The End of the Jedi?
We finally have our first look at The Last of The Jedi, otherwise known as Episode 8 of the Star Wars Saga. Like all good teasers, this one features looks at all of our new favorite characters, like Poe Dameron and BB-8 running down a hallway, Rey beginning her Jedi training, and Finn….well Finn is recovering from his injuries after fighting Kylo Ren. But the real focus of the trailer is on Luke Skywalker, whose voice we haven’t heard since Return of the Jedi back in 1983. And there’s one ominous phrase that has stuck in Star Wars’ fans minds since the trailer was released.
“It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
Between this line and the title of the new installment, lots of folks are assuming this means that Luke Skywalker is disillusioned with the Jedi Order. After all, that wouldn’t be a stretch to believe. Obi-Wan Kenobi failed Luke in his training, and while he did become a Jedi Knight, he did so in exchange for the life of his father. Almost everything associating Luke to the Jedi Order is filled with some sort of loss, and that’s not even taking into account his failed attempt to restart the Jedi Order. But I think there’s something more symbolic in what Luke is saying here. I think what he means is that the current IDEA of the Jedi is outdated, and needs to change.
Throughout all of Star Wars lore, the Force is split into “Light” and “Dark”. Jedi and Sith. We’ve been told throughout the movies that there needs to be “balance” to the Force. For a long time fans, myself included, assumed this meant that there needed to be an equal amount of Light side users and Dark Side users (“good guys” and “bad guys” in the loosest sense of terms). Whenever things are too out of balance, bad things happen. We see this in the Original Trilogy, where Vader and Palpatine hold more power than Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, who are both in hiding. We see the reverse of this in the Prequel Trilogy, where the Jedi greatly outnumber the Sith, an act that eventually leads to the Jedi being nearly wiped out due to their arrogance and short-sightedness over the existence of their enemies. These two sides being out of balance leads to the conflicts in both sets of trilogies.
But what if the “balance” we’ve always heard of in Star Wars actually means a balance WITHIN a force user? So the true path to being balanced or “one” with the Force means that you need to accept both the light and the dark side of the Force? While it goes against the lore of Star Wars and the rules of the Jedi Order, there is precedence for Luke changing the rules within the now-defunct older Expanded Universe stories. The Jedi used to forbid feelings like fear and love, yet Luke Skywalker amends those rules when he falls in love with Mara Jade and marries her. Perhaps the folks at Lucasfilm are taking some of those ideas and reworking them for The Last Jedi.
Re-imagining the use of The Force makes a lot of sense when you think about it, and would turn the entire Star Wars franchise completely on its head. As great as it is to put the worlds of Star Wars into “light” and “dark” terms, the real world isn’t so simple. The Star Wars Rebels cartoon has introduced a character that is studying the Force, but doesn’t believe in the ideas of “Light Side” and “Dark Side”. This ‘Grey Jedi” is a relatively new idea for the movies and TV side of the franchise, but it could be really interesting to have in these movies, if they choose to go that route. Either way, it’s fantastic to have these kinds of secrets and surprises in store for us with a new Star Wars movie. Half the fun is just guessing what’s coming up.