(minor spoilers for the Rise of Skywalker follow)
About halfway through The Rise of Skywalker I found myself stricken by a sort of Nietzschean gloom. Despite the best efforts of literally everyone, Emperor Sheev (this is actually his first name) Palpatine had returned; bigger, badder, and more evil than ever. Lost in the initial rush of Kylo Ren discovering Sheev’s spooky new lair was the eventual terrifying realization that, much like our own lives, nothing about the previous eight movies mattered.
Remember when Darth Vader heroically sacrificed himself to save Luke, hurling Emperor Palpatine AKA Darth Sideous AKA Sheev down into the reactor core of the Death Star, thus ending both the Sith and the Galactic Empire? Such happy times. Also, no one down on Endor’s moon was crushed by debris from the Death Star being exploded. I guess Star Wars has always been kind of stupid.
Anyway, none of that stupid shit mattered. All that shit about Anakin being the Chosen One; destined to restore balance to the force? Sorry kiddo, you’ve been fucking Sheev’d. You think blowing up multiple versions of the Death Star means a fucking thing to SHEEV? If you have already seen The Rise of Skywalker, this question was answered by Sheev using his Mega Force Lightning to literally zap tens of thousands of space ships out of the air. He cannot be stopped.
I mean, I guess Rey stopped him this time? But I’ve seen Sheev die before, when he was hurled into the aforementioned reactor core. Who is to say that he is really dead now? Only Sheev knows the answer to that question. Like the contrived plot of a heist film, Sheev is always one step ahead. He has clones, maybe? Or he can regenerate like a starfish. Who knows? It’s fucking Sheev. Everything is Sheev.
This new trilogy, which was allegedly a new story in the saga and not a thinly-veiled cash grab by a massive corporation looking to turn a quick profit on their latest acquisition, raised a lot of questions. Where did the First Order come from? Who the fuck is this Snoke guy? What happened to all that feel good shit at the end of Return of the Jedi? Surprise! The answer to all of those questions is Sheev. Sheev the Immortal. Lightning Sheev McQueen. Bow to your only God.
Sheev is probably the only cohesive thing about these movies. Forget about the Skywalker clan. The Star Wars franchise is actually all about Sheev: The Rise of Sheev, the Fall of Sheev, Sheev Reborn, Sheev Forever, Sheev Falls Again (but mark my words, he will return). Time is a flat circle controlled by Sheev; maniacally cackling, withered skin folds drooping ominously under his sickly yellow eyes. Sheev, who apparently fucks and, despite his disgusting appearance, has enough of the right genes to co-produce someone as hot as Daisy Ridley.
The story with The Last Jedi is that director Rian Johnson was trying to make some sort of meta commentary about how the past doesn’t matter, specifically past events in fictional worlds inhabited by wizards who fight with high voltage glow sticks. By turning Luke into a bitter old douchebag and killing Snoke without explaining who he was (spoilers: SHEEV), Johnson subverted our expectations that anything about Star Wars should make sense. He also subverted expectations for a good movie by making a really bad one.
Critic consensus for The Rise of Skywalker has savaged the film for retconning most of The Last Jedi, which critics continue to insist is not a movie that everyone hates (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary). But much like their assessment of the The Last Jedi, the critics are wrong about that movie being retconned by The Rise of Skywalker – if anything, the final installment of the trilogy reinforces the themes of existential absurdity put forth by Rian Johnson while he was busy recklessly dismantling the franchise.
I say this because of Sheev. Rian Johnson told us to Kill the Past, and JJ Abrams responded by invalidating the previous eight movies like the Octomom at a Planned Parenthood. All those heroics were for naught, because Sheev. Now that the tumultuous Saga of Skywalker (but not Sheev) has finally come to a close, Disney has allegedly sworn off producing any future Star Wars trilogies. Presumably, this is because they are planning to launch a twenty film Marvelous-Style Star Wars reboot, with Sheev in the Ironman role. Because without Sheev, there is no Star Wars. He is eternal, just waiting to inhabit another clone, or however the fuck he does it.
So, ultimately none of this mattered. I guess that should be expected in the age of reboots. Maybe it was just a mindless cash grab. Maybe we should stop looking at Episodes 7-9 as sequels and instead evaluate them as a standalone reboot. At least until Disney alters the deal with Episodes 10-12, which will focus on Sheev, in a fresh body, rising through the ranks of the New Republic Senate and setting the stage for all this shit to happen again. Let’s pray they don’t alter it further.