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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top 20 'The Last Jedi' Quotes

*MAJOR SPOILER ALERT FOR STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI*

More so than The Force Awakens or Rogue One, The Last Jedi's script by Rian Johnson (with some key input from his cast) is full of great lines of dialogue, some applicable to real life, others wholly specific to the Star Wars universe. 
We're taking a look at the film's 20 most memorable and powerful quotes, including both one-liners and exchanges between characters:

20. "She's running away." "No, she isn't."

From a Resistance transport, Poe and Lieutenant Kaydel Connix (Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher's daughter) watch as Admiral Holdo turns around the Raddus. Connix suspects that she's fleeing the Resistance at their most desperate moment, but Poe defends the Admiral, realizing that she's planning a kamikaze maneuver to save them from the Supremacy's barrage. It's at this moment that he accepts that Holdo's not a coward or a traitor; she's the bravest and most cunning out of all of them.
The vagueness and brevity of this quote is what makes it the closest thing The Last Jedi has to a new feminist motto. It could apply to any woman whose boldness and selflessness is misinterpreted as weakness; who "runs away" only so she can strike back harder.

19. "You were always scum." "Rebel scum."

Phasma gets one last verbal jab at Finn after he wallops her in the head with his riot baton, exposing part of her face for the first time. Her venomous tone contrasts with Gwendoline Christie's beautiful blue eye that finally reveals itself. A weaker villain would be begging for their life at this moment, but Phasma instead chooses to burn Finn one last time before she herself is engulfed in flames.
Finn's response, while cheesy, is a callback to the Emperor's famous "Rebel scum" line from Return of the Jedi. It took him a while to make up his mind, but now he's a Rebel through and through.

18. "You think you can turn him, you pathetic child. I cannot be betrayed. I cannot be beaten. I see his mind, I see his every intent. Yes, I see him turning the lightsaber to strike true. And now, foolish child, he ignites it, and kills his true enemy!"

Snoke's last words are oozing with arrogance as he gloats in front of Rey. It's a monologue that declares his own invincibility mere moments before Kylo impales Snoke with the Skywalker lightsaber and then slices him in half to finish the job. Like the Emperor, Snoke's overconfidence is his downfall.
The key to this quote, of course, is that Snoke isn't wrong in the intent he senses in Kylo; he's just misinterpreting where it's directed. Kylo's true enemy is the master who manipulates him and uses him for his raw power, not the beautiful girl who relates to his identity crisis.

17. "Hope is like the sun; if you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night."

When Poe challenges Holdo's seemingly-passive strategy of escaping the First Order's fleet, she pulls out this Leia quote that she used to hear when under her service many years ago. Poe finishes it for her, revealing the one thing the two characters have in common: a deep respect for the legendary general. Even while comatose, Leia's words still manage to inspire hope and bring people together.
Of course, this line would be more powerful if it were spoken at a more critical moment, or if we had ever actually heard Leia say it herself. And it's not nearly as neat and concise as "rebellions are built on hope," the standout quote from Rogue One. But the message of this quote is a much more specific and practical one: you can't lose hope of better things on the horizon just because things look bleak at the moment.

16. "You didn't fail Kylo, Kylo failed you. I won't."

The key to Luke and Rey's relationship is his fear of repeating the horrors he once endured at the hands of another apprentice who had the same "raw power" as Rey. As he confesses to her in the cave on Ahch-To, he feels completely responsible for Kylo's turn to the Dark Side. She confidently refutes him with this line, telling him that it was Kylo's fault, not his, and that she won't make the same mistakes. 
Rey later reverses her position after hearing Kylo's side of the story, but her words in this scene are still the truth that Luke needs to hear. Kylo's fall was predestined by his "mighty Skywalker blood" and the hubris that came with it, as well as his own weakness that drew him to the Dark Side. Rey – who grew up with exactly zero privilege on Jakku – is the future of the Jedi Order, and despite whatever trauma Luke endured in the past, he should put his faith in her. And he ultimately does.

15. "See you around, kiddo."

