Hey, remember that time when they killed off Superman? Or replaced Batman with some darker and edgier twerp? Or that time when Dan Slott totally ripped off J.M. DeMatteis and replaced Peter Parker with Doc Ock? You remember how those stunts totally changed comic books forever, right?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Today we’re discussing Luke Skywalker, the Last Jedi Until He Trains Rey To Follow In Her Father’s Footsteps!
Join me under the cut!
Luke Skywalker In The Last Jedi
There’s no question that Luke’s in a bad place in TLJ. He’s been betrayed, by his own nephew no less. His best friend has been murdered by said nephew. He’s lost all of his Jedi students, again to his nephew. He’s lost his kid and probably his lover. He’s probably got some form of PTSD.
But this is fiction guys. And in fiction, there’s really only two ways to deal with trauma: either you get over at the end of the story, or you put on a costume and angst about while beating up bad guys for the fifty years or so. Given that I don’t see Luke in spandex anytime soon…
…I’m pretty sure that by the end of TLJ, Luke’s going to be back in action. This fits with my theory that each of the Sequel Trilogy was meant to be a showcase for one of the original power trio, with TFA being Han’s, TLJ being Luke’s, and IX being Leia’s. Obviously, Carrie’s death puts the kibosh on that, but she died too late to substantially change this film. So I think that this film, just due to the way that the films are structured, is going to feature Luke very prominently.
Plus, there was a rumour, I don’t know how true it is, that we get to see Luke kick ass as old wizard Jedi. So we’ll see.
And of course, there’s this:
Rian Johnson: Luke and Rey’s relationship is the beating heart of the film
Well, that answers that question, now don’t it? Luke and Rey’s relationship is the beating heart of the film. Well, okay then. Pack up your bags, roll credits, we are done here.
All right, so it’s not that simple. But it does make it pretty clear who the main characters of this piece are. It’s not Kylo Ren (and how anybody thought it could be is baffling to me; Rian has confirmed repeatedly that he’s Rey’s villain and foil), it’s not Finn (although Finn at least gets a full third of the movie to himself; Kylo’s not even going to get that much) and it’s not anybody else.
The focal point is Rey and Luke. Their relationship. How they grow and help each other. How Luke trains Rey into becoming a Jedi and Rey helps him out of his depression.
So what is Luke’s Arc?
Luke’s arc is the task that Yoda, last of the old Jedi Knights, set before him:
Luke, when gone am I the last of the Jedi will you be the last of the Jedi will you be. The Force is strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.-Yoda, Return of the Jedi
Leia, obviously, chose a different path than that of a Jedi. Kylo betrayed and murdered his fellow Jedi and rejected his rightful destiny as the Heir to Anakin Skywalker. Anakin’s lightsaber, in turn, rejected him.
But there is another. Someone to whom the Skywalker Family Lightsaber did respond to when called. Someone who rather bluntly calls out Kylo Ren for his failings and pledges that she, like a certain tow-headed farmboy did once before, will not fail her master. That she is unafraid of the challenges and hard life that await a Knight of the Jedi Order.
And her name is Rey. Rey Skywalker.
This then is Luke’s arc, obvious to anyone who bothers to look. Luke will train Rey in the ways of the Jedi, restoring both that ancient order of guardians of peace and justice and his own family’s legacy. Rey’s arc, which we shall touch on in another post, is at least in part to restore Luke’s hope in the fight against evil and life itself.
But Luke said the Jedi had to end!
You know what I really wish I could do? I mean, not enough to learn how before righting this post, but still? Is how to insert gifs into text posts. ‘Cause I’m sure there’s one of Phil from Disney’s Hercules laughing his ass off that’d fit just perfectly here.
There’s no way, in this lush green hell we call Earth, that Disney/Lucasfilm is going to can one of the most profitable parts of the franchise. Not especially when both the fandom and Star Wars writers have a bad tendency to fall into the ‘only Force-users are important’ trap.
And then there’s the fact that you’d have to come up with a new, Force-using, peacekeeping Order that’s basically the Jedi with a different name. Why? What else is Luke going to teach Rey how to do? Stay at home and knit? No, wait. Don’t answer that. I really, really don’t want to know what the Star Wars fandom opinion on that is.
