He needs no introduction. Even people who never have seen a Star Wars movie [believe it or not, they do exist 😉 ] know the name. They may not be privy to Luke’s meteoric rise from obscure farm boy from Tatooine to leader of the Jedi Order but they definitely have heard of Luke Skywalker. Moisture farmer. Princess rescuer. Death Star annihilator. Hero. Jedi. Savior.
Some Star Wars fans might have a hard time associating that last moniker with Luke, but there is no denying that is exactly what he was. Although he was tasked with facing Darth Vader, Luke felt there still was good in the man who once was Anakin Skywalker. Don’t forget: Luke gave himself up on Endor – willingly. It was only when his friends – and especially Leia – were threatened that Luke engaged in the heated lightsaber battle with Vader on the second Death Star. On the brink of going too far in that duel, Luke throws aside his lightsaber, denounces Emperor Palpatine, and ultimately saves Anakin, bringing him back to the Light Side of the Force.
Savior. Luke Skywalker.
Fast forward 30 years, and the galaxy is on the brink of war once again. Only this time, Luke Skywalker has removed himself from the fight. In fact, he has separated himself – completely – from everything that is going on, and he is no where to be found. In The Force Awakens, we learn that one of Luke’s pupils turned to the Dark Side, killed a number of Luke’s students, and left the new Jedi school in absolute ruin. Luke felt responsible, and went into seclusion. A lot of Star Wars fans have found fault with Luke taking this route. I can understand it. He needed the time for reflection, to examine what happened, and should he ever attempt to pass on what he had learned himself [from Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi], he had to figure out how he was to go about doing so without repeating what happened with Ben. Too, the fate of the Jedi was solely and squarely on Luke’s shoulders. There was no Jedi Council made up of a host of wise, learned Jedi Masters on whom he could rely. He was a one-man show. That’s a pretty hefty onus to carry. Who wouldn’t need time to regroup after what Ben did?!
[SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet, please stop reading. I intend to be quite plain about what transpires at certain points during Episode VIII, and I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone.]
As Rey makes her pleas to Luke to come back to the fight, even to teach her the ways of the Force, we get three slightly different versions of what happened that fateful night death and destruction rained down on Luke’s new Jedi Academy. First, a watered-down version of what Luke chose to share with Rey. Then, Kylo Ren’s version [which I always have felt contained at least a touch of manipulation on Kylo Ren’s part; however, I am willing to concede that through the eyes of a 15-year-old, Ben may have seen his uncle as the villain in the story – at least a little bit.]. At last, during his heated confrontation with Rey, Luke finally admits – both to Rey and to himself – what happened that long-ago night. After seeing The Last Jedi six times [the last just two days ago], I still have issues with Luke seeing his only course of action in dealing with Ben’s growing darkness was to kill the teenager. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??? How can the inexperienced Jedi Luke believe he could turn one of the most evil individuals in the galaxy back to the Light, and as a seasoned, more learned Jedi think he must vanquish a teenager who was only a mere shadow of his grandfather? Maybe Luke never had come in contact with an apprentice who possessed Ben’s strength in the Force [Luke’s description of Ben], but going up against Darth Vader, Luke must have known that Vader was much stronger in the Force than Ben happened to be at 15. We all know that Ben/Kylo Ren really was nowhere as powerful as the former Sith Lord. That was made abundantly clear in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Am I the only person who doesn’t buy this facet of Luke’s character development?
I am not trying to be overly critical here. In the grand scheme of things, Star Wars is only a movie/story [blasphemy, I know 😉 ], and as such should be kept in its proper perspective. Furthermore, what has occurred in each of the nine chapters [counting Rogue One] is part of the Star Wars story, and that’s all there is to it. I can choose to either accept events as they have transpired … or not. I choose to accept them.
Yet there is the little issue of logic – the logic of how a character develops. Do his actions make sense? Do his reactions make sense? Do his choices make sense? These are questions I consider whenever watching a movie or reading a book. They’re important questions!
Can anyone honestly say they can see Luke Skywalker choosing the course of action he chose when faced with Ben’s growing internal darkness – especially given Luke’s decision to try to save his father?
Yes, The Last Jedi needed a plot point that seemed plausible with regard to Luke’s facet of the tale, and in the end, the one employed was as good as any other. I suppose. I can either accept it, or not. I choose the former … with reservations. That is one of the great aspects of Star Wars – it isn’t necessary to be on board with or love every iota of each of the movies. Maybe Luke’s progression doesn’t meet with my logic for him but it met writer/director Rian Johnson’s logic. I’m okay with that.
[If you will allow me – when I sat in my theater seat to see The Last Jedi for the first time, I did so without any preconceived notions. Well, when I think about it, yes, I did have two. They were that I expected to enjoy the movie, and in true Star Wars form, I believed TLJ would be a continuation of The Force Awakens (although just how much time was to have elapsed, I didn’t have a clue since I made a point of turning a blind eye to fans’ expectations and even trailers). Other than that, I didn’t think about what might happen, or what I thought should happen. As my husband likes to remark every once in a while: Have low expectations (which neither one of us has a tendency to have), and you can be blown away. That I was. 🙂 ]
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