Remember back in January of this year, when Star Wars fans were parsing out the meaning of The Last Jedi? It was a simpler time, full of childlike wonder and not marred by shake-ups behind the scenes at Lucasfilm and the great divide caused by love of (or monstrous hate for) porgs. At the time, I suggested Occam’s Razor; Luke Skywalker is the last Jedi. The Order cannot sustain itself with a single member. Now, with the film only a few months away, director Rian Johnson is clearing up any lingering doubts about what The Last Jedi refers to.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Johnson confirmed several important pieces of information that fans have been obsessing over since the credits rolled on The Force Awakens, including that Luke Skywalker is indeed the eponymous character of The Last Jedi:
It’s in the opening crawl of “The Force Awakens.” Luke Skywalker, right now, is the last Jedi. There’s always wiggle room in these movies — everything is from a certain point of view — but coming into our story, he is the actual last of the Jedi […] The heart of the movie is Luke and Rey [a]nd it’s absolutely tied up in that question of, What is Luke’s attitude toward the Jedi?
The future of the Jedi may be in question, but even if the Order ends with Luke Skywalker, the Force will remain. Both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the final season of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars set up the idea that the Jedi and the Sith are merely the most active sects of an ancient religion that predates the invention of space travel in a galaxy far, far away. Whatever deity or universe-effecting energy permeates the Star Wars universe, it doesn’t need lightsaber-wielding humanoids to keep existing. In fact, based on other quotes Johnson gave the Times in his interview, Lucasfilm is inching away from extreme Light Side/Dark Side dichotomy and towards a “gray area.” For example, take this description of Rey and Kylo Ren:
Rey and Kylo are almost two halves of our protagonist. It’s not like Kylo is our Vader. In the original trilogy, Vader is the father — he’s the one you’re afraid of and who you want the approval of. Whereas Kylo represents anger and rebellion, the sometimes healthy — and sometimes not — desire to disconnect from the parents.
On the other end of the parental spectrum is Rey. As much as Kylo Ren’s identity is steeped in becoming the opposite of his parents, Rey’s identity is inextricably tied up in not knowing who her parents are. The emotional resonance of her abandonment issues affect how Rey reacts to circumstances and cast a long shadow over her self-worth, including her fraught interactions with Luke Skywalker. While Johnson stops short of promising fans will discover who Rey’s parents are in The Last Jedi, it’s safe to assume the trilogy won’t leave that question dangling. But the director wants to hammer home that it’s not really important who Rey’s parents are themselves so much as how their reveal with cause Rey to realign who she thinks she is. “[Discovering the identity of Rey’s parents is] interesting as opposed to impactful. Now [Rey will have questions such as], what is my place in the world? Where do I come from? Where do I belong? O.K., I understand what the weight of that is.”
Of course, the Star Wars obsessive in me latches onto the last bit of that quote from Johnson. Whomever Rey’s parents are, discovering them will add “weight” to Rey’s internal understanding of who she is. If they were just some random no-names, I doubt their legacy would weigh heavy on Rey’s mind. My money is still on Luke Skywalker and some version of Mara Jade being Rey’s parents and I’ll die on this hill until proven otherwise.