Which is honestly way too much like work. Yes, they’ve already done it with the Knights of Ren in place of the Sith, but most of the fandom keeps confusing the two anyway. Which highlights the problem with that kind of thing: if I described a Force-using, Dark Side-abusing, genocidal, overly-ambitious, cult that liked to wear black and wield red lightsabers, who do you think I’m talking about? They didn’t make the Knights of Ren nearly different enough to distinguish them from the Dark Lords of the Sith, and I don’t think they can with a replacement group for the Jedi either.
Frankly, given some of Lucasfilm’s past marketing techniques, I don’t think this line is even real. If it actually turns up in the film, I’ll probably choke on my popcorn in laughter.
Because if that line is real, then that’s the starting point for Luke’s arc: he no longer wants to be a Jedi. Because Luke cannot be static, then he needs to grow from there. Where?
Into being a Jedi again, obviously.
But EW said that this movie was going to change everything!
Right, first off: Andrew Breznican has a self-admitted bias towards villains in his coverage and isn’t a part of Lucasfilm Pablo Hidalgo, an actual Lucasfilm employee, is an unreliable source: Andrew Breznican is an outright bad one.
The second thing is, I didn’t start off with those comic book comparisons merely because I hate Joe Quesada and Dan Didio. I mean, I do, but they weren’t responsible for all of that noise, either. And the habit of snapping back to whatever the status quo was before an event didn’t start with them, either. That one goes all the way back to the Silver Age.
My point is, I’ve pretty much lost all faith in the phrase ‘change everything forever.’ It’s not the emptiest, most meaningless marketing phrase out there, but it’s damn close.
And given how close they are hewing to George’s original vision, it’s unlikely that they’re really going to deviate from the Star Wars formula that much.
But Grey Jedi!
You know, I hate using Pablo Hidalgo as a source. He lies, he abuses fans (okay, so do I. So maybe I should cut him a little slack, no?), and he prevaricates like a motherfucker.
But some of the things he says, you just can’t get around. Like when he pointed out (the blindingly obvious) fact that the Empire and the FO are the bad guys of the saga. Or this:
I don’t get the ‘gray Jedi’ thing. You’re either a Jedi or you’re not. It’s like being a ‘gray vegetarian’ who eats meat.
There is no “grey Jedi symbol”.-Pablo Hidalgo, Twitter
He goes on to say that Jedi like Ahsoka who’ve left the Order aren’t Jedi anymore. I think that’s a little unfair to Ahsoka, who acts more like a Jedi than the Order did during the Clone Wars, but fair isn’t Pablo’s job. His job is to run interference for this who actually matter in the Lucasfilm hierarchy, and this seems to be their final word on the subject:
There’s no such thing as a ‘Grey Jedi.’ You just, you just can’t get around that.
Sorry, guys! I liked the term, too. But it is what it is. And Rey’s unlikely to turn out Grey, anyway. And Kylo is most definitely not ever going to become Grey.
Luke and Rey’s Relationship
Right, so we’ve established that Luke and Rey have the most important relationship in the film. Mark Hamill, in a recent interview, claimed that Luke wasn’t simply a wise old hermit teacher ala Obi-Wan.
So if Luke and Rey’s relationship isn’t strictly teacher/student, what could it be?
Paternal. Paternal is what we’re going for here, get your minds out of the gutter right now!
Two Immediate Problems With Rey Being Luke’s Kid, and A Third More Long Term One
Problem one: Luke, allegedly, asks Rey ‘who are you?’ I’m conflicted about how much stock I should put into this one, because the TFA trailers had a similar line that got cut. On the other hand, it was at a test screening that some Disney and Lucasfilm executives got to see.
But either way, whether or not Luke recognizes Rey is somewhat up in the air. The TFA script says he does; that line implies that either he doesn’t or he’s not sure. My explanation for that is quite simple: the Force doesn’t grant omniscience. If Rey is Luke’s kid, it’s been fourteen years since he’s seen her last. She looks different, feels different in the Force. And remember that Vader took until after ANH to figure out Luke was his son, and while he did figure out that Luke had a twin sister, I’m not sure that Vader ever figured out that she was Leia, exactly. And Luke definitely took until RotJ to figure that out.
