- "We’re not alone. Good people will fight if we lead them."
- ―Poe Dameron, to the Resistance
A battle on the planet of Exegol, in the Unknown Regions, was the final and decisive battle in the war between the First Order and the Resistance in which the Resistance and the galaxy fleet defeated the Final Order, the empire which had been built by the Sith Eternal and with which the First Order had joined forces. The Resistance's triumph at the battle successfully prevented the restoration of the Sith and the Sith fleet from deploying off Exegol, and incited people to rise up against the First Order across the galaxy.
The origins of the Battle of Exegol emerged from the discovery that Emperor Darth Sidious — long presumed dead after the Battle of Endor — had somehow returned and amassed followers to construct a massive fleet while hidden away in the Unknown Regions, as part of his plot to form a new Empire. The Jedi aspirant Rey (having just learned her true identity as Palpatine's granddaughter) was able to use a wayfinder to locate Sidious's stronghold at Exegol, the legendary hidden world of the Sith, and transmit the coordinates to the Resistance, allowing them to navigate there along a safe passage.
The battle began when the Resistance arrived at Exegol with their forces in an effort to prevent the Final Order's Star Destroyers from disembarking. A ground team led by General Finn was tasked with taking out a navigation tower while an air team commanded by General Poe Dameron was to defend them. However, when the Final Order realized the Resistance was targeting the navigation tower on Exegol, Allegiant General Enric Pryde had the source of the navigation signal switched to his command ship, forcing the Resistance's ground team to land on his Star Destroyer. The Resistance was nearly crushed, until General Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca arrived on the Millennium Falcon with a massive makeshift fleet of over 16,000 ships from across the galaxy.
Meanwhile, Sidious attempted to turn Rey to the dark side, exhorting her to sacrifice him and thus transform herself into a Sith and restore the Sith Order. However, Ben Solo arrived to help her; they defeated the Knights of Ren and Sidious's royal guards, but Sidious used their connection to heal himself. The Emperor disposed of Solo, using the Force to cast him into a nearby abyss, and ascended the throne of the Sith himself, from where he unleashed torrents of Force lightning into the sky, electrifying the Resistance's fleet. However, Rey was likewise strengthened by the spirits of past Jedi, allowing her to stand and face her grandfather, who refocused his lightning towards her, giving the Resistance an opportunity to finish their mission. Finn and Jannah blew up the command ship, destroying the signal and preventing the Sith fleet from deploying off Exegol, while the galaxy fleet and starfighters destroyed a large number of Sith Star Destroyers.
Rey defended herself from her grandfather's Force lightning with the lightsabers of her masters, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, causing the lightning to deflect back at the Sith Lord and disintegrate him, killing the Dark Lord of the Sith and preventing the return of the Sith Order once and for all. Rey died, but Ben Solo reappeared and sacrificed himself to resurrect her, giving his life force to her. With the Sith fleet trapped on Exegol, Rey and the rest of the Resistance escaped, and learned that people were rising up across the galaxy.
- "How did you do it? Defeat an empire with almost nothing?"
"We had each other. That's how we won."
- ―Poe Dameron and Lando Calrissian
Following the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, the Dark Lord of the Sith and Emperor of the Galactic Empire Darth Sidious managed to return after his death and arrive on the planet Exegol in the Unknown Regions, albeit requiring to be moved and sustained by machinery due to his body being physically impaired. On Exegol, the former Emperor was attended to by a Sith cult, the Sith Eternal. Over the next many years, the Sith Eternal constructed a massive armada of planet-destroying Xyston-class Star Destroyers, the Sith Eternal fleet, for what Sidious called the Final Order, with the goal of creating a new Empire and restoring Sith rule to the galaxy. In 35 ABY, by which point the First Order, a military junta formed by former Imperial officers, nobles, technologists, and warlords who had fled into the Unknown Regions after the fall of the Empire, had controlled large swathes of the galaxy as part of their war of conquest, a broadcast was put out across the galaxy using the voice of Darth Sidious, which promised revenge.
