Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Refuses To Solve Disney’s Biggest Plot Hole

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had the opportunity to clear up a major plot hole of Disney’s sequel trilogy, but opted not to. The Rise of Skywalker is currently attracting many negative reviews from critics, and one of the most frequent issues cited is that the final chapter of the Skywalker saga spends so much time wrapping up lose plot threads and answering mysteries that it gets lost in a storm of exposition and forgets to let any of the big moments breathe.

Indeed, if answers are what Star Wars fans are looking for, The Rise of Skywalker has them in spades. Among the queries covered are Snoke’s origin, Rey’s family history, Lando’s whereabouts, Poe’s backstory and the ultimate plan of Emperor Palpatine. And yet for all the time spent explaining new lore to the audience, The Rise of Skywalker neglects one of the nagging unexplained plot points of the entire Star Wars sequel trilogy – the story of how Maz Kanata came to be in possession of the blue Skywalker lightsaber.

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Originally belonging to Anakin, the weapon was kept by Obi-Wan Kenobi during his time on Tatooine and then passed down to Anakin’s son, Luke. The iconic lightsaber appeared lost after Luke prematurely fought Darth Vader at Cloud City and promptly got his hand chopped off, lightsaber and all. Both Luke’s hand and his weapon fell into the depths of Bespin, never to be seen again until The Force Awakens. Here’s how The Rise of Skywalker avoids answering this frustrating plot hole.

After the blue Skywalker lightsaber is lost in The Empire Strikes Back, it makes a mysterious, triumphant return in The Force Awakens. When Han Solo takes Rey and Finn to see Maz Kanata on Takodana, Rey is strangely drawn to a box among the various treasures in Kanata’s hideout and opens it to reveal Anakin and Luke’s missing saber, which begins haunting her with voices of past Jedi. Maz ultimately allows the group to keep the weapon, recognizing its potential usefulness to Rey in particular, but when Han asks where Maz procured the relic, she replies enigmatically with, “a good question, for another time.”

Maz was correct – how she came to possess the Skywalker lightsaber is a good question, since retrieving it would’ve been no easy task. The planet of Bespin is gaseous in nature, with its citizens living in floating man-made structures, meaning Luke’s disembodied hand could’ve fallen an incredible distance and never hit solid land. This is partly why Luke constructs a brand new, bright green lightsaber for Return of the Jedi. Furthermore, Bespin and Takodana are nowhere near each other geographically, implying that the lost lightsaber has experienced an epic journey between the original trilogy and the sequels. As such, how Maz Kanata recovered the lightsaber is certainly a question worth asking, and fans echoed Han’s confusion as to the weapon’s reemergence.

Some theorized that the lightsaber was found floating through space, since this was originally scripted in an early draft of The Force Awakens. Others suggested Maz might’ve stolen the lightsaber from someone else, perhaps Kylo Ren, who would’ve had both the motivation and means to find the famous weapon. Whatever the explanation, Maz’s “for another time” line promised the mystery would be cleared up eventually…

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The mystery was not cleared up eventually. How Maz got the Skywalker lightsaber isn’t raised whatsoever in The Last Jedi, mainly because Maz herself has only a cameo in the middle film. However, Luke Skywalker does enjoy a significant role in Rian Johnson’s story and he theoretically could’ve shed some light on the matter on Ahch-To. Perhaps he might’ve even been a little curious about the fate of his severed hand. Alas, Luke remains silent on the issue, meaning The Rise of Skywalker would surely be the “another time” Maz spoke of but, unfortunately, the latest movie also ignores the lightsaber plot hole.

Neglecting to address the story behind Luke’s lightsaber is even more unforgivable in Abrams’ second Star Wars effort because the film has ample opportunity to clear things up. Maz is a fully-fledged Resistance member in The Rise of Skywalker and, at the beginning of the story, Rey, Maz and the lightsaber are all in the same location. There’s even a scene in which Rey and Leia discuss being worthy of inheriting the weapon, presenting the perfect moment for Maz to come along and explain its more recent history. Unlike The Last Jedi, the pieces were neatly aligned for this plot hole to be resolved.

Perhaps it’s indicative of how packed The Rise of Skywalker is that Abrams neglects to finish a storyline he not only instigated in The Force Awakens, but implicitly promised answers to in the future. With so much else going on in Episode 9’s first act, the story behind Maz finding Luke’s lightsaber evidently isn’t deemed essential to the story and is sacrificed in order to cover more pressing matters. While it may not have greatly impacted The Rise of Skywalker’s narrative, however, failing to address this plot hole leaves an annoying loose thread within the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Although there are more Star Wars movies planned after The Rise of Skywalker, it’s unlikely that any of them will deal with the issue of how Maz Kanata picked up the Skywalker lightsaber. Not only is the Skywalker saga supposed to be complete now, but the lightsaber itself was buried in the Tatooine sands by Rey in the final scene. Reassuringly, there are other mediums via which Disney can address this long-standing plot hole. Disney+ is now home to several live-action Star Wars projects which could feasibly be used to explain the story of the Skywalker saber. The Mandalorian, for example, is set during the exact time period Maz would’ve acquired the item and deals with the criminal underworld. If the lightsaber passed around the galactic black market, The Mandalorian could explore that and reveal who first found Luke’s abandoned hand.

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Additionally, The Rise of Skywalker appears to set up some kind of potential spinoff series featuring Lando Calrissian and Jannah, who are implied to be father and daughter. If such a project were to pick up in the aftermath of the sequel trilogy, this would also offer a golden opportunity to explore the story behind the lightsaber, especially since the Aftermath novels implied Lando might’ve had something to do with recovering the item from Cloud City in the first place.

Perhaps more likely is that the lightsaber plot hole will be addressed via the Star Wars comics. These printed stories have previously added context to the main movie series, filling in some of Poe’s backstory, the post-Return of the Jedi battles between the Rebellion and the last dregs of the Empire, and much more. If there’s a lingering detail from the sequel trilogy, it’s the comics that are most likely to address that, since these printed stories can be set at any point in the timeline and include any characters without having to bring back any specific actors. After The Rise of Skywalker neglected to raise the issue of how Maz came to be in possession of Luke Skywalker’s lost lightsaber, frustrated fans looking for an explanation should keep an eye on future Star Wars comic book releases.

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