We’ve now had a few days to watch (and rewatch, and rewatch) Star Wars: The Last Jedi and mull over this monumental installment of the saga. As evidenced by the extreme reactions it’s garnered online, writer/director Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII aims – and succeeds – in blowing the whole franchise wide open.
From killing off beloved characters to cutting new ones’ lives short, to developing the character dynamics in interesting, unforeseen ways and even altering our fundamental understanding of the Force, The Last Jedi makes an incalculable impact on the Star Wars universe. As such, it’s left us with a whole bunch of questions. Most of all, we’re left wondering how the heck J.J. Abrams is going to pick up the pieces that Johnson has left him in Episode IX?
There’s a lot of stuff swirling around our heads at the moment, but here are 10 of the most important questions we’re pondering now that The Last Jedi has arrived. As always, if you feel like you’ve got the answer to any of them, be sure to let us know in the comments section down below.
Will Its Fan Reception Change Over Time?
To start with, here’s one question that’s not to do with the film itself but rather about its unexpectedly controversial fan response: will Star Wars fans’ attitudes to The Last Jedi soften over time?
While it’s been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, The Last Jedi seems to have split the fandom right down the middle. While some believe it’s the boldest, smartest Star Wars movie yet, others see it as totally disrespecting the characters and the universe that was set up in prior installments. This has led to a shockingly low audience aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes – 56%, even lower than that of all three of the prequel movies.
We’re wondering if this attitude will ameliorate by the time Episode IX rolls around, though. After all, The Force Awakens‘ reception kind of went the opposite way: initially, it was received very warmly but after a while the backlash from those who complained that it was too derivative began.
If fans don’t ease up, it could have an affect on Disney’s faith in Rian Johnson to helm his own trilogy of movies after J.J. Abrams completes the current one.
Is A Rey/Finn/Rose Love Triangle Coming?
The big growing romance of The Force Awakens was Rey and Finn. Though they never did anything overtly romantic, the deep feelings between the couple was clear. Apparently this wasn’t something Rian Johnson was interested in exploring, though, as he paired up the characters with other people.
In particular, Finn got close with brave Resistance fighter Rose Tico. At the end of the movie, he affectionately pulled a blanket over the injured Rose and waited by her side. A brief glance from Rey towards the pair, meanwhile, showed she was a little hurt that Finn was paying this much attention to someone else.
Seeing as Rose is completely a Johnson creation, it’s unclear if Abrams will continue to delve into the Finn/Rose friendship and possible romance, perhaps building some kind of love triangle along with Rey instead? It would be very easy, however, to disregard any hint that Finn has feelings for Rose and buckle down on Rey and Finn’s relationship, as it’s clear from his work on TFA that he wants them to pair up.
When Are We Ever Going To Meet The Knights Of Ren?
The Knights of Ren were one of the biggest mysteries of The Force Awakens. Kylo Ren was said to be their master and we briefly saw the squad in Rey’s Force flashback when she picks up Luke’s lightsaber for the first time. Other than that, though, no further explanation of them was offered.
In The Last Jedi, the Knights remarkably feature even less. Again, Kylo’s title as their master is referenced, but they still don’t appear. However, we do get a hint at who they are. Luke explains to Rey that Kylo slaughtered half of the students of his Jedi academy and took the other half with him when he left to side with Snoke.
We’re going to go out on a limb at say that these other students became Kylo’s Knights. If so, though, you’d think we’d have encountered these Jedis-in-training who have turned to the Dark Side before. Presumably, they’re being saved to really up the stakes in Episode IX.
Is That Really The Last We’ve Seen Of Snoke?
One of the characters who drummed up the most fan theories in between the releases of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi was Supreme Leader Snoke, the ruler of the First Order. TFA offered few answers about him, simply positing him as a replacement for Emperor Palpatine, and many were expecting TLJ to shed some light on the big cheese.
As it happens, Johnson pulls off a ballsy bait-and-switch with the character. He’s built up as a major threat for the first two thirds of the movie… before he’s pretty easily killed off by his apprentice Kylo Ren. It’s a clever move storywise, as it makes Kylo an even more interesting, complex character. But it does leave us all thinking: “So, is that it?”
If it is, Snoke’s a big letdown as, not only was he bested so easily, but we didn’t learn anything about him. While we have a feeling he’ll stay dead, we would still expect there to be some flashbacks in Episode IX which fill in the gaps about how he tempted a young Ben Solo and what his origins are.
Is Kylo Ren Telling The Truth About Rey’s Parents?
The question of Rey’s parents has been bugging fans ever since her past remained a mystery in The Force Awakens. The thinking was that, what with her immense natural Force powers, she had to have some pretty notable ancestors. Was she a Skywalker? A Solo? A Kenobi? Maybe even a Palpatine?
In what’s typical of its subversive, brave attitude, The Last Jedi pushes aside all those theories and apparently reveals that Rey’s parents were actually… nobody. As Kylo Ren tells her, Rey’s parents were just two heartless Jakku citizens who sold their daughter off for money. But is this actually the truth?
