When the cast announcement for Star Wars: Episode IX was released almost two weeks ago, it confirmed that J.J. Abrams' upcoming film would be the final installment of the Skywalker Saga. The return of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the revelation that Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia would be brought to life using unreleased footage are both huge deals for Episode IX, but the confirmation that this is the end of the Skywalker Saga contains a galaxy's worth of implications for not only this film but the entire franchise.
I think many of us suspected that after the sequel trilogy concluded, the episodic films might take a break before picking back up with X, XI and XII somewhere down the line. I suppose that Disney could eventually do just that and just not feature any Skywalkers, thus staying true to Episode IX being the end of the saga. But for now, let's take Lucasfilm at its word and operate under the knowledge that the Skywalker Saga will end, as it may or may not have always been intended to, at nine films. That puts a massive burden on this film to deliver a satisfying ending.
J.J. Abrams' film has the unenviable, and possibly impossible task of bringing closure to not only a trilogy that began in 2015, but an entire film saga that stretches all the way back to the original Star Wars in 1977. The expectations are sky high for this film to deliver, and closure for everyone will probably look a little bit different. However, I think that there are certain things that Star Wars: Episode IX needs to do bring proper closure to this beloved and pivotal chapter in cinematic history.
Given the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher, Episode IX found itself in a precarious position, not wanting to use CGI or recast Princess Leia, but still needing to complete her story. So it seemed plausible that the most viable option was to have a time jump and announce Leia's death in the crawl and then start the film with her funeral. And given the circumstances, fans would have totally understood that approach. However, we now know that unused Carrie Fisher footage will be used to bring Leia to life in Episode IX. This means that she has to live. Leia's death was already teased in The Last Jedi, and it just seems somewhat cruel and unnecessary to kill of Princess Leia now. Han and Luke are dead, and this trilogy should end with at least one of the original three still alive to witness true victory and peace. Having that be Princess Leia, the very first rebel we met in this saga, would be fitting. Obviously there are probably challenges to this given the limited footage they have, but this should be the goal.