There is almost universal praise for The Ninth Jedi. And for good reason. The 21 minute short is an ideal starting point for a true Star Wars sequel. If you ignored all Star Wars Visions shorts so far make an exception for The Ninth Jedi, it is the Star Wars fans deserve! So let’s talk about The Ninth Jedi!
In my opinion The Ninth Jedi would have been the true Star Wars sequel fans deserved, instead of what we got when J.J. Abrams took over and came up with not a single new idea of his own.
The Ninth Jedi is set in the far future, the Jedi order is no more, the art of crafting lightsabers has been lost to time and the galaxy is torn apart by constant wars. There are still Force users, Jedi and Sith, but the (potential) Jedi are not organized at all and scattered all around the galaxy, while the Sith seem to be running things, more or less. A mysterious figure named Jaro has sent out a call to various Jedi to gather at an old temple in orbit around a planet with the promise of giving them lightsabers. On the planet lives a lightsaber smith who has uncovered the knowledge to craft them, and he added something new to the sabers, he has developed a tempering technique for the kyber crystals harvested from the planet’s rings that will change the color of the blade depending on the attunement of its wielder.
However, the call to the Jedi was also intercepted by the Sith. Jedi hunters land on the planet to steal the lightsabers. But the smith gives them to his young daughter Kara and tells her to bring the sabers to the temple in orbit, while he tries to stop the Jedi hunters long enough for Kara to get away.
The father is eventually defeated after a short and explosive fight, but Kara manages to slip away, defeating one of the Jedi hunters going after her on his speederbike with a lightsaber not unlike Luke on Endor. Her lightsaber blade is transparent, something which saddens her, because to her it means her connection to the Force is not strong enough.
Kara eventually makes it to the temple in orbit after an encounter with a whimsical droid pilot, where several Jedi have gathered already. The lightsabers are handed out but when the Jedi ignite them it turns out that six of the eight arrivals have a red blade, they are Sith. The mysterious Jaro, who had sent out the call, was disguised as a droid until now, but he reveals himself and he, a young Jedi named Ethan and Kara take on the Sith who are all but one defeated. The final Sith’s lightsaber blade turns from red to purple as Kara locks sabers with him. He is actually a Jedi who had been overwhelmed by the presence of the Sith but Jaro knows he’s not truly a Sith. And Kara’s connection to the Force has also fully established during the fight. Her transparent blade turned green and in the same moment the red saber of her opponent turned purple, indicating that Kara’s Force power helped the confused Jedi to come to his senses.
Jaro then reveals to Kara and Ethan that Jedi are still out there, that they need to find them. And he promises Kara to rescue her father from the Jedi hunters. Jaro then tells Kara that she has been guided by the Force ever since her birth and that she should take her place as the ninth Jedi, so they can restore the order. And this is where the episode ends.
The Ninth Jedi is certainly one of the best, if not the best Visions shorts. Its runtime of 21 minutes also helps, since there is enough time to develop a proper story. The short could be the perfect starting point for a true Star Wars sequel, a fresh start for a new generation of fans, one that is not held back by decades worth of canon and established characters. This is what Star Wars needs, in my opinion. Virtually everything Disney produced since 2015 is relying on nostalgia, there are cameos left and right and references to older movies or shows that may satisfy long time fans, more or less, but make it extremely difficult for newcomers.
The sequel trilogy was a weird hybrid, it tried to establish a new cast of heroes and villains but used the OT characters as a crutch, the end result hardly satisfied longtime fans and ultimately failed to establish a new cast of iconic Star Wars characters.
The Ninth Jedi solves all of that. It simply cuts all ties to the Original Trilogy, jumps forward in time into a future where the galaxy is in turmoil, the Jedi order is no more and evil and chaos reign. All of that without resorting to some kind of Empire or First Order. With young Kara we get the heroine Lucasfilm wanted Rey to be, but Rey turned out to be Blandy McGirlscout who does things… because the script requires her to. That she turned out to be the daughter of Palpatine and then appropriated the Skywalker name doesn’t make things any better. But then we have someone like Kara in The Ninth Jedi. Not only do we immediately believe why she would be able to handle a lightsaber, she is the daughter of a lightsaber smith after all, but she also has personal agency, something that Rey entirely lacked. Kara wants to save her father from the clutches of the Sith. And we have the overarching goal of re-establishing the Jedi order. But Kara is not alone, Jaro is the ideal mentor figure, strong in the Force, mysterious with an unknown background, which would give lots of possibilities to explore his past and then there’s young Jedi Ethan who will certainly grow alongside Kara. And so we have two brand new heroes, Kara and Ethan, who we can identify with, supported by the archetypical mentor figure of Jaro. And neither Karo or Ethan are ridiculously overpowered. While Kara would certainly be destined to become a great Jedi neither she nor Ethan actually managed to take down a single Sith, they held their own and defended themselves, but it is Jaro who actually kills all of them, as it should be, since he is very apparently some kind of Jedi master and Kara, despite all her talent, just a young woman who has never really dueled someone before.
The Ninth Jedi tweaks a few familiar Star Wars concepts here and there, most important of all the idea of tempering kyber crystals, but otherwise uses the best elements of Star Wars and puts it all together in a new and exciting setting that has so much potential.
If Lucasfilm is smart they will use The Ninth Jedi as a template for a new movie trilogy. One that leaves behind all the problems of the sequels, one that cuts all ties to the past (at least for now) and gives longtime fans the Star Wars they love and newcomers the chance to become familiar with the franchise without needing to consult Wookiepedia every 5 minutes to understand a reference or whoever that character is.
Unfortunately Visions producer James Waugh stated in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, that there are currently no plans to bring any of the Visions characters to live action. I believe Lucasfilm should seriously reconsider this. It’s almost tragic that things like The Ninth Jedi may forever be a one-off, whereas the next big movie is Rogue Squadron set in the ST timeline… In the same interview it is revealed that Kathleen Kennedy was instrumental in getting Visions made, it was her idea to approach various Japanese animation studios (she is apparently a big fan of anime). Kennedy could greatly improve her extremely mixed track record when it comes to the movies if she greenlit a live action movie or maybe even a whole new trilogy based on The Ninth Jedi. Lucasfilm will hopefully gauge fan reactions and see how enthusiastically many fans received the short.
Star Wars needs a fresh start on the big screen without any of the baggage from any of the previous trilogies or shows. Give a new generation a chance to learn about Star Wars like the OT generation had when A New Hope was first released and everything was new. The sequels failed miserably in that regard, what we got instead were “Reylos” who were fixated on an abusive relationship between Kylo and Rey. This is not what Star Wars needs, it needs that sense of wonder and excitement again, a Saturday morning adventure for everyone, and The Ninth Jedi has all of that and more.
Sometimes the view of an outsider, this time Japanese creatives not entangled in the Lucasfilm/Disney web of studio politics and other considerations, is what is needed to course correct. Now Lucasfilm only need to act on that.
Also, I hope J.J. Abrams will find time in his busy schedule to watch The Ninth Jedi. He could learn a thing or two.
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