Spoilers follow. Be warned.
Turn back now if you want to be surprised.
Here we go.
When I saw The Last Jedi yesterday, I left the theater confused, disappointed, and grasping for any justification for what I just saw.
The scene with Leia seemed outlandish. She’s never been described as strong with the Force and has never been trained, but can do things we’ve barely seen from full fledged Jedi. Snoke dieing to Kylo Ren, who was billed as inferior in so many ways, seemed cheap. Rey’s parentage seemed underwhelming.
Those feelings translated into a genuine distaste for the movie for most of today. I felt Leia’s use of the Force broke the mythology entirely, because a fantasy story that doesn’t set good rules for its use of a magic system becomes a free-for-all. I felt that Snoke was either nowhere near as powerful as he was drummed up to be, thus entirely disappointing. And while I had a strong feeling Rey wasn’t a Skywalker (or Kenobi, for that matter), I wasn’t quite prepared for her parents to be drunken scavengers that simply sold her away. And judging by the fact that this film currently sits with the lowest audience score on Rotten Tomatoes for any Star Wars film ever, a lot of people seemed to agree with me.
I thought about this movie all day long. And, around 5:00 this evening, I started to hit on something – something that slowly started to change the way I felt about this movie. Something that connects a lot of dots, at least for me. The Force.
The Force has, obviously, been a central aspect of each Star Wars movie. But starting with The Force Awakens, the tone has been different. And, yes, I know this was the first of the Disney-era movies. From the time Snoke tells Kylo Ren that there has been an Awakening, things feel different. The first trailer features Luke telling Rey that the Force is “so much bigger” than light, darkness, and balance (a line I didn’t hear in the final cut, unless I missed it – so please let me know). We have seen the Force represented differently in Rogue One (with the Guardians of the Whills) and in Rebels (with Bendu). This all has to be connected.
And I think the connection is that we haven’t yet learned what the Force actually is or how it works (at least in this interpretation of Star Wars). Previously in Star Wars, the Force was that energy that connected the galaxy that could be tapped into or influenced by those with the genetic makeup to do so. This was usually passed through bloodlines, though not always, and attainable only after rigorous training.
But we’ve heard now for years how the Jedi had it wrong. And maybe they did. I want a new Jedi Order more than I can express in words, but I don’t necessarily want the Jedi Order as it appeared in the Old Republic. I’d love to see a Jedi Order with a deeper, more intimate knowledge of what the Force is, what it means to be balanced (if anything), and how to tap into the Force while still being able to have feelings we uphold as naturally good (like how Luke’s Jedi Order operated in the old Expanded Universe).
I believe Rey is about to discover more about the Force than any Jedi before her. What will she find? I think she finds that its less an object to be controlled than it is a living, fluid, willful…something.
What do I mean by that? Let’s look at The Last Jedi for specific examples. First, and most obvious, Leia. If she can’t do what she did on her own, and I don’t think she can taking into account her training and our knowledge of her strength in the Force, how was she able to save herself and get back to the ship? What if she didn’t accomplish that, or what if she accomplished it through something not of herself? I think the Force actually saved her, or in some way worked through her. Somehow the Force deemed that Leia needed to live at that moment, and ensured that happened. The scene in itself is somehow angelic, which I think nods to the fact that something more divine is happening here.
Snoke’s death can be somewhat easier explained now, as well. Most of the dialogue in the throne room centered around how Snoke was in complete control, which for the most part, he was. Rey had no power next to this being, whatever he may be. And he ended up being the puppet that brought the three of them together. So there needs to be a tremendous suspension of disbelief to accept that Kylo was able to hide his thoughts and intentions from Snoke long enough to turn and ignite that lightsaber. Unless the Force enabled this to happen as well. Maybe Kylo, in that moment of doing the right thing, was granted the power needed to accomplish that. Or perhaps the Force just took control and veiled Kylo’s intentions from Snoke. Either way, I have a much easier time swallowing these explanations.
And Rey’s parentage. This actually speaks to the saga as a whole. After watching Episode VII, I had actually formulated a theory that Rey’s parents were Force-users who had been trained by Luke and killed by Kylo Ren after his turn. So I wasn’t wholly upset that her parents weren’t anyone already famous. But I wasn’t ready for simple scavenger scum. Maybe the answer can be traced back to Episode I, and strengthened by the newest trilogy. If the Force is able to pick who it needs, when it needs them, how it needs them, it would explain so many things: how Anakin was born from nothing, how Luke and Leia were able to remain protected for so long, how Rey can be so strong in the Force, how Qui-Gon was able to learn the path to immortality and pave the way for his knowledge to enable Yoda and Obi-Wan to aid Luke in the galaxy’s most pivotal moments. The list goes on.
All is as the Force wills it.
Listen. This is a rough theory. It’s about six hours old for me. It’s not groundbreaking, and it doesn’t explain away every problem I had with The Last Jedi. But for me, it puts puzzle pieces together that weren’t connected before. Plus, it’s not so outlandish that I have trouble seeing this incorporated into the mythology. It doesn’t break anything that came before, rather it actually adds credence to some of those things.
As always, your thoughts and input are always welcome. Where are the holes that I haven’t thought of? Why doesn’t this work? Let me know. Let’s have a Star Wars discussion!