Star Wars concluded the Skywalker Saga with the divisive sequel trilogy, but the franchise can (and should) move forward with a new episode despite the problems of the last movies. The Star Wars sequel trilogy is often criticized for its lack of cohesiveness, as it dropped many of the plot threads and it set up and introduced new ones (like the sudden return of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) with little preface. A potential Star Wars: Episode X could improve upon those missteps and even continue stories from the sequel trilogy that did not get their proper due.
Since the trilogy finished, The Mandalorian and the promise of other new Star Wars projects from Disney+ have brought the franchise to a new height of modern popularity. The Mandalorian moved the story on from the sequel trilogy, opening the world up to explore new angles. The show’s success and its widening of the scope could be a roadmap for a fresh approach in Star Wars 10.
There is still a deep well of worldbuilding to draw on for new stories, as The Mandalorian effectively showcased. The Star Wars sequel trilogy neatly tied up the fates of most of the original trilogy characters, meaning that future movies will have an easier time disentangling their plot from the past. New characters introduced in the sequel trilogy can move forward into a another adventure without the shadow of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine looming large over them.
A new movie to continue the story beyond Rise of Skywalker can learn from the sequel trilogy’s mistakes, as the television shows have. With the background of the sequels and the many shows that would premiere before its release, Star Wars 10 could be set up as one of the most creative and imaginative chapters of the story.
The future of the Star Wars timeline beyond Rise of Skywalker is currently unconfirmed. Many Star Wars projects, including movies, are currently in the works, but none of them (as far as we know) are set to be the equivalent of Star Wars: Episode X. Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron will tell the story of a new generation of pilots, and Taika Waititi has a Star Wars movie of his own in the works, with few details about it known so far. Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is involved in creating another trilogy, which may be the future of the main line of movies. Any of the still-mysterious movies in the works could shape into Star Wars 10, but the fate of the post-Skywalker timeline is in flux for now.
The Star Wars sequel trilogy had some great ingredients and thrilling moments, but the story was too inconsistent to feel like a proper ending for the Skywalker Saga. It shifted between miring itself deeply in Star Wars legacies and rejecting the past as it changed hands between J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. This led to such glaring issues as Rey’s parentage changing between one movie and the next and Darth Sidious returning from the dead with only the line “somehow, Palpatine has returned” to explain his resurrection. Rather than bringing back the magic of the original trilogy, Palpatine’s return instead had the effect of undermining Anakin Skywalker’s final sacrifice in Return of the Jedi.
The sequels also consistently failed the characters they introduced, such as the massive cut to Finn’s expected arc through the trilogy. Finn was teased as an important character in the story – a defected stormtrooper who could have become a Jedi, or at least a central figure in the rebellion. Finn, however, got left behind by the sequels, relegated to side plots along with Poe Dameron and Rose Tico, to the point where their actions rarely mattered to the plot. This did not make for a suitable cast of characters to continue the type of adventures Luke, Leia, and Han once had. With problems underlying both its legacy elements and its new characters, another chapter is needed to smooth over this rocky ending to the saga.
There is an open field of possibilities for a new sequel trilogy. It can pick up where Rise of Skywalker left off, showing Rey continuing the Jedi in a new Order. It’s unclear whether all of the previous cast would want to return, but the right script could reunite them. Finn, Poe, and Rose could come back for more central and full character arcs that deliver on their initial promise. As Finn was supposed to be revealed as Force-sensitive, he could join Rey in training to be a Jedi. Poe would be the new leader of the rebellion after the events of the last movie, and Rose could finally be fleshed out more with a story all her own.
However, the dropped plots from the sequel trilogy are not the only img Star Wars 10 could draw from. Other Star Wars projects have used pieces of George Lucas’ original sequel plans, such as Clone Wars repurposing his plans for Darth Maul. New sequels could also honor some of Lucas’ ideas for how to continue the story.
Another sequel trilogy could also follow the success of elements The Mandalorian did better than the sequels. That show’s central focus was on a character who was not a legacy or from an important bloodline, but it naturally folded in the most well-loved parts of all three trilogies, honoring the past while also moving on from it. The Mandalorian took more time to smooth out the sequel trilogy’s less well-established plot points, like providing the background for the cloning project Emperor Palpatine used to create Snoke and his new body. It kept the balance the sequel trilogy should have been able to reach.
The Mandalorian also saw success in drawing upon Star Wars Legends, previously the Expanded Universe, to bring popular points from those books like the Dark Troopers and Boba Fett’s return into canon. The sequel trilogy did incorporate Legends twists and turns, but focused on those related to the Skywalkers and largely executed them in too rushed a fashion. Legends would be an ideal img material for a less Skywalker-centric Episode X, as the next movie would need an antagonist that didn’t belong to either the Empire or the First Order. Executed well, Star Wars 10 would be primed to move on and learn from its contentious sequel trilogy, giving its saga a more fitting future.