Rian Johnson says that it was absolutely his intention that Ren is telling Rey the facts in this scene, but he did remind us that anything can get retconned away in Star Wars, leaving the door open for J.J. Abrams to drop a new revelation in Episode IX.
How Will Carrie Fisher’s Absence Be Handled In Episode IX?
Something that put a cloud over The Last Jedi‘s release was the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher last December, which made this the unintentional final appearance of the actress as the legendary General/Princess Leia. So, would something be done to the movie to write out the character?
As it happens, Johnson made the probably correct decision in not tampering with Fisher’s performance or Leia’s character arc at all. While that allows the movie to act as a testament to the much-missed icon, it does leave Episode IX with the thorny issue of handling Leia’s exit itself.
That said, The Last Jedi does see her grooming Poe to be her replacement as the Resistance leader. While the logistics of explaining the character’s absence might have to be contrived, there will be some thematic throughline in the story. However Leia is written out of the saga, Poe taking her place has already been set up.
Will Luke Return As A Force Ghost?
Furthermore, with Carrie Fisher’s loss and Han Solo’s death in The Force Awakens, that left Luke Skywalker as the only character of the original trilogy’s trinity of protagonists able to make it through to the final movie of this new trilogy. Well, he would have been… if The Last Jedi hadn’t killed him off, as well.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Luke could return as a Force ghost. Handily, the concept was even reintroduced to audiences via Yoda’s welcome cameo during Johnson’s film. Even if this wasn’t initially planned, it would be a good idea to work Luke into Episode IX somehow, otherwise the pic will be sadly bereft of any connections to the original trilogy. Even poor Admiral Ackbar was murdered in TLJ!
As for what purpose Luke’s ghost could fill in the narrative, well, Rey’s story will likely see her continuing along her path as a burgeoning Jedi. So, Luke could return to offer her some sage words of wisdom when she most needs them. Perhaps before some big final confrontation with Kylo Ren? It’s certainly possible.
Is Kylo Ren Now Fully Consumed By The Dark Side?
Speaking of which, Kylo Ren’s arc is pushed forward in some major ways in The Last Jedi. After killing his father in TFA, he’s more conflicted than ever and seems to be tempted to join Rey. However, he ultimately slays his master Snoke and takes over the First Order himself.
In some ways, his journey here is a mirror of his arc in The Force Awakens. On both occasions, he’s been tempted by the light but eventually chooses to murder his doubts and weaknesses away. But should this tell us that Kylo truly is beyond finding his way back to the light?
I suppose it depends on whether Abrams wants to pay homage to Return of the Jedi or do something new. Ren could very easily turn good again right at the end of the film, a la his granpappy Darth Vader, or they could surprise us and keep him evil. But wouldn’t that be a letdown after so much complexity in his character?
How Does The Resistance Come Back From This?
The Last Jedi begins with the Resistance in dire straights, with the First Order attacking their base, but it ends with them nearly extinct. Only a handful survive to the end of the movie: with their leaders and fleet destroyed, the entirety of the Resistance is now running from their enemies in the Millennium Falcon. Not to mention their Chosen One, Luke Skywalker, has died.
Of course, the final moments suggest that a new generation is going to rise up against evil (more on that in a moment), but that’s kind of a longterm thing. As TLJ made clear, there’s no more help coming – as no one responded to Leia’s coded call for assistance. So, how will the Resistance keep on fighting in the meantime?
Well, we suspect the answer is that they won’t. Episode IX will likely begin with the good guys at their lowest (especially as Leia may have died in the interim). However, it will probably see our heroes – Rey, Finn, Poe, maybe Rose, too – do their best to bring the First Order down in some clever way that uses little resources. We’re not sure how the movie’s going to tick off the mandatory space battles, though.
What’s Up With That Kid With The Broom?
The final scene of Star Wars: The Last Jedi aims to demonstrate that there’s still hope out their in the galaxy. We return to Canto Bight, as the group of kids Finn and Rose encountered earlier tell stories about the Battle of Crait. In particular, one boy proves he has Force powers by levitating a broom. Who is this boy, though, and is he going to be important later on?
In the spirit of the film, we imagine that the point is that he’s nobody particularly special. As Rey proves, anyone can be a Jedi, and anyone can turn the tide of power in the galaxy. This boy just represents the endless possibilities for the future of the Star Wars universe, with Force users awakening all over the cosmos. It’s possible that Abrams will feature the boy in Episode IX, or more likely that Johnson will return to the character in his upcoming trilogy, but we probably won’t see him again.
If you want some concrete info on the kid, however, we do have a name for him. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary gives his name as Temiri Blagg (presumably inspired by the young actor’s already very Star Wars-y name, Temirlan Blaev). The book explains that he and the rest of the kids were forfeited by loser gamblers – much like how Rey was abandoned by her folks.