The Rise of Skywalker completely sidelines Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico, a major character introduced in The Last Jedi. But you might be surprised to learn just how much.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had to juggle a lot of priorities as a film. As the final installment in a beloved nine film saga, it had to wrap up the overarching story of the Skywalker family, provide some closure for new favorites Rey, Finn and Poe, and answer the question of whether Kylo Ren could be redeemed. Plus, you know, save the galaxy all over again.
As a whole, the film does a fairly decent job at most of these things. (And, admittedly, kind of terribly at others.) But one of the oddest things about Rise of Skywalker is how determined the film appears to be to distance itself from its predecessor, The Last Jedi, in almost every way.
We’ve got Luke Skywalker showing up as a Force Ghost to tell Rey that his decision to sequester himself on Ach-Too was wrong. Poe, who tried to mutiny against General Holdo in the last film, is suddenly just a swashbuckling adventure time dude again. Rey’s parents, who were revealed to be nobodies in The Last Jedi, turn out to be part of a legacy Star Wars family, after all. And new character Rose Tico, an Everywoman stand-in for the average folks suffering under the rule of the First Order, is almost completely erased.
Basically, if you thought actress Kelly Marie Tran barely appeared in The Rise of Skywalker? You’re right. She’s actually in even less of the movie than you probably realized. Thanks to the fine folks over at Slate, who literally timed her appearances onscreen with a stopwatch, we now know that Tran appeared in under two minutes of the film. In fact, out of The Rise of Skywalker’s 2 hour and 22 minute runtime, Tran is onscreen for just one minute and sixteen seconds.
This is particularly shocking, given that Tran’s Rose felt pretty much like a co-lead in The Last Jedi. Here, however, she’s given little to do other than study star destroyer plans at the rebel base and stare at various other characters as they talk. There’s no further mention of her dead sister or her reasons for joining the Resistance in the first place. Her budding romance with Finn is simply dropped. (I’m not sure that Tran and John Boyega even appear onscreen together at any point in the movie.) She has no conclusive journey, and could pretty much be completely removed from the film with no real impact on its story.
It’s hard not to wonder if this isn’t Rise of Skywalker’s biggest sop to the loud contingent of Star Wars fandom who resented Tran’s presence in The Last Jedi. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe director J.J. Abrams just had too much story to wrap up, and too little time to do it. Perhaps Abrams just never really vibed with previous director Rian Johnson’s take that the Force was something that was for everyone, and that meant including stories for characters who weren’t part of or connected to legacy families. Or maybe Tran and Rose were meant to be part of a larger plot with Leia and the Resistance that got shortened or changed in light of Carrie Fisher’s unexpected death. We’ll never know.
But it’s unfortunate all the same.
What did you think of Rose’s role in The Rise of Skywalker? Did Kelly Marie Tran deserve to be in more of the film?