 blaxploitation transformers Comedy Western spain strong female leads halloween Cosplay christmas movies elevated horror Funimation Biopics comics Best and Worst USA 72 Emmy Awards BBC America psychological thriller Amazon Prime rt archives History italian 45 Music versus Ellie Kemper LGBT Tomatazos latino emmy awards Apple Vudu TCA Winter 2020 criterion Kids & Family ID Britbox 2019 Trophy Talk RT21 2021 zombies 2015 Trivia APB Video Games spider-man Mystery Shondaland all-time sports cancelled critics Amazon teaser robots HBO Max Election Cartoon Network animated TLC Nominations Spring TV parents justice league Shudder Star Trek Turner American Society of Cinematographers Alien war Interview Martial Arts Pride Month Film Festival Calendar SDCC sitcom Animation green book award winner Countdown Tarantino docudrama Captain marvel dark Peacock diversity blockbusters Comics on TV composers historical drama laika Quiz BET TV Marvel Television Warner Bros. facebook Exclusive Video TCM Musicals The Witch Television Critics Association rotten movies we love james bond independent Super Bowl VICE stand-up comedy free movies Stephen King Teen dc Country revenge screenings Amazon Prime Video Superheroes HBO Go TV One TCA DGA Disney+ Disney Plus sequel Winter TV NYCC Baby Yoda cops hollywood Hulu japanese sag awards Mary poppins miniseries Academy Awards Apple TV+ talk show Ghostbusters kong Amazon Studios Rocky 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards what to watch NBC ABC Signature AMC rotten Podcast Chernobyl women trailers 99% serial killer Holiday Masterpiece Bravo godzilla Food Network Legendary Photos VH1 based on movie OneApp cancelled TV shows children's TV monster movies Crunchyroll MTV Comic Book FOX Action canceled TV shows VOD Premiere Dates documentary Sundance TV Film game of thrones Sundance Now Pet Sematary Sci-Fi FXX MSNBC Schedule thriller E3 WarnerMedia 4/20 Paramount anthology