Having successfully trolled Kylo and wasted his time so that the Resistance could escape the Crait base, Luke says goodbye, before vanishing into thin air. His final words to his nephew are hilariously condescending, hitting home the message that Kylo is still just an angry child.
Unless Luke is using this expression loosely, it's confirmation that he'll return in Episode IX in Force ghost form. He seems to have every intention of (literally) haunting Kylo. Maybe he can even learn a trick from Yoda and summon a lightning bolt to blast his nephew.

14. "Too many losses... I can't take any more." "Sure you can. You taught me how."

When Holdo reveals to Leia that she plans to stay behind on the Raddus and sacrifice herself to divert the First Order's attention, Leia is wary of the thought of another loss. At this point in her life, she's lost her birth parents, her adoptive parents, her homeworld, her son (metaphorically), her husband, and her brother (metaphorically, then later in the movie, literally), as well as countless other friends over the years. But Holdo reminds Leia that she's always been one to roll with the punches.
It's a beautiful moment that highlights the way that these two women support and learn from each other. What makes it all the more touching is that this entire scene was actually written by Rian Johnson, Carrie Fisher, and Laura Dern. The admiration and gratitude that Holdo expresses for Leia, both through her dialogue and her performance, is a reflection of how Dern really felt about working with Fisher. 

13. "The greatest teacher, failure is."

In his classic backwards-talk, Yoda advises Luke to accept his failings. Luke failed to teach Kylo and in some ways, he fails Rey, too, by refusing to believe in her. But every mistake is a learning experience, and Luke learns to stop being bitter and return to help his sister and the Rebellion at the end of the movie. 
In a broader context, the Jedi Order failed so that Luke could correct it. He's the only Jedi who fully recognizes the faults of the Order and actually does something about it. At the end of the movie, he stalls Kylo with deception, not violence, because Jedi are supposed to be peacekeepers, not warriors. And he teaches Rey the mistakes of the Jedi so that she can restart the Order the right way.

12. "It's all a machine, partner. Live free, don't join."

Aboard DJ's stolen ship, he shows Finn that the wealthy inhabitants of Canto Bight sell weapons to both the First Order and the Resistance, contrary to Rose's prior claim that they were only helping the bad guys. It's with this line that he explains the cyclical machine of war, with his last two words providing the basis for his acronymic name (or at least, the name the filmmakers called him, since his real name is never spoken). 
With the slight exception of The Clone WarsStar Wars has never really delved into this side of war and how the galaxy's greedy upper class will perpetuate it for their own profit. DJ makes a good point that both sides of the war are funded by the same rich assholes. But when he later cuts a deal with the First Order that allows them to fire upon the defenseless Resistance ships, Finn realizes that this war is primarily a matter of right and wrong, and he chooses the good guys.

11. "This is not going to go the way you think!"

This is Luke's harsh warning to Rey when she reveals her plans to turn Kylo to the Light. And his words ultimately ring true; Rey succeeds in turning Kylo against his master, but quickly realizes that he's only doing it because he's fallen in love with her, not because he can actually be brought to the Light Side so easily. 
But this line is most memorable as an obvious meta message to the audience, telling us to doubt any predictions we have. Once again, it's accurate. This movie really doesn't go the way we think, as evident in twists such as Leia's miraculous recovery from near-death, Kylo's murder of Snoke, and Luke's Force projection trick. 

10. "I know what you're gonna say. I changed my hair."

The first dialogue that the Skywalker twins exchange after many years apart is a joke from Leia that pokes fun at her long history of elaborate hairstyles. It's also a strong callback to her reunion with Han in The Force Awakens, in which his first words to her were "You changed your hair." It's a genuinely funny moment that breaks the tension in an otherwise somber scene and brings an element of humor back to Leia's character.
Perhaps the best part about this line is that it was conceived entirely by Carrie Fisher, who collaborated with Rian Johnson on much of her character's dialogue. She managed to incorporate some of her own famous humor into one of the film's most emotional scenes. And it's nice that she was able to laugh about the many bizarre Leia hairdos that she had to endure. 

9. "It's time for the Jedi to end."

