The Last Jedi opened on December 15, 2017
I am obsessed with Star Wars.
When most people say this, they are talking about the movies. But. in my case, it EVERYTHING Star Wars.
Novels (Legends & Canon)
Podcasts & Blogs.
Of course, anyone who actually follows me knows this because it is reflected in my music!
That being said, I give the Disney-owned Lucasfilm a lot of props for organizing and building a fandom that was going the same direction (no shade) as Dungeons & Dragons did: a fan-organized fandom. They have filled a lot of gaps and answered a lot of questions that we didn’t even know we had. They’ve provided so much new canonical material on Darth Vader, it’s astounding.
They’ve also introduced is to key support characters such as Doctor Aphra. As a rogue archaeologist in our favorite galaxy, I suspect she will play a huge role in bringing The Old Republic back into the canonical fold. The comic already has done so by introducing is to Rur and Ordu Aspectu, an ultra-religious sect of Jedi.
At the same time, I also give Lucasfilm criticism for leaving characters who meant a lot to fans and should be incuded in canon. Characters like Darth (and sometimes Jedi) Revan.
To be fair, they brought Admiral Thrawn back into the fold in a place that made sense: as a main antagonist in another sector of the galaxy away from Vader. In the Galactic Civil War, we knew that there were many more battles in a huge galaxy. We were just focused on the main battle between the Skywalkers and Palpatine/Vader. But, Dave Filoni has given us another important battle, mainly in the Lothal section of the galaxy, on Star Wars Rebels.
So, as time goes on, I agree that my criticism may be more of a “misunderstanding” of Lucasfilm’s grand plan.
This is also another sore spot for me, because I have to eat crow now and admit, begrudingly, that I see the point of The Force Awakens now. A while ago, I said that TFA was nothing more than A New Hope part II. However, now that I have seen The Last Jedi, I see TFA in an entirely new perspective. It had to be made that way. Not only to introduce us to the new protagonists and their stories, but also to “kind-of” bridge the gap between the OT and TFA, without bridging the gap (if that makes sense). Basically, they had to make necessary connections between the old main characters and new main characters in order to begin the saga of Kylo Ren and Rey with The Last Jedi.
(WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!)
After seeing The Last Jedi, I have a new list of Star Wars movies from best to worst:
- Empire Strikes Back
- The Last Jedi
- Return of the Jedi
- A New Hope
- Revenge of the Sith
- Rogue One
- The Force Awakens (previously second-to-last)
- Attack of the Clones
- Phantom Menace
I won’t do a play-by-play of the entire movie. However, I am going to list a few reasons why The Last Jedi was a great “crossroads” story for the Star Wars franchise. Also, why it was necessary to make this movie, from a fan, as well as business standpoint. In order for me to do this, I will need to talk about the events in the movie. Therefore, there will be some spoilers…
The Last Jedi was an exceptional installment to Star Wars. Rian Johnson did an excellent job with this movie. It was had action, drama, comedy, and…Yoda!
1. The Evolution of Poe Dameron
I’ll start off with our favorite Resistance cowboy, Poe Dameron. Throughout the movie, Poe made a bunch of bad decisions that ended up costing lives. Leia recognized this and, truthfully, probably saw a lot of her younger self in Poe: an unnecessary risk-taker. Ironically, this also shows the evolution of Leia too. She probably saw even more of her true love, Han Solo, in Poe. Leia tells Poe to fall back from his squad’s attack on an First-Order Dreadnought. The casualties are already heavy, and Leia is trying to preserve lives. Poe recklessly ignores her even though this is apparent. In fact, an entire fleet of Heavy Bombers get annihilated in the attempt to drop proton bombs on the Dreadnought. In spite of this, his only response to Leia is, “They are heroes”. This comment earns him a demotion from Commander to Captain. After this, and another attempt at a foolhardy plan that nearly gets Finn and Rose killed, Poe appears to begin to evolve into more of a leader than a cowboy.