Seeking to crush any potential threat to his rule, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, who had risen to rule the First Order after assassinating his master and predecessor, Snoke, sought a path to the Emperor. Ren acquired his grandfather's wayfinder device and used it to travel alone to Exegol, where he found the returned Sidious and his followers. The Sith Lord revealed to Ren that he created Snoke, and told Ren that the First Order was "just the beginning." He promised Ren the might of the Final Order if he killed Rey, the last Jedi, who he revealed to Ren was his granddaughter.
After a series of missions with Poe Dameron, Finn, Chewbacca, C-3PO, BB-8, and D-O, Rey acquired the Emperor's wayfinder. However, it was destroyed by Kylo Ren, who had also informed her that she was the Emperor's granddaughter, making her a Palpatine. Rey defeated Ren in a lightsaber duel after he was distracted by the death of his mother and Rey's Jedi Master, Leia Organa, and took his TIE whisper. Initially giving into fear and exiling herself on Ahch-To, where she destroyed Ren's ship, Rey was motivated by the spirit of her first Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker, who encouraged her to face her fear. Rey traveled along a safe route to Exegol in Skywalker's X-wing, Red Five, using Kylo Ren's wayfinder and transmitted her plotted course to the Resistance, allowing them to travel along her passage. Through information acquired from D-O, a droid that had been owned by a Sith cultist, Ochi, the Resistance learned that the Sith fleet required a signal from a navigation tower in order to deploy off of Exegol, and devised a battle strategy to take out the tower. Poe Dameron and Finn, who had become the leading generals of the Resistance after Leia Organa's death, sent General Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca on the Millennium Falcon to the Core systems to try and recruit any of the free worlds to aid them. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren experienced a vision of a memory of his father, Han Solo. Confessing his love for his father, Kylo Ren threw his lightsaber into the sea and renounced the dark side, assuming his born identity as Ben Solo once again.
Emperor Palpatine—the public identity of Darth Sidious—contacted the First Order's Allegiant General Enric Pryde, who, as an Imperial veteran, had previously served the Emperor and had sought to align the First Order with the Sith fleet in order to increase their resources, pledged the First Order to the Emperor. The Emperor declared that the Final Order was beginning; he ordered Pryde to Exegol, and sent him a ship from the Sith fleet, which Pryde used to destroy a planet close to the Resistance on the Emperor's orders, Kijimi. Pryde arrived to Exegol on his Resurgent-class Star Destroyer, the Steadfast, which served as the Sith fleet's command ship.
- "Welcome to Exegol."
- ―General Poe Dameron
The Resistance arrived on Exegol to find a massive armada of Star Destroyers, which comprised Sidious' fleet. They realized the potential of the fleet to destroy any planet possible since every Star Destroyer was equipped with the same cannon as the one that destroyed Kijimi. Poe and Finn opted to launch a ground assault over an air assault in order to disable the navigation tower while at the same time avoiding Final Order tracking. However, Pryde learned of their plan to take out the navigation tower, so he instead switched the navigation signal to the Steadfast, opting to control the fleet themselves. When the lander realized the signal had been transferred, Finn reached out with the force to identify the new source of the command signal, and identified Pryde's ship as the source, after which they carried forward with their ground assault, landing on the hull of the Steadfast instead. They deployed a fleet of orbaks, blasting their way through cannon fire, much to the bafflement of Pryde. When Pryde switched the navigation signal again to another Star Destroyer, Finn and Poe abandoned the ground attack in favor of an air assault.
Showdown with the Sith
With the battle raging above her, Rey entered the Sith Citadel and found Sidious and the machinery that held him within the throne room, which contained an arena that was filled with Sith loyalists. Sidious expressed his satisfaction at finally seeing his granddaughter, while telling her that the Resistance is walking into a trap. Before the throne of the Sith, he collapsed the ceiling, revealing the battle above of an outnumbered and outmatched Resistance and its seemingly imminent failure against the Sith fleet. Sidious exploited Rey's feelings for the Resistance, telling her that the only way to save them is for her to strike him down in anger, calling her "Empress Palpatine" and encouraging her to take her rightful place on the throne of the Sith. This would ensure the Sith Lord's essence's transferral to the young and strong body of Rey, renewing the Sith Eternal for the reign of its Final Order. Rey was faced with a confrontation of wills as the desire to save the Resistance as well as her uneasiness of being a Palpatine collided in her mind. With the Sith loyalists chanting, Sidious prepared to be struck down by Rey.
