Was Luke Skywalker’s final act the conclusion we were looking for?
Luke Skywalker is one of my favorite characters of all time (and Mark Hamill is clearly one of my favorite actors as well.) His journey has been an absolute blast to observe and it is definitely one of my favorite character storylines in the franchise. And thanks to The Last Jedi we have been given the chance to see the conclusion of this great hero’s story. But was it the ending I was looking for?
As you may know The Last Jedi was given quite a bad wrap as fans were essentially split down the middle concerning their feelings about the movie. Some people hate everything about it. Some people absolutely love it. And then there are others who like certain things about the movie but wish other elements could’ve been different.
One of the most contradicted decisions in the movie was Luke’s story. For years Luke has been heralded as the poster boy of heroism in the Star Wars franchise. He destroyed the first Death Star, he became a Jedi Knight, and he helped redeem his father from a very dark place indeed. Jump thirty years ahead and those achievements have become nothing more than hurtful memories that remind him of the man that he has become; a self-exiled hermit.
Luke tried to continue the legacy of the Jedi by creating a new Jedi Order but when Ben Solo destroyed that hope he went into hiding from the rest of the galaxy. For years one of my most nagging questions for The Last Jedi was why? Why would Luke exile himself on an island in the middle of nowhere? What would force him to make a decision that drastic? Well, we found out.
As Rey learned the ways of the Force (or why the Jedi needed to end in Luke’s words) the truth of his exile began to become clear. Through a series of scenes we, the viewer, slowly begin to understand what brought Luke to that low point in his life but it is only until halfway through the film that we discover the full truth. Luke, in a desperate act, to protect the galaxy from evil, nearly killed his nephew. And then you know what happens next. Ben sees him, attacks him, Luke tries to stop him, but it’s too late.
It’s a startling realization to see a character who had become a hero to so many people reduced to such a low and pitiful state. In fact, it offended a lot of Star Wars fans to the point of them wanting to have nothing to do with the franchise anymore. But, because Luke is indeed a hero at heart, he would reconnect himself with the Force and eventually save the meager remains of the Resistance by distracting Kylo Ren long enough for them to get away. In this final heroic act, he spends so much energy creating a mirage of himself that he ends up dying. Oops. It’s another controversial decision on Rian Johnson’s part that had avid fans and even Mark Hamill a little ticked off.
You see, Luke’s storyline in The Last Jedi was fraught with ideas and revelations to his character that would end up proving very unexpected, and sometimes not in a good way. But that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? I find it a bit ironic that so many people harangued The Force Awakens for being too derivative of A New Hope but then when Rian Johnson tried to push the story in a new direction people were even more upset. That doesn’t make any sense.
I, for one, thought that Luke’s conclusion was a brilliant display of storytelling and I feel that Rian Johnson paid close attention to Luke’s story arc in the original trilogy. Like Luke’s dislike for lightsabers. Fans (including me) were shocked when he took his lightsaber and chucked it over his shoulder after Rey gave it to him. It seemed like something Luke would never do. But how soon we forget that the last time Luke was in possession of a lightsaber he threw it away in defiance against the Emperor.
And Luke’s disturbing decision to kill his nephew. It seems like something else Luke would never do right? But once again we are faced with the fact that when Luke was confronted with the idea that Darth Vader would turn his sister to the dark side he went plum off and nearly killed his father. So Luke has gone bonkers before but every time he realizes his mistake and stops himself before finishing the terrible deed. Only with Ben Solo, it backfired.
The only decision I will say probably should’ve been changed was Luke’s death. He had just turned into the awesome character that we know he is and then he died?! Really? I feel that he should’ve stayed alive long enough where maybe we get some more time with him as a live human being in Episode IX. And then, due to his incredible mirage trick, he could’ve slowly lost strength over the course of the movie until eventually, he dies peacefully at the end of Episode IX. The Resistance will have won (because I’m sure they’ll win…I hope) and there could be a magnificent funeral commemorating his legacy and us Star Wars fans would’ve been crying rivers of joy at the beautiful sendoff.
Unfortunately, that will not be the case and I’m just hoping that his role as a Force ghost will be utterly magnificent in a way that we won’t be able to stop talking about for years to come.
So, was Luke’s conclusion brilliant or disappointing? I’d say it was a mixture of both. He had some truly outstanding moments and some moments that I wish could’ve been altered a bit as well. Honestly, I don’t think there was anything in The Last Jedi that was perfect (except for Kylo Ren’s storyline and the Praetorian Guards) but at least Rian Johnson tried to move the story further rather than staying stuck in the nostalgia muck.
All in all, yeah Luke’s final storyline as an alive character wasn’t what I was expecting but it was expectedly awesome and that’s all I care about.
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