In Defense of Luke Skywalker

An article was published in Entertainment Weekly some months before the release of The Force Awakens which states that the central question of the sequel trilogy is “Who is Luke Skywalker?”

After all these years, we thought we knew him, but what if there was more to that Tatooine farmboy? Or… what if there was less?

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Now that The Last Jedi is in theaters, we can start to answer this question. Who is Luke Skywalker? Luke Skywalker is a legend. He represents hope. He is also a human being who is shown to be  just as susceptible to making mistakes as anyone else in the galaxy.

A small, but loud, contingent of “fans” claim that the representation of Luke in this film is a great mischaracterization, that it “ruins” the idea of who he is supposed to be, that it isn’t “Jedi-like”. No one wants to believe that their heroes are capable of being misguided or wrong and that is understandable. I get it, I hear you. Even Mark Hamill initially disagreed with the direction that was decided for his character. Of course he would! He’s lived with Luke far longer than we have and his sequel trilogy arc [thus far] certainly isn’t what I would have envisioned for my favourite character either. It’s hard to reconcile this version of Luke Skywalker, a man who has lost all hope, with the man who refused to kill his own father and instead managed to save him.

Everyone — characters in the film as well as people in real life — have a preconceived notion of who and what Luke Skywalker is supposed to be based on the person that he was after the Battle of Endor. We expected him to accept the lightsaber from Rey and to begin training her with barely a second thought. But time changes people and Luke isn’t that person anymore; it’s been 34 years since the Battle of Endor and about six years since the destruction of his Jedi temple at the hands of his nephew, turd blossom Ben Solo. Leia trusted Luke with her son and in his mind, he not only failed Ben, but he failed Leia as well. You could even say that he failed Ben Kenobi. I’d also like to point out how similar this confrontation is to that of Obi-Wan and Anakin — right down to the lines, “I have failed you, Ben. I’m sorry,” and “I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.” My feels.

Luke’s insecurities brought about the creation of a monster. He talks about the legacy of the Jedi being failure, hypocrisy, and hubris which allowed for the rise of Darth Sidious. Luke’s own pride led to the rise of Kylo Ren and the destruction of everything he’s ever cared about. It doesn’t matter that he immediately regretted having even thought of killing his nephew because the damage was already done. In a way, it’s as if he repeated his father’s mistakes as well as Obi-Wan’s. Anakin was plagued by visions of his wife’s death and allowed these visions to inform the decisions that led to this happening anyway, and resulting in his own downfall. Obi-Wan was unable to prevent it and had to face Anakin, face his failure. Luke saw darkness in his nephew, perhaps he had visions of the destruction he would cause, but didn’t think of the fact that Ben’s choice had not yet been made; Luke’s assumptions caused his greatest failure and turned him into a broken man.

Luke is plagued by guilt and disillusioned with the very idea of the Jedi. His disappointment in himself, in his moment of weakness, and in his inability to prevent Ben’s eventual turn causes him disconnect himself from the Force altogether. He feels great shame in what he allowed to happen and he feels responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the galaxy. It is heartbreaking to see him this way, but it also makes him relatable. When Luke finally chooses to teach Rey the ways of the Force and why he thinks that the Jedi must end, he is a perfect combination of Obi-Wan and Yoda. I loved this and I wish we had gotten to see more of Luke as a teacher because I thought it was really special. Hopefully, we will get some Force ghost teaching action in IX.

When Luke has a change of heart and decides to join the fight after all, he does so by projecting an image of himself halfway across the galaxy from Ahch-To to Crait. The prolonged effort of this act absolutely exhausts him and he ultimately becomes one with the Force, having found peace and purpose in the act, and achieving true mastery of the Force like his mentors before him. I have seen complaints by some that this was a cowardly move, but in confronting Kylo Ren in this manner, Luke has denied him of his desire to strike him down. Surely this pissed Kylo Ren off even more as the experience made him look like a damned fool in front of the entire First Order. If Luke had been there, he most certainly would have died as well, but it surely would have been at Kylo Ren’s hands, and would have served no real purpose. As far as your average galactic citizen is concerned, Luke Skywalker somehow survived being blasted by the First Order and facing down their Supreme Leader before simply disappearing. It doesn’t seem to take very long for this tale to spread, as evidenced by the children retelling the Battle of Crait at the end of the film, on Canto Bight.

