We’ve now got only a week to go before theaters begin their Thursday night previews of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” I’m already beyond hyped — I’ve got my tickets and my Rey cosplay ready to go, and I’ve begun my daily check of Rotten Tomatoes for advance reviews, hoping they’re good (though of course I’ll be seeing it regardless…but please, reviews be good!).
Just as “The Force Awakens” was an echo of “A New Hope,” I believe “The Last Jedi” will be an echo of “The Empire Strikes Back” — a darker twist on our favorite space opera, where everything our favorite characters believe and think they know will be turned upside down. Unlike in the prequels, which we knew would end with Anakin becoming Darth Vader, I have absolutely no idea what will happen in this movie, beyond the hints we’ve seen in the trailers. To me, that’s incredibly thrilling. I think we’re going to see some really big plot twists and secrets revealed in this film, and it will probably end on a cliffhanger (like “Empire”), giving us plenty of fodder for speculation before Episode IX shows up in 2019.
Here’s my final predictions and thoughts — I’d love to hear yours as well!
1. Someone is going to the dark side.
Maybe it’s Rey. Maybe it’s Luke. But I think at least one character (and possibly more) will toy with the darkness. I haven’t let go of my hope for a dark Rey, just because I think it would be a fascinating storytelling opportunity, the subversion of the famous “hero’s journey” arc (but handled, hopefully, in a better way than Anakin in the prequels). I don’t know if Disney would be willing to do this to a character who’s so significant to their marketing and merchandising. Yet even if she just goes sort-of dark in this one film and then turns back to the light in Episode IX, I think that would be a fantastic twist. Plus, Disney has already proven they’re willing to be at least a little gutsy (i.e. killing off all the heroes in “Rogue One”).
Then again, it could be Luke who ends up crossing over to the dark side in this film. Originally I didn’t want a dark Luke, because I thought it would take away from the poignant and powerful ending of “Return of the Jedi,” where Luke resists the darkness and helps draw his father back to the light. But I’ve changed my mind a bit on this, due to the interesting storytelling opportunities a “dark Luke” could offer. Despite all Luke’s struggles in the previous films, perhaps the Skywalker legacy proves unavoidable and in the end, like Darth Vader his father and Kylo Ren his nephew, he falls from the light.
What do you think? Will we have at least one fallen hero? Who will it be?
2. And a dark sider will return to the light.
Maybe this prediction will be way off base, but I think Kylo Ren will come back to the light…or at least shift farther away from the Sith path (but more on that in prediction #3). “The Force Awakens” didn’t give us a lot of information on why Kylo originally left the Jedi Order, or what he may have disagreed with Luke about and why. We also don’t know what Supreme Leader Snoke may have tempted him with in order to entice him to the dark side. Needless to say, Kylo is obviously still struggling with the path he has chosen, and while he killed his father, I don’t think he’ll be able to kill Leia. He’s probably not going to go full light-side in “The Last Jedi,” but I believe in Episode IX we’ll see a redemption arc for this character. Maybe he’ll have to help Luke deal with the threat that Rey becomes…or maybe he and Rey will have to fight a dark or misguided Luke.
3. We’ll see a broader exploration of the Force.
Up to this point (at least in the films), we’ve seen a very black and white portrayal of the Force. Jedi=good, Sith=bad (though the prequels showed us some of the destructive arrogance that had leaked into the Jedi Order). However, there are such things as Gray Jedi, who walk a path between light and dark, finding a balance between the two sides of the Force. Wookieepedia files the “Gray Jedi” entry under the now non-canon Star Wars Legends, but I think we’ll see this philosophy show up in “The Last Jedi,” even if it’s not labeled as such. Maybe Luke has been researching and meditating on a more balanced view of the Force during his time alone on the island. Maybe he does want the Jedi to end…but not the use of the Force itself. Maybe he’s trying to find a new path.
4. Side characters also will have significant choices to make.
I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing what will happen to what I see as the three big players in “The Last Jedi” — Luke, Rey and Kylo. Yet I think there will be plenty of meaty material for the side characters too. The trailers have given us more hints than hard information, though really, that’s a good thing. I don’t know exactly what the structure of this story will be, which will heighten the suspense. Finn is working for the Resistance now, but he may not be completely thrilled about it. He formed an obvious connection with Rey and initially joined the Resistance to help her. Yet now she’s apparently off the grid, training with Luke, and I wonder how Finn feels about that. Maybe he resents Rey for inspiring him to join this crusade and then “leaving” him to follow her own quest. I’m also interested to see if his fight with Phasma in the trailers is him going undercover for the Resistance, or if it’s a more personal side mission to get revenge on the First Order.
I also think we’re going to be seeing Poe Dameron taking on more of a leadership role, possibly taking over the reins from General Leia in the next film. I am both excited and sad to see Carrie Fisher’s final performance as Leia, and I think we’ll continue to see her try to find a balance between her work as a general in the Resistance and her personal issues, like the death of Han and the actions of her son.
5. Mysterious identities will be revealed.
Place your bets now! Who is Rey, and will her back story finally be revealed or will they make us wait till Episode IX (please don’t make us wait!). My old theory was that Rey is Luke’s daughter, but I no longer think that or even want that to be the case. However, I still believe her mysterious background is a VERY significant part of the story. Although I heard some criticism regarding “The Force Awakens” that her character was too powerful/too talented, I think her skills are more than just a plot device. There’s a reason she has so much raw power, and a reason why Luke is, I believe, afraid of her. I think she’ll have a recognizable Force lineage with ties to Star Wars lore. I’ve heard the “she’s a Kenobi” theories, but I’d lean more towards some kind of Qui-Gon Jinn lineage. Or maybe her parents were dark side Force users and Rey was hidden away from the galaxy not to protect her, but rather to protect the galaxy from her dangerous potential (this is my favorite theory now). Or it could be something completely different.
The other big question mark is just who Supreme Leader Snoke is and why he’s leading the First Order. I don’t think he’s a generic dictator, and I think he also has ties to Star Wars lore. I think it would be kinda cool if he was the return of Darth Plagueis, but who knows? We’ll have to wait till next week to find out!