Luke's haunting words brought The Last Jedi's first teaser trailer to a close in an epic way, seamlessly tying it back to the film's title. We didn't get a clear look at the old Jedi master, but this quote told us a lot about his jaded personality and inspired endless speculation – including an in-depth analysis of the Order's flaws on this very blog – about why the Jedi needed to end.
In the context of the film itself, this line just means that the hypocritical institutions of the Jedi have to end, not that the Order itself should be completely dismantled. These words are most significant as an iconic part of The Last Jedi's earliest marketing, in the same way that "This is a rebellion, isn't it? I rebel" was at one point synonymous with Rogue One.

8. "You have no place in this story. You come from nothing, you're nothing...but not to me."

Reylo confirmed! When Rey refuses to forget about her friends and join Kylo, he tries to break down her confidence by forcing her to accept that her parents are nobodies—the truth that she's known all along. His words are condescending and degrading at first, but then morph into comfort as he seems to reveal his romantic feelings for her.
But Kylo isn't the only one who views Rey as more than nothing. Finn, Chewie, Leia, Poe, and the rest of the Resistance know and respect her as the hero who helped deliver the map to Luke Skywalker and destroy Starkiller Base. It's because of these friends that she ultimately rejects Ben Solo.

7. "We are the spark that will light the fire that will restore the Republic. That spark – this Resistance – must survive. That is our mission."

Holdo's introductory speech ends with this mission statement of what the Resistance is supposed to be: the catalyst that returns liberty and democracy to the galaxy. Later on Crait, Poe repeats this line with his own spin on it, saying that this fire will "burn the First Order down" rather than "restore the Republic." It's another testament to the respect he's developed for her—even if he's still tweaking her words a bit.
Poe's version (the one that was heard in the trailers, because it's more exciting) has a more violent and destructive connotation than Holdo's original quote, but it still follows her general message of starting a larger movement. "The spark" is the Chosen One prophecy for a new generation; it's not about one individual, it's about old legends and new heroes working together to reignite hope for the whole galaxy.

6. "Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters."

Yoda's final words to Luke in their scene together apply to all master-apprentice relationships in Star Wars. Masters always feel responsible for what their apprentices become; Anakin was haunted by Ahsoka after she left the Jedi, Obi-Wan had to struggle with guilt about Darth Vader, and Luke regrets his mistakes in teaching his nephew. Even Snoke and Palpatine were defined by the evolutions of their students when they were spontaneously killed by them. 
As the master who taught thousands of Jedi over the years, no one understands this better than Yoda. For better or for worse, apprentices always grow beyond their masters' teaching and find their own place in the galaxy. It's a burden that weighs on all masters, but Yoda is encouraging Luke to accept it and move on. 

5. "We have everything we need."

At the end of the movie, Rey asks Leia how they can rebuild the Rebellion, and this is her comforting response. It's an assurance to both Rey and the audience that even though they lost their entire fleet, two secret bases, and at least 90% of their total membership (including most of their top leaders), the Rebellion is in fine shape.
And Leia's not wrong; they have both an iconic general (Leia) and a young leader ready to take her place (Poe); a new Jedi to train the next generation (Rey), as well as the original Jedi texts to learn from; two halves of a lightsaber; a reliable ship (the Falcon) and its ace pilot (Chewie); at least a couple of brave fighters (Finn and Rose); three droids for comic relief; and a handful of Resistance redshirts to round out the herd.

4. "No one's ever really gone."

When Leia tells Luke that she's accepted that her son can't be saved from the Dark Side, this is his response, hinting that Kylo still has a chance at redemption. He then hands her Han Solo's golden dice (or at least, a Force projection of them), wordlessly changing the subject to her dead husband and reminding her that his spirit lives on. 
It takes an even deeper (though unintended) meaning in the context of Carrie Fisher. If she can give such a wonderful performance on the big screen almost a full year after her death, then maybe death isn't such a permanent end after all. As long as we have the memory of the ones we've lost, they're never really gone. 

3. "Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That's the only way to become what you were meant to be."

