10 (probably wrong) predictions for Star Wars Episode VIII

Posted: January 2, 2016 in Film



So I’ve now seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens twice, and my mind is already on Episode VIII. Very little has been revealed so far about what will happen, though the full main cast has been confirmed to return (presumably not including Harrison Ford/Han in any significant sense). Thus, to fill in the gaps, speculation is already rampant about where SW8 will go…and I think a lot of this is missing the point.

With Rian Johnson, a director considered outside the mainstream known for directing ‘weird’ sci-fi films, installed at the helm, most observers are expecting a film that subverts expectations – and yet at the same time, many of the predictions for the plot of the film are fairly standard, based around previous Star Wars ideas. I’m not so sure about this. It seems likely to me we’re going to see a Star Wars film unlike any other, including The Empire Strikes Back (ESB from here), though of course there will be similarities.

With that in mind, here are ten predictions of things I think will probably happen that very few people seem to be talking about at the moment:

  1. The time gap between TFA and SW8 will be bigger than anticipated

There seems to be a basic assumption that SW8 will largely pick up where TFA leaves off – the filming already done at Skellig Michael, where the final scene in TFA was set, has drawn people into thinking that. There is a further assumption that what we will see (perhaps the driving point of the film) is Luke training Rey, and possibly Snoke training Kylo Ren at the same time.

I really doubt this. No Star Wars film has ever picked up where the previous film left off. There has always been a gap in time, in which other things have happened. With SW8, I suspect they will leave enough of a gap that we won’t actually see much of Rey’s training (assuming it even happens), and likewise for Kylo Ren’s. Instead, we are more likely to see a more developed Rey and Kylo Ren from the start, and that is probably more interesting. The fact is a lot of Jedi training isn’t going to be particularly enthralling to watch – hence why we didn’t see much of it during ESB – so you can’t just start a film with that.

I suspect the ‘good guy’ focus from the start will be on Finn and other supporting characters. This makes more sense given that Finn to me is ideally placed to lead the early part of the film, as he has depth and is a more complete character, without being bogged down by being a Jedi. We’ll find out more about Rey as the film progresses.


  1. Where TFA was about triumph, SW8 will be about failure

When comparing the original Star Wars (A New Hope) and ESB, the difference in tone is often the first thing that springs to mind: ANH is light, ESB is dark. But this also includes the resolution. ANH was meant to be a stand-alone adventure film; George Lucas did not originally intend for their to be a series of films after, since there was no guarantee of it until ANH became an enormous success. Thus, it resolves itself. It works on its own. ESB was a sequel but also meant as a way of setting up a potential third film. It’s also about creating depth, to both the galaxy and the characters. And it’s about creating jeopardy.

ESB is a story of failure: the rebels get beaten on Hoth; Han, Leia and Chewy are on the run from the Empire for most of the film; Luke bails on his training; Han is caught and frozen into carbonite; Luke gets his hand cut off and finds out his father is evil; Leia escapes from the clutches of the Empire but only thanks to the help of someone she doesn’t trust, who now has possession of the Millennium Falcon. It’s a pretty bleak film.

This is why I think Johnson being in charge is key: he makes dark films. The second act of three is always the one that leaves the heroes in a bad place, with all hope gone and victory seemingly unlikely. This is one of the many things Lucas got so drastically wrong with the Prequel Trilogy; I don’t even know what Attack of the Clones is meant to be.

If people are expecting this to be another TFA-esque riot where Luke trains Rey successfully, they team up again with Finn and co, and successfully smash the First Order again, they are probably going to be very surprised. This is the episode where things have to go wrong. TFA gave the good guys hope; SW8 has to be where it is taken away, before it is all resolved in SW9. Otherwise, where is the tension for SW9? It would just imply that victory is a formality. There has to be something at stake in SW9, otherwise fewer people will come back to see it and Disney will get pissed off.

Specifically, I see the film dealing with several failures: the failure of Luke’s academy and his training of Ben Solo; the likely failure of Rey to defeat Kylo Ren; the failure of the Resistance to finish off the First Order.

And there has to be a very dark ending. ESB effectively ended with Vader cutting Luke’s hand off and telling him and that he’s his father. The entire film builds to that. While I don’t expect SW8 to be a mirror of ESB in the same way TFA was a mirror of ANH, I suspect the film will have that structure…


  1. There will be a big reveal, but it will be something we don’t currently expect

The tension in the film will build. We won’t know why, but it will build to the climax and something will happen – something will be revealed.

I know this is a bit of a cop-out, but I just don’t think we can tell. No doubt it’ll be assumed that it will be some kind of reveal of parenting – perhaps the idea that Luke is Rey’s father (more on that later) or Snoke’s background (ditto). However, what is the point of a big reveal if it’s going to be something most viewers would have guessed a long time ago?

