THE LAST JEDI Proves There Are STAR WARS Questions… And Star Wars QUESTIONS!?
*** MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ***
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi has arrived and it is a gorgeous, emotional and funny entry in the saga. Many fans wondered if the film would follow The Empire Strikes Back structurally as The Force Awakens followed A New Hope. It most definitely does not and I’m happy about that. I wanted Star Wars to break free and give us something different and Rian Johnson delivered an incredible sequel.
Like it or not, this IS Star Wars only a little different. Johnson’s vision of the galaxy breaks new ground in almost every scene including the enormous twists in the film’s final act. Different is good. The Last Jedi is nothing like Empire. That’s not the problem. The problem I have with The Last Jedi is how much it breaks away from The Force Awakens…
J.J Abrams did a fantastic job reintroducing fans to a galaxy far, far away. The Force Awakens gave us all new characters to love and brought back the legends of the series in a satisfying way. However, the film’s biggest triumph is the questions it left behind.
Where does Rey come from? Who are her parents? Who is Snoke and how did he gain so much power? Why did Kylo turn on Luke? Why did Luke disappear?
Fans posted theories daily.
Rey is a Skywalker. Rey is a solo. Rey is a Palpatine. Rey was conceived by the force…
Snoke is Darth Plagueis the Wise. Snoke is The First Jedi.
The Last Jedi gave us the answers to almost all these questions but some of the answers fell a little short.
WHO ARE REY'S PARENTS?
Her parents are… Nobody.
Not quite the answer we were hoping for but it does make sense within the confines of The Last Jedi. Luke maintains throughout the film that the Jedi must end. They’ve made too many mistakes and Luke is no exception. What Luke fails to see is that an entirely new Jedi order is possible now that Rey has learned her place.
Rey being a nobody supports the entire point of the film. We’ve heard many times that evil has taken many forms. (Sith, Empire, First Order…) The Jedi must evolve as well and that evolution can come from anywhere. Even a nobody like Rey or the child at the end of the film.
The problem is the answer doesn’t quite connect to The Force Awakens. If the GRAND revelation was always meant to be ‘nobody’ then why set it up as a mystery in the first place? You could have set up the idea that a nobody can rise to become extraordinary in the first 10 minutes of Episode VII. It could have been a theme that carried through the entire trilogy.
Rey’s parents sold her because they viewed her as insignificant. She is anything but insignificant. Rey being a nobody makes perfect sense. It means that the Skywalkers aren’t the center of the universe anymore. It means there are endless possibilities and stories to tell.
I get it. There simply didn’t need to be two years of build up for that.
WHO IS SUPREME LEADER SNOKE?
Supreme Leader Snoke was a menacing presence in The Force Awakens. It led fans to search throughout the mythology for clues of his past, his power and his influence on the galaxy.
Theories came from everywhere.
My personal favorite is that Snoke could be Darth Plageis. It was established in Episode III when Palpatine describes him as a being of extraordinary power. He could essentially cheat death. If Palpatine killed Plageis and he came back, it makes perfect sense for him to be disfigured and scarred.
Plageis could also influence the force to create life itself. He could have been responsible for the creation of Anakin. This would technically make him Luke’s Grandfather. It would have tied everything together and given him an incredible back story.
I’m not saying Snoke HAD to be Darth Plageis but I wanted him to be SOMEBODY. Even if he didn’t have any connection to the rest of the canon at least give us more details about his past and motivations moving forward. We learn essentially nothing about Snoke before Kylo Ren betrays him.
It turns out, he’s a nobody too. A means to an end. A character who exists purely for the purpose of advancing Kylo’s story. The whole mystery surrounding who he is and why he has so much power is unresolved. He’s old enough to exist during the time of the Empire and Vader. Did they ever meet?
Was he like the boy at the end of the film? A nobody who simply followed a path to darkness? (That would have been a nice parallel.) At least we got a definitive answer with Rey. She’s a nobody. Good. We know nothing about Snoke.
