IMAGINE this – movie magic is in the air as the chimes of John Williams’ iconic soundtrack fade away and the stars in deep space come into focus.

It is December 19 already and the latest installment in a cultural touchstone franchise is here.

Now here is what you need to know in anticipation of that nostalgic cinema moment. I will get right to the important stuff and leave the detail for later.

The end of an era??

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is being billed as the end of the journey for the family that started it all.

The Skywalker lineage has endured on-screen for four decades and Disney X Lucas Film have decided that it is time for it to come to an end.

Expect the plot strands leading from Anakin Skywalker to his son’s padawan Rey to be wrapped-up.

However, it isn’t the end for the franchise as a whole. Plenty of movies, games and TV shows will release in the future.

These include ‘The Mandalorian’ a TV show on Disney+ focusing on Boba Fett along with a long awaited Kenobi solo offering, rumored to be a show on the streaming service.

The big bad

As the teaser trailer reveals, The Rise of Skywalker will see the evil of Darth Sidious emerge from the wreckage of the old Death Star.

The plot is a semi adaptation of a tale from the comics called Dark Empire.

Episode 7 pumped-up General Snoke as the next big bad but his seemingly anticlimactic end makes sense now.

A final trailer is set to be released this week and is rumored to show the Emperor with his force lightning ability stronger than ever.

The ties that bind

Another similarity with Dark Empire is the most pure heroes feeling pull to the Darkside.

In Dark Empire Luke Skywalker appears to be flirting with a move to the Darkside of the force.

It is later revealed that he was in deep cover and even his sister needed to believe that he had defected for his plot against the Emperor to work. It was all a ruse…maybe.

A parting shot in the trailer for Episode 9 shows Rey, hooded like a Sith wielding a red double bladed lightsaber.

Although he remained quiet about what that means, director J.J Abrams said that Rey’s relationship with darkness will be addressed in the new film.

Not only that, we will learn definitively who her mystery parents are. Kylo Ren’s answer in Episode 8: “nobody” didn’t quite ring true and now we know why.

In contrast to Rey’s story, Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s inner desire to return home will come to a conclusion in this episode. Could the writers do something very daring and see Kylo and Ren both crossover? At odds once again but on different sides of the war?

In an interview with Empire magazine, J.J Abrams revealed that Ben Solo’s cronies, The Knights of Ren will appear. But what does this mean for his arc? Will he once again consider a move back into the light but ultimately become more embedded in the Darkside?

The details

J.J Abrams will return as director, fitting as he took the helm on Episode 7. Colin Trevorrow was originally meant to sit the director’s chair on The Rise of Skywalker but left the project over creative differences.

A trailer is set to be aired during Monday Night Football despite the fact that some filming is still taking place.