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

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