Image Used Courtesy of Lucasfilm, Ltd.
We finally have a title for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. The announcement was met with a variety of reactions. Some people immediately wrote Twitter dissertations about how Jedi is both singular and plural. Others examined the crimson color of the text and wondered if the film might share any similarities with Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi, whose words were also written in red. Some wondered if the title referred to Rey or even Kylo Ren rather than Luke. While others pointed out that Luke is described as “the last Jedi” in the crawl of The Force Awakens. I had none of those reactions. I immediately thought of Yoda’s death scene from Return of the Jedi.
As Yoda is preparing for his final journey to the Serenity of the Force Retirement Home, he tells Luke, “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi you will be.” Sounds familiar, right? As it happens, there’s a condition on Luke’s rise to knighthood. In order to become a Jedi, Luke must “confront Vader.” Yoda follows this by speaking of how there is another Skywalker and instructs Luke to pass on what he has learned. There are a few ways you could read this. You could certainly read a degree of self-preservation in Yoda’s command to pass on your knowledge; after all, if Luke is the last of the Jedi, they need to make more! It’s also possible to interpret that line another way.
By the end of the Clone Wars, Yoda knew better than many the effects the conflict had on the Jedi. Through his journey to learn from the Force priestesses, he had learned how wrong both he and the Jedi had been. He had learned that “Wars not make one great.” He learned that “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” By the time he instructs Luke, Yoda had changed quite a bit from the Jedi that once sat among the council on Coruscant. It’s this changed Jedi who taught Luke on Dagobah.
After the catastrophic consequences of Luke’s hasty initial battle with Darth Vader at Bespin, he learned the truth of Yoda’s words. His recklessness and thirst for battle and adventure had not made him great. It was a sobering way to learn that lesson. Aboard the second Death Star, Luke had to struggle with Yoda’s second piece of wisdom. As Vader and the Emperor assaulted him over and over again with both blade and words, Luke struggled to use the Force only for “knowledge and defense.” He must have wanted to shut Palpatine’s smug mouth many times. How hard must it have been to have endured comments like “Your faith in your friends is yours!” and not want to destroy him? By the end of the battle, Luke only claims the title of Jedi when he gives up the attack on Vader despite the Emperor pushing him to continue. It is in that moment that Luke became the last Jedi.
Far, Far Away Radio’s Legend and Lore host Jonathan "Nerf" Baker summarized my greatest desire for Episode VIII when he said on Twitter, “My hope: Luke is the last Jedi. Rey learns from him but is the start of a new way that actually follows the way of the light.” If this is the way Rian Johnson and Lucasfilm go, it will give new meaning to Yoda’s words. Luke will be the last of the Jedi because Yoda trained him to learn from the mistakes of the Jedi Order of old and forge a new path more attuned to the Force.
How do you interpret the phrase "The Last Jedi?" Share with us on Twitter at @mapplebee7567 and @farfarawayradio !