This is Not Going to Go the Way You Think: Our Hopes for The Last Jedi

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Since the release of The Last Jedi‘s theatrical trailer last week, two years of theories and speculation have at last begun to collapse into a rough shape of the movie’s plot. Not the overall structure, really, but certain moments are depicted very clearly—Luke in awe of Rey’s strength, Finn versus Phasma on a First Order base that may be the Supremacy—and a couple others strongly suggested: Kylo preparing to fire on Leia, and later offering his hand to Rey. Do those scenes really happen in the film? Lord knows we should be used to the trailers not being 100% indicative of the final films by now, but I’m inclined to believe that the essence of those two scenes does indeed happen—even if the footage used here isn’t quite right.

Kylo working up the nerve to fire on Leia is a pretty logical thing to happen post-The Force Awakens (and not especially suspenseful given that we know Carrie Fisher was meant to have a big role in Episode IX), but the suggestion that Kylo and Rey might be remotely cooperative for any reason whatsoever was like a bomb going off in the fandom: does Rey turn, fed up with Luke’s refusal to train her? Does Kylo turn, unable to follow orders and kill another parent? Or is this more of a détente, a brief setting aside of hostilities in order to reach some common goal? Personally, I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve been hoping for something along those lines to happen and I will gladly seize the thread this trailer offers and hold on tight for the next couple months.

I do think, though, that fans should try to open their minds to a much wider range of options than simply “Rey goes bad” or “Kylo becomes good”. This trilogy may have started with a defection, but I don’t see either Kylo or Rey really operating as members of the militaries they ostensibly represent—Force users rarely do. Kylo may have second thoughts, may even work actively against Snoke, but that hardly means he’d be welcomed with open arms by the Resistance or the New Republic. And Rey may well be tempted by Snoke, but we don’t really know his actual goals, do we? The First Order could simply be a means to an end for him, and if that end involves Rey, her cooperation could change his larger game in ways we can’t begin to guess—but I’m excited to see these lines blur a bit, for the movie to ask questions that the previous saga films haven’t prepared us for.

With the trailer and all its lovely possibilities now swirling around in your heads, what’s one scene, or moment, you particularly want to see in The Last Jedi? Is it a plot event or more of a character beat? And why is it important to you?

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Mark: The implication that Kylo faces a choice to fire on his mother – and I do think it represents an actual scene, even if it doesn’t use those exact shots – is encouraging, but I still want something more: a scene between Leia and Kylo in person.

The central dilemma of the trilogy is that Leia’s son turned to the dark side. That’s been driving everything that’s happened, and in a saga that Lucasfilm keep telling us is “about family,” Leia-Kylo is, as far as we know, the most dramatically and emotionally important family relationship remaining. If Kylo is to begin a long and difficult path back to the light, his mother should be at the center of it, and without a single scene between them in the trilogy, that story would be considerably weakened. So I desperately hope this moment happens in TLJ, and they weren’t saving it for Episode IX. Most of all, it’s important because it could give Leia a presence in the events of IX, even though Carrie is no longer with us.

I’m optimistic because Rian Johnson said he wanted this film to be a satisfying story in its own right – fulfilling character arcs and no “dot dot dot question mark” endings. The trailer indicates he’s not taking the approach many fans wanted, that murdering Han made Kylo “fully dark.” This is welcome, as it means Han’s death may not have been in vain. And the “space band-aid” he wears over his scar in those shots indicates this is early, perhaps mere hours after his act of patricide.

We know Kylo has “something to prove” to Snoke in this film. Is this more than just his defeat to Rey – could it also be his inability to kill his mother in this space battle? In TFA, Kylo fears that Snoke senses the moments when the light calls to him, and the Supreme Leader will be none too pleased if his protégé’s emotions prevent him from taking out the leader of the Resistance. What use is he to Snoke if this keeps happening?

If (big “if”) this is Kylo’s story in the film, it’s good news, because a satisfying arc almost demands he has another encounter with Leia later in the movie. So here’s what I want: I want it to be at the end, and for it to be his one last chance to prove himself to Snoke. He can’t do it. He can’t kill her, and this means he can’t go back to Snoke either. Whether it means giving himself up to the Resistance or going on the run, it would give his story a new trajectory going into IX, and most importantly, mean Carrie’s presence continues to be felt – Leia’s relationship with her son would be driving the story, even if Leia herself can no longer be part of it.

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Nick: I’d be thrilled with any scene that provides some background on the formation of the First Order and how the Centrist secession from the New Republic affected things. We know that Bloodline had plot points added/modified due to feedback from Rian Johnson and/or the Story Group, such as the napkin bombing and the general state of political discourse in the New Republic. Having these events referenced or further expanded upon would provide some much needed clarity, plus in general be a fantastic example of the new continuity working together to weave in a more concrete and cohesive storyline.

Seeing the fallout of the Hosnian cataclysm would be very welcome as well. The New Republic is vulnerable and leaderless, with any surviving forces unsure of the chain of command and the thousands of member worlds left to fend for themselves due to the loss of the home fleet. I’d love for this to be a theme woven into the movie, as it would provide added emotional context to the destruction of the senate and the fleet. The Resistance is still grossly outnumbered & outgunned, so I’d be very pleased if TLJ and Episode IX show them consolidating any remaining opposition to the First Order and going all in the stop them from conquering the galaxy.