So there is precedent for not recognizing family members immediately in Star Wars.
Problem two: neither Han nor Leia nor Kylo Ren recognized Rey, either. Kylo sort of did, in the novelization, but per Word of God that was only as the awakening he felt. Granted, I don’t see my cousins very often either and there’s whole branches of the family I never met. So it’s possible that neither Han or Leia actually met Rey, and Rey was left on Jakku before Kylo Ren ever turned.
Which brings us to problem three. And problem three is: how the heck did Rey end up Jakku? That’s a problem with Rey’s parentage no matter what direction they go with, because Rey was very clearly left on Jakku in the flashback. So somebody dropped her ass off there.
My guess is, is that Rey was dropped off on Jakku prior to Kylo’s fall out of fear of Kylo and the rising threat of Snoke. So her mother packed her up and left her there, only to be killed during the massacre of the Jedi.
In a lot of ways, this question helps the narrative: Luke doesn’t recognize Rey in part because, you know, he thinks she’s dead. And he’s cold to her at first, in part, because she’s the right age and look for his daughter, but (to his mind) cannot possibly be his daughter ’cause as far as he knows, that daughter’s dead.
But it’s definitely a question that has to get answered.
A definite possibility is that Rey becomes Luke’s daughter through a kind of informal adoption. We already have precedent for that in Leia and Poe’s relationship and in Anakin and Obi-Wan’s. And for more twisted varieties, we have Palpatine and Anakin and Snoke and Kylo.
I don’t think this is very likely, though. It leaves open the question of who’s Rey’s parents are, which Rian has confirmed as settling this time around. And it kind of contradicts the idea that the Main Trilogies are the Skywalker Saga, as espoused by Kathleen Kennedy. Because if Rey’s adopted, is she really a Skywalker?
And before anybody suggests Kylo: remember, the Skywalker Family Lightsaber rejected him in favour of Rey. He abandoned his destiny and exiled himself from the family. This isn’t his story. Not anymore.
Okay, So Rey’s a Skywalker and She and Luke Have a Father/Daughter Relationship. So Who The Hell’s Her Mother?
A fantastic question! No freaking clue.
Luke Has At Least One Canon Love Interest
And her name is Nakari Kelen. Now she’s a Woman of Colour, so it’s impossible that she’s Rey’s mom, as Rey is almost white enough to give one snowblindness. And she’s from ancillary material, so that makes it doubly impossible.
But she’s canon. Absolutely, one hundred percent canon.
But Jedi Aren’t Allowed To Love!
“Jedi Knights aren’t celibate – the thing that is forbidden is attachments – and possessive relationships.”-George Lucas, BBC Interview
This does not mean, as it has sometimes been claimed, that the Jedi are free to have no strings sex. Frankly, that says more about the people making that claim than it does George…
That quote means exactly what it says. Jedi are at perfect liberty to have relationships, even romantic ones. What gets Anakin into trouble is his jealousy, attachment and possessiveness.
And before you ask, Anakin was a teen when he got married at the end of AotC. You’re damn right that’s forbidden, especially to an older woman like Padmé.
Technically speaking, given the technological level in Star Wars, Luke doesn’t need to have had sex with a woman in order to have Rey
I can’t really see Disney/Lucasfilm going this route, to be honest. Way too much potential controversy involved.
But it’s something to remember. Luke could have easily had a kid through more technological means than having sex.
Luke And Kylo Must Confront Each Other
Much like Leia, Luke and Kylo need at least one confrontation, and it’s probably going to happen in this movie.
I’ve already spoken at length on what I think a confrontation between Luke/Leia and Kylo Ren should look like, using Kung Fu Panda as a template, so I’m going to summarize here:
Luke and Leia will admit their mistakes, but still be fundamentally in the right. Kylo won’t admit his mistakes and be utterly wrong, while still rejecting any chance at redemption. For this movie, at any rate.