First Steps Into "The Last Jedi"

Cryptic. That’s the word I would use to summarize the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi because despite offering some amazingly atmospheric shots and quick snapshots of our favorite returning characters, it mostly just leaves the viewer with even more questions than before. I love it. One of the best parts of waiting for the next Star Wars film is dissecting each new little piece of information and sharing and debating your theories with friends. 

Struggle

Our first shot of Rey in the trailer shows her in a frightened state that mirrors her reaction to her Force vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In The Force Awakens, Rey’s vision causes her to shake and quickly scuttle away from the lightsaber that caused the visual assault. In the trailer for The Last Jedi, she is seen greedily gasping for air with a look of great distress on her face. In both instances, an encounter with the more mystical side of the Force has left Rey in a fearful state.

After the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans alleged that Rey was too powerful, too good at everything. While I have discussed my disagreement with that idea in previous posts, I think The Last Jedi will speak to that concern. In The Force Awakens, Rey was good at using the Force instinctually in situations that required her to do so to ensure her survival. She was able to tap into its energies as she raced the Millennium Falcon through the starship junkyard, and she eventually harnessed it again to defend Finn and herself from Kylo Ren at the end of the film. In both of these situations, she was fighting for her survival. Isn’t that something that she was used to? Every day on Jakku was a fight for survival, and she must have been good at it to have survived so long. It makes sense that she’d be able to use the Force in these situations because she’s used to doing what it takes to survive, but each of these moments are only a superficial, instinctive grab.

When Luke tells Rey to “Breathe. Just… breathe,” he does so prior to asking her to reach out and describe what she sees. While Rey may be able to instinctively use the Force when in peril, she may struggle to control or make any sense out of actually communing with the Force. The swirling eddies of information might frighten her because she knows so little about her own past or future. She can’t remember her parents, and, prior to the events of The Force Awakens, she had very little future except for fighting to survive another day on Jakku. She has also had very few people she can trust. Unkar Plutt and the other denizens of Jakku would have have preferred to just beat her and take what they wanted rather than work together. Even when she trusted Finn, he lied to her about being a member of the Resistance. Han didn’t reveal that the monstrous Kylo Ren was his son. Who knows if Luke is hiding secrets from her. Rey may have difficulty willfully accessing the Force in The Last Jedi because you have to be willing to be open and trusting with it, and that may be a struggle for someone used to living as a lonesome scavenger.

Enlightenment

For a few years now, fans have been debating what exactly Luke would be like in Episode VIII. After seeing this trailer, we only have a slightly clearer understanding. There is part of Luke that seems weighed down by grief. His tone of voice when he says that the Jedi must end is full of both conviction and a sense of sadness. Luke may be sad because despite that fact that many of the tenants of the Jedi were later distorted beyond recognition, they were still the rules that Obi-Wan and Yoda lived by and taught to him. To break from those traditions may feel like a betrayal of Ben and Yoda’s memories. He might also struggle with the all too human fear of starting something new. What if he tries to teach Rey to be a new kind of Force user only to have her fail? What if that’s what happened with Ben? Luke is too determined to make things right to let that stop him, but it would be a fear he might have.

Besides his grief, Luke also appears to have reached a sense of enlightenment. When Rey describes what she sees as the light, the dark, and balance, he says, “It’s so much bigger.” Luke has a vision of the Force that goes deeper than the beliefs of the religious sects of the Jedi or Sith. The Force itself is an energy field in all living things. The light is not the presence of the Force just as the dark is not its absence. Luke’s not as interested in all the rules and commandments of the Jedi as much as he is in mindfully delving into and communing with the Force. 

Hope

We see even less of Leia in the The Last Jedi trailer than we did in Rogue One, but what we do see offers some intriguing possibilities. When we see Leia, Rey has just named the light side of the Force. That’s interesting because despite being Force-sensitive, we rarely see Leia associated with it. Perhaps The Last Jedi will change all that.

Hidden beneath Rey’s voice is Leia’s own, younger voice, saying, “You’re my only hope.” It’s easy to forget that in many ways the First Order won at the end of The Force Awakens. They lost Starkiller Base, and Kylo Ren had a surprise facial at the tip of a lightsaber, but they succeeded in destroying the seat of the New Republic on Hosnian Prime. It’s not hard to imagine that the galaxy will be gripped by fear as this film opens. Open war has come again, but through her foresight and planning, Leia may be able to do what she does best: bring hope.

