OK, so we’ve all seen The Last Jedi by now, right? If not, MAJOR spoilers abound in this speculative article so turn away now. Better yet, get your ass to the movie theater, what are you waiting on? I’ve personally seen the film five times and each time I walk out of the theater my mind is racing, as I pick up new details and piece together the state of the universe, mythology, and canon that Rian Johnson has delivered to us. I’m my opinion The Last Jedi is a meticulously layered film – both in technique and theme – and many things I was confused about and/or didn’t like the first or second time I saw the film I’ve since come to a much better understanding on. There was absolutely nothing in this film that Rian didn’t plan down to the smallest of details, which is awesome if you’re a complete Star Wars nerd like I am!
I think we can all agree that one of the most divisive parts of The Last Jedi is the way Rian wrote and directed our childhood hero, Luke Skywalker. While I’m not going to get into a lengthy exposition on that subject in this article per se, I can promise to deliver my take and opinion on it in the coming weeks. What I want to discuss today is the nature of Luke’s appearance during the film’s climax, when he used a new technique called Force Projection to confront his fallen nephew, giving the remaining members of Leia’s Resistance time to mount an escape and regroup. I wholeheartedly admit to being a bit dumbfounded by this scene and it’s ramifications the first time I saw the film as well, so if you walked away feeling that way you’re not alone. What I’m going to attempt to do below is explain this scene, the purpose behind it, and possible reasons behind not only Luke’s appearance but also his choice of lightsaber.
There are two main reasons that I believe Luke Skywalker opted to project himself using his father’s blue lightsaber in the film as opposed to the green blade he used in Return of the Jedi (as well as in the flashback scenes in The Last Jedi). Luke’s main goal was to give the good guys time to escape, so he had to sell the illusion as best as he could. My opinion is that had he chosen to use the green lightsaber, Kylo Ren would’ve been tipped off almost immediately that something wasn’t quite right, and I’m going to tell you why right now.
I am hypothesizing that Ben Solo claimed Lukes green blade from the ruins of the hut the night of the fateful confrontation, thinking his uncle and former master was dead. There is precedent in the new canon for dark side Force users to claim their fallen enemies’ blades after defeating them in battle, and I think this is just what Kylo did. Furthermore, I think he took the crystal from Luke’s saber and in trying to corrupt it for his new lightsaber, he cracked it. Just to back up, in the new canon the process of corrupting, or bleeding, a Kyber Crystal (the stone that gives a lightsaber life and also serves as a living connection between a Jedi and their weapon) is the process by which a dark side Force exerts his will on the crystal, eventually turning it red if they are successful. This information was first introduced in the Ahsoka novel by EK Johnston and further expanded upon and visualized in the Darth Vader ongoing comic series. What I think happened in this case is that Kylo cracked it when he was attempting to bleed it, hence the reason his blade is so unwieldy and utilizes quillons to disperse the extra energy. This would be a right of passage for Kylo and surely a challenge his new master, Snoke, would’ve put forth to him. To emphasize my point, check out the pictures below of Ben Solo’s lightsaber and Kylo Ren’s sabers – they are VERY similar in design, with the latter boasting the aforementioned quillons.
The second reason that I believe Luke chose to use the familiar blue lightsaber, which was constructed by his father and came into the possession of Rey, was for symbolism. In Luke’s final act as a Jedi, he was not only giving the remaining members of the Resistance time to escape but was also becoming the legend he spent so much time eschewing – and the legend the galaxy needs. Luke projected himself as a strong, confident hero who believed in the Resistance’s cause and more importantly – hope. I think it adds to the legend of Luke Skywalker tremendously that he accepted the lightsaber from Rey, returning to the galaxy to fight the oppression of the First Order. This is exactly what writer/director Rian Johnson was conveying to the audience – ‘the spark that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down’. The final scene of The Last Jedi is so good and so important because it shows that Luke was successful in his mission, as even indentured stable kids in Canto Bight are reenacting his showdown on Crait (echoing his line about confronting the entire First Order with a laser sword, which is exactly what he did, from a certain point of view ;-0).
So there it is, my opinion on just what we were seeing during these pivotal moments in The Last Jedi. Personally, I think Luke was portrayed perfectly in the film, but I also understand that some people didn’t like it and that they wanted to see more Superman-esque feats by the Jedi Master from our childhoods. However, I have to say this – that’s not Luke Skywalker. Watch the end of Return of the Jedi again, Luke is a broken man. Add to that his failure with his Jedi Academy and moreover his nephew, and we see a man reeling from his choices and actions. In that way he’s not much different than you or I…. This is MY Luke Skywalker….
PS – don’t forget to check out the latest episode of our podcast, The Exhaust Port, for continuing coverage of The Last Jedi and all things Star Wars!