To make mistakes, to have faults, and most of all to admit to them, is human. And Luke Skywalker, whether you like it or not, is allowed to show that he, too, has faced struggle and had moments of weakness. He is not perfect, he is flawed. It’s not what we wanted, but it’s what we needed. And we will see him again, I’m sure of it.

So who is Luke Skywalker? He is a legend, a symbol, an inspiration — a spark of hope.

The Rebellion is reborn today
— the war is just beginning —
and I will not be the last Jedi.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I have seen the film four times now. (Yes, I made my very own Star Wars Weekend, even attended Galactic Nights at Hollywood Studios.) I need to dump out my thoughts, observations, things I’d like to see in Episode IX. It’s always fun to do these — even if the theories are wrong later, I like to go back and look at what I thought might happen.

As with my post about The Force Awakens from 2 years ago, this is my reaction and not a proper review. This is long and kind of all over the place, but I tried to stay somewhat chronological. I have more to say about this installment than I did about The Force Awakens. As I got to the end of this, I realized, I’m going to have to split this up into at least three pieces. I have more things to say about Luke and about Rey, so once I get those committed, I will link them at the end of this post.

SPOILERS AFTER THE GIF!

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The opening battle sequence was reminiscent of Rogue One to me. And that isn’t a bad thing. We don’t get to know Paige Tico, but I still teared up at her sacrifice. I also really appreciated opening with a joke. I was glad to see Poe get to do more in this one even though he was reckless for a lot of it.

Everything, and I mean everything, Luke does in this film is pure gold. There’s been Oscar talk flying around about Mark’s performance since like, last year, and if that happens, I will lose my god damned mind.

Anyway, Luke tossing the lightsaber? Perfect. His first words being, “Go away!” I. Love. It. I love my grumpy old Jedi. I love the dumb face he makes after milking the Thala-Siren and drinking the damn milk. I love the fishing sequence. Honestly, I would gleefully watch 2.5 hours of Luke just farting around on Ahch-To fishing and feeding Porgs, no lie. I love that Chewie came and literally broke down his door (made from one of the s-foils of his poor sunken X-Wing).

I LOVE PORGS. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

The scene on the Millennium Falcon of Luke with R2-D2 and the hologram of Princess Leia really got to me. It was the only time he looks almost happy and you get a bit of a smile. Not only was the hologram emotionally impactful and got Luke to come around a bit, but it was a nice little nod to this year being the 40th anniversary of A New Hope. Also loved, “Hey, sacred planet, watch the language!” The camera pans across some of Luke’s things after this (I think it’s after this), including the necklace with the red crystal and the compass. I don’t think this was without purpose. More on the crystal in a bit; as for the compass, I think we could see it again in IX. According to the book, Legends of Luke Skywalker, the compass was given to him by a scavenger on Jakku. However, that is in conflict with the storyline presented in Battlefront II (which I have not yet played).

Luke’s first lesson with Rey was just. So great — I loved how she literally reached out. “The Force doesn’t belong to to the Jedi. To say that if the Jedi die, the light dies is vanity!” I love this concept. So. Much. Loved his explanation of the Force and the line, “Every word you just said was wrong.” (And that it comes back around later!) During the second lesson, Luke voiced things I’ve been saying for a while about the old Jedi Order. Their weaknesses, specifically their pride, caused their downfall and allowed Palpatine to rise. It’s tragic, but they had to go. I believe Vader was the instrument that the Force chose to bring this about because ultimately, he did bring balance. I loved hearing Luke mention “Darth Sidious” because it just brings everything around and makes it feel more cohesive. JJ Abrams has stated that IX will tie together all three trilogies and I cannot wait to see what that means. (I am very much pro-JJ.)

When the bridge of Leia’s ship got blown up, I nearly had a heart attack. As for her few moments in space and literally being a skywalker, I love it. And it was good to see her use the Force in more than just an empathetic sort of way. I guess some people can’t suspend their disbelief for this moment, but I’d like to remind you of the fact that this is a space fantasy and anything can happen. Everything is as the Force wills it.

RIP ADMIRAL AKBAR.

