Rise of Skywalker
The other day, a script leaked that was reportedly Colin Trevorrow’s draft of the original Star Wars Episode 9, one that wasn’t called Rise of Skywalker (its working title was Duel of the Fates), and one that went in wildly different directions than the original film, namely not abandoning every plot development of The Last Jedi like TROS did under JJ Abrams.
Now, a leak from an upcoming Star Wars artbook seems to confirm that script was legitimate because it has concept art for what was listed as the new central big bad of the film. That would be Tor Valum, Sith master.
Trevorrow’s script has Kylo Ren find a holocron from Emperor Palpatine left for Darth Vader (presumably made before Vader betrayed and killed him). In it, Palpatine says that Vader needs to finish his training and should do so under Sith master Tor Valum, who trained Palpatine.
Tor Valum is described as non-human and “Lovecraftian,” and the concept art certainly seems to echo that. Here are the leaked images of Tor Valum from the upcoming art book:
So that’s uh, certainly a weird spider-looking thing perched on the head of some dead giant animal. Yup.
While there were many aspects of Trevorrow’s script I liked, now that I’ve seen Tor Valum realized visually here, I am having a harder time thinking that introducing that character would have been a good idea. The impression I’m getting here is “Sith Yoda,” a strange looking alien that trains you in the force on a jungle planet.
But this is the third film in a trilogy and introducing a weird Sith spider-monster as the Sith lord even more powerful than Palpatine feels like a weird turn, especially with that sort of design. While I didn’t love the Palpatine resurrection idea for a few reasons, I have to say I would probably rather take zombie Palpatine over spider Sith thing here. Ideally, Snoke could have been developed into a better, more robust and interesting villain, but given his death in The Last Jedi that was impossible. So no matter who took over the film, a new bad guy other than Kylo and Hux was likely to be developed. Trevorrow went one way, Abrams went another.
I wonder if we could ever see Tor Valum crop up in Star Wars lore after this. Given that he was a totally scrapped concept, it does seem somewhat unusual for Disney to allow him to be included in an official art book like this. Perhaps we will meet Tor Valum someday, somehow after all, just outside of the Rey/Kylo trilogy.