The Last Jedi
The main cast returns, with Mark Hamill and Andy Serkis having more screen time than the last movie. Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter) has a role as Lieutenant Connix as well. Laura Dern (Marmee March in the 2019 Little Women amongst dozens of other movies) is Vice Admiral Holdo. And if the captain of the First Order ship at the beginning looks familiar, that is Mark Lewis Jones, who has appeared in Merlin, Game of Thrones, Master and Commander, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Robin Hood.
We are informed that the First Order has taken military control of the galaxy and plans to wipe out the Resistance. Leia is still certain that Luke will return and bring hope to the galaxy. The Resistance is fleeing their last base when a Dreadnought ship appears. A single light fighter [like in the original film] goes against the massive ship, piloted by Poe. He’s able to take out the canons since he is too small and too close for their other weapons to hit, and still has time to joke with Hux. This is supposed to pave the way for the rest of his squad to come in and bomb the Dreadnought. His disobeys Leia’s orders and loses all of his bombers. The last one manages to drop their payload, but falls into the resulting explosion. They did manage to destroy the Dreadnought, but it came at a great cost.
Nevertheless, Snoke is disappointed with Hux. Snoke is also disappointed with Kylo Ren; he has too much of his father’s heart in him. He keeps Hux around because he can be manipulated into a sharp tool. But Kylo; Snoke sensed the raw, untamed power within him, in combination with the potential of his bloodline. He could have been a new Vader. Snoke fears he is mistaken. “You’re no Vader. You’re just a child in a mask.” Kylo destroys the mask. His new task is to snuff out hope in the galaxy, alive because the seed of the Jedi lives.
The Resistance thinks they have gotten away. Finn wakes up and finds Poe, but he’s more concerned with “where is Rey?” Leia slaps Poe and demotes him. He needs to learn that “you can’t solve everything by hoping in an X-Wing and blowing something up.” Then they receive word that the First Order has found them. Poe immediately asks “permission to jump in an X-Wing and blow something up?” Permission granted. Poe doesn’t make it into the hanger before Kylo Ren blows it up. Kylo senses Leia and does not fire. His troops do not hesitate to blow the bridge. Leia floats into space, but she uses the Force to bring herself back on board. She is unconscious and needs time to heal.
Meanwhile, Rey attempts to get Luke to train her. Well, her first argument is that the Resistance needs him. That’s after Luke accepts his lightsaber from Rey and throws it over his shoulder. His X-Wing is underwater. [Fun note, the Pogs were created because puffins are prevalent on Skellig Michael and to digitally remove them from every scene would be impossible. Thus, we get cute Pogs!] Rey eventually has Chewie break in Luke’s door in demand of seeing him. Luke is initially happy to see his old friend and hear that the Falcon is nearby. Then he asks “where’s Han?” [there is a deleted scene that should have been kept of Luke mourning his brother-in-law.] Luke tells Rey to go away. She won’t leave without him. So she gets to watch his daily routine (including a weird milking scene that could have been deleted instead).
But Rey begins to hear something. She wanders the island and finds old books – the original Jedi texts. Luke finally asks “who are you?” Rey feels she knows the place from her dreams. Luke now wonders why Leia sent Rey specifically to him. Rey wants to learn, but Luke refuses to teach. “It’s time for the Jedi to die.” That is, until Luke visits the Falcon alone and finds R2. R2 tries to convince him. Luke retorts “nothing can make me change my mind.” Then R2 shows him Leia’s message from all those years ago: “help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Low blow, but it works.
I’ll admit, the bit with Luke and the palm branch “do you feel it? Oh, you must be very strong!” while training Rey was funny. When Luke tells her to reach out, she needs to reach out with her feelings. The Force is not just something to lift rocks and control people. It is balance and energy between everything and inside of you. And it does not just belong to the Jedi. He’s a bit impressed with Rey’s training with the lightsaber, until she cuts a rock in two. However, when Rey senses a dark pit on the island, she doesn’t heed Luke’s warning to stay away. She dives right in, attempting to discover what it is it wants to tell her. Luke is troubled; he sensed that same power in Ben Solo. Rey realizes that Luke has cut himself off from the Force. He tells her that when you strip away the mythology of the Jedi, their legacy is failure. At the height of their power, they allowed Darth Sidious to rise and destroy them, and create the Empire. It was Sidious who was responsible for Darth Vader. Rey argues that a Jedi, Luke, brought Vader back.
Luke recalls that yes, there was balance for a time after the defeat of Vader. Luke became a legend in the galaxy. And he feels he became arrogant. He thought he could teach the next generation of Jedi. He thought he could teach his nephew. But Ben ultimately betrayed him and slaughtered his school. Luke blames himself. Like the Jedi of the Old Republic, he failed. Rey argues that Luke was not the one who failed; Ben failed him. She vows not to fail Luke.
