The Last Jedi

I have over 9000 things I could be blogging about, but right now I’m just excited about the recently released Star Wars Episode VIII trailer! Have you seen it yet?

If you haven’t, you can watch it here:

So there’s a lot to break down and geek out over here. As in all good trailers, they’re very good at giving subtle hints and short bursts of action without really telling us much about the story, but there are a few details which I can pick out.

Oh, and fair warning. If you still haven’t seen Episode VII, this will contain spoilers. Of course, it can’t contain spoilers for Episode VIII because this trailer is literally all I have to go on. Well, that and speculation I’ve read the small handful of other websites I’ve looked at. Also, this post is full of gifs. Because gifs. They may take a little while to load. Anyway, you’ve been warned…

Still with me? Ok. Let’s do this.

First off, the title being in red instead of the characteristic gold has a few implications. The colour red features quite prominently in the trailer, which gives a rather Sith-esque foreboding feel. There’s also a heavy underlying theme of the duality between light and dark – most notably in the voiceover between Luke and Rey at the beginning – which suggests that this theme may feature prominently in The Last Jedi. This was also hinted at in several places during the last film.

A few scenes in the trailer stick out to me…

We start with Rey. Obviously, because she’s the hero. This must be during her training after finding Luke Skywalker, though it’s difficult to say if she’s just performed some colossal feat of telekinesis or just awoken from a vision (it reminded me of that one scene from Episode VII).

The cinematography looks absolutely beautiful. This place, by the way, is an Irish island called Skellig Michael.

Also Rey. You can tell from her armwraps. This one is interesting though, because we haven’t seen any force user do anything like this before. We’ve seen Count Dooku, Yoda, and Emperor Palpatine throw huge things in combat, and we’ve seen Luke lift his X-wing out of a swamp. But the only character we’ve seen using telekinesis to manipulate small objects intricately (assuming that’s what we’re seeing) was Anakin Skywalker – in Episode II, when he was showing off for Padme.

Carrie. ❤️ I’m looking forward to seeing her. Apparently her performance in this film is superb. She even helped to re-write some of it.

Kylo Ren’s mask. Broken and smoking as if freshly destroyed. Our introduction to him is very clearly on the dark side, but with some obvious conflict about whether or not to stay that way. Also some serious anger management issues.

According to the lore, Kylo was apparently chosen by Supreme Leader Snoke for his ability to use both the light and dark sides of the force. It explains his inner turmoil and seems to mesh with the running theme of balance/imbalance here. It also leads me to wonder if he’s going to have a story arc where he ceases to be an antagonist and joins the protagonists. A little like Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, who even has a similar introduction, terrorising a small village while searching for something to prove his honour. Which is an interesting coincidence.

I have utterly no idea what this is about or who or where this is. The only clue is that whoever they are, they’re wearing brown gloves. Which means that it’s probably not Kylo, Rey, or Luke. That old piece of paper has the symbol of the Jedi order on it though, which makes me deeply curious!

This is a planet we haven’t seen before! But those little craft churning up the red dust… Look in the background in the first shot. It looks like they’re heading towards a large group of AT-AT walkers! I also wonder who the clumsy pilot is. It’s definitely not Poe. Far too inelegant.

At a guess, this is Poe. At least I really hope it is. It’s hard not to love the Millennium Falcon, and it would be great to see the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy in the hands of the Resistance’s best pilot!

Again, that dichotomy of light and dark. Note the colours and the huge emphasis of blue and red – the classic two colours of the light and dark sides, used in Episode IV. I’d be surprised if we don’t see a rematch between these two. How that will turn out though, is hard to say.

There seems to be a lot of speculation about this scene, but I’m absolutely certain that the hooded figure with R2D2 is Luke. I’m certain because we’ve seen a fragment of this scene before – in Rey’s vision on Takodana. More on that below…

I’m also certain the masked figure in the flames is Kylo. This looks like a flashback to the destruction of Luke’s academy. I’ve read some people speculate it could be Captain Phasma marching out of the burning ruins, but it looks more like Kylo’s mask to me. Still, I do hope Phasma makes an appearance.

Epic space battles are a mainstay of the entire Star Wars franchise. And this one looks hellishly fierce!

“I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi… to end.” Luke’s final words in this trailer are chilling and seem to throw everything that we know into disarray. And to hear this coming from Luke Skywalker himself, no less!

