Hey 3.5 readers. BQB here.
SPOILERS, although if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t really care that much, do you?
As you 3.5 are aware, I really laid into The Last Jedi when it came out, calling it the stinkburger to end all stinkburgers. In particularly, it bugged me that the Force Awakens set us up for hopes of awesome Luke/Rey Jedi training montages and possibility Luke is Rey’s father. Instead, we got a bitter old Luke who just whines about all his problems to Rey. Our hero, who we assumed would go on to be a lifelong badass just gave up on life and stared at the ceiling of a cave for 30 years. Just didn’t seem like a good life for Star Wars’ most beloved hero.
But after watching it a second time and without the “WTF are they doing to Luke?” lens I watched it with the first time, I get it.
Two main points:
#1 – Lack of Communication and Assuming the Worst
There’s an ongoing subplot in which Poe challenges Admiral Holdo’s leadership. When he learns she is evacuating the ship, he is angry, telling her that the First Order will just blow the escape transports up and she’s a coward who refuses to fight.
SPOILER – as it turns out, Holdo had a plan. Once the ship was evacuated, she rammed the First Order ship at light speed, sacrificing herself but making a cool scene in the process.
A lack of communication is tearing us apart. When we hear disagreement, we immediately assume the disagreeing person is an enemy. We shut down attempts for the disagreeing party to explain their point of view. We assume the worst and we assume any explanations offered are really just attempts to mask evil intent.
Holdo might have told Poe to shut up and trust her and avoided a mutiny. Poe might have assumed his commanding officer had learned a thing or two in her movement up the ranks and trusted her.
In the real world, we see Democrats and Republicans assume the worst about each other every day when they could try to reach common ground and make some deals that might be beneficial to all.
#2 – We are Hopelessly Stuck in the Past and This is Ruining Our Future
Luke is stuck in the past. He is paralyzed by the Jedi’s past mistakes. The Jedi trained his father, Anakin, and in doing so, unleashed Darth Vader on the world. When Luke sees the same evil lurking in Ben Solo, he thinks about killing Ben to avoid repeating the mistake that was made with Vader. He doesn’t, but this display sets Ben down a bad path, turning him into Kylo Ren.
Was Luke wrong in not killing Ben? Perhaps he did not learn from the Jedi’s past mistake. Perhaps emotion made him avoid reason – i.e. ignoring the hard learned via Vader lesson that if evil is spotted in a Jedi trainee, said trainee should be sliced and diced with a lightsaber ASAP.
Or maybe Luke chose not to be beholden to the past. A past failure with Vader doesn’t mean a future failure with Ben. By being stuck in the past, Luke caved into past fears and raised his lightsaber toward Ben in anger. Ben had done nothing wrong and was pre-judged based on a past he didn’t live. Assuming the worst in people before they have even had a chance to become the worst might just turn them into the worst as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ben informs Rey she can drop her past, let it go and become stronger. Forget about her parents. There was nothing special about them. Stop clinging to a hope that they’ll swoop in and save her and offer an epic story of why they had to abandon her.
Perhaps the real world advice there on a personal level is to stop trying to make your parents happy and make yourself happy.
On a generational level, it might be that everyone needs to hug it out and get a long. Stop looking at each other as enemies just because our parents did. Stop repeating the mistakes made by past generations and stop carrying their biases and mistakes into the next generation.
There was a part where Rey had a chance to join Kylo Ren. Maybe the Resistance and the First Order are just two sides of the same coin – zealots who can’t let the past go, who are bent on carrying past grudges into the future forever, even if they must tear the galaxy apart forever.
I think it would have been a real coup if Rey and Ben had teamed up. It would have been a fabulous cliffhanger, though I don’t know what a Rey and Ren vs. the First Order and the Resistance film looks like.
In reality, we don’t have to hate each other because our parents did. We don’t have to repeat our parents’ mistakes because we fear change. We don’t have to be stuck in ruts forever because of mistakes we made in our personal lives.
Conclusion – Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water
Luke, and to my surprise, Ghost Yoda, decide that the Jedi should go the way of the dodo because of mistakes they made. This seems rather Draconian and ignores all the good the Jedi did…and it also assumes that it is possible for any organization to exist with a perfect track record and that organizations should only exist if they only never, ever, ever make a mistake. The second a mistake is made, the organization must disband.
Yes, the Jedi made Vader but they also defeated Vader. Rey points this out so maybe in a way she is a voice of reason.
Real world application? There seems to be a disturbing sentiment out there that because of America’s bad history, it can never have any kind of a good future. Slavery. The killing of Native Americans. The list goes on and on.
Do we wish that equal rights for all had been established on Day One? Yes. But luckily, the mechanisms needed to bring about change via various legal and governmental process. Today, we aren’t perfect, but surely we’ve come along way, even in the past 50 years.
America isn’t perfect but like an imperfect body, wounds heal. The develop scars to remind us of past mistakes, scars which serve as reminders to not repeat past errors and to keep on a path that doesn’t open up new wounds.
America and Jedi have both made mistakes but to get rid of either because of past mistakes is to assume any and all replacements of America and/or Jedi will offer complete 100 percent perfection.
Plus, I just don’t think anyone wants to see a Star Wars movie with Jedi. If the Jedi are gone altogether or are renamed the Knights of Gawooby Dooby or something, I think that will be the point where Star Wars jumps the shark.