Kylo says this to Rey during their third Force vision encounter. Forgetting the past is a key theme for both of them. For Kylo, it means to literally kill his parents, as well as Snoke and Luke, old men who tried to control him. But for Rey, it means to stop holding on to her past—specifically, the identity of her parents. She can only become what she was meant to be – the galaxy's next hope and the founder of the new Jedi Order – by accepting that they were "nobody" and moving on.
Kylo rephrases these words in more detail later in the movie: "It's time to let old things die. Snoke, Skywalker, the Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels, let it all die." This time it almost seems like he's speaking to the audience, telling us to forget about the Star Wars nostalgia that we love and accept that the Sequel Trilogy is going in new directions. 

2. "I saved you, dummy. That’s how we're gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love."

When Finn has the audacity to ask why Rose interrupted his suicide path to the First Order's battering ram cannon, injuring her in the process, this is her response. It's a simple but meaningful message that ties back to what the purpose of the Resistance/Rebellion should be: preserving and protecting the things they care about the most – hope, liberty, democracy, and friends and family – not just perpetuating hateful violence for the sake of victory.
And Rose's words match with her own actions throughout the movie. She goes on a mission with Finn to help the Resistance freely escape, not to deal a blow to their enemies. On Canto Bight, she saves the fathiers because they're innocent creatures being abused. And she stops Finn from stupidly sacrificing himself because it ultimately wouldn't do the Resistance much good and because she's in love with him, as confirmed by her kiss that follows this line.

1. "The rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi."

Luke's fighting words to Kylo give us the biggest hint yet at what Episode IX will be about. The rebellion is still vastly outnumbered, but Luke has no doubt that they'll get back on their feet and hit the First Order even harder. He knows that his heroism today will spread across the galaxy to future rebels such as the kids on Canto Bight. He's also promising that the conflict in The Last Jedi will be nothing compared to the full-on galactic war in the Sequel Trilogy finale. 
Most importantly, Luke is explicitly contradicting the name of the movie. His last few words are a voiceover as Rey levitates rocks to clear the way for Resistance, confirming to the audience that he's passing the torch to Rey as the next Jedi Knight. "The Last Jedi" is more about the (false) title given to Luke than the actual extinction of the Order.

What's your favorite quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

"There is Another": A Reflection of Leia Organa's Relationship with the Force

When we first met Leia Organa, we didn't know she was a Skywalker, and neither did she. While Luke was empowered by his lineage and Force sensitivity, it was Leia's political savvy, remarkable resilience, and no-nonsense courage that made her a hero.
We've known for a while that The Last Jedi would be Leia's last full appearance due to Carrie Fisher's death. Not only does she have a strong presence throughout the movie, but she also demonstrates a potency in the Force never before seen from the Princess of Alderaan. We're taking a look back at Leia Organa's history with the Force, as well as how it might have influenced her future.

The other Skywalker

The first hint of Leia's greater power came in The Empire Strikes Back. The ghost of Ben Kenobi told Yoda that Luke was their last hope, but the old green Jedi wasn't so sure: "No, there is another." The end of the movie offered a big clue to this person's identity when Leia heard Luke's cry for help and turned the Falcon around to save him on Cloud City, demonstrating some kind of Force sensitivity.
In Return of the Jedi, Leia learned the full truth when she denied that she could ever take Luke's place as the galaxy's only hope. "You're wrong, Leia. You have that power too. In time, you'll learn to use it as I have," he told her. He then revealed to her that she was his sister and therefore a member of the galaxy's most Force-strong family. 
There's always the argument that Leia's Force sensitivity has always been secretly displayed in talents such as her accuracy with a blaster and diplomatic expertise. But it feels insulting to say that these skills stem from a mystical power inside of her. Maybe she's just tough and smart because her adoptive parents (Bail and Breha Organa) raised her that way, and because her biological mother (Padmé) shared the same traits.

If there was any doubt as to whether Leia had the same Jedi potential as Luke, the From A Certain Point of View story "There Is Another" puts it to rest. As it turns out, when Kenobi's ghost first suggested that Yoda train a new Skywalker, Yoda assumed he meant Leia – he thought she obviously had the better temperament for a Jedi – and needed some serious convincing before agreeing to train Luke. 


