What Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker And Knights Of The Old Republic Have In Common
The characters of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker have a fair amount in common with Revan.
Note: This story is full of spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Read on at your own risk!
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has a whole lot of plot threads to wrap up with, many of which were first spun in The Force Awakens. It also introduces a whole lot of new elements and ideas--most notably, the return of the series' ultimate evil, Sith Lord and Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine. We've known for a while that Palpatine would be making a return thanks to trailers, but exactly how he'd come back and what he'd be up to has been a mystery.
Now that Rise of Skywalker is out in theaters, we have our answer: Palpatine apparently survived the destruction of the Death Star II back in Return of the Jedi and has been working behind the scenes for decades, instigating the rise of the First Order and trying to regain his ridiculous amount of power. While the First Order has been formidable in its own right, we learn in The Rise of Skywalker that Palpatine has more tricks up his sleeve.
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But Palpatine's return isn't a new idea. In fact, the plot of The Rise of Skywalker has a whole lot in common with other Star Wars stories, ranging from the original films to old Expanded Universe comics and novels--but none more so than Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Though the story of the 2003 video game takes place thousands of years before Palpatine's rise, a bunch of the plot points of KOTOR and TROS are pretty much the same. Allow me to explain.
KOTOR starts in the aftermath of a major war that has devastated the Galactic Republic--the Mandalorian Wars. Those spooky Boba Fett-looking warriors (a tribe of which is central to the Disney+ series The Mandalorian) raised a massive army and nearly brought the Republic down in a horrific conflict that devastated countless worlds. When things were at their most dire, a group of Jedi led by a knight named Revan and his friend, Malak, broke with the Jedi Order, which had chosen to remain neutral. The Jedi joined the Republic to defeat the Mandalorians, but afterward, Revan and Malak disappeared into the Unknown Regions. Eventually, they returned, but had fallen to the Dark Side, and led a massive Sith Armada bent on destroying the Republic and taking over the galaxy. It turns out, the pair discovered an ancient alien space station called the Star Forge, capable of creating an entire fleet of ships in an incredibly short period.
That story is a whole lot like the setup for The Rise of Skywalker, in which Kylo Ren discovers the legendary Sith planet, Exegol (also in the Unknown Regions), and discovers it's where Emperor Palpatine has been holed up, marshaling his strength. As with Revan and Malak and the Star Forge, Palpatine has managed to use Exegol to create an entire fleet of Star Destroyers that could smack down the entire galaxy.
In KOTOR, the player spends most of the game trying to dig up information on and then find the Star Forge, which is pretty much what goes on in The Rise of Skywalker. Rey, Poe, and Finn travel across the galaxy in search of information on Exegol, which they obtain from a Sith dagger. That leads them to an artifact called the Sith Wayfinder, which provides a map to Exegol and the giant fleet Palpatine has waiting there.
KOTOR's protagonist is a nascent Jedi who has visions of Revan and discovers information about the Star Forge, and near the end of the game, turns out to be none other than Revan himself (or herself, depending on the character you create). The Jedi had brainwashed the injured Revan after Malak tried to kill him, intent on using his power against his former apprentice.
That's not unlike the arcs of both Kylo Ren and Rey in The Rise of Skywalker. Ren is a fallen Jedi who discovers a ridiculous Sith power, but who eventually is turned back to the Light Side to battle to stop a former evil ally in Palpatine. You could also liken Revan to Rey, who, like Revan, discovers she has the Dark Side in her past and the potential to go bad. The Rise of Skywalker reveals that Rey is the granddaughter of Palpatine, and that information acts as a shadow over her, often making her wonder if she won't fall to the Dark Side herself.
Some of the story beats of KOTOR and Revan are picked up in the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, creating even more parallels. It turns out that the thing that drove Revan and Malak to the Dark Side in the first place was not the ridiculous amount of power they discovered in the Star Forge, or the horrors they saw during the Mandalorian Wars. Instead, it was something worse: The pair discovered a secret, immortal Sith emperor out in the vast reaches of space, who was himself marshaling power for an attack on the galaxy. That's basically what's going on in The Old Republic, but if and when you find Revan in that game, you learn that he and Malak meant to take over the galaxy partially so they could strengthen up its defenses against the much bigger threat in the Sith Emperor. That's at least similar to what's up with Kylo Ren--he might be trying to tighten his grip on the galaxy, but he's also spending most of The Rise of Skywalker trying to turn Rey to his side so that the two can defeat the worse threat represented by Palpatine and his armada.
It's not a perfect comparison, but there are a lot of similarities between where The Rise of Skywalker goes in its plot, and the path KOTOR trod back in 2003. As mentioned, this isn't the only old Star Wars story The Rise of Skywalker draws on--a revitalized Palpatine who can transfer his spirit between bodies was the drive behind the Dark Empire comics in the 1990s, for instance. But while most Star Wars video game plots either just borrow the plots of the films or have nothing much to do with them, The Rise of Skywalker's similarities to KOTOR might be the closest the Star Wars saga has come to doing things the other way around--the films being influenced by the games, for once.
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