If you want to get to the core elements of any film, look for the elements that are parodied, and you will find it. The Death Star is such a staple of Star Wars that it's synonymous with the Galactic Empire and its successor, the First Order, and it has become almost too easy to mock them.
However, that has not deterred director J.J. Abrams from bringing back the image of enormous battle station, and its planet-destroying firepower, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. We already saw the wreckage of what's presumed to be the second Death Star in the film's teaser trailer, but the newly released D23 sneak peek also hints at (in the words of Palpatine) a fully armed and operational battle station. At about 1:27 mark, what appears to be a red Starkiller beam cuts across a snowy planet, presumably Kijimi.
It's worth noting that, in the novelizations of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, the warmonger General Hux repeatedly wished for a new Starkiller. Perhaps he's achieved that goal, or else the First Order has developed miniaturized, mobile Death Star technology similar to the cannon we saw at the end of The Last Jedi.
But why is that red beam of doom destroying a planet once again? Making Star Wars theories suggest that Kijimi contains both the Thieves Quarter, which sounds like a criminal haven of sorts, and an abandoned facility that holds information key for the Resistance. In his new role as Supreme Leader, Kylo Ren or one of his subordinates could very well give the order to destroy the planet to show to the people of the galactic core how he deals with criminal elements, and to try to destroy the information before the Resistance reaches it.
That move would parallel Tarkin’s strategical decision in A New Hope to pulverize Alderaan as a show of raw military force and to intimidate Leia enough to confess what she did with the Death Star plans. As Kathleen Kennedy said, “It rhymes.”
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives on Dec. 20.