Force-attuned general, not Jedi

In the buildup to The Force Awakens, there was the lingering question of how Leia's Force powers evolved in the 30 years since she had appeared last. Had she learned how to use a lightsaber? Had she practiced Force maneuvers with Luke? Or even better, had she become a full-fledged Jedi Master alongside her brother?
As it turned out, Leia had stuck to politics after learning the truth about her family. In The Force Awakens, the only confirmation that she retained her Force sensitivity was directly after Han Solo's death, when we saw Leia collapse in the Resistance command center from her grief. It appeared that her Force powers were still limited to the basic ability to sense the distress of those closest to her. 
And while it would have been nice to see her knock out stormtroopers with badass Force pushes, Leia's evolution from princess to commanding general left little to be desired in terms of the empowerment of her character. While her brother was training new Jedi and moping on Ahch-To, Leia was fighting in the halls of the Senate and building the Resistance. She was already a respected leader and a capable fighter; she didn't need the Force in the way that Luke did. 

But in The Last Jedi, Leia's strength in the Force is never clearer. She detects Kylo's presence when close to his starfighter, connects with Luke through the Force while in a coma, and senses her brother's passing at the end of the movie. And in one of the film's (several) genuinely shocking scenes, she revives herself in the freezing, airless vacuum of space, reaches out her hand, and flies back to the airlock of the Raddus using the Force.
Leia's Superman-style outer space recovery has received some ire from fans who doubt her abilities. But we have to remember that she is the daughter of Darth Vader, the Chosen One and one of the most powerful Force wielders ever, and thus she has the same natural Force potential as Luke. (The only real flaw in that scene is that the CGI is pretty bad.)

Leia lacks his years of training, of course, but when thrown into this kind of danger, it makes sense for an instinctive fight-or-flight response to take over and intensify her natural ability. If 19-year-old Leia had been tossed into space, she probably would have discovered her Force power a lot sooner. Writer/director Rian Johnson equated it to the real-world phenomenon of parents lifting cars to save their children.

Leia and the Force in Episode IX?

It's possible that Rian Johnson and the rest of the Last Jedi filmmakers just wanted to give Leia a cool Force scene so that she could have some breathtaking physical action in the film (opposed to her many dialogue-heavy scenes) and finally justify Yoda's faith in her. But maybe that scene was actually supposed to let Leia realize the full extent of her raw Force power so that she could actively use it to fight the First Order in Episode IX
We had heard that Leia was intended to be the star of Episode IX, and the end of The Last Jedi certainly sets that up: Leia is surrounded by friends on the Millennium Falcon, ready to find a new home for the Resistance, with Luke and Han no longer around to steal her thunder. But Carrie Fisher's death means that Leia's role in the Sequel Trilogy finale will be minimal at most.

Given how The Last Jedi evolved Kylo Ren's character to the Dark Side's big bad, we can guess that her original role would have involved at least one face-to-face reunion with her son. That is, after all, the last major reunion left in the trilogy. (They have an emotional, silent encounter through the Force in The Last Jedi, but clearly there are underlying feelings between them that can only be resolved in person.)
There are many ways this scene could have gone – Kylo stabbing her in the same way he did Han, Leia sacrificing herself to end her son and dying by his side – but the most exciting possibility is if Leia attacked Kylo with the Force. What if she telekinetically choked him, using her father's signature move to put an end to her fallen son? 

Regardless of whether it succeeded in killing him, this heartbreaking scene would have brought Leia's character full circle. In one move, she would be fulfilling her potential as a Skywalker, accepting the part of Vader that will always be in her, and taking responsibility for the mistakes she made in raising her son. Above all, it would let Leia exit the Star Wars universe in a badass blaze of glory and solidify her as the MVP of the Skywalker family. 
Of course, the more likely scenario is that Episode IX's climactic showdown was always meant to be between Rey and Kylo, with Leia and Kylo's reunion a smaller (though still important) plot point. And even if Leia's Force choke scene was planned, it would almost be better if we never learned of it, as it would just make her absence from Episode IX even more tragic. 