Rage

Kylo Ren has changed a little in the small glimpse of him we get. First, we have his brand new scar. It’s not quite the same as Anakin Skywalker’s, but for someone with as much admiration for Vader as he does, you can imagine that it would almost be like cosplay for young Ben. He gets to look like his grandfather! That scar also acts as a reminder though. It’s the mark of his failure against a young, untrained scavenger. Every time he looks in the mirror (which I imagine he does a lot for some reason), he must be filled with rage because he sees his weakness.

Rey would not be the only object of Ben’s rage either. He may be angry at Snoke for not training him more. Why did Snoke wait to complete his training? If he had, Ben may have been able to defeat Rey. He may be angry at Leia for sending his father to get him. Despite “thanking” Han for helping him, Ben is most-likely still hurting about it. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him blame Leia for his own failure. If Ben is responsible for destroying Luke’s academy, you have to imagine he’s pretty pissed with Luke as well. The biggest target of his anger is himself. He hates that he’s conflicted and cannot get rid of those doubts, and he probably hates himself for killing his father despite claiming not to.

Ben’s eyes are also a new hue in the one shot we get. Where his eyes were brown in The Force Awakens, in the trailer for The Last Jedi, they have begun to take on the yellowish tint we frequently see from the Sith. In killing his father, Ben shushed the conflict and took himself further down the dark path. It’s hard to imagine that those conflicting thoughts have been silenced though; afterall, Vader felt the same conflict between the light and the dark in Return of the Jedi, and he was further lost than Ben.

Loss

Poe Dameron just can’t hold onto an X-Wing. He lost one on Jakku, and we see him losing his slick black and orange one in the trailer for The Last Jedi. I feel like we should take a moment of silence for it’s loss, but at the same time, I’m kind of okay with the Halloween X-Wing becoming space dust if there’s the chance Poe might follow in his mother’s footsteps and take to space in an A-Wing. Maybe he’ll continue the holiday paint job tradition and color it red and green or maybe some nice pastels. There’s very little to glean from Poe’s screen time except that things are not going well. His X-Wing’s gone, and the capital ship whose corridors he’s running through is sparking and has seen better days. He already lost his sweet custom X-Wing, but what else could go wrong? In a recent interview with Movie Web, Oscar Isaac said, "Well, you know I can't say anything about the thing itself. But...He will be challenged, in a very intense way that will reveal a lot more about his character." In The Force Awakens, Poe is an extremely talented pilot, loyal friend, and confident leader. I look forward to seeing how the events of The Last Jedi refine and reveal more about him.

Pain

Out of all the characters in The Last Jedi trailer, the one we see the least of is Finn. We only catch a fleeting glimpse of him in what appears to be a medical stasis pod. At least we know he’s doing okay because Donna Dickens, a fan who can read the Star Wars alphabet Aurebesh, translated the text as saying “stable.” I wonder if this injury will linger though. With such a deep wound, I’d imagine Finn will need quite a bit of rehabilitation. Perhaps that’s where Rose comes in. At the The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration, Rian Johnson revealed that Rose is a member of the Resistance who works in maintenance. What is she maintaining? Could she be maintaining Finn’s pod? Watching over him as he continues to heal? That would certainly explain the close relationship between Finn and Rose that is implied by interviews with John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran. As he recovers from his injury, Finn will also have to deal with the fact that Rey has left to go train with Luke. His friendship with Rey motivated Finn throughout The Force Awakens, with her gone, it will be interesting to see what the “man who runs” will decide to do.

This first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi was a great hor d’oeuvre to get our mouth salivating for the next installment of the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe. It leaves us with a lot of questions and probably way too many theories to discuss. In this new era of Disney-owned Star Wars (at what point is it no longer new?), hungry fans have gotten used to being given these bite-sized morsels of Star Wars. This was a great first taste. I can’t wait for more.
What did you think of the The Last Jedi trailer? What do you think or hope will happen with your favorite character? Share with us on Twitter at @mapplebee7567 and @farfarawayradio !

All images used courtesy of Lucasfilm, Ltd.