Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker includes an alleged plot hole involving Luke’s X-wing, but the film’s novelization provides an explanation for it.
The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization provides an explanation for the film’s plot hole regarding Luke Skywalker’s X-wing. In the movie, Rey returns to Ahch-To after her duel against Kylo Ren on Kef Bir, with the intention of living the rest of her days in isolation on the remote planet. However, a pep talk from her old master, Luke, encourages Rey to fulfill her destiny and defeat Emperor Palpatine once and for all. The only problem is that when Rey changed her mind, she seemingly had no way off Ahch-To. Upon her arrival, she destroyed Kylo Ren’s TIE fighter, rendering the ship useless.
Luke came to Rey’s aid again, providing her with transportation to Exegol. In a clear callback to The Empire Strikes Back, Luke lifted his old X-wing out of the water so Rey could fly it. The only problem with this was that it appeared to retroactively create a Last Jedi plot hole. The Last Jedi art book confirmed Luke had destroyed his X-wing when he got to Ahch-To, so based on that information, the ship should not have been usable in The Rise of Skywalker. However, now that the official novelization is out, Lucasfilm is attempting to explain the perceived plot hole.
In the scene where Rey approaches Exegol, author Rae Carson provides some additional insight into the X-wing and why it was flyable despite allegedly being destroyed by Luke:
“It was old tech, and it had taken some fast thinking and even faster fingers to get it flight worthy – the wing patched with the door to Luke’s hut, shield panels scavenged from the TIE wreckage, and a hefty amount of rewiring.”
What this reveals is offscreen, Rey used her scavenger background to perform some quick repairs on the X-wing to get it up and running. Carson makes a point to write in the same passage that the X-wing is not fully functional in the slightest, adding “It might never fight again – not without help from Rose and her parts-requisition channels.” So, whatever Rey did, it was the bear minimum to just get the ship off the ground. This definitely helps smooth over any concerns viewers initially had with the Rise of Skywalker scene. From what can be garnered in the novelization, Luke did indeed destroy his ship and it had to be fixed before it could fly again. The novelization’s timeline is a bit murky when compared to the movie (Rey apparently stays on Ahch-To overnight before embarking to Exegol), so this may also explain why Luke didn’t fly the X-wing to Crait in The Last Jedi. He didn’t have the resources or the time to repair the ship, so he had no choice but to Force project himself across the galaxy.
One of the more common critiques of The Rise of Skywalker is that the film comes across as rushed and isn’t entirely thought-out. For instance, Emperor Palpatine’s return to the fold feels sudden due to a lack of setup in the previous installments. The X-wing scene is a prime example of this complaint. On the surface, it’s cool to see Luke finally lift the ship out of the water, but as presented in the movie, the sequence doesn’t entirely add up with what came before, contradicting The Last Jedi in the process. The film makes it seem as if the X-wing was ready for flight all along, which is why some took issue with the scene. An argument can be made the movie almost definitely would have improved if this bit was included. Pausing the story to show Rey doing some speedy repairs may have slowed down the momentum, but it would have cleared up what audiences perceived to be a gaping plot hole.