There’s a lot going on in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. From the introduction of several new MacGuffins to the completion of pretty much every single character arc that began in The Force Awakens. The movie is stuffed full of story elements. The result is a story that doesn’t always get enough time to fully resonate or settle with the audience, always moving at break-neck speed. That’s something co-writer Chris Terrio realizes too, and given the choice. He would have split the story into two movies.
Terrio co-wrote The Rise of Skywalker with director J.J. Abrams. And he’s been making the promotional rounds while the movie is topping the box office at the end of the year. During an interview with Awards Daily. Terrio was asked whether there was any talk about splitting this final chapter into two movies. It doesn’t sound like it was ever an option that was seriously considered. But Terrio would have liked to see that happen:
“I wish we could have done that. There is a lot of plot in the movie, and as a writer. You always want scenes to let the plot breathe more. If there were a way of doing it, splitting it would have been my dream. We could have written these characters forever. There was so much backstory that had to be left by the wayside. I wish that we could have that, but George always said it was nine movies. That was the natural size of the saga, and so, other than a few initial discussions.
We never really advanced that conversation. Of course, as a writer, it breaks your heart to leave stuff on the table that you think would have given the story more depth and nuance and give the characters more to do. Speaking for myself and not on the part of the studio. I do wish there could have been a Part 1 and a Part 2.”
The lack of backstory for some of the new plot devices and characters seems to be where a lot of the problems lie with The Rise of Skywalker, at least for those who walked away disappointed in the finale. In fact, Terrio thinks one of the plot devices introduced in the very first scene of the movie could have fueled an entire film. In an interview with IndieWire. Terrio imagined what the first part of a possible two-part finale would have entailed:
“We probably could have written a whole movie that was just a lead up to Kylo Ren going to get the wayfinders. Kylo Ren trying to take on a Henry the Fifth story, right? Where he now is the king, and he had to sort of earn the throne. And now, how will he perform as Supreme Leader? … At the beginning of the film, yes, he’s out to destroy any threat to his power.
He’s searching for this legendary world that might be the source of the voice. But quite literally, the galaxy hears a broadcast, which is the voice of Palpatine, and then in the course of the first scene, we learn that Kylo Ren literally has heard in his head the same thing. If you look back at the scenes in ‘Episode 7,’ where Kylo Ren is sort of fetishizing the [Darth Vader] mask and stuff, you think slightly differently about those on re-watch after learning that Palpatine has been every voice Kylo Ren has ever heard.”
The idea that everything has led to this, albeit in a fashion that feels pieced together rather than conceived as a complete story, is a good one. But personally, I think the speed with which these answers and connections are revealed. All while trying to introduce a bunch of new details, is a detriment to the overall story.
Imagining a conclusion to the Skywalker saga that broke the mold and finished as a two-part finale like the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight franchises, or the recent one-two punch of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, is rather enticing. There could be an entire movie where Kylo Ren and Rey are both searching for the Sith wayfinder, both with their own voice drawing them to the same outcome. That movie could have kept the secret of the Emperor’s return for a reveal at the end of the movie. Perhaps even using the tease of Rey’s identity as a cliffhanger for the second part.
As Terrio said, splitting the movie in two would have allowed much more time for the story to breathe. And everything wouldn’t have felt so rushed. It might have even allowed for Rose Tico to have a more significant role instead of being sidelined. But alas, that’s not what happened. And we have to accept that this is the end, whether we like it or not.