Here’s an interesting quote from Rian Johnson about Kylo’s turn and Snoke’s fate:
“When I was working on the character of Kylo, I came to a place where I thought the most interesting thing would be to knock the shaky foundation out from under him at the beginning of this movie…By the end of this film, he’s gone from being a wannabe Vader to someone who is standing on his own feet as a complex villain taking the reins.
But then the question is: What place would Snoke have at the end of that?…That made me realize the most interesting thing would be to eliminate that dynamic between the ‘emperor’ and pupil, so that all bets are off going into the next one. That also led to the possibility of this dramatic turn in the middle, which could also be a really powerful connection point between Kylo and Rey.
It would have stopped any of these scenes dead cold if he had stopped and given a 30-second speech about how he’s Darth Plagueis…It doesn’t matter to Rey. If he had done that, Rey would have blinked and said, ‘Who?’ And the scene would have gone on…and I’m not saying he’s Darth Plagueis!” (Screen Rant)
Again, for The Last Jedi, the twist was absolutely perfect. Kylo evolves once again and takes control of his own destiny. It just doesn’t fit the larger universe or answer any questions The Force Awakens left behind. It reduces Snoke to the level of Darth Maul. Cool looking, good in a fight, totally wasted in the end.
THE PURPOSE OF THE SUPPORTING CAST
My biggest issue with the film is the entire plan for Finn and Rose to travel to Canto Bight. The casino was a fantastic location and provided some great details about who funds the First Order and the Resistance. It’s exactly the kind of politics the prequels were missing instead of focusing on regimes that allow Jar Jar Binks influence on the galaxy. I digress…
My question revolves around logistics.
If Admiral Holdo would have just told Poe that they were organizing a plan to cloak their escape vessels and travel to Crait, there would be no need to go to Canto Bight. In the end, they didn’t even get to the man they wanted. Instead they trusted DJ and he, of course, betrayed them. This whole plot thread is the worst part of The Last Jedi because the plan was useless and actually derailed the BETTER plan that could have worked.
It felt like Finn and Rose didn’t have a place in the story. They felt disconnected and insignificant. I love the characters but they were wasted here. I love that Rose and Finn helped inspire the kids to believe in the Resistance. I just think it could have been handled differently. I just kept finding myself wishing they would just get back to Rey, Luke and Kylo’s story.
In the end, I just don’t think they new what to do with Finn. This was perfectly encapsulated when captain Phasma was disposed of so easily. The Finn vs Phasma rivalry was carefully set up in The Force Awakens and easily brushed aside in The Last Jedi.
Aside from a few new characters, it is Poe who gets the best character arc as he learns to lead. The rest of the subplots just served as distractions while the (incredible) main plot played out.
So… Leia has some powers.
It’s a nice surprise and I’m actually okay with the powers she has. Other than the fact that it looks ridiculous visually, the revelation makes sense for The Last Jedi.
But it raises several questions when you step outside of Episode VIII. Kylo is constantly being pulled to the light and kills his own father to be free of the pain. Yet he hesitates to kill his mother. Presumably, she’s able to get inside his mind and sense that he is conflicted. He doesn’t pull the trigger. So there is still hope.
If that’s true, then why is she so accepting that Kylo is gone when Luke tells her he can’t be saved? The spark was there wasn’t it?
It’s unclear how J.J Abrams will handle the end of Leia’s story now that Carrie Fisher has passed away. It will undoubtedly be incredibly emotional for Kylo. At least… it should be incredibly emotional? Did killing Snoke truly solidify Kylo’s turn to the dark side? She may not be a Jedi but she is powerful. She HAD to sense Rey’s strength when they met in The Force Awakens. Couldn’t she have guided her then?
So again, her story makes sense in The Last Jedi. It just doesn’t quite connect to The Force Awakens.
THE KNIGHTS OF REN
The Force Awakens sets up The Knights of Ren in the rain presumably during the destruction of the Jedi temple. You would think they would be mentioned in The Last Jedi when we get to see that scene play out. If Luke sensed evil in Ben Solo then why aren’t the Knights of Ren mentioned?
