Knowing How it Ends…

Well, we all know how the Skywalker Saga is going to end now, don’t we?

I’m busy as hell today and as we all know the bomb drops tonight. I’ll be seeing The Rise of Skywalker ASAP and possibly getting my fully impartial and scathing review posted either Friday or Saturday. I’m not sure how long the article is going to take to write because it sounds like there is going to be a lot of bad to unpack.


One of the easiest tells for a truly great story is this, “even knowing how the story ends would you still want to listen to it again?”

There are no surprise endings to any of Shakespeare’s plays. We know how it ends for the evil King Richard and the myopic Prince Hamlet. No mystery remains in Kane’s last word of, “Rosebud.” Rick will always send Ilsa away at the Casablanca airport. We know that ET will get home and that Indy will basically have done nothing to advance his own movie because the Nazis were always gonna melt the moment they opened the Ark.

But we still watch these shows again and again. They are classics for a reason and that reason simply is, they are great stories.

Then there are the could have been great stories.

There was a lot of Game of Thrones fans out there that would rewatch earlier seasons of the show while waiting for the new shows to come out.

Then came 2019’s season.

I asked a few fans of GOT, “even knowing how it ends would you still watch this again?” The answer was always, “no.” A, “no,” with qualifications here and there, they loved this scene or that episode but would when pressed for an answer on the big question they would finally admit that they just can’t because the end of the story ruined it for them.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Aliens is a great movie but it’s nearly unwatchable because you know that brave Hicks, sweet little Newt, and the noble android are all going to be dead before the opening credits are done in that festering shit heap Alien 3. Terminator 3 completely nullified the ending of Terminator 2.

I’m sure you can come up with your own examples without trying.*

Yes, a bad sequel can easily ruin a good story that came before it. It’s in the name, after all, sequel means that which came next in sequence. It’s the next part of the story as a whole.

This is what a lot of us mean when we say that the new Star Wars movies have ruined the whole thing for us.

The first movies were pretty close to magical. I’ll never be twelve again and I’ll never be able to feel a little boy’s excitement over the coolest and greatest thing he’s ever seen in his young life again. But for two generations they fired the imagination. There was something timeless that touched you about Luke’s gazing longing at the double sunset of Tatooine and silently asking the cosmos, isn’t there more than this out there? Han was clearly living a hand to mouth existence, his home was a broken down tramp freighter that was barely held together by string and baling wire. There was no room in that guy’s world for idealism… And yet he found it. Leia had been a freedom fighter all her life and at the end of Return of the Jedi, she could now live her own life.

The last two movies completely reversed these endings. Leia continued to fight for freedom everywhere at the expense of her family life and lost the fight. Han was a complete failure of a man in every way possible. He slipped back down the ladder he’d climbed up rung by rung. Walked out on his family, went back to being a petty criminal, and finally was murdered by his only child. The worst carnage was done to Luke. The most optimistic and idealistic man in the Star Wars universe was completely butchered out. A broken, sniveling old man who nearly murdered his nephew because he kind of thought he might be a little be evil or something.

When people say, the first trilogy is still just fine, they are wrong. You can’t really choose one portion of a mural and ignore the rest.

*Just as a point of order. Not all bad sequels ruin the original because some sequels aren’t sequels at all, they are just bad remakes of the first movie. Exorcist II and Ghostbusters II being prime examples of this.

18 thoughts on “Knowing How it Ends…

  1. Terminator 3 is a decent action flick, but I hate it because it makes complete hash of the entire concept of the franchise, which is “nothing is set in stone and anyone can change their fate.” Both the good and evil characters believe this, or they wouldn’t both be doing their damnedest to kill each other before they can be born.

    Then the third film comes along and says “nope, everything is set in stone and unchangeable. There is nothing that anyone can do to stop it.” Which makes you wonder why Skynet even bothered sending any Terminators back in time, since they were always destined to fail and it was always destined to be beaten by John Connor.


  2. What is this Aliens 3 of which you speak? All the Alien movies ended with the Cameron one.

    Movies can be disconnected if they have a self-contained story, whereas TV shows with story arcs cannot. So, GOT, Lost, nuBSG, et al, blow up their entire series because the ending sucks. I can mentally stop the Alien franchise story because it easily ends at Aliens. I can do the same with Star Wars and just pick the original trilogy or the first six films. That’s harder, if no impossible to do, if you have a complete story arc for a TV series or a series of movies meant to be a cohesive whole.