I believe that Vice Admiral Holdo’s sacrifice also played a part in that. Once Poe saw her sacrifice, he realized that preserving lives is the Ace of Spades that trumps completing the mission. Especially when a very small Resistance is the only thing standing between the First Order and total Galactic dominance. This change of thinking was evident on Crait when Poe calls off the attack on the Battering Ram Cannon. It’s apparent that they don’t have a chance of destroying the weapon without everyone in the battle losing their lives. It’s apparent that they are grooming Poe to be the true commander that he is destined to be. This will become clearer in future movies, as well as the Poe Dameron comic.
2. The Force does not belong to the Skywalkers
Let’s face it. Up until Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars was the “Skywalker Show”. When you thought of Star Wars, you either thought of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, or the anti-ballistic missile program from the 80’s (showing my age there!). But, the galaxy is full of lots of characters with colorful stories. There were still Force-sensitive people around after Order 66. A lot of them. For instance, the Jedi who took the Barash Vow, Ahsoka Tano, Darth Maul, Caleb Dume aka Kanan Jarrus, and Ezra Bridger. Obviously, Snoke was somewhere around, but we don’t know his backstory yet. Soon, there will be one Skywalker left: Kylo Ren. So, does that mean that we end Star Wars when Kylo Ren eventually dies?
The Skywalkers are human, they wouldn’t live forever. Unless, of course Lucasfilm decides to make the EU’s version of Darth Plagueis canonical. Then, maybe Kylo Ren can manipulate midi-chlorians to extend his life for eternity. My point is, as I read all of these negative reviews of The Last Jedi, they have to introduce new protagonists and antagonists at some point. They all don’t have to have mystical backgrounds like Darth Vader, whose Mom, Shmi, said he had no father. The Last Jedi is driving home the point to Star Wars fans that Force-sensitives can also come from mjndane backgrounds…like Rey, whose parents were junk traders on Jakku. Or, the little kid at the end of the movie who uses The Force to move a broom. Star Wars hides no secrets. It tells you exactly what it is at the beginning of every movie. This is a story that took place “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
We will never hear all of the stories from this galaxy in our lifetime. The Skywalkers are only the beginning!
3. The Bridge(s) and Gaps
The Force Awakens started 34 years after the Battle of Yavin. That leaves a huge gap in between Return of the Jedi and TFA that still needs to be connected. The good news is, that bridge has already begun construction via canon novels. Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy begins after ROJ and details the events that eventually lead to the Empire’s final stand at the Battle of Jakku. This trilogy is especially important, because the trilogy sets the stage for the entrance of the First Order. We learn that Palpatine planned on completely destroying the Empire in the event of his death. He tasked Gallius Rax with seeing out this contingency plan. Gallius Rax was a stowaway from Jakku who the Emperor took under his wing as a child.
We also learn that Jakku was important to Palpatine, as well as connected to the Force. There was a strong Force user who lived there thousands of years before the Battle of Yavin known as the Consecrated Eremite. This being lived on the planet during a time when it was lush with vegetation. The Consecrated Eremite was forced to flee Jakku after a significant event took place about 1,000 years BBY at the Plaintive Hand plateau, which was where the Force being resided. Could the Consecrated Eremite be Snoke? I believe that the mystery Force user is more likely to be the Bendu from Star Wars Rebels. Then again, maybe it’s Maz Kanata. Why else would Luke trust her with his lightsaber? Is her home planet actually Takodana? Either way, Palpatine knew of this significant event and also believed that Jakku was important to future events. It is also important to mention that Jakku has a small Church of the Force following there also. Plus, there’s Rey…
In the third installment of the Aftermath trilogy, Empire’s End, we also learn that during Palpatine’s reign, he also sent probes into Wild Space and the Unknown Regions to map a safe route to leave the galaxy. After killing Gallius Rax, Admiral Rae Sloane (who is now the ranking Imperial commander), along with Brendol and Armitage Hux, takes one such route into the Unknown Regions to rendezvous with the remnants of the Imperial Navy. There, she states, that they will “build a new Empire and this time it will be done right. That is the First Order.” This was the beginning of the First Order.
