Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.
You should know something right off the bat: We love The Last Jedi. We not only love The Last Jedi, we don't particularly understand why anyone wouldn't. The film interrogates the Star Wars mythos while still investing in it fully: It is joyous in a way that feels earned rather than blind fanboyish.
When Poe prank-calls General Hux
If you were wondering what was going to be different about a Rian Johnson Star Wars movie, you found out in the first few minutes.
Poe Dameron shows up as a lone fighter against a terrifying First Order destroyer, and when he requests to speak with General Hux, you expect some sort of swaggering, cocksure Han Solo moment. And you do get that, but only a little: Poe is trying to stall for time, so at first he pretends not to be able to connect with "Hugs," as he calls him, and when he does, he lets him know that he has an urgent message from Leia… about his mother.
Yes, Peavey: He is tooling with him.
Rey and Kylo Ren battle Snoke’s guards
The Star Wars films have their share of near-death fake-outs — like the moment where everybody’s sure Luke is about to be killed by the Emperor in Return of the Jedi — and one of the best comes in The Last Jedi when the evil Snoke is about ready to end Rey in his throne room. Except, Kylo uses the Force to kill Snoke remotely with her lightsaber, setting in motion an incredible battle as Rey and Kylo take on all of Snoke’s guards.
The gorgeous sequence, featuring some epic slo-mo, quickly became a meme — seriously, every song you put under those scenes worked wonderfully — but it was also among the film’s most thrilling moments. Even better, it sets the stage for the climactic face-off that’s probably going to happen between the two of them in The Rise of Skywalker.
The final scene
After The Last Jedi’s big last battle, the movie isn’t quite over. The Resistance may be down to just a handful of humans and droids, but Leia tells Rey not to give up hope: "We have everything we need."
We then cut to a group of child slaves who are acting out Luke’s showdown with Kylo Ren through dolls — already, his story of bravery is spreading across the galaxy. And then one boy, who just so happens to have the Force, looks out at the stars, dreaming perhaps of being part of that Resistance — just like Luke did so long go.
The odds are stacked against our heroes, but as we prepare for The Rise of Skywalker, we still feel pretty certain that good can still triumph over evil.
Laura Dern’s big moment
The impending Oscar winner — they surely already have her name etched on the statue for Marriage Story — has perhaps the most purely emotional moment in The Last Jedi when, to help the Resistance escape, she, alone on her ship, blasts into light speed in a suicide mission. Dern’s steely gaze assures you of her intent, but it’s Johnson’s willingness to use pure silence, such a rarity in a Star Wars film, that takes your breath away.
It’s such a radical moment that many moviegoers were taken aback: some theaters had to put up signs letting people know that, yes, that scene was supposed to be silent.
We discover that Luke isn’t actually on Crait
After being on the sidelines for much of the new trilogy, Luke joins the fight when he’s most needed: during the battle of Crait as Kylo Ren and his troops are about to crush the Resistance. Funny thing, though: No matter how many cannons the First Order has trained on Luke, they don’t leave a mark.
Frustrated, Kylo engages him mano-a-mano in a duel — only to discover he's been tricked. Luke isn’t actually there — he’s projecting from Ahch-To in order to create a diversion that will allow the Resistance to get away. Johnson enjoys peppering his movies with a little sleight of hand, and this moment of misdirection is The Last Jedi's finest.