In terms of a specific scene, I’d love it if the end of TLJ mirrors the end of The Empire Strikes Back. If the trailer is any indication, the Resistance is in for a tough time in this film. However, a final scene onboard a Resistance cruiser, floating in space with the remnants of their tired but committed forces, would be the perfect way to end the film with a moment that reminds us that even in the face of unrelenting power and the appearance of defeat, hope burns eternal.

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Sarah: I am absolutely desperate for a reunion scene with Luke and Leia. In fact, one of the things I was most looking forward to in The Force Awakens was the potential of a Luke/Leia reunion (though obviously that wish didn’t quite pan out). But here’s hoping we get that moment in The Last Jedi, especially since this is our last chance to see Carrie and Mark as Leia and Luke together on screen.

The Skywalker family has always been one of my favorite parts of the Star Wars franchise and I was always disappointed that the Luke/Leia sibling revelation came so late in Return of the Jedi and was never really explored. I’ve always wanted more stories of them after Endor, learning how to be siblings. The legacy of Anakin is so messy and complicated for both of them, and I wanted to see them talk about it, for Luke to tell Leia about those final moments on the Death Star. I want to see them working together to learn more about Padmé, and perhaps even about Shmi, and of course about Anakin’s heroics as well.

Obviously that’s far too much to put into a movie, but I still want some echo of that, to see them together again while their theme swells in the background. Han is dead and Kylo is gone, and all they really have is each other. From the first Death Star to whatever happened to cause Kylo to fall to the dark side, their journeys have been intertwined and they’ve been through hell and back together; it would be a shame if we never got a resolution to their relationship. We see in TFA that Leia is desperate to find her missing brother and the entirety of TLJ would be worth it to me to see them reunited once more.

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Jay: Honestly, I just want a scene where someone from the New Republic (preferably a senator, but I’d take anyone) grovels before General Organa and apologizes. This NR person admits that Leia was right all along, and that the First Order was a threat and they should have backed her this whole time.

Right after TFA came out, I defended the NR’s more cautious take because it seemed reasonable given what we knew at the time: there wasn’t any reason to risk getting into a war with this weirdly nostalgic neo-Imperial remnant based on the information the NR had at the time (e.g., ignorance of the FO’s vast Unknown Regions assets and of Starkiller Base). But given Bloodline and Star Wars Propaganda and all this stuff about Centrist planets seceding from the New Republic, and all this First Order military buildup right under their noses…

Yeah, sorry. The NR should be falling at Leia’s feet begging her forgiveness and offering their services to try and fix their mess. Because Leia’s the only one with her eye on the ball, and the one who saw the problem coming. And they all threw her august name in the dirt because of it. It doesn’t even make sense; she’s war-mongering against neo-Imperials but also suspect because she’s revealed as the daughter of Lord Vader? I don’t know what the NR media and government folks were smoking, because they were absolute idiots.

But I’ll take some ex-NR soldiers, or governmental fragments, or whatever if I can’t get someone as important as a senator. But they better tell Leia that she was right the whole time, they were wrong, and what fools they were.

Because Leia deserves this. After everything she’s been through for the galaxy, after she always thought of others first and sacrificed her own happiness — she deserves this. And I hope and hope and hope that on this, Leia’s last on-screen appearance, Leia gets the credit and gratitude that is long overdue to her.

3 comments

  1. Master Ki-Aaron-Mundi says:

    These are great answers. I fear General Organa is going to be tragically underused, based on the implicit assumption that Episode IX was going to be “her movie.”

    The thing I most want to see–and am worried I won’t–is our new Big Three working together toward a common goal. We haven’t seen Rey, Finn, and Poe function as a unit yet, and I think that’s necessary to solidify this as their trilogy. I’m worried we’re going to get three side-adventures and never see all three of them come together and interact the way we saw Han, Luke, and Leia do so, or even Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan.

    • Mike Cooper Mike Cooper says:

      That’s tough in Star Wars; reconciling the journey Rey is on (or Luke in ESB) with the expectations of a military structure that sends you on missions is very tricky to do. I expect that any overlap between Rey’s objectives and Finn/Poe/Rose’s will be semi-accidental, the way it was at Starkiller. Episode IX may be a different story.

  2. Eric Brown says:

    I fear that Rey is going to do a Kyp Durron “fall” trilogy flop. You know, the one where Kyp goes evil for around the last quarter of the middle part of the trilogy and comes back at the start of the third movie an then everything is all angsty and stuff?

    I’d like to see Rey rush off to rescue Poe and Finn, just because I think that would be a spiffy thing. Perhaps a play off of Empire: Luke and Rey both have visions of Finn et al in trouble, and Rey is going to try to help them. Luke is horrified – he has terrible visions of what happens if Rey runs after them — yet Rey goes, but instead of utterly ignoring Luke she basically goes after Snoke to distract him so Finn et al can do their thing. Something where it’s a third option.

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