You can’t have Star Wars without the Force, and Rise of Skywalker wouldn’t be a proper ending if there weren’t a few new Force tricks along the way.
The use of Force powers in the Star Wars movies is always worth noting, because those powers eventually become a basis for other characters not only in future movies, but games, comics, books and potential TV series as well. That said, not everything can or should make a return appearance down the road – some characters are just special.
We can’t talk about this without getting deep into spoiler territory. You’ve been warned.
Before the biggest spoiler of the first act, we’re treated to a Force classic: Force Jump. It’s normally pulled out when a Jedi or Sith needs to leap a normally impossible distance – think Obi Wan’s battle against Darth Maul in the first prequel – but in this case, Rey uses it as an opportunity to catch Kylo Ren unawares.
Ren, still able to sense Rey through a Force connection (established in The Force Awakens), finds the Rebels searching for a Sith Wayfinder on the desert world of Passana. It’s necessary for finding the route to the secret Sith homeworld (Exogol), where Emperor Palpatine is still alive and continuing to pull his Sith strings.
The last remaining clue on the planet is a dagger owned by a Sith loyalist, one Luke Skywalker was supposedly tracking down following the events of Return of the Jedi. Ren and his Knights intercept, and sensing them on their way, Rey splits off to fight Ren alone.
Standing alone in a field, Rey waits with her lightsaber. As Ren charges in his TIE Silencer, Rey begins running away. Moments before the Silencer hits her, she does a backward flip into the air with her lightsaber extended, severing the left wing from the cockpit and forcing Ren to crash.
Rey then showcases a different side – or stronger – of Force jumping by effectively flying off the Empire ship to rejoin the Millenium Falcon after the Rebels rescue Chewie. She does so while the Falcon’s engines are pointed, full blast, on the deck of the ship. It’s a little akin to what Princess Leia showcased in The Last Jedi:
so after the boys rescue chewie and get to the falcon they wait for rey who’s still having a Moment with kylo. she shows up when the ship is about to leave so she force flies to escape with them? ???? pic.twitter.com/IpSzCuJ34w
— leti / tros spoilers (@benhansolo) November 27, 2019
Having a bit of Force Lightning isn’t a surprise given Emperor Palpatine is back (something Disney revealed at the start of the year). And Palpatine has the most impressive use of the power in the final battle, channelling enough energy to effectively turn the Exogol atmosphere into a giant EMP bomb and knocking out the Rebel fleet during their raid on the Star Destroyers.
The big surprise is earlier on when a Empire transport, carrying Chewbacca, finds itself in a Force battle between Rey and Ren. Rey has enough Force to prevent the carrier for escaping into orbit, forcing Ren to tap into his own power. The standoff is resolved when Rei unexpectedly lets out a stream of Force Lightning, blowing the transport out of the sky.
The implication is obvious: only Sith sensitive warriors can use Force Lightning. Ren has been trying to convert Rey to the Dark Side since The Force Awakens, and the pitch gets only stronger in Rise of Skywalker after he offers her the chance to sit on the Emperor’s Throne. Emperor Palpatine promises everything to Ren, but in reality it’s Rey – his granddaughter – who he wants to see returned to the seat of power.
A power more common in the Jedi Knight video games, Force Heal is pretty straightforward: the transference of life energy, via the Force, from one being to another. It’s not explained where Rey learnt the power, if she gained it from Leia or developed it on her own.
Either way, we get three uses of the power over the course of the movie. Rey first shows it off for a wounded worm in the Passana desert, and deploys the trick again after battling Kylo Ren. She wins the fight with a sabre straight through Ren’s chest, but the Force Heal is strong enough to completely reverse the damage of the wound.
In the biggest spoiler of the movie, Ren, having turned to the Jedi courtesy of Princess Leia’s long-range intervention, uses Force Heal to bring Rey back from the dead. The effort costs him his life, and despite his spirit and energy having gone to the Force, Ben/Ren is suspiciously absent in the final scene where Luke and Leia Skywalker are seen together, watching over Rey.
Force Push / Pull
Force Push isn’t new for the series, but Rise of Skywalker uses it on a scale that’s never been seen before. Early on, after Ren travels to Exogon to meet with Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord displays his command of the Force and just what he’s been working on over the last few movies. As a demonstration of his power, hundreds of Star Destroyers break through and soar into the air, increasing the capacity of the Empire by ten thousand-fold.
As mentioned before, Rey and Ren’s Force Push / Pull capacity is light years ahead of other Jedi. Even Darth Sidious only displayed the ability to throw one Senate seat at a time in Revenge of the Sith, and when Yoda sent it hurtling back, Darth Sidious could do naught but dodge. Count Dooku, who showed some capacity of his own with Force Lightning, displayed a fraction of the Force Push / Pull capacity of Rey and Ren.
By the end of Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine and Rey are effectively agents for the entirety of the Sith and the entirety of the Jedi, so its natural that their powers would eventually be several leagues above what’s seen before. But that scale didn’t make for the movie’s most interesting use of the Force, which was…
A connection has already been established between Rey and Ren from TFA, but it evolves in Rise of the Skywalker to become much more dangerous. Not only is Ren able to sense Rey’s location, he can physically invade it with the force. Early on in the movie, Ren invades Rey’s mind while searching for clues for the Sith Wayfinder.
Not only is he able to threaten her personal space, Ren snatches a necklace from Rey and takes it back with him using the Force. Later on, he uses the connection to start a lightsaber battle with Rey while she’s in his personal quarters, allowing Ren to alert the ship and begin lockdown procedures.
This advanced connection, or form of Force Teleportation, is the strongest Force link between two characters in the movies. Force Teleportation isn’t new for the universe per se: Darth Jadus, some Force Adepts under Palpatine’s order and other Sith members showed use of the ability in The Clone Wars, BioWare’s The Old Republic and The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. As for bonds between the Force, Star Wars has shown Jedi and Sith influencing the bonds between each other before: Sidious used a ritual to impact the bond between Yoda and Count Dooku during the Clone Wars.