But there’s something to be drawn here. The entire trailer emphasises light versus dark. Balance. In the older expanded universe lore I’ve read (and there’s a lot out there!), Luke went on to found a new order of Jedi, trained to use both the light and dark sides of the force in unison. This reunified the force and ultimately fulfilled the prophecy that the entire prequel trilogy kept talking about. Obi Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu assumed that Annakin was supposed to destroy the Sith to bring balance – Obi Wan says this himself in one of the final scenes from Episode III. But all light and no dark is not balance. I suspect Luke’s meaning is that there should no longer be a division between Jedi and Sith.

Couple this with the obvious conflict in Kylo, and the fact that Luke himself strayed very close to the dark side more than once in Episode VI, and it seems a logical conclusion. Perhaps grappling with these thoughts is what drove Luke to hide away in the first place.

But there are a few unanswered questions here too. What’s the deal with Supreme Leader Snoke? Who are the Knights of Ren? And who exactly is Rey? Rey is the most interesting part in all of this, by a long way. So please allow me to descend into some wild speculation. If you don’t care what I think or don’t like hearing someone else’s guesses, now is a good time to stop reading.

Who is Rey?

We know nothing about Rey. We don’t know her family, her background, her history… We don’t even know her last name. But we do know that she managed to hold her own in a lightsaber duel with no formal training, and we know that she was able to do some amazing piloting of the Millennium Falcon despite apparently not knowing what she was doing.

But we do have some clues from her vision during Episode VII. It only lasts for about 50 seconds of screen time, but it’s such a concentrated burst of information, there’s a lot to disentangle.

On Takodana, Rey is drawn to this lightsaber. The same one which Obi Wan gave to Luke, and the same one which Obi Wan had previously claimed from Annakin after leaving him for dead on Mustafar. The lightsaber which Annakin had originally constructed when he was a Jedi.

Back to that one scene from the Episode VIII trailer. In Rey’s vision, we see a hooded figure crouching with R2D2. That hooded figure has a metal right hand, which means it’s almost certainly Luke. This looks a lot like the same scene.

But there’s more hidden in Rey’s vision, so briefly that you might miss it.

Near the end of her vision we hear the voice of old Obi Wan (Alec Guinness) call her name. As she falls back into reality, we hear the voice of young Obi Wan (Ewan MacGregor) say “These are your first steps.” Both cameos are uncredited, incidentally.

There’s some mirroring of past events here, seeing as Obi Wan gave this lightsaber to Luke, and no doubt originally guided Annakin to construct it. So why is Obi Wan speaking to Rey, someone he has no obvious connection with? And why is Rey drawn to this lightsaber in the first place?

My personal theory is that Rey is a reincarnation of a character who, at this point in time, is no longer alive. If you dig into Star Wars lore, the concept of reincarnation is there, but hasn’t been touched on in the mainstream part of the franchise. It’s also considered to be Sith magic.

Long story short, I think Rey is the reincarnation of Annakin Skywalker. This explains how she’s drawn to Annakin’s lightsaber (it’s technically already hers). It explains why she’s spoken to by Obi Wan, Annakin’s one time apprentice. It explains how she’s able to fight against Kylo Ren despite never having even wielded a lightsaber before. It explains how she can use the force without any training, just like Annakin did in Episode I (which was the carefully hidden but major plot point in that pod racing scene). And it explains her exceptional piloting skills, something which Annakin always excelled at. They also both dislike sand.

Annakin, as we know from way back in Episode I, was born from the force, with no biological father. He was also an exceptionally powerful force user, and it was his destiny to “bring balance to the force.” If they have the same soul, it’s also her destiny – which fits perfectly with the themes of unity and light versus dark which are scattered liberally throughout both the trailer for Episode VIII and hinted at in Episode VII. If we’re seeing the Jedi and Sith being dissolved and melted together into something new, it seems Annakin/Rey’s destiny is finally going to come true.

It also suggests that Kylo, with his conflict between the two sides, has some greater purpose in all this than simply being a Tesco Value Darth Vader.

Anyway, this is my own speculation, after thinking about it all in far too much detail. I could be wildly wrong, of course. But it all seems to add up, to me.

NB: If you’re the kind of person who digs on the internet for leaks and spoilers and you know something I don’t about episodes VIII and IX, then please DO NOT TELL ME. As much as I’d like to know if my idea is correct about all this, I’d much rather wait and find out by watching the movie.

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About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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