No, this will be genuinely shocking like the Vader/Anakin reveal that people didn’t see coming. The promotion of the film has played up links to the Original Trilogy, and one of the things the OT did was lie to us – at least in theory. Today we know that Vader wasn’t meant to be Luke’s father and Leia wasn’t meant to be his sister, but within the Star Wars canon, these now set the standard. It also fits the format of what Lucas based Star Wars on: the old Western serials, with their shocking reveals and cliffhanger endings.

I do have some theories, though…


  1. Luke will die (or at least be unable to help)

As I said, if this film is going to follow a similar trajectory to ESB, it has to leave our heroes without hope at the end of it. At the end of TFA, they are clearly the stronger side: the First Order has lost Starkiller Base and loads of troops, while Luke has now been found and Rey is already stronger than Kylo Ren before even being trained. This has the potential to be a very one-sided context.

Therefore, it stands to reason that to tip the balance the other way, something incredibly shocking and damaging has to happen. The only thing that could possibly be that destructive is Luke being gone again.

Think about it. So much hope is invested in his return – and so much fear is held towards him on the Dark Side. It would be an absolute game-changer if the First Order could somehow get rid of him, or maybe get him onside.

I don’t think Luke will actually feature much in SW8, despite expectations. He’ll at least get lines, of course, but those who are expecting the Luke of the OT to return in style are very much mistake – it just simply wouldn’t work. Mark Hamill’s too old for that now. It makes more sense to have him as a wise, contemplative figure for at least most of the film.

There would be nothing more shocking that if Luke were to be killed either by a far more powerful Kylo Ren or by Snoke himself. It would leave the question ‘if Luke couldn’t defeat them, how can Rey?’ open for SW9 to resolve. Obviously they have to get it right but there would be nothing better to establish the power of the Dark Side than killing off the most powerful Jedi.

Of course there are other ways he could be off the scene as far as the good guys are concerned: he could be incapacitated; he could run away again; he could turn evil; he could do something very questionable which causes others to no longer trust him; or he could simply stay on the island saying ‘I’m too old for this shit’.

But certainly by the end of the film the heroes will not be able to call on Luke’s physical help for SW9; this is something they have to do on their own, because this is their trilogy, not Luke’s.


  1. Snoke is Darth Plagueis

While I am dubious of a lot of the theories fans have come up with so far, this is the one that does make the most sense to me – and not just because the Snoke motif sounds pretty much the same as the music played in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine was talking about Plagueis.

There is a certain amount of scepticism about this, mainly based around the idea that it makes no sense to bring in a character that was mentioned in one scene of one episode of the Prequel Trilogy. However, to me, it still makes more sense than the alternative: that he’s just some new big bad villain they have parachuted in for this.

Given that we are told Snoke is very old, is presumably very powerful in the Dark Side of the Force and has been through a lot, this is someone who was around for both the PT and OT time periods, and yet we are meant to believe he had nothing to do with anything that happened in any of them – or at least if he did, it was a total secret.

I find that very difficult to believe, and it would stretch the audience’s credulity. It would essentially establish that for any Star Wars film, you can just invent some bad guy, say he’s been around a while with some tenuous back story, and have him being taken down by the current band of heroes. That would potentially be quite damaging to the credibility of the Star Wars film franchise.

It makes far more sense that the ‘new’ bad guy for this trilogy is Palpatine’s master who managed to cheat death, and that Palpy was just an idiot for assuming that he had eliminated him. That way, you have a villain with an already-established background within the films, who we already know is one of the most powerful Sith Lords ever, a far more intimidating villain than even Palpatine, and someone who is seemingly impossible to kill.

This doesn’t have to be a big reveal moment – in fact, it wouldn’t make sense to be one, since most audience members wouldn’t remember it. But it would help establish wider significance to this series of films, rather than just have them being based around beating Just Another Bad Guy.

Given that Snoke would thus effectively be Space Voldemort, SW9 would then be established as Star Wars: The Deathly Hallows, based around a quest to find a way of killing him. This would also fit with my previous theory of Luke dying, because it would match Dumbledore’s death in The Half-Blood Prince.

Of course such parallels with the Harry Potter would be questionable, but this is still ten times more interesting than the most obvious alternative.


  1. Luke isn’t Rey’s father

Yes, they will find a way of subverting this. Given that all the noticeable signs point to Luke being Rey’s father, I’m fairly sure that she probably won’t be. It just seems too obvious. But there is also evidence that points to this.

The problem is this, which a lot of people have missed: Rey was left on Jakku at 4 or 5 years old. That’s old enough to be relatively self-aware – or to put it simply, she knows who she is and who her parents are. If the father she knew was Luke, she would have mentioned this already to Han and Leia – even if she didn’t know Leia was his sister and Han was her ex-husband, she knows that Han knew Luke and that Leia is searching for him. She also would have recognised Luke in the final scene.

However, in the film, she doesn’t recognise Luke and he doesn’t recognise her, and when his name is mentioned earlier in the film, she reacts like he’s a figure of mythology, not her father. Even in the conversation with Maz Kanata, she refers to him as ‘Luke’. Of course, this doesn’t mean he isn’t her father – she could have been adopted, raised by her mother on her own (although she definitely talks of ‘family’ as a plural, and ‘parents’ are mentioned in some of the supporting literature), or she is just very good at acting. But I somehow doubt it.

