One Man’s Theory on the Meaning of “The Last Jedi”

With the reveal of Episode VIII’s title (and that dope red type), we’re all having fun speculating on exactly what the linguistically ambiguous The Last Jedi means. This goes so far as examining the title as it’s rendered in other languages to try to discern whether the Jedi in question is singular or plural. From what I’ve heard so far, the German and Portuguese renditions indicate a single Jedi.

I think and kind of hope that means Luke is the last Jedi. As in the last last Jedi.

Here’s my theory: Luke considers himself the last Jedi not only in raw fact but because he wants to chart a new path for Rey. Something along the lines of, “I’ll be the last of the Jedi because you’re going to be something greater.” And a new order of Force users is born without all the baggage of the Jedi/Sith wars that have roiled the galaxy for centuries.

Why do I think/hope that?

Ever since the announcement of this new trilogy, I’ve dreamed of a Star Wars story that ventured beyond the Jedi/Sith dynamic. I mostly felt this way for basic narrative reasons: if you’re going to continue to make movies within a fictional universe, you don’t want to tell the same story, repeating the same fundamental conflict, again and again. You need to raise or alter the stakes.

(I know, I know–you cannot be more repetitious than The Force Awakens in that regard. But at the moment I’m exercising faith in Rian Johnson to be more original than American cinema’s ultimate cover band, J.J. Abrams, who did the job assigned to him, nothing more, nothing less: he made people excited about Star Wars movies again.)

That leads us to the question of Supreme Leader Snoke’s identity. Fan speculation generally connects him to assorted Jedi or Sith already established in Star Wars continuity. Probably the most popular idea is that Snoke is Darth Plagueis. If you don’t recall that name because the prequels were so awful and you’ve tried to forget them, Plagueis was the Emperor’s former master, a Sith Lord so powerful he learned to create life and cheat death. (It’s also a ridiculously on-the-nose name for an evil character. Darth Sidious and Darth Tyrannus were already pushing it. But Darth Plagueis? Might as well call him Darth Totallyevilus.) There are a ton of theories built around this–just search “Who is Snoke?”–and I wouldn’t loathe that narrative. But it wouldn’t be anything particularly new or different. And we would just be running the Jedi/Sith conflict back for a third go-round.

My wish has always been for a story in which adherents of the Light and Dark Sides of the Force would have to join together to fight a greater enemy. We haven’t seen a ton of this in the Star Wars movies, though it’s a classic storytelling dynamic: forcing two enemies who have no reason to trust one another into an uneasy alliance. (Say, Frodo and Gollum. Or essentially any alliance anyone on Game of Thrones is foolish enough to enter into with Littlefinger.) Imagine Rey/Finn/Poe having to join with Kylo Ren to defeat a threat to all of them. The opportunities for betrayals—or seeming betrayals that move the narrative in unbearably tense directions—are endless and would be a hell of a lot of fun.

My theory/hope is that Snoke is the ancient, evil force that led to the formation of the Jedi in the first place. Since his initial defeat, he has been biding his time, waiting to strike back. And his arrival on the scene now will force Rey and Kylo—neither of them a Jedi—to unite and fight him. Though that probably won’t happen till Episode IX.

And yes, I do think Luke will bite it in The Last Jedi. Maybe that’s the trigger for Kylo’s turn against Snoke—not necessarily a redemption for him, but a realization that the galaxy faces an even greater peril than he had thought possible. Something more evil than a Sith, something so profoundly powerful it takes the efforts of the last two force-users in the galaxy to defeat it.

That’s my idea. Really, though, I’m sure the title just refers to Luke being the last of the existing Jedi until he trains Rey. I’m hoping for something a little more imaginative this go-around, but I won’t be crushed if it isn’t. As derivative as The Force Awakens is, it’s still a great ride that gets me in the feels.

What do you think?

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