At the conclusion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, things looked grim for The Resistance. The organized movement against The First Order was down to its last ship, and the battle on Crait was nearly the group's final stand. A last-minute appearance by Luke Skywalker helped save them, and the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker shows Luke's help just might have carried them even further.
A brief clip in the trailer shows the Millennium Falcon leading a much larger and very imposing Resistance fleet – far larger than that seen in The Last Jedi. The amount of time elapsed in terms of the story since The Last Jedi is unknown, but one thing is clear: The Resistance has had sufficient time to gather others to its cause. What might have led to this surge, though? Could Luke have had a hand in rebuilding the Resistance?
Not physically, of course, as Luke became one with The Force following his long-distance confrontation with Kylo Ren and The First Order. But then, Luke didn't physically confront Kylo Ren, either – nor did he need to. In the latest films, the legacy of Luke Skywalker was already well known, even after he had gone into seclusion. His physical presence wasn't required to inspire others. In terms of his legacy, his passing only served to strengthen it, as witnessed by the expansion of that legacy in the final moments of The Last Jedi.
Even after Luke's death, did that same legacy become legendary enough to rekindle a movement? It certainly seems possible, as there is precedent in the Star Wars universe for the Jedi to become more powerful in death. Ben Kenobi warned Darth Vader of this in Star Wars: A New Hope, and when Vader struck him down, Ben indeed became a powerful influence. Specifically to Luke, who was able to complete his Jedi training with Ben's guidance, even after his demise.
Likewise, Luke essentially said the same thing to Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. Ren wasn't even able to kill Luke, depriving him of that satisfaction. But when Luke's spirit became part of The Force, he nonetheless became a greater foe to Ren and The First Order than he was when he lived in isolation. He essentially became a martyr to The Resistance's cause, and as a ghost of The Force, could continue to influence and inspire that very same cause. So when Luke told him, "See you around, kid," he meant it in ways Ren might never have imagined.
Having found Luke, and now knowing his fate, Luke is no longer absent – his presence is all encompassing. The rise of Luke Skywalker has also meant the rebirth of The Resistance. There is no longer a void generated by his absence. Instead, there's a focus – a force – that now drives The Resistance to press on.
And judging by the size of their fleet, they have.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, with Ian McDiarmid and Billy Dee Williams. The film arrives on Dec. 20. Advance tickets are available now.