She also discovers a connection to Kylo Ren. They can see each other, but not their surroundings. Kylo attempts at the beginning to force her to tell him where Luke is, but realizes it won’t work. It is Kylo who wonders why there is a connection. He even agrees with Rey when she calls him a monster. During one of their conversations, he’s shirtless, which unsettles Rey a bit. She asks him “why did you hate your father?” Kylo admits he didn’t hate him, but won’t answer why he killed him. Instead, he muses on how Rey is constantly searching for parents. And she finds those figures first in Han and now in Luke. But did Luke tell her the truth? Kylo tells her that Luke sensed his power and feared it. He tried to murder his nephew. Kylo tells Rey “let the past die, kill it if you have it. It is the only way to become who you were meant to be.” In return, Rey admits to Kylo what she saw in the cave (a very weird mirror universe) and she tried to see her parents, but it didn’t work. She comforts Kylo that they are not alone. It’s not too late for Kylo. Their hands reach out for each other. Their fingers touch. And Luke walks in.
Luke and Rey fight. Rey pulls out the lightsaber and demands an answer. Did Luke try to murder Ben? Luke elaborates; he had sensed that Snoke had turned Ben’s heart. He saw Ben’s future, saw him destroy everything Luke had fought for, and for a brief moment, Luke was tempted to end the threat. That moment passed and he was left with shame and the consequences. The last Luke saw of Ben was the eyes of a frightened boy. That is why Ben saw Luke raise his lightsaber. Then Ben reacted and everything went to pot. Luke warns Rey when she wants to go to Ben and attempt to save him “this is not going to go how you think.” Rey leaves on the Falcon.
The ghost of Yoda appears when Luke attempts to burn the sacred tree and texts. But Luke can’t bring himself to do it. So Yoda calls down lightning and ignites the tree. Luke even tries to save the texts, but Yoda laughs. So Yoda must agree, it is time for the Jedi Order to end. No, it’s time for Luke to look past a pile of books. It has always been the way of things for the students to grow beyond the master. Luke must pass on what he knows, Yoda instructs. “Greatest teacher, failure is.”
Back with the Resistance, Vice Admiral Holdo takes command. Finn doesn’t intend to stick around long enough to find out what her plan is; his plan is to leave and find Rey and keep her safe. But a young woman named Rose stops him. Together, they realized that the First Order managed to track them through lightspeed, which should be impossible. But they could only be using the lead ship. There’s a way to disable the tracker. They tell Poe the plan and he contacts Maz for help. She sends Finn and Rose after a master code breaker. They check out an upscale casino, then managed to get arrested. They meet another criminal hacker and during their escape, free some animals and destroy the casino, giving the poor locals hope. When Finn and Rose are delayed, Poe confronts Holdo about her lack of plan, then takes command in order to buy his friends more time. Leia wakes up in time to take the bridge back from Poe and stun him. In actuality, she and Holdo like Poe. Holdo’s plan all along was to get the last of the Resistance to a hidden Rebel base. The First Order wouldn’t track the small cruisers. She’s staying aboard the larger carrier to keep up the decoy.
Many of the characters all end up on Snoke’s ship. Finn, Rose, and BB-8 are aboard to turn off the tracker. They are instead caught by Captain Phasma, finding out that their criminal “friend” double-crossed them and they are almost executed. That’s going on while Rey attempts to turn Ben. “You don’t have to do this. I feel the conflict within you.” (Reusing dialogue from Return of the Jedi). She’s seen the future where Ben does not bow to Snoke. Ben has seen a different future, where Rey is the one who will turn. They appear before Snoke, who calls Ben his good and faithful apprentice. Snoke sensed that as Kylo grew stronger in the Dark Side, he equal would grow in the Light. So Snoke bridged their minds and planted bait. And Rey was not wise enough to resists it.
Similar to Return of the Jedi, Rey witnesses the destruction of the Resistance fleet and calls Kylo’s lightsaber to her. Snoke senses that Rey holds the spirit of a true Jedi. And that is why she must be destroyed. He calls upon Kylo, the heir apparent to Vader, to kill her. Rey still holds hope. Snoke disabuses her of that notion; he cannot be betrayed or beaten. He can see Kylo’s every thought and even now, he turns his lightsaber to kill his true enemy. And Kylo did that. He turned Luke’s lightsaber next to Snoke and cuts him in two. Ben and Rey fight the guards off together (also catching the room on fire); Rey even tosses her lightsaber to Ben when he’s disarmed. She begs Ben to come with her when they’re finished. Ben in turns asks Rey to stay; together, they can rule and create a new order. Let the past, all of it; Sith, Jedi, Skywalker, Snoke, die. He knows that Rey’s parents were nobodies. That would make Rey a nobody. But not to him. “Join me.” Rey won’t. They Force-fight for Luke’s lightsaber and it ultimately breaks in two, knocking them out.
