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“It’s time for the Jedi … to end.”
Luke Skywalker’s last words from the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi have exactly the impact director Rian Johnson doubtlessly intended. Luke fought to embrace his destiny as a Jedi! He was the hope for the future of the Jedi Order! Why would he want them to end? The thing is … he might have a point.
A running theme throughout Star Wars is the concept of “bringing balance to the Force.” It’s the concept that brought Anakin Skywalker to prominence within the Jedi Order in the prequel trilogy and — in theory, at least — an aim that Luke Skywalker believed that he’d achieved at the end of Return of the Jedi, by ending the threat posed by the Emperor and Darth Vader. But what if he — and the audience — were looking at it all wrong, all along?
As is obvious from watching the movies, the Jedi Order was never a neutral organization; in its prime, it existed to enforce order and enforce the rules of the Republic, and even in its waning state as the Empire took hold of the galaxy, its remains continued to work toward a greater good. When Luke was training to be a Jedi Knight in the original trilogy, he was doing so not only to follow in his father’s footsteps — or what he believed to be his father’s footsteps, at least — but also to defeat the Empire and restore freedom to the galaxy. In other words, the Jedi are the good guys.
The only problem with that is, the existence of good guys throws everything out of — you guessed it — balance. To argue otherwise suggests a belief that the universe is naturally weighted toward good, which is both optimistic and notably hard to back up through science. Therefore, if the Force needs to be balanced, the Jedi need a counterforce, which is where the Sith come in. To use the language of the Last Jedi trailer, they’re the necessary darkness to the lightness of the Jedi. You can’t have one without the other and remain in balance.
The backstory of The Force Awakens makes a case for this theory, in a way. It’s assumed that Luke was trying to train new potential Jedi, but they were either killed or corrupted by forces unknown (no pun intended), giving the galaxy Kylo Ren, who in turn helped bring Rey’s Force nature to light. Each time the power shifts in one direction, events course-correct, to a degree.
(If the idea of a self-correcting universe seems unlikely, it’s worth remembering that Star Wars mythology has it that the Force was Anakin Skywalker’s father, as per Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace. If that is the case, then why shouldn’t the universe want to sort itself out periodically?)
During his self-imposed exile, it’s not impossible that Luke has recognized this pattern and realized that the Jedi are part of the problem — that their very existence throws the Force out of the desired balance and ultimately creates more darkness and danger as a result. I’ve suggested before that the title of The Last Jedi is a feint, that it could mean the start of something better, rather than the loss of goodness in the galaxy. Watching Luke voice the need to end the Jedi makes me think that’s more of a possibility than before.
The only question is: If that’s the case, what could replace the Jedi, and is Rey the first generation of that new order?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will reach theaters in this galaxy on Dec. 15. No word yet on what the cosmic counterbalance to that will be.
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