The Last Jedi Decoded: Inside the Mysteries, Misdirects, and Revelations of the Star Wars Trailer
The Last Jedi Trailer Mysteries
First Order Weapons Mill
It opens with a pensive Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), surveying a hangar full of weapons of war. Giant AT-ATs hang like toys from a conveyer, and sparks fall from some unseen construction above. The destruction will follow.
Technically, they're called AT-M6s, and they have a sturdier build than the more traditional AT-ATs in the previous image. They are marching with their back-cannons across the salt-flats of the planet Crait, toward an old Rebel base now occupied by the Resistance.
Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren
This cavern, scarred to reveal the red mineral beneath the surface, appears to be somewhere on the same planet. An invasion force, reaching their destination, perhaps.
Snoke Taunts ...
We hear the voice of Supreme Leader Snoke (played by Andy Serkis), himself a mystery, telling someone: "When I found you I saw raw untamed power, and beyond that — something truly special." We're watching Kylo Ren as we hear most of these words, but ...
"...Something Truly Special"
... with those final three words, the trailer cuts to Rey (Daisy Ridley) igniting the Skywalker family lightsaber on the Jedi-sacred island of Ahch-To. Writer-director Rian Johnson clearly wants to establish some mystery about who exactly the Dark Side master is addressing. I think everybody in this trailer is actually talking to Rey.
The holy land
Ahch-To is the site of the first Jedi temple, the place where the Force first forged a connection with the ancient practicioners of this faith. We don't know why Luke Skywalker chose to banish himself here, but he is obviously seeking answers. His own belief is broken.
A Family Heirloom
Beautiful shot, really. Luke's prosthetic robotic hand, which has long since worn away its "flesh" exterior, accepts the weapon he lost when that hand was severed by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.
A Force to be Reckoned With
Rey held her own in The Force Awakens, even though she had never held a lightsaber before. Clearly, her skills have improved. But that's not reassuring to Luke ...
A Wary Luke
Mark Hamill has already warned us that this is not the fearless hero we last saw in Return of the Jedi. Luke's spirit is broken. He is decimated by regret. And the arrival of this scavenger girl and her ability to wield the Force disturbs him. When he sees her meditate and use her power to shatter the rock beneath their feet, he is less impressed than alarmed.
"I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now," he tells her. If we remember our history from The Force Awakens, we know he's talking about his nephew, Kylo Ren — a.k.a. Ben Solo.
Jedi Academy Destroyed
Luke's attempt to restart the Jedi order with an academy of youngsters was obliterated by Ben Solo when something led him astray, into the embrace of the Dark Side followers known as the Knights of Ren. In this shot, we see Luke's cybernetic hand, clawing his way out of that rubble. (At least, we're meant to assume that.)
“She’s so hopeful to everything,” Ridley told EW this summer. “And obviously there’s a hint of, ‘What the hell?’” She is devastated to discover this power, only to have her hero spurn her, comparing her to one of the monsters of the galaxy.
A Monster Calls
Speaking of, we learn from this trailer how Kylo Ren's helmet ends up shattered to pieces (as we saw in April's first trailer). He has another of his signature temper tantrums and smashes it through a wall.
Confronting the Past
"Let the past die. Kill it — if you have to. That’s the only way to beome what you were meant to be." These are Kylo's thoughts, but it isn't until later in the trailer that we realize who may be hearing this advice.
A Mother, a Widow, a General
As we hear Kylo speak, he flies his TIE Silencer into battle against the Resistance, like an arrow straight at his mother's heart. Here we see Carrie Fisher, in what will be her final Star Wars film, perhaps sensing her son's approach.
"Kill it — if you have to."
His targeting system has zeroed in on the bridge, but his thumb hesitates on the trigger. Again, Johnson is heavily implying Leia's destruction. Or maybe he is suggesting a hint of redemption in Kylo Ren, who mercilessly killed his father, but struggles to pull the trigger on his mother.
Kylo's final words to Han Solo were, "I'm being torn apart," and in this close up we see the futuristic stitches holding his face together after his lightsaber battle with Rey. He is barely holding it together.
The Falcon Flies Again
From there, a change in music and a change in tone. A rising, hopeful theme emerges from John Williams' score as we see the Millennium Falcon (apparently piloted by Chewbacca and a porg) winnows through a cavern of scarlet crystal formations. It's reminiscent of the attack on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
The Wookiee is not having it. His feathered porg friend, seen at the begining of this gallery, is also ready to plotz.
From there, we shift to another hero and see Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron in an unusual circumstance — trapped. The Resistance pilot is used to being in control, in the cockpit, but he is watching the fleet undergo a devastating attack while aboard a transport.
Poe's voiceover delivers the necessary defiance, even as we see the Resistance struggle: "We have a spark that’ll light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down."
Finn vs. Phasma
This shot is actually a little spoilery, if you look into the background and note that it appears to be the hangar Kylo Ren was overlooking in the opening shot. John Boyega's Finn is disguised as a First Order officer, and has clashed with his old commander, Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma.
Another stunning shot — Finn reflected in the mirror mask of Phasma's armor. The trailer is surprisingly Rose-less, with Kelly Marie Tran's Resistance mechanic, who goes undercover alongside Finn, mysteriously absent. (There's also no hint of Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo or Benicio del Toro's DJ anywhere in sight.) It's worrymaking about Rose, though. Could Finn's rage in this fight be on her behalf, as Rey's was for him when he was wounded in the previous movie?
Don't Mess With Me
Finn is one of the most humane and relatable of the new Star Wars characters. A sweet guy who found himself in bad circumstances, but got away. His niceness and uncertainty make for good comic relief, but it's refreshing to see his badass side come out here.
BB-8 Short Circuits
In addition to being Rose-less, the trailer has zero R2-D2 or C-3PO, but it does feature everybody's favorite roly-poly droid getting positively roasted in battle while serving as co-navigator for Poe's X-wing. He'll be okay.
A Familiar Warning
I'm not so sure about Rey, though. We see her plunge into a cavernous pool on Ahch-To, and a fallen Luke warns her: "This is not going to go the way you think." He's echoing a similar admonition that Yoda gave him in The Empire Strikes Back.
In quick succession, we get another glimpse of what appears to be Crait, and the mouth of a giant base. Some creatures, crystaline foxes by appearance, scurry toward the shelter. It looks abandoned.
Leia Stands Watch
Abandoned ... except for a solitary figure. Leia looking out at the vast wasteland and a few sentinels standing watch. My guess: this is where the Resistance takes shelter after the destruction of the fleet, and it will be their last stand.
Snoke, Up Close
In The Force Awakens, we only saw him via hologram, but here we get up close with the scarred visage of the First Order's Supreme Leader. "Fulfill your destiny ..." he commands.
Rey in Agony
And we see he is using the Force to paralyze and torture Rey, who has come face to face with the man who helped turn Kylo Ren away from Luke Skywalker.
A Final Twist
Maybe Snoke does break her. Or maybe this is just one more misdirect from Johnson. But we hear Rey plaintively say, "I need someone to show me my place in all this."
A Sympathetic Ear
She's speaking to Kylo Ren. Earlier, we heard him say, "Let the past die. Kill it — if you have to. That’s the only way to beome what you were meant to be." It's very likely he was talking to her.
A Hand Reaches Out
Earlier in the trailer, we saw Luke's prosthetic hand accept the lightsaber. The footage is bookended by this shot, of Kylo Ren extending his own in ... friendship? Unity? Our hero Rey can't be serious. Maybe she's laying her own trap. But it's worrying. Luke Skywalker seems worried. We should be, too.