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December 15, 2017 at 04:44 PM EST

Now that The Last Jedi is surging through theaters like a First Order battalion, here’s a look back at some of the stories Entertainment Weekly has done in the run-up to the release.

You won’t find many spoilers, but for those of you who have been waiting to see the movie first before reading, here’s some insight into what the filmmakers and actors intended for the new Star Wars film.

May the Force be with you. Always.

Kylo Ren vs. Rey: Can the fallen son be redeemed — or only destroyed?

Jonathan Olley/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

“I don’t think it’s very interesting if the whole story is just ‘Will Kylo get his comeuppance?’ He’s a more complicated character than that,” says writer-director Rian Johnson.

The heartbreak of Mark Hamill’s return to the Millennium Falcon

David James/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

“It was sort of like visiting an old house that you lived in when you were a kid,” Hamill says. “I mean, I just welled up with emotion and I said, ‘I need to be by myself.’”

Kelly Marie Tran thought she’d quit acting — then The Last Jedi put her dream into hyperdrive

Jonathan Olley/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

The actress was working an office job and learned she got the role in The Last Jedi while on her lunch break. Then she had to go back to work and pretend like it never happened…

How The Last Jedi’s crystal foxes came to life

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

The creature is known as a vulptex. A pack of them would be vulptices. Star Wars fans already know them as the crystal foxes. Here’s how Neal Scanlan’s creature shop brought them to life.

Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo aims ‘to shake things up’ for the Resistance

David James/Lucasfilm

“You have to sort of figure out whose side you’re on or what your feelings are about her,” Laura Dern says.

Who is Snoke? Andy Serkis says pain and greed drive the Supreme Leader

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

“The thing about Snoke is that he is extremely strong with the Force, the dark side of the Force. He’s terribly powerful, of course. But he is also a very vulnerable and wounded character,” Serkis says.

Luke and Leia: Will the long-lost siblings reunite in The Last Jedi?

“It’s very important for Luke to feel grounded and feel like he has a family. I think he loves her dearly,” Hamill says. “I mean, I can’t separate Leia from Carrie and Mark from Luke in that regard because we were like real siblings.”

Our eight-part August series previewing The Last Jedi:

Part I: Can Rey save Luke Skywalker from his own darkness?

Jonathan Olley/ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

This isn’t the Luke she’s heard about. It’s not the one we know either. This is a broken man — one who would have preferred to stay lost. And he feels the same way about this strange young woman and that familiar lightsaber.

Part II: With Finn and Rose, a ‘big deal’ is redeemed by ‘a nobody’

David James/ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Finn is just getting used to being an ex-Stormtrooper. Now, he’s considering becoming an ex-hero. John Boyega says his character is considering quitting the Resistance – but he is drawn back in by the admiration of Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a mechanic who is starstruck by the hero who defied the First Order.

Part III: Meet the porgs and The Caretakers from Luke Skywalker’s island

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Last Jedi will introduce some new creatures to the Star Wars menagerie: cuddly penguin-like porgs, and ominous, alien-nun beings known as The Caretakers.

Part IV: Supreme Leader Snoke and his elite Praetorian Guard

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Kylo Ren will venture to the side of his malevolent icon, and fans will finally get their wish to see Andy Serkis’ Supreme Leader Snoke in the flesh – flanked by his crimson-armored Praetorian guard.

Part V: Leia sees Poe Dameron as a surrogate son – and future leader

Lucasfilm

In her final performance as Leia Organa, Carrie Fisher brings warmth to the princess-turned-warrior-turned-general through her bond with Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, the hotshot X-wing pilot she has come to see as family – and perhaps a future leader for the galaxy.

Part VI: Details about Benicio Del Toro’s new character DJ

Lucasfilm

Is he a villain? A bystander? A hero who just dresses badly? Benicio Del Toro has sent mixed signals about his new Star Wars character, but his costars reveal more about why this devious figure matters to the Resistance.

Part VII: No spoilers, but here’s why Rey has to unlock her family history

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Fans have been guessing and creating elaborate theories for two years. Here’s why Rey’s lineage matters so much – and why Finn’s may, too.

Part VIII: Tales from the Dark Side

ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.; David James/© Lucasfilm 2015; Lucasfilm (2)

In our final story, a look at some of the shadowy elements of The Last Jedi, from Kylo Ren’s recovery from humiliation to more of Captain Phasma. We also explore Chewbacca in mourning and a little bit of bad news – there won’t be as much Maz Kanata this time.

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