7 new ways to use The Force in The Last Jedi

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Dec 17, 2017, 1:40 PM EST

The mythical metaphysical tension that gives a Jedi her power seemed pretty limited back in '77, when young Luke Skywalker took a first step into a larger world. You could dissuade dull-witted stormtroopers from checking underage farm boy IDs, stop a floating disco ball from shocking your leg with the blast shield down, choke out a dude for mocking your faith, and give advice immediately after you died.

The Force has always worked in mysterious ways indeed, revealing its many applications a movie at a time. It wasn't until Luke's encounter with the snow monster in Empire that we learned of its telekinetic power — and how about peering into the future, or finding your imperiled kid brother with your feelings? Those sure came in handy.

The prequels gave us a wildly unpopular explanation of how the Force is detected in the bloodstream, but not much else by way of R&D. When the Force awakened in 2015, we learned that modern Sith Lords could freeze laser bolts in mid-flight and extract information from captives without using the levitating-bowling-ball-and-syringe droid.

But in terms of expanding and codifying what the Force is really capable of, The Last Jedi takes the space-cake. No less than seven new (or enhanced) powers were revealed in that 2 hours and 40 minutes, each of them an increasingly significant upgrade.

Remind us again why this religion is dying?

**Spoiler alert: obviously, spoilers follow**

Bring the lightning from the other side

We've come a long way from "Run, Luke, run!" Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice was our first indication that Jedi never really die, and there's a whole canonical books and 'toons mumbo-jumbo about what they can and cannot do. But we're sticking to the movies here, and Yoda just pulled a major Thor. Not only does the master Jedi trainer appear, but he brings a bolt of lightning down upon the temple, setting it on fire. This just confirms that Force Ghosts aren't mere friendly advocacy apparitions -- these guys now officially have the power to get things done.

Whack you with a stick, Force ghosts can

Speaking of, as the temple burns and Yoda lectures Luke once again about being present in the moment, he thwacks him with a stick! So they can call down lightning and also rap you on the knuckles. These Force ghosts are a menace now!

Create gravitational fields in space

This may seem like just a minor extension of the Jedi's telekinetic powers, but what Leia did after she was blown out of the Rebel cruisers' bridge was a new wrinkle in the Force — creating gravitational pull in the absence of gravity. Making rocks float is really more of an anti-gravity trick, and the physics of pulling an object toward you are slightly different from pulling yourself toward an object. In any case, she did it in the vacuum of space.

Some space resistance

Speaking of the void, we know that most humans wouldn't survive more than 15-30 seconds in space, and even if rescued, would suffer a lot more than a brief bout of unconsciousness. If the extreme cold and lack of oxygen don't kill you, the lack of air pressure does some incredibly gnarly things to your internal tissue. Leia should not have survived long enough to twitch her hand and take flight, but then she's more powerful than your average Princess.

Third-party bridging

We used to do this prank in high school — before Caller ID but after three-way calling was introduced — where we'd call someone, say we were some other person who they barely knew, ask them to hold for a second, then call the person we said we were on the third line, say we were the original person and connect them up — all to just listen as our two marks confusedly tried to figure out why the other person called them in the first place.

It was hysterical and terribly awkward, and exactly what Supreme Leader Snoke does to Rey and Kylo in The Last Jedi. Anyway, we knew Jedi could sense one another's thoughts and presence across time and space, but full on space-Skyping? Without the connection fritzing out every 30 seconds? This is truly next-level.

Cutting oneself off from the Force

Wait — is that even possible? Isn't that like saying "Don't think about an elephant!," or not breathing? But Luke has somehow managed it, probably as a part of his hiding-here-until-I-die strategy. Considering that the Force penetrates and binds everything, it would be awfully hard to separate oneself from it — something only a master Jedi could pull off.

Full-on doppelgangering

Wow. Obviously, this is the big reveal in The Last Jedi — and it's either a really nifty plot twist or a total cop-out, depending on whom you ask. But it doesn't come without a price. Earlier in the film, Kylo Ren remarks that Rey keeping up a Force Skype is remarkable in that "the effort alone would kill you," so imagine the amount of effort it takes to project your own image on another planet, engaging not just in an emotional reunion with your long-lost sister, but also in combat with your worst enemy! [While carrying Force-hologram brass dice!] Luke has conjured up some of the most ancient, proprietary Jedi magic here, the likes of which we didn't think even possible. Clearly it's wiped out all his energy reserves, because the effort, indeed, kills him. Or at least his body, because we already know he's going to be in Episode IX as a Force Ghost. Here's hoping he'll have the power to make us care about any of the subplots.