From a branding standpoint, it’s good business to intentionally leave plot holes that will be explained in future/standalone movies or canonized novels and comics. What’s the best way to get all of the movie fans to create a demand for more Star Wars novels and comics? You create the black hole that will suck them in. If Marvel (also owned by Disney!) came out with a comic series that explained Snoke’s backstory today and promoted it, it would be extremely successful, because everyone wants to know who Snoke is. That would create even more revenue for Disney, as well as extend that connecting bridge. Star Wars movies are big-budget movies. In order to justify the cost, you have a large demand, big consumer base, as well as an expanding franchise that promotes growth. If the Disney-owned Lucasfilm and Marvel, as well as Electronic Arts are successful in connecting the movies, comics, and video-games (and generating fan-interest in all three), we will never have to worry about a lack of Star Wars content again in our lifetimes. (I am definitely down with that!)
Here’s an example: all Star Wars fans know that most of the remaining Jedi, who weren’t killed during the events that followed Order 66, were killed by Vader during the Great Jedi Purge. But, did you know that those very events are playing out right now in the 2nd installment of the Darth Vader comic? The comic starts immediately after the last scene of Revenge of the Sith. We also get to see how a kyber crystal in a Sith’s lightsaber becomes red. This happens by a Sith Lord who, through a Force connection with the crystal, pours hatred and anger into the crystal, which then begins to “bleed”, turning it red. This was also first explained in the canon novel, Ahsoka, by E.K. Johnston.
There also are references to The Old Republic in The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm has been teasing the canonization of KOTOR for awhile, and that trend continued in The Last Jedi. Ach-To was the site of the First Jedi Temple and there is a huge Force tree in the middle of the temple. This Force tree is similar to the one that Luke and Shara Bey saved in the Shattered Empire comic…except it is much older. Also, according to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Visual Dictionary, the red crystal that was housed in Luke’s hut was a “fragmented Sith Lightsaber crystal” that was a “recovered Jedi Crusader pendant”. TOR (not the dark web browser!) fans know that reference can only refer to one character in Star Wars lore…Darth (and sometimes Jedi) Revan! Unless Lucasfilm creates a brand new character, which would be a waste of a perfect set-up, Revan is going to be canonized sometime in the future.
That bridge just extended even more…
4. The Beginning of the End for Jedi
TLJ stopped short of endorsing Balanced Force Users, or as they are better known, “Gray Jedi”. But, they laid the framework to do so. Although Snoke was a Dark Force user, he was not a Sith Lord. Luke even states, “The time of the Jedi must end.” Kylo Ren even wants to let the past go and let “the Jedi, Sith, Resistance, and First Order crumble to dust. Lucasfilm has also been moving in this direction by slowly introducing us to Force-sensitives who are neither Jedi nor Sith. Before the new trilogy, the most famous one was Ahsoka Tano.
It wouldn’t make any sense, moving forward, if the Sith suddenly reappeared after 35 years. They died along with Palpatine. Which left Luke as the last Jedi, who still hadn’t brought balance to the Force after Vader’s redemption. Balance does not mean that the scale tips toward any one side.Balance would be no Jedi, no Sith. So therefore, Luke finally fulfilled the prophecy when he died on Atch-To at the end of The Last Jedi. No Jedi…no Sith. Of course, a lot of Vader/Anakin enthusiasts will call this theory Bantha fodder. But, nonetheless, there were many more Force-sensitives in the galaxy whose stories are dying to be told, and most of them weren’t Jedi or Sith.
5. Kylo Ren became greater than his Grandfather
I am going to get slaughtered for this. Believe me, I am one of the biggest Vader fans. However, simply put, Kylo Ren officially achieved more than Vader ever did the moment he killed Snoke and, along with Rey, finished off the last of the Elite Praetorian Guards. They were the last obstacle between him and achieving the title, “Supreme Leader of the First Order.” This essentially made him the ruler of the ruling body of the galaxy. Although Darth Vader had dreams of ruling the galaxy with Luke, that dream never materialized. This means that Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren fulfilled his grandfather’s dark legacy.
If Vader could smile, he would…at least, before he went back to the light.