Fans have waited two years for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, and now that it’s here … where did it leave us?
The ending of The Empire Strikes Back struck a melancholy note, with a wounded Luke Skywalker watching alongside Leia and the droids as Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian venturing off to recover the frozen Han Solo.
The Last Jedi ends on a very different note. And at a post-screening Q&A for the movie this weekend, writer-director Rian Johnson says there’s more to that final scene than people may realize right away. To protect this spoiler, let’s talk about it on the next page ….
After an emotional reunion for the Resistance following their escape from the First Order (Leia finally gets that big Wookiee hug!), The Last Jedi shifts focus away from the heroes to show us a moment with some people who are usually overlooked.
We are back in the casino city of Canto Bight, in the now-vacant fathier stables. We previously saw three urchin-looking children in the movie being brutalized by their alien taskmaster for showing kindness to the horse-like creatures.
The kids seem to be indentured servants. Slaves. Nobodies from nowhere, now serving as a child labor – just like Rey on Jakku.
One boy, Oniho Zaya, is telling the others the story of Luke Skywalker facing down Kylo Ren and the First Order, but his tale is interrupted when the alien master barges in and scolds the children back to their night chores.
Another boy, whose character name is Temiri Blagg, goes back to sweeping up the pen. He reaches for his broom, but the handle floats a few inches into his hand. Then he looks down at the Resistance ring Rose gave him earlier in the movie, looks up at the starry sky, where a passing starship has just glinted into hyperspace, and raises his broom like a lightsaber.
The music swells. The movie ends.
Clearly, this final shot is meant to show that the Force is strong in people who have no connection to the Skywalker bloodline. But there’s also a deeper meaning, according to director Rian Johnson – and this one does involve Luke.
“It’s mostly about Luke,” he said. “To me, it shows that the act Luke Skywalker did, of deciding to take on this mantle of ‘the legend,’ after he had decided the galaxy was better off without him, had farther reaching consequences than saving 20 people in a cave.”
Several times in the movie, characters mention “the spark” that will light the fire that burns down the First Order. While completing the task is now the job of the new heroes, it turns out that spark was our old friend Luke.
“Now the Legend of Luke Skywalker is spreading. Hope is reignited in the galaxy,” Johnson said.
And if you look closely, you may spot some handmade stick-figure Jedi action figures belonging to those children. (You can see them clearly in Pablo Hidalgo’s book The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary.)
“I couldn’t think of a more evocative image of hope than a kid who is playing with his Luke Skywalker action figure and being inspired by that to grow up and have an adventure and fight the good fight,” Johnson said.
We may not see Temiri Blagg again, but he’s out there. And so are many others.
More post-screening insights (these are heavy spoilers, but if you’ve read this far, you already know that):
- Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill on Luke Skywalker’s destiny in The Last Jedi
- The filmmakers explain why Yoda had to return for Luke’s final lesson
- Why Leia Organa finally gets to wield the Force
- Did we learn the truth about Rey’s origin?
- Why we don’t learn about Snoke’s origin – but we do get his ending
- Have we really seen the last of Captain Phasma?
- Mark Hamill played a second secret role – and more Easter eggs