Are they Snoke’s men sent to turn Ben or do they follow Kylo?
Once again, this was a brilliant set up with absolutely no pay off in The Last Jedi where it fit in logistically.
LUKE, YODA & THE FORCE
Yoda’s return was a fantastic surprise and featured in two of the most memorable moments in the film. First, Yoda is there to guide Luke and make him realize that failure is the greatest teacher of all. Luke believes he failed his nephew and himself. His actions ignited Ben’s hatred for his family. It all makes perfect sense for Luke to believe the Jedi must end. He blames himself and he should but Yoda’s wisdom is spot on. Believing in his own legend, he tried to stop mistakes before they happened and it hurt him in the end. Thanks to Yoda’s guidance, Luke finally makes peace with his own mistakes and returns to help his sister and the Resistance.
The result a truly remarkable display of force power we’ve never seen before. He projects himself across the galaxy to face Kylo Ren. We’ve seen force ghosts before and Yoda is the latest example of that. But there are a few things that don’t quite line up.
Yoda, Obiwan, Qui-Gon and Anakin all had the power to return after ‘death’. It’s suggested that Qui-Gon learned this power at the end of Episode III and the rest show up to guide Luke in one form or another.
What doesn’t quite work is how Yoda is able to summon a giant bolt of lightning to destroy the first Jedi temple. It was the second big moment Yoda was a part of highlighted by his cheeky ‘Rey possesses everything she needs’ dialogue. But imagine how useful that would be for other Force Ghosts we’ve seen?
Theoretically, Anakin could return and throw down some lightning. Obi-Wan could– I’m just going stop.
We now have a second type of ‘Force Ghost’. Luke is very much alive when he projects himself across the galaxy to help his friends. Yet he can actually interact with other characters and his environment. If I was Kylo Ren, I would be learning this power immediately!
It’s the key to invincibility! Assuming the selfless act isn’t responsible for Luke’s ‘death’ in the end. If it isn’t, Kylo could project himself beside all his enemies while they sleep and wipe them out. All of them.
It’s obviously not going to be that simple but it’s part of the universe now.
I think Luke will have a large role in Episode IX. He will counsel Rey and he will most certainly haunt his nephew. But we now know that, no matter how limited the power may be, he can also influence things in the real world as a Force Ghost thanks to Yoda’s display.
These are two game changing powers. Combined with Snoke’s ability to create psychic bonds between people and monitor their thoughts, the Force evolves a great deal in The Last Jedi.
It works for this movie. Perfectly. I’m still trying to get a sense of how it all connects to previous installments. Especially The Force Awakens.
STAR WARS QUESTIONS vs STAR WARS QUESTIONS
Complaints aside, I loved The Last Jedi. I just didn’t love how several key elements connected to the rest of the Saga. The Force Awakens left us to ponder the big mysteries Abrams’ set up for us. The hype for Episode VIII began with a thirst for answers to those mysterious questions. Whether you liked the them or not, we did get some answers. Now my questions are focused on logistics and plot holes instead of the central mythology of the galaxy. I’m not sure I’m a fan of that even though plot holes are a staple in the Star Wars universe.
As a stand alone Star Wars movie, it’s remarkable how different The Last Jedi is while remaining a ‘Star Wars’ movie. J.J Abrams did a great job setting up the trilogy with The Force Awakens but it’s incredibly obvious that a new storyteller came on board for Episode VIII. Rian Johnson told his Star Wars story and it’s a brilliantly crafted adventure. Now J.J Abrams is tasked with completing his version AND Johnson’s version. While we speculate on what that vision will look like, there is a tiny spark of hope for my issues with The Last Jedi. Nothing is definitive after all. The story isn’t over. Maybe Snoke still has a role to play. Maybe Phasma wasn’t wasted and Finn has a larger purpose in this story. Maybe Rey’s past is significant even if it remains insignificant.
There are still plenty of Star Wars questions to ponder in the coming years. Let the speculation begin.