I am going to just come out and say it right here: I am not here for Rey/Kylo Ren garbage. I guess people are reading some romanticism into their interactions and I just… fundamentally disagree with them having any sort of romantic chemistry. To me, it’s kindness being mistaken for romantic interest. Rey has a kindness about her that is very much like Luke’s used to be — she wants to believe the best of people, and she was wrong. I think it’s pretty clear that even she has realized that by the end of the film as she closes the door on their Force Skype call. Some people seem to take issue with this ability as well, but it’s really not that far of a stretch from the Force communication we have seen before between Luke and Leia and also Luke and Vader. And Yoda has done this a few times in Rebels to communicate with other Jedi. Why did Snoke link them this way? What is the significance? Just to draw her out or something else? I do believe they have a connection, just not a romantic one.

Holdo’s sacrifice was visually one of my favourite scenes. I was sad to see her go, but what a badass way to do it! I got a little emotional as she and Leia said goodbye. Carrie and Laura did such a great job at conveying that these characters have been close friends since they were sixteen. And Carrie wrote that scene.

I keep thinking about how IX was supposed to be Carrie’s film and it makes me sad all over. I really miss her and I just cannot fathom how they are going to handle IX without her. Every moment she was on screen in this one was just extra special as were those scenes that you can instantly tell she had added something to. I had really hoped for a confrontation between her and her son and now that cannot be. I wonder if, after the bridge was attacked, he thinks she is gone anyway? I’m so heartbroken about Leia…she has literally lost everyone and now we have lost Carrie and it’s just. Rough. It’s been almost a year and it’s still so hard to think of her in the past tense. 😦

The sea cave scene was a great callback to the cave on Dagobah. It was similar, but but also very different. When Rey asks to see her parents and she sees the figures walking toward her resolving into one… I swear the way the figure moves, it looks like Luke, especially when compared with the shadow of him walking into the Resistance base later. More on that in another post, though.

It breaks my heart a bit to know that Luke felt so badly about his failure that he cut himself off from the Force and thus was unable to feel that Han had been killed. I thought for sure at the end of The Force Awakens that he had. Leia is the reason Luke decides to train Rey and she is also the reason he finally decides to open himself up to the Force again. I got chills when the water vibrated when he first reached out to Leia after so long. It’s such a great visual representation of how powerful he is. Also, can we talk about the mosaic in that pool portraying balance of light and dark? I wonder what Luke was actually going to come and say to Rey when he realized she was in the middle of a conversation with Kylo. It seemed like he was coming to speak to her about Something Important, then he saw that and everything escalated pretty quickly. I did like seeing him spar a bit with Rey (those moves!) and I wish we had gotten some of that in the form of training rather than a confrontation. It made me a little sad. Definitely not the relationship I expected, but it worked in the end.

“The sacred Jedi texts!” I’m glad Rey absconded with them and that Yoda basically trolled Luke about it; you know that little bastard knew the tree was empty. I wonder, is one of the books perhaps the Journal of the Whills? I was not prepared to actually see Yoda, but I did expect him in some form since I had seen Frank Oz at the red carpet premiere. I liked Yoda’s Rafiki-like moment of smacking Luke and his remark about the books, “Page turners they were not!” Additionally, I love that they used an original mold from The Empire Strikes Back to make a brand new puppet and that it wasn’t freaky looking like it was in The Phantom Menace. Also… “We are what they grow beyond.”

Canto Bight would have been a great place to reintroduce Lando Calrissian and I feel that was truly a missed opportunity. I hated the “DJ” character. I just want to light him on fire! He was very annoying and I hope he’s dead. While we are on the subject of Canto Bight, I loved the fathiers and it was nice to hear Mark’s voice cameo as Dobbu Scay, the little drunk alien putting coins into BB-8. Canto Bight was not my favourite, but I do love the music and BB-8 being a badass. I STILL FREAKING LOVE BB-8. I also love Rose Tico; she was a great addition, but the semi-romance plot point between her and Finn needs to go. I have liked the fact that so far, these films don’t really have a romantic subplot.