She is waiting on Jakku for her parents. She knows who those parents are. And I think the story of SW8 will partially revolve around who those parents are, not just literally but also figuratively. My suspicions after the second viewing are that they aren’t Skywalkers, but that they have some kind of connection to them; after all, Kylo Ren seems to know who she is.

I was dismissive of the theory that she’s Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter, and I’m still doubtful, but it’s possible. However, I think they are more likely to be new characters, and that they could actually be on the Empire/First Order side, which would make for a very interesting backstory; she may have been old enough to know who they are when they dropped her off, but she won’t have been old enough to know what they did. Perhaps this is who Benicio del Toro is meant to be playing.

I will cover my arse and say that it’s still possible that Luke could still be her father, but if he is, this won’t be the major reveal of SW8. In fact, if this is the case, Rey may be the one revealing to Luke that she is his daughter, not the other way around. In this scenario, the major reveal would likely be the identity of the mother – and I hope that the mother would be an interesting character who would potentially be still alive (and maybe evil) rather than just another dead Jedi, being reduced to the role of baby-carrier for the sake of the plot.


  1. Rey is a pseudonym

This may work regardless of who her parents are. One of the lines that has seemingly been overlooked from TFA is that when BB-8 tells Rey he is classified, she responds ‘me too’. This suggests she is hiding something, which fits with the idea that she knows who her parents are.

Additionally, the books tell us that the helmet she has at her makeshift home in the AT-AT walker belonged to a pilot called Dosmit Raeh (pronounced the same as Rey, presumably). To me, that seems to hint that she may have used the name as a pseudonym for herself if she was keeping her identity a secret. This would make sense if her parents were significant figures, like Luke Skywalker and his partner.

It’s also worth remembering that for much of shooting, Rey’s name was Kira, which could also be a sign of dual identity. Obviously none of this is guaranteed but things would look a lot clearer in hindsight if we were to find out this is true.


  1. Kylo Ren won’t be redeemed (yet)

I’ve seen a few people suggest that this will/should happen in SW8, but I think it’s far too soon. Any redemption for Kylo/Ben will not come until SW9, barring something ridiculous happening in SW8 like Luke turning evil.

Actually, to continue the Harry Potter parallels, I see him eventually turning into more of a Snape. I don’t mean there will be a massive conspiracy where it’ll turn out he actually killed Han because Han wanted him to and it was all effectively pre-arranged. But as far as appearances go, he’ll continue to be evil for SW8, and grow more powerful in the process.

The switch would have to happen in SW9, if it happens at all (and I think it will, given that TFA hinted at internal conflict), because of the structure of the trilogy. If he switches in SW8, there’s not much tension left for SW9 – it would be everyone against Snoke. Snoke has to have an ally or apprentice of some kind, otherwise the battle just becomes even more one-sided than it already appears to be.

Instead, like Snape, Kylo will remain on the Dark Side until towards the end of SW9 where Snoke will kill him while he tries to help the heroes kill Snoke. It’s pretty obvious to me that whatever happens, he’s probably going to die a hero.


  1. We will get no more on Finn’s back story

I think this one is done. There has been a lot of speculation linking him to the only two other major black characters in Star Wars, Lando and Mace Windu, but I really don’t see it. The film makers were no doubt keen for a black character to have a major role, and I’m pretty sure they will also have been keen for that black character to be a stand-alone and not just there because he’s related to someone from before.

The truth is probably just the simple story he told us: that he was snatched as a kid away from parents he never really knew and conditioned to become a stormtrooper. Maybe we’ll get more on why he chose to abscond, but I don’t know if we’ll get that in a film. There are far more interesting back stories to explore and Finn will end up like Han: being an interesting character because of the depth he has, without ever fully explaining that depth. Not every back story has to be told in the films.


  1. Poe Dameron will not have a huge role

Over the last few weeks, Oscar Isaac confirmed that Poe was initially planned to die in the TIE fighter crash in the first part of the film, which is an interesting twist considering when the cast was first announced, it was assumed that he would be part of a new trio (unless of course the plan changed very early on, which is perfectly possible).

As a result, I don’t see Poe becoming part of a new trio with Finn and Rey. In fact, there may be no trio at all. After all, only the OT had a trio – and even then, it wasn’t really a trio, considering Chewbacca and the droids were around too. It is possible that the decision to not kill off Poe will lead to him taking on a more prominent role, but I do wonder that if they tried that he would end up being superfluous.

I think he’ll be around for all of this trilogy but he won’t become the new Han like most people were initially expecting; he’s more likely to be there in the background, leading the X-wings on missions and the like, but without ever being a central character.

Instead, this trilogy will be about Rey and Finn, with the only option for further additions being new characters – there’s a rumour doing the rounds about SW8 casting for a daughter of Han and Leia, which I’m not prepared to believe yet but is certainly possible.

  1. Wedge says:

    Rey Antilles

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