It only took a week. After Colin Trevorrow's unceremonious exit from the Star Wars: Episode IX director's chair, speculation was rife about who would step in to helm the final instalment. "Ava DuVernay," cried optimists, apparently unaware the position would require someone with whom Lucasfilm had a pre-existing working relationship. "Rian Johnson," suggested others, closer to the mark. "J.J. Abrams," wrote our own Phil Nobile Jr.
As he is in most things, Phil was right. Per StarWars.com:
J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.
“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
Now, by "everything we could have possibly hoped for," Kathleen Kennedy means "a Star Wars film people generally liked, a competent and agreeable working process, and a few billion in the bank." Hard to argue with that. And with Abrams already serving as producer on the film, his shift into the director's chair feels like an easy, obvious fit. And Kennedy's right: there's symmetry to Abrams returning to the characters he helped create. It's like poetry. It rhymes.
Maybe Episode IX could have been put in more exciting hands - those of an auteur, or those of a woman or POC. The former will never happen; the latter two surely will eventually, if you extrapolate the Star Wars production timeline out as far as Lucasfilm surely has. One thing's certain: as uninspiring a choice as he is, Abrams is still an assuredly superior option than the man who built The Book Of Henry.