YOUR SNOKE THEORY SUCKS! Haha, I’m actually 100% okay with the fact that Snoke is ultimately unimportant and literally doesn’t fucking matter. This was never about him anyway. I wouldn’t mind finding out more about him in another form of media, but honestly, I don’t care all that much. I don’t need to know. Rey and Kylo Ren’s confrontation with the Praetorian Guards was amazing. What a wonderfully choreographed scene. I loved seeing them work together even though Kylo Ren was just using Rey as a means to an end. He’s such a selfish turd blossom. Also, Snoke was pretty much space Voldemort; Rey needs to learn whatever the Force equivalent of occlumency is to keep Kylo Ren out of her damn business.

I don’t believe Phasma is dead even though she fell into a ball of fire. I mean. Vader survived some pretty severe burns. It’s not at all out of the realm of possibility.

Luke appearing on Crait was probably my favourite part. I didn’t pick up on the clues at first that he was Force projecting because I was too focused on the fact that, holy shit, my man is fighting again! Upon my second viewing, I picked up all the clues, most obvious being the appearance he chose and that he had the lightsaber that had just been destroyed. He chose to appear that way, I think, because that’s is how Leia and Ben remember him. I loved the scene with Leia so, so much and that is another scene that Carrie was responsible for. She wrote the line, “No one is ever really gone, ” which makes it mean so much more now that she is gone. I loved that Luke “gave” her Han’s dice and that in that moment she knew he wasn’t really there. I love the kiss on the forehead and the wink to Threepio, and the music in this scene. I also spotted Mark’s kids’ cameos! They are the three Resistance fighters that appear just behind Poe right as Luke is walking out to meet Kylo Ren.

Luke’s confrontation with Kylo Ren was fantastically done. When the AT-M6s first fired on him, though, I about had another heart attack, but if you look closely, you can see flashes of blue and I knew he was fine. This scene and the scene revealing he is actually on Ahch-To got the biggest applause in the audiences I viewed with. I loved his brushing dust off his shoulder like it fucking mattered even. I loved his response to Kylo Ren: “Did you come back to forgive me? To save my soul?” “…No.” I loved watching him move and I noticed, their lightsabers never clashed and Luke never made a footprint. I loved the line, “See ya around, kid.” TO SUM UP: I LOVE EVERYTHING LUKE SKYWALKER DOES.

I have a hard time with the outcome of this as Luke has been my favourite character since my first viewing of Star Wars 20 years ago. Something else I picked up on in subsequent viewings is that this outcome is foreshadowed in a way when Kylo Ren says to Rey during a Force Skype call, “You’re not doing this, the effort would kill you.” Luke is basically performing his own prolonged and extreme Force Skype call and… the effort did kill him. It was beautifully done, even though it breaks my heart every time I see it. I hate seeing the pain on his face and watching him collapse. (It’s like Spock in The Wrath of Khan and I can’t.) I love this character so much. The sunset was a nice touch. I fully expect to see Force ghost Luke haunting the FUCK out of Ben and, um, he never did provide Rey with her third lesson! Also, am I crazy, or did it appear as if there was a ship silhouetted against the sun in that scene, before it morphed into a double sunset?

I’ve been arguing with people for two years that Luke would not turn to the dark side and it was great to see that I was 1000% correct. I’m so proud of my farm boy.

“We have everything we need.” Well, Rey has to build a new lightsaber! I think she will need to return to Ahch-To to do this in much the same way that Luke returned to Tatooine and Obi-Wan’s residence there to build his. Going back to when I mentioned Luke’s effects earlier, I want to believe that the necklace holds Vader’s lightsaber crystal. Red Kyber crystals are made that colour by corrupting them and infusing them with dark side energy. What if Rey has to cleanse the crystal and use it to make her new lightsaber? Cleansed crystals create white blades and a white blade would be a great visual representation of the balance in the Force that Rey seems to represent. Alternatively, maybe she will use both the crystal from the Skywalker saber and this one and make, like, a purple blade? Or, what if Artoo is holding on to Luke’s green lightsaber? I mean. Where is it? What did he do with it? I could see him putting it in Artoo for safekeeping as in Return of the Jedi… or maybe he sunk it with his ship. Also also: could Rey end up making a double bladed lightsaber?

I am still convinced Rey is Luke’s daughter. Why? Because Kylo Ren lied and manipulated her to get her to come to him, so why wouldn’t he lie about her parents? According to Rian Johnson, he believes it in that moment which does not necessarily make it true, and his telling her this reinforces her own insecurities about her origins. More about that in a separate post because I’m insane and this is long enough already.