  3. Heck, there are people who hate “Aliens” because they liked how the first movie made the Alien a primal, unknowable source of elemental fear and the second movie turning the creature into an entity who can be strategized against and killed destroyed its mystique. (Never mind how in the first movie, the Alien WAS strategized against and killed at the end by Ripley.) I personally liked Aliens because it was a continuation of Ripley’s story arc and showed her regaining all of the things she had lost in the first movie, including a daughter. So of course, when the third movie shits all over that and kills everybody off in the most hack way possible and fans of Alien 3 say “Yeah! The best thing 3 did was kill off that useless happy ending family and gave the series an edge again”, you can understand why I would want to lock them into a room with a facehugger.

    I’ve learned to ignore movies that suffer from Sequelitis – filmmakers are always going to go back to the well and empty it out because they’ll get big bucks to continue the story. They know it’s popular and will sell, even if it completely betrays the characters and gives them bad, asspull endings. Making a sequel that destroys the earlier movies in the series for ideological reasons is a relatively new phenomenon, though. In Disney’s case, they wanted to clear out the OT and make their own version of it because they didn’t want to pay royalties to George Lucas, who still owned a stake in the OT characters. Pissing off the OT’s original male base and pushing cringy left wing politics was just a side benefit to Disney.


  4. “When people say, the first trilogy is still just fine, they are wrong. You can’t really chose one portion of a mural and ignore the rest.”

    *laughs at you in Star Wars EU*

    Also, tell that to anyone who EASILY ignores the existence of the Highlander sequels.


  5. The wife heard the the GoT series ended badly. She asked me last week about RoS, “This is going to be like the GoT ending isn’t it?” I haven’t said anything about RoS to her other than I would take her to see it. She loves SW and simply likes the stories. She never gets too deep into them. So, I have to believe even the trailers conveyed to her a sense of failure.


  6. I’m with Chris and Cosplay C, in theory. Either you reserve the right to say “these sequels don’t exist/don’t matter”, or you concede that anyone with enough money can buy anything you like, run it into the ground, and you have to accept it. “It’s all part of the mural” applies to the degree the thing is an organic whole. A sequel that’s tacked on as an afterthought to make more money, that’s something else. If it becomes a franchise, it’s just fanfic with high production values. Fanfic can be good but it needs to earn its space in your headcanon.

    But something is gone. A story comes to you and you take it in, enjoy it, or argue with it or whatever. But if you have to exercise editorial control over which bits of it to accept, who wants that? And the magic of the story is not very susceptible to editorial control over headcanon.


  7. I think these modern sequels fail to ruin the originals for me because they aren’t really sequels, they’re fan-fic that happens to take place after the real stories. A sequel respects what happened before. It may build on it or add to it in ways you don’t like, but it doesn’t pretend it didn’t happen. Tremors 2 and 3 are sequels. Each one adds another life-cycle to the graboids, but they never once violate what went before, in story or characters.

    These movies are fan-fic; they just happen to be fan-fic written and produced by the people who own the rights. Fan-fic writers usually have a different direction they want to go, often one that contradicts the original. So Kirk and Spock become gay lovers, or Luke turns into a despair hound and Palpatine never died.

    The existence of Kirk/Spock slash-fic doesn’t keep me from enjoying real Star Trek, and these terrible movies that tell us more about Kennedy, Abrams, and Johnson than they tell us about the characters won’t keep me from enjoying the real Star Wars movies. The annoying part will be if they enter the canon in terms of the way people talk about Star Wars, the way the prequels did. Here’s hoping this one is bad enough that the whole mess will be forgotten before that can happen. That’s what happens with most reboots, after all. Reboots like Robocop and Predator were forgotten in months. This one might take a few years.



