‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: What the Ending Means for the Trilogy’s Conclusion

     December 14, 2017

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Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

If Star Wars: The Force Awakens was incredibly faithful to Star Wars mythology, then Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the shake-up the franchise sorely needed. While it still has plenty of callbacks and references, and tonally is in line with other Star Wars movies, it goes in surprising directions and is unafraid to burn everything down in order to create something new.

Nowhere is that clearer in how writer-director Rian Johnson handles the ending of his film. To this point, the main Star Wars movies have essentially been the Skywalker Saga. The prequel trilogy followed the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, and the original trilogy was about his children, Luke and Leia. Although The Force Awakens brought in new characters like Rey, Finn, and Poe alongside villains like Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Supreme Leader Snoke, it also kept original trilogy fixtures Luke, Leia, and Han. Additionally, even though he’s largely absent for almost the entire film, the figure of Luke Skywalker looms large over The Force Awakens. He’s the person everyone wants to find, and his actions led to Ben Solo becoming Kylo Ren and the fracturing of the original trio’s friendship.

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Image via Lucasfilm

And yet where does The Last Jedi leave us? You can see that in its original intent, it was probably trying to lead up to giving Leia Episode IX after Han’s death in The Force Awakens and Luke’s deth at the end of The Last Jedi (although whether or not he returns as a Force Ghost remains to be seen). However, with the death of Carrie Fisher last year, it looks like Leia will remain off-screen (Lucasfilm has already squashed the idea of doing a digital version like they did with Gran Moff Tarkin in Rogue One), and that really means the end of the Skywalkers for Episode IX. Technically, Kylo Ren is a Skywalker so it’s not like the story will be Skywalker-free, but they’re no longer driving the action since Rey isn’t a Skywalker.

For some, Rey’s lineage will undoubtedly be a controversial point for the next two years: Was Kylo Ren telling the truth when he told Rey that her parents were nobodies, just junkers who sold her for beer money and abandoned her? We spend a large portion of The Last Jedi wondering if Rey and Kylo Ren are connected by more than just than the Force and if they could be siblings. But if that were the case, that would mean that Han Solo and Leia abandoned their daughter. To rectify that and not make those heroes seem like awful people, you would need an exposition dump of some kind where someone offers a longwinded explanation about why Han Solo and Leia would leave their daughter in the middle of nowhere as well as why they never made any attempt to reunite with her.

Where Johnson really puts the nail in the coffin regarding Rey’s parentage is in the final scene. If Rey’s parents are anyone we’ve met before, whether they’re Skywalkers, Solos, or Kenobis, it makes her special due the circumstances of her birth. She becomes a “Chosen One” figure by virtue of having been born to a recognizable name. But the last scene of The Last Jedi tosses that traditional mythology out the window by showing us an unnamed slave child who uses the Force to casually grab a broom. He then holds the handle like a lightsaber hilt, looks up at the stars, and we can see Rose’s Resistance ring on his finger. What Johnson is telling us in this scene is that the future isn’t going to be some exalted figure or a person of prophecy, but instead it’s going to be “nobodies” like Rey. It’s going to be the downtrodden and the ignored who have always had the power to be more than their circumstances implied.

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