However, a glimpse of hope came when the newly redeemed Ben Solo arrived. Landing his TIE scout next to Luke's X-wing, which Rey used to get to Exegol from Ahch-To, Solo made his way to the Sith Citadel, shooting down some Sovereign Protectors. On the way, he encountered his former comrades, the Knights of Ren. He attempted to get past them by starting with Force Pushing Cardo to the ground. When Vicrul attempted to attack Ben with his phrik scythe, Ben caused him to stumble. The other knights Ap'lek, Kuruk, Trudgen and Ushar attacked the unarmed Ben, scarring his face. He contacted Rey through their Force-bond and nodded. Pretending to strike down Sidious, Rey instead used their Force bond to transfer the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker to Solo as she ignited the lightsaber of Leia Organa. Solo then proceeded to use the Skywalker lightsaber to defeat the Knights of Ren, starting with a fatal slash to Kuruk and Cardo's chest and grazing Ap'lek's Mandalorian executioner vibro-ax.
Blocking swings from Ushar's war club and Trudgen's vibrocleaver, Solo force pushed Ap'lek to his death as he restrained and felled Vicrul. Trudgen attempted to attack his former leader but was effortlessly stabbed in the chest fatally. Ushar attempted to attack too but Ben leapt over him and stabbed him from the back. After Ushar dropped dead, Solo then arrived at Sidious' lair and reunited with Rey, who just finished off Sidious' Sovereign Protectors.
At first, Sidious intended to kill both of them, but realized that the duo together made a Force dyad, a phenomenon that, according to Sidious, hasn't been seen in generations. Realizing that their powers combined would allow him to fully return to life, Sidious used the Force to drain the life energy of both Rey and Ben to restore himself to the form he had before his first death at the hands of Anakin Skywalker during the Battle of Endor. Drained of their powers, Rey and Ben fell to the floor. Having no further use of Ben, Sidious, exclaiming revenge for his first death, flung him into a nearby abyss to an apparent death.
The galaxy fleet arrives
- "My friends, I'm sorry, I thought we had a shot, there is just too many of them."
"But there are more of us, Poe. There are more of us."
- ―Poe Dameron and Lando Calrissian
Up above, the Resistance was taking heavy losses, as Finn and Poe continued to lead the fight. As Temmin Wexley was shot down by a TIE dagger. Poe realized that they were losing the battle. However, Lando Calrissian arrived in the Millennium Falcon, bringing the galaxy fleet comprising of many Resistance ships from points all across the galaxy. The galaxy fleet then proceeded to join the battle against the Final Order.
End of the Sith
Sidious, having been fully restored to his former self, told his Sith loyalists to not fear the attack of the Resistance as no one will stop the Sith's return. He then proceeded to ignite a powerful display of Force Lightning into the air, which disabled all Resistance ships, including those of Finn, Poe, and the galaxy fleet, and sending them plummeting toward the ground, including the legendary Tantive IV. Much to Poe's shock, he realized he was losing control of his X-wing. Weakened and seemingly defeated, Rey heard the voices of past Jedi, including her former Master Luke Skywalker, his father Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Ahsoka Tano, Mace Windu, Luminara Unduli, Aayla Secura, Kanan Jarrus, and Adi Gallia encouraging her and lending her the strength to carry on against the Sith Lord.
Rey then stood up, with her new courage received from the Jedi before her. Sidious, noticing this, ceased his Force Lightning attack on the Resistance fleet. Poe, having realized that his starship's systems were back online, regrouped the allied forces and resumed their assault on the Final Order fleet, stating that they had one chance to take out the armada of Star Destroyers. Telling Rey that her death will be the Rebellion's final word, Sidious launched a barrage of Force lightning at Rey. Rey then attempted to block it with Leia's lightsaber, but Sidious told Rey that he cannot be stopped and that he is "All the Sith." However, Rey replied that she is "All the Jedi," calling back the Skywalker lightsaber and igniting it, using the two lightsabers to deflect Sidious' lightning back at him. Unable to take the strain of the immense energy reflected back at him, Sidious screamed in agony and horror as he was disintegrated under his own energy. In one big explosion that decimated the entire arena, himself, and all of the Sith Eternal, Darth Sidious–an ancient Sith Lord, the phantom menace and Galactic Emperor of the galaxy–was destroyed, bringing the Sith Order, as well as the ancient conflict between the Sith and the Jedi, to an end.
