For months, Star Wars fans have been obsessing over theories on who is the last Jedi that is being referred to in the title of Star Wars: Episode VIII, which was revealed to be The Last Jedi. For instance, is it referring to a single Jedi Knight, or is it plural, referring to the last of the Jedi Knights? In both instances, it was assumed that it could be referring to Luke and/or Rey, especially if one doesn’t make it to Episode IX.
Then the teaser dropped, and after one weekend’s worth of discussion from Star Wars Celebration, one of the biggest questions that still remain is, who is the last Jedi? Or has it been answered already?
Director Rian Johnson confirmed in an interview with ABC that in his mind there was never any question that the title was referring to a singular last Jedi. When prompted who could it be, Johnson was playful at first when asked if it referred to Luke Skywalker, saying, “If you say so,” but he goes on to say:
“In The Force Awakens, they say that Luke has gone to find the last Jedi temple and Luke’s the last Jedi.”
But the interesting thing to note is if Luke is the last Jedi, then what do we make of what sounds like Luke training Rey on the principles of the Force? What do we make of the one true plot point introduced in the teaser, that the Jedis need to come to an end?
Now, there has already been plenty of debate over whether or not this means that Luke will explore the dark side of the Force. Or that he may go completely to the dark side and potentially be Rey’s adversary rather than an ally, reiterating Daisy Ridley's comment at The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration that our heroes are sometimes not what we make them out to be when we meet them in person. At the very least, Luke could be less than forthcoming about the ways of the Force than either Obi-Wan or Yoda was with him. If Rey's impression is that her hero isn't very gracious, Luke may have knowledge or experience that has soured him on the hope he had in Episodes IV, V and VI.
The poster reveal of The Last Jedi certainly adds fuel to the flames of this theory, as images of Luke and Kylo Ren are in the background in red, the color usually associated with the Sith. Even Mark Hamill told ABC that it’s a possibility, that Luke could go dark, as that line about the Jedis needing to come to an end was a shocker to him when he first read it.
So let’s assume that Luke is indeed the last Jedi, as Johnson said. What does that hold for Rey? She tells Luke in the teaser that she sees light, dark and balance. Now George Lucas has said in the past in the VHS edition of A New Hope: Special Edition that the balance does not refer to equal parts of light and dark side users, but rather getting rid of the evil in the universe and hence restoring the Force to its natural state. But what if Luke has stumbled onto something above what all other Jedi Knights would know or understand? Perhaps this is the reason why he's a recluse.
This would also confirm that the story would focus on Luke as the central figure of the film if the title is all about Luke and his decisions. Will he or won't he help Rey become who she needs to be? Is he on the light side or the dark side? Why has Luke pulled himself away from his friends? What went down with Kylo Ren? What did he find out in the last Jedi temple? If he's the last Jedi, what does Luke believe Rey can be?
Which brings us to Luke’s other line in the teaser in response to what Rey tells him what she sees: “It’s so much bigger than that ...”
Those words could be clueing us in on what could be shaping Rey into something that is beyond what we know of Jedi Knights. Rey might be the next evolution of Force user. Perhaps Luke realizes that and feels that he is and should be the last of the Jedi, because they can be corrupted to the dark side. Maybe he's drawing a line in the sand and allowing the new generation to move beyond where he can go. So whatever Rey is, she needs to be the next level of the Force user that cannot be corrupted. She needs to be further than what a Jedi can achieve; she needs to be further than what a Sith can be in order to rid the universe of evil. If so, those are lofty expectations that weigh heavily on her shoulders. Or this could all be the mother of all red herrings.
This is at least one outlook that preserves Luke as light side user of the Force instead of believing that he will simply go to the dark side. Finally, if Luke is the last Jedi, might we see his demise too and thus propel Rey into becoming whatever it is she is destined to be? To be continued ...