Star Wars Episode VIII is of course the highly anticipated and untitled follow-up to the enormously successful Star Wars: The Force Awakens. TFA is the movie that dominated fans’ minds and the box office, so its follow up has some high expectations. One question on my mind is: how will it begin exactly? How do you kick off the most anticipated sequel since Empire Strikes Back?
What we know
Yes, we know from the production announcement video and from other the MTV interview with Daisy Ridley that the movie will take place right where Episode VII left off. To be precise, in that interview Daisy stated:
“When we went back to Skellig to do the opening of [Episode] VIII, it was so crazy doing the same scene with a different crew of people…”
But could this really be the opening? That is, there is little chance in my mind that the first shot of the movie will be Rey on Ahch-To holding out the lightsaber to Luke. Every single Star Wars movie has always begun with a star field and opening crawl, that pans over to a scene in outer space. This formula of starting out in outer space is as sacrosanct as the logo and opening crawl.
This point was later clarified by Rian Johnson, who stated “For the first time, we’re breaking Star Wars tradition and starting our movie right where the last one left off.” Operating under the assumption that they wouldn’t change the “outer space beginning”, and also under the assumption that the move takes place at the same time in universe that TFA ended, then what does that leave? As it turns out, starting in space would be a perfect opportunity to tie up some loose ends.
At the end of TFA we had Kylo Ren defeated by Rey, scarred and on the ground. We had a shot of General Hux telling Snoke that Starkiller base was collapsing, to which Snoke replies: Bring Kylo Ren, it is time to complete his training.
To where exactly? According to StarWars.com, “the mysterious Snoke has no permanent base of operations, preferring to contact his underlings from a mobile command post.” We are kind of left at the end of the movie wondering if Kylo Ren and General Hux survive the destruction of the Starkiller base, but with every expectation that they do. I’ve wondered what exactly Snoke’s “mobile command post” is. What kind of ship is Snoke in? I can only imagine it would be unique, ominous, and a great opportunity for some cool concept design. Will it have a kyber crystal weapon like the Finalizer, or something different? Or will it be the last Super Star Destroyer left from the Empire?
Ring Theory and Parallels
OK, so this isn’t exactly the ring theory, but it is kind of related to the notion of parallels in Star Wars. Before TFA, we speculated how the ring theory could play into the new sequel trilogy. Will the ring composition continue, and how? Thinking about this I noticed something. Every movie in the prequels begins with the “good guys” in space, and the original trilogy begins with the bad guys in space. OK, so not 100% because the opening of ANH is with the rebel blockade runner, but the image that you remember is that of the huge, unbelievably long Star Destroyer following it. So more or less, we have this breakdown:
Prequels: opening focused on the good guys
|Star Wars: The Phantom Menace||Republic Ship carrying two Jedi landing on droid control ship|
|Star Wars: Attack of the Clones||Naboo ships with Padme landing on Coruscant|
|Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith||Jedi Starfighters with Obi Wan and Anakin|
Classic Trilogy: opening focused on the bad guys
|Star Wars: A New Hope||Star Destroyer chasing the Rebel blockade runner|
|Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back||Star Destroyer launching probe droids|
|Star Wars: Return of the Jedi||Vader’s ship landing on Death Star 2|
Given that the opening of TFA is that of a First Order Star Destroyer, I will venture to hypothesize that the sequel trilogy is keeping with the pattern of the classic trilogy with the “bad guys” at the beginning. The parallels to ANH could be even stronger considering that the first actual shot of TFA was of Jakku, with the Star Destroyer coming into view, much like ANH began with the blockade runner first. So both began with a quick shot of the good guy’s location, immediately eclipsed by invading bad guys taking the most prominent role in the opening. We already know that many many people have pointed out that TFA strongly parallels ANH, so I won’t spend too much time proving that point.
Even if you don’t buy this comparison, you could still argue that ESB begins with the Empire, and if Episode VIII is to employ such mirroring strategies that are so critical for Star Wars, then it narrows what we could see in the opening.
Given these consistent parallels, I will venture to speculate that Episode VIII will also begin with the First Order, and will continue this throughout the trilogy. Seems likely, then, that it will begin with a ship carrying Hux and Kylo boarding Snoke’s mobile command ship. We would then possibly get our first “live action” shot of Snoke as Kylo and Hux report on the loss, and Snoke decides what the next move is for the First Order. This could possibly begin to solve the questions about who Snoke is and isn’t or at least eliminate some possibilities. After this, we could then cut to the exchange between Rey and Luke already in progress. This where Luke says “My baby girl”… Just kidding. See you next week!