Rey died from the sheer amount of power required to utterly destroy Sidious, an event felt by Finn, and her body collapsed to the ground. However, Ben had survived the earlier ordeal with Sidious, and climbed up the cliff from the Abyss, running back to Rey as he realized she sacrificed herself to kill the Emperor. Finding Rey dead, Ben mourned her and cradled her in his arms. However, he then made the decision to sacrifice himself so Rey can live again. He put his hand on her and transferred his own life force into her body, resuscitating her. Rey and Ben shared a kiss, before Ben Solo, the last Skywalker and redeemed Jedi, vanished into the Force. Simultaneously, back on Ajan Kloss, Maz Kanata watched with a sense of peace as Leia's body became one with the Force.
Fall of the Final Order
Back in the space battle, Finn, Poe, Lando, and the rest of the Resistance and galaxy fleet destroyed the entire Final Order fleet. Finn and Jannah successfully destroyed the Steadfast by turning its turbolasers against the ship itself. As the Steadfast burst into flames, Pryde ran towards the front of the bridge, and was killed when it exploded. The Steadfast then fell towards the ground and crashed into another Star Destroyer, while Lando and Chewbacca rescued Finn and Jannah aboard the Millennium Falcon. With the Steadfast destroyed, the entire Sith fleet was trapped on Exegol, becoming a slaughterhouse for the Sith Eternal. The Resistance and the galaxy fleet destroyed the rest of the Star Destroyers in a similar fashion, by blowing up their axial superlasers. With the Final Order defeated and all the ships falling to the ground in ruins, Rey and the Resistance and the galaxy fleet emerged victorious and left Exegol to return to Ajan Kloss.
- "People are rising up all over the galaxy. Poe, we did it."
"We did it."
- ―Finn and Poe Dameron
As the Resistance and their galaxy fleet escaped off of Exegol, they learned that across the galaxy, people were rising up as the First Order began to collapse without the Sith Eternal fleet. Across the galaxy, where the Sith had deployed Star Destroyers to distant planets to force them into submission or destroy them, people rose up and destroyed the Star Destroyers, as seen on Cloud City and Endor. The Resistance and their allies returned to the Resistance's base on Ajan Kloss, where they celebrated their great victory, among them Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron.
The end of the battle saw the ushering of a long awaited peace across the galaxy. Through Rey and Ben Solo, the ancient conflict between the Sith and Jedi finally ended in a Jedi victory as the deaths of Darth Sidious as well as the rest of the Sith marked the end of the threat of any Sith rule across the galaxy. Through Finn, Poe, Lando, and the rest of the Resistance and the galaxy fleet, the entire Sith fleet collapsed on Exegol, with no threat of return. Their actions also ushered in a new sense of hope and courage across the galaxy as people gathered the will to rise up and destroy the remains of the Sith fleet and the First Order.
Behind the scenes
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition audiobook
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Galactic Guide
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary dates the events of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker as taking place one year after the Starkiller Incident, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 34 ABY. Therefore, the events of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker must take place in 35 ABY.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: New Adventures
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
- Breznican, Anthony (2020-02-04). Watch the Mesmerizing VFX Reel for The Rise of Skywalker — EXCLUSIVE. Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on February 21, 2020. Retrieved on February 4, 2020.
- Lussier, Germain (2020-03-10). See How Star Wars' Most Impressive Fleet Was Created in This Exclusive Rise of Skywalker Clip. Gizmodo. Archived from the original on March 14, 2020.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition states that the crew of the Tantive IV were killed when the corvette was destroyed during the battle of Exegol. As Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker establishes that Urcos Furdam piloted the Tantive IV during the battle, he must have been killed in the starship's destruction.
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
- Aftermath: Empire's End