    Star Wars at 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, down 2 points from your screen cap yesterday.

    the official RT blurb ( which you already quoted ) is half lie and half truth:
    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker suffers from a frustrating lack of imagination, but concludes this beloved saga with fan-focused devotion.

    the “lack of imagination” was pretty much a given, considering JewJew wrote and directed it. the second clause is an outright lie. nobody wanted any of this. we didn’t want all of the Skywalkers dead, we didn’t want the Emperor to be alive. we didn’t want Space Poppins, we don’t want Space Horseys, we will never want a Palpatine deadnaming their grandfather and adopting the Skywalker surname … after you genocided all of the real Skywalkers.

    the important thing is this: the Shills ARE NOT SHILLING. RT is not wasting time trying to manipulate the stats as they did with TLJ, otherwise they would be going up or AT LEAST holding steady. there’s a lesbian kiss and there are no significant Woke defenders of the film.

    does anyone actually think the Fans are going to be fanning about this movie?

    RoS looks like it’s going to be about as popular as impeachment.


    1. I think the woke are going to skip the defending-the-movie phase this time and jump straight to blaming the toxic man-children for ruining it somehow. That’s the part they enjoy anyway.


  9. holy crap. i have a theater with reserved seating near me. the 12:25 showing has ZERO SEATS SOLD. the 12:50 am ( last of the night ) is < 50% on a screen with more seating. i'm writing this at 7pm.

    this thing is not selling out on opening night and is going to have terrible word-of-mouth.

    OMG, i might be right about 500 million.


    1. Ya you might be right. It’s 830 in Texas and there are no sold out theaters in the cinemark 18 near me. There are even 3 later showings completely empty.


    2. now showing 3 seats sold out of 48 for 12:25am, non-3d at 10:30pm. no significant movement on the 12:50am … 150 vacant / 48 sold.

      strangely, the 3 solds are all together at the last row, very back left of the seating. looks like Disney fake seat buys.

      this is Fort Wayne Indiana, Regal Coldwater on Fandango. you are required to choose your seats


  10. AMC Showplace in Muncie also has numerous empty houses for the late showings, normal screen, although the 1am Imax is nearly sold out.

    South Bend / Elkhart rolled up the sidewalks before 11pm so i can’t check those.


  11. To be dead honest, they’ve kinda made their trilogy criticism proof this last movie by invoking the SpEd defense. This movie is so stupid, complaining about it is like running into class and yelling “Did you see what the retarded kid is doing now? Lets go make fun of him!”

    Of course, the analogy falls apart when you point out the fact that the retarded kid was once the straight-A student that Disney gave an ice-pick lobotomy to…


  12. i think this movie broke poor Shad’s mind:

    so i did a breakdown on the first 10 minutes of this movie.

    1:50 end of opening crawl
    1:56 space shot of lava planet
    2:02 Kylo fighting in snow?, certainly in a forest, i presume on the lava planet? how does either of those things exist on a lava planet. who is he fighting? why are they fighting him? no idea.
    2:40 Kylo finds map crystal
    2:50 Kylo in space with map crystal plugged in
    3:20 Kylo finds ice planet
    3:55 Kylo meets Emperor, he claims to have created Snoke. why not just clone yourself instead of Snoke?
    5:35 Emperor ( Force? ) raises the Star Destroyer fleet from the ice, Kylo is tasked to kill Rey. how will Rey kill the emperor if Kylo has killed her?
    6:45 Chewie, Finn and Poe playing space chess, Finn and Poe actually so dumb that Chewie beats them every game without having to threaten to rip their arms off
    7:24 emergency transmission and penis monster
    7:30 space iceberg?
    7:40 rendezvous and use R2D2 to send a message to Leia, inverse of Ep 4 open, initiate Tie fighter chase ( where is the Star Destroyer that the Ties launched from? )
    9:10 Finn teleports from gunner seat to command cabin … Poe initiates Light Speed “skipping”? Han did a manual Warp exit ONCE, because it was a 1000 to 1 likelihood you would kill yourself, Poe does it a dozen times without concern. Poe Warps through space worm monster … obvious call back to ESB space worm, does NOT Holdo manuever, obvious swipe at Rian.
    9:43 Forest Planet, Rey flies effortlessly now.
    10:20 Leia presents Saber to Rey, no explanation, dissolve to Rey running on training course
    11:04 Kylo uses Vader helmet to mind meld Rey

    i count 4 different planets and 9 major characters and practically no explanation of anything.


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