Spoiler alert! If you haven’t yet watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi, then you may not wish to read this post. You have been warned…
The Last Jedi is the latest Star Wars movie in theaters now, and perhaps it is a new kind of Star Wars movie. Despite the foundational plot of many individuals being connected inextricably through the Force, the Last Jedi offers the audience a slightly different, if overly realistic, take on the universe – sometimes improbable ideas do not work out, and sometimes things are exactly what they seem to be on the surface.
Consider the arc of Rey believing she could turn Kylo Ren back to the light side by espousing the conflict she saw within him. True, Kylo responds by killing Supreme Leader Snoke, but the reality is quite simple: Kylo wants power for himself – he has always wanted it for himself – and that is why he kills Snoke. Sure, he hesitated to kill his father Han, and held off from pressing the trigger that would have killed his mother Leia, but these minor conflicts are to be expected. The truth is, Kylo is not a morally upright citizen of society, and neither Snoke’s encouragement nor Luke’s disappointment had much of a role to play in setting him up on his chosen path. We all make our own choices after all.
And then there was the story of Poe, Finn and Rose, who attempt the highly improbable task of sneaking into a heavily guarded ship to blow up a tiny device that would have saved them all. The mission ends in failure because…well, it would have been a miracle if it had ended otherwise. And in retrospect, a lot of lives would have been saved if they hadn’t attempted these antics in the first place.
Luke returns in the end to fight Kylo and give the remaining few rebels enough time to save themselves. He appears in the form of a mystical Force-projection across the galaxy though, realistic enough to fool Kylo but powerful enough to inspire the next generation of Jedi.
Indeed, this brings us to perhaps the central theme of the movie. Is the Jedi religion over? Is Luke the last one of his creed? Here, we are told that the answer is far more nuanced. You may burn the Jedi temple to the ground with its last remaining sacred texts, but that will hardly prevent it from taking roots afresh. And Kylo may have believed that destroying the past was the only way to fulfill one’s true destiny, but destiny never stopped Snoke from getting sliced in half. There are no endings, truly…only rebirth and new beginnings.