“This is not going to go the way you think!”
That’s Luke Skywalker there, desperately trying to warn Rey on the Jedi Temple of Ahch-To. But in many ways, it feels as though that pertinent quote is also directed at the Star Wars fanbase, given The Last Jedi delivers more story twists and emotional wallops than the last 10 franchise movies combined.
If nothing else, Rian Johnson’s somewhat contentious sequel has left us mulling over a series of questions, including the ramifications of [spoiler]’s death, how [redacted] will play into Star Wars: Episode IX, and the ultimate fate of our favorite porg (AKA Chewie’s co-pilot).
On a more serious note, Johnson has now addressed the thinking behind Luke’s first scene in The Last Jedi, which was so casually flippant that it forced us to do a double-take. Spoilers to follow!
It wasn’t coming into it and thinking, ‘Okay, they’re expecting this. Let’s have him toss the lightsaber. Ha, ha, ha.’ The reason he did that was because I can’t imagine any other honest reaction from him to that moment.
If you’re still reading this, we’re going to go ahead and assume that you’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in which case you’ll likely have an opinion about Luke tossing his long-lost lightsaber away without a care in the world.
But as Rian Johnson tells Collider, this small, yet crucial scene not only reflects Luke’s fractured mindset, it also helps set the tone for his relationship with the Resistance – and, by effect, Rey.
So, if you think about where Luke is at the beginning of this movie—and by the way, the cracking for me where Luke is at in this movie was the first big thing I had to do coming into it, where his head was at here, and there were fewer options than you would imagine. The thing we know about him from The Force Awakens, the big thing, is he’s taken himself out of the fight. His friends are fighting the good fight, he’s exiled off to an island alone. Knowing that Luke is a hero, knowing Luke from growing up, I know he must think he’s doing the right thing by taking himself out of the equation. And because he’s the last Jedi, by taking the Jedi out of the equation, by saying, ‘I’m taking the Jedi out of this fight,’ he must think that’s the best thing for the galaxy.
Forget about the iconic master-apprentice dynamic of Luke and Obi-Wan – or Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, for that matter – The Last Jedi manages to undercut expectations as soon as Rian Johnson’s sequel cuts to Ahch-To, where Rey eventually begins to gain an understanding of the Force.
So, that leads you down a really specific path in terms of where his head is at. And if he’s done that and if he’s made this huge Herculean effort to pull himself out of the fight, to hide in, like he says, ‘The most unfindable place in the galaxy,’ it took an entire movie for the most heroic, smartest people in the galaxy to even find him, he’s put himself away. Then some kid shows up that he doesn’t know and shoves this thing that is everything that he has made this huge effort to step away from into his face with this look in her eyes of expectation like, ‘Here you go,’ and what is he going to do? Take it and say, ‘Great. Let’s go save the galaxy.’ He’s made this choice. He’s there for a reason. I knew it was going to be shocking, but I did it because it felt like, obviously, it’s a dramatic expression of it, but it’s an expression of honestly the way that he is going to react to that moment.
Like it or lump it, The Last Jedi is simply the first step in Rian Johnson’s fledgling Star Wars career – even if the director is yet to nail down many of the key elements that will, in time, make up his brand new trilogy. It’ll presumably begin to take shape after the launch of Episode IX in 2019, so stay tuned for more.