With the recent release of The Prequels Strike Back documentary, I’ve been thinking about the “Ring Theory”. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, I suggest you dish out the $3 and rent it for a couple days. Beyond the prequels, this documentary puts forth one of the most intelligent readings of both the prequels and the original trilogy I’ve seen. It is known that one of the first inspirations of this documentary was the Ring Theory. After starting the documentary, they realized there was so much more to talk about, and they definitely went beyond the ring theory. Now that TFA is out, I’d like to take a moment to ponder how the sequel trilogy fits into the broader structure of the Star Wars saga.
We discussed the Ring Theory back before TFA came out. Back then, we were speculating on how TFA could fit. One of the critical questions is how exactly would you even fit it something to a ring; It is already a closed loop. Then I noticed something…
What is the most significant scene in TFA? What is the one scene that you wouldn’t talk about to your friend that hasn’t seen the movie yet? Perhaps the most important is the confrontation of Kylo Ren and Han Solo. We all know what happens. Kylo kills his father Han in cold blood, but partially regrets his actions if his face is any indication. I was watching RotJ the other night (now that it’s on TV again!), it occurred to me the last time when a Skywalker had the opportunity to kill his father was at the end of RotJ. Instead of going through with it, Luke threw down his lightsaber. In contrast, Kylo Ren did quite the opposite. He stabbed Han like a punk: he offered the saber to him and then turned it on into Han’s chest. Luke’s actions were the actions of a true hero. Kylo’s actions were that of an anti-hero. Luke’s actions came from love. Kylo Ren’s actions came from hate. Both Luke and Kylo were apprentices, and were told to confront their fathers by their masters. Luke was told by Yoda that confronting Vader was the last step in his training. Snoke described confronting Han as a critical test for Kylo Ren.
What’s more is there is a visual parallel between Han falling down the shaft, and that of the Emperor (which also, according to the Ring theory, parallels Darth Maul’s fall down the shaft)
If the significance of these parallels is real, then this would mean that TFA bears a lot of resemblance with RotJ. Of course, there are also a lot of parallels with ANH, and this was a common crticism. However, even TPM had a lot of parallels with ANH, but as the ring theory suggests it also mirrors RotJ very strongly. Could it be that TFA actually parallels RotJ (and by transitivity TPM) in more albeit subtle ways?
I started to notice more connections. Rey starts off in indentured servitude, which may bear more similarity to Anakin’s beginnings as a slave, or Princess Leia’s and Han’s captivity at the beginning of RotJ. Blowing up the Starkiller base required disabling a shield from the ground, and required a ship to fly inside, just like Death Star 2 in RotJ. What’s more, there was a deleted chase scene on the surface of Starkiller base, and it could have been originally intended to parallel the speederbike chase from RotJ.
Come to think of it, Maz’s castle may actually be more similar to Jabba’s palace than the cantina scene to which it is often compared. One is a palace, the other is a castle.
One more parallel might be the endings. The ending of RotJ had Luke facing the old Jedi masters (Force ghosts) in silence, while in TFA Rey faced an old Jedi master in silence.
So if it’s true that TFA actually parallels RotJ in big ways, what does this mean for the rest of the sequel trilogy? We may see the trajectory of the sequel trilogy take a downward turn, much like the prequels did, ending in darkness. That is, the prequels ended in darkness, which was recovered by the original trilogy. So if we go in reverse, we might see the sequel trilogy end in darkness, or at least the trilogy after (X,XI,XII) begin in darkness.
If the new trilogy parallels the original trilogy in reverse, we may see Luke vanish in Episode IX, much like Obi Wan did in Episode IV. In fact, that is my current prediction. This would explain what has been an unsettling lack of parallel between ANH and TFA: the old Jedi master didn’t die. Han’s death of course was set up to mirror Obi Wan somewhat, but it would make more sense to see Luke’s passing mirror Obi Wan’s, and I think this will be a stronger parallel to come.
I propose that the remainder of the saga, which I speculate will be two more trilogies (VII, VIII, IX, and X, XI, XII) will form a second ring. If such a thing was arranged, we might see the following order:
I ~ XII
II ~ XI
III ~ X
IV ~ IX
V ~ VIII
VI ~ VII
So that would suggest that the First Order or some other bad guys may take over in Episode X, to mirror the Sith taking over in Episode III. We’ll see Luke vanish in Episode IX. Yeah, I’m picking and choosing my events to mirror, but I’m trying to pinpoint the most significant events in my mind in terms of impact to the saga. It’s just a theory at this point, but at least it provides a theory of how the saga’s structure will look going forward. Let’s see how this pans out.