Last Jedi Teaser Breakdown
By BigD 112358
Good vs. Evil. Right and wrong. Love. Selflessness. Sacrifices made for those we care about. These are all classic themes that lie at the core of the Star Wars mythology and ethos. How do these themes appear to play out in The Last Jedi? After listening to the Geekologist teaser reaction, I realize that I have a very different interpretation of the teaser trailer. By piecing together clues from past movies and canonical material, it is clear to me that Rey’s greatest challenge in the film will be to convince her father, Luke, to re-engage with the galactic struggle of good vs. evil, train her has a Jedi, and work hand in hand to remake the Jedi order as a force-wielding sect that embraces human emotion.
Let’s begin by looking back at what the light and dark sides of the force. It is clear that the light side of the force, wielded by the Jedi, represents good in the universe. The dark side, wielded by the Sith and others, represents evil. In an attempt to embody goodness, the Jedi enacted strict rules within the Jedi Order.
Consider Yoda’s line from the Phantom Menace, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” According to Jedi teachings, allowing emotions to cloud one’s judgement is a path to darkness and evil. The Jedi go so far as to prohibit romantic relationships and avoid emotional attachments that can incite fear of loss, a first step toward darkness and evil actions.
This fear is realized by Anakin. His turn to the dark side is precipitated by his love for Padme. Anakin’s fear of losing her not only leads him to the dark side, but ironically enables Padme’s death.
If Anakin serves as a clear example of the pitfalls of emotional attachment for a force-wielder, who controls their emotions effectively? This is where things begin to fall apart. Yoda is a prominent Jedi Master who walks this line. He has no discernable attachments. What about Obi-Wan? He is the quintessential Jedi, so he must follow in Yoda’s footsteps, right? Not so fast. Obi-Wan had strong emotional attachments. Look at his dialogue with Anakin on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith, “You were my brother Anakin. I loved you.” Or look at his relationship with Satine, the Mandalorian dutchess whom he cared deeply for as a padawan and during the Clone Wars. It is unclear whether their relationship was ever physical, but Obi-Wan professed that he would have left the Jedi Order for Satine if she’d asked.
Did these emotional attachments hinder Obi-Wan? Did they lead him down a path to darkness? The answer is a definitive NO. Obi-Wan was unencumbered by brotherly love when he struck Anakin down, fulfilling his duty as a Jedi. And Darth Maul, who killed Satine in front of Obi-Wan, did not incite rage, vengeance, or anger. In their final showdown in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, Obi-Wan pitied his old foe, only striking him down in defense.
What of Luke Skywalker? In Empire Strikes Back, Yoda and Obi-Wan cautioned Luke to ignore his emotional attachments to his friends and to continue his training. Luke ignored their pleas and rushed off to their aid. It turned out to be a trap. Vader manipulated his son using his emotional attachments. Is Luke another cautionary tale, like his father? Not so fast. Luke, like his father, struggled with Yoda’s assertion that fear leads to anger, hate, and suffering. In the end, Luke succeeded where his father failed, doing his duty as a Jedi and controlling his emotions. Furthermore, his love for his father was a driver for his success. He refused to give up on Anakin, and was rewarded for his compassion as he witnessed his father’s redemption.
Watching the teaser trailer for The last Jedi while considering Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Luke’s emotional attachments, as well as the good vs. evil themes running throughout the series, has colored my predictions. First, what do we make of Light, Dark, and Balance in the force? Admittedly, the meaning of “restoring balance to the force” has always been vague. Does finding balance mean a 50/50 split of light and dark, good and evil? Was Anakin the Chosen One? Does it mean squashing the dark side and letting the light reign? Major characters in the films seem equally unsure.
Obi-Wan to Anakin, “You were the chosen one. It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them. Bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness.”
Obi-Wan, “...is he not the chosen one? Is he not to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the force?”
Mace Windu, “So the prophecy says.”
Yoda, “A prophecy… that misread could have been.”
Darth Maul, about the boy Obi-Wan is protecting on Tatooine, “Tell me, is he the chosen one?”
Obi-Wan, “He is.”
Two reasons why these quotes strike me. First, it’s clear that Jedi Masters like Yoda, Mace Windu, and Obi-Wan are puzzled by the prophecy of a chosen one who will bring balance to the force. They do not even know who the prophecy is about. Second, they believe “bringing balance” means destroying the Sith.
In the teaser trailer, we hear Rey contemplating, “Light, Dark, Balance.” Luke and Rey are exploring the very nature of the force. Could they know more about the prophecy than previous Jedi masters? Does this somehow relate to Luke’s statement that “the Jedi must end?”
How does this all fit together in a cohesive story? How can the story address the prophecy and balance in the force while preserving the ideas of good and evil? And what about that last line?
Here is my prediction:
The movie will begin with Rey handing Luke the lightsaber. Luke will refuse it. He wants to completely disengage from the galactic struggle of good and evil. And he has a good reason why.
We will learn that Luke continued to allow himself emotional attachments. He fell in love with a woman (Mara Jade?). They had a daughter. Luke also started a Jedi Academy, training young force-wielding children as a new generation of Jedi. All was going well until Snoke emerged from the Outer Rim, somehow manipulating Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren. The Acolytes of the Beyond (mentioned during interludes in the Aftermath novels) become the Knights of Ren, worshipping the descendant of Vader.
Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren kill the other Jedi Academy students and burn down the Academy. They also kill Luke’s wife in the process.
Broken, feeling like quite the failure, Luke goes into exile. Before doing so, he leaves his daughter, Rey, on a remote desert planet. His hope is to break the cycle of Jedi. He wishes he never left Tatooine; Luke’s path as a Jedi has brought him nothing but pain and suffering. He believes hiding Rey from her destiny will protect her from the same fate.
In exile, Luke looks to old Jedi texts he’s hunted down, seeking a better way. He pores over old texts and broods.
At first, Luke tells Rey he wants the Jedi line to end. He wants to stop the cycle of pain. In time, Rey (still not knowing her lineage) convinces Luke that if he won’t join the fight against the First Order, he should at least train her to do so. Luke reluctantly agrees. During this training period, Luke and Rey explore the nature of the force. The reemergence of the dark side is throwing the force out of balance. The Jedi teachings of the past were too narrow; it was asking too much of people to avoid all relationships and emotional connections to others. When rationalizing his relationship to Padme, Anakin was actually correct. “Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life.”
Then the attack comes. Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren have found Ach-To. They catch Rey off guard. She is alone and about to be killed. That is, until Luke shows up. For the first time in the film, we see him ignite a lightsaber. He then does what he vowed never to do again; he joins the fight. Luke annihilates the Knights of Ren. After dialoguing with Luke, Kylo Ren flees. Luke now fully sanctions Rey’s fight against the First Order. He tells her she is his daughter. Furthermore, the two of them resolve to renew the Jedi Order, but without the unrealistic restrictions that attempted to hamper emotion and love. Luke is all in, and he heads back to the Resistance base with Rey to reunite with Leia.
There has been much talk of Luke becoming a Grey Jedi, walking the line between light and dark. I disagree. He will not become a Jedi version of Bindu [Rebels, Season 3], playing both sides of the coin and allowing injustice to play itself out without intervention. He will not become Asajj Ventress, playing both sides of the coin and helping whomever helps Luke meet his own needs. He will not do a little bad for the greater good like Cassian Andor; this is not the Marvel Universe. Luke will be a hero. Rey will be a hero. They will fight for good, and for the light. Or not; perhaps I too have misread the prophecy.