When Snoke’s ship starts firing on the transports, Holdo turns the cruiser and jumps to lightspeed through the ship. Finn gets a showdown with Captain Phasma, who then falls to her death. Finn and Rose manage to escape with BB-8 (who has managed to get ahold of an AT-ST!) The transport with Leia and Poe manages to make it to the base, where Finn and Rose crash land. (Yes, Poe is happy to see them, but he wants his droid back.) They put a call out for help. In the meantime, there is a battering ram cannon that will eventually make it through their door. A final stand then. The Resistance is bolstered when the Millennium Falcon comes to their aid (Rey is safely aboard with Chewie, and a few Pogs). Hux has saved Kylo, though not willingly. Kylo declares himself the new Supreme Leader and leads Hux’s army. Kylo now demands “blow that piece of junk out of the sky!” (meaning the Falcon). Finn informs his friends that the New Order hates the Falcon.
The Resistance fighters are picked off. Poe orders them to retreat, but Finn insists he has to take out the cannon; the New Order cannot win. He continues with his suicide run until Rose knocks him out of the way. She tells him that they will win by saving what they love, not be fighting what they hate. She gives him a gentle kiss and passes out. The cannon did its work and Kylo orders Hux to advance. No quarter will be given and no prisoners taken (Kylo knows his mother is in there; he does not hesitate now). The Resistance fears that no help is coming; the galaxy has lost hope, the spark has gone out. Then a cloaked figure enters and kneels before Leia. It’s Luke. He apologizes to his sister, but that is not necessary; she’s glad he’s here at the end [and that is so poignant given that Carrie Fisher passed away before this movie was released]. Luke tells her that he is here to face Kylo, but he can’t save him. She knows her son is gone.
Everyone watches Luke walk out. Kylo orders every gun fire on that man, even shouting “more!” Hux calls it off. But Luke is still standing. Kylo steps down to face him, and Luke admits that he is not here to save Kylo’s soul. They duel, though notice that Luke dodges Kylo’s lightsaber strikes. Meanwhile, Poe realizes that Luke is serving as a distraction; he’s stalling so they can escape. They follow the crystal foxes for a way out. When they get there, rocks are blocking their way. But the Falcon is there and Rey lifts the rocks and rushes people onboard. Luke cautions Kylo that if he strikes him down in anger, he will always be with him, just like his father. Luke is not the last of the Jedi. Kylo runs Luke through. And finds out that Luke is a Force projection. Luke is meditating on his island and collapses. When he gets back up, he opens himself up to the Force, one last time. He disappears and his cloak falls. Kylo is not pleased to find the base deserted when he finally walks in. He “sees” Rey one last time, before she shuts the door on the Falcon. (Oh, she’s also hidden the Jedi texts on there.) She has a conversation with Leia; they both sensed that Luke is gone, but he was at peace. They will rebuild the rebellion.
Overall, not terribly interested in the side quest, because honestly, it wasn’t needed. It was just some action for the characters to do when we weren’t focused on Rey, Kylo, and Luke. And technically, if you think about it, if Finn and Rose hadn’t met that criminal, he couldn’t have double crossed them, thus allowing the First Order to target the small cruisers taking the Resistance to their base. The story felt disjointed; yes, everything came together at the end, but it was clearly three separate stories going on. This is repeating elements of Empire Strikes Back, with Rey training with Luke, and Han and Leia facing off with Vader. But Vader was using Han and Leia as bait for Luke.
And we have to wonder where did Snoke fall in the whole timeline of Sidious turning Anakin and the rise of the Empire and eventual fall? There is a very famous “Rule of Two” amongst the Sith, that there is only ever a master and an apprentice. (Hence why Dooku became the apprentice after Maul was killed and Dooku had to die in order for Anakin to become Sidious’s apprentice. Though in the Legends universe, there were other Force-sensitive students of Palpatine, but maybe they were not considered true apprentices?)
What I do like is the examination of the Jedi and the dichotomy between Rey and Ben/Kylo (he’s Ben when he’s good, Kylo when he’s bad). They’re both fighting for a place to belong. Again, we want Rey to succeed in turning Ben back to the Light. And it almost works for a minute! Then Kylo has to be stupid and vote for power. That last scene between Rey and Kylo, when Rey shuts the door, I thought “she has the life you would have.”
Up Next: The Rise of Skywalker