The Force has always been in Leia to some extent, and it could have been a huge part of her future. But at the end of the day, it doesn't define her in the way that it did Luke, and it's not why we fell in love with her in the first place. The greatest forces inside her are resilience and selflessness, compassion and tenacity, and those are what make her a symbol of hope and rebellion throughout the Star Wars galaxy and our own world.
Would you have liked to see Leia use the Force more? Do you think she could have fought her son with it in Episode IX? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Review and Discussion

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has finally arrived. The eighth chapter in the Star Wars saga and the second in the Sequel Trilogy is hitting theaters this week, bringing back heroes and villains old and new for the most divisive episode yet.

Two years ago, the Force awakened as a lonely scavenger on Jakku was swept into the galactic conflict between the Dark Side and the Light. Though initially anxious to return home and wary of the mystical power calling to her, Rey used the Force to summon the Skywalker family lightsaber and defeat her nemesis Kylo Ren. 

She then ascended the island of Ahch-To to return the weapon to Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, inviting him to take up arms against the Dark Side once again...as well as show Rey her own place in the galaxy.

Those were her first steps. But she still has a long way to go... 

(I'm about to be discussing the movie's plot and characters in great detail, so a *MAJOR SPOILER ALERT* should be assumed.)

The Plot

The movie opens on the evacuation of the Resistance's base on D'Qar as the First Order fleet arrives, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and BB-8 face the Dreadnought alone in an X-Wing and destroy its turrets. Resistance bombers target the massive battleship; gunner Paige Tico sacrifices herself to drop the last bombs, destroying the Dreadnought before it can fire on the Resistance flagship, the Raddus, commanded by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
On Ahch-To, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Chewbacca implore Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to join the fight once again. Rey is drawn to the island's Force-sensitive tree, the first Jedi temple; even after learning of her connection to the Force, Luke refuses to help, telling her that he came to the island to die along with the Order itself. R2-D2 changes his mind by presenting Leia's old hologram message to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The Resistance fleet jumps to hyperspace but Hux tracks them and follows, with Supreme Leader Snoke's giant destroyer, the Supremacy, leading the pursuit. Ben Solo / Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), pressured by Snoke to prove himself after his loss to Rey, targets the Raddus in his own starfighter. He and Leia sense each other through the Force and Kylo can't bring himself to kill his mother, but TIE fighters destroy the ship's command bridge anyway. 

Leia uses the Force to glide back to the ship through the vacuum of space, critically wounding her in the process. Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) assumes command of the Resistance and quickly clashes with Poe over her plan to evacuate the ship on smaller transports. At Poe's behest, Finn (John Boyega), having awoken from his coma, and mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), Paige's sister, embark on a secret mission to find a codebreaker who can disable the First Order's tracking device.
Luke begins to train Rey in the Force, while she secretly communicates with Kylo Ren through Force visions. She learns that Luke blames himself for failing his nephew when there was still a chance to keep him on the Light Side, but Kylo thinks that Luke tried to kill him out of fear of his power. Having come to believe that Kylo can be saved, Rey leaves Ahch-To with the Skywalker lightsaber and sacred Jedi texts. Alone on the island once again, Luke burns down the Force tree with the ghost of Yoda.

Tipped off by Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o), Finn and Rose land on Canto Bight, a casino city. Finn is wowed by the luxury of the inhabitants, but Rose tells him that they're war profiteers who sell weapons to the First Order. With help from enslaved children, they free abused Fathiers and ride them through the city before taking off with DJ (Benicio Del Toro), an eccentric codebreaker.
They land on the Supremacy at the same time as Rey, who is betrayed by Kylo and brought to Snoke's throne room. Easily overpowering her, Snoke searches her mind to uncover Luke's location, revealing that he created the bridge between her and Kylo's minds in order to find and destroy the last Jedi. He then orders Kylo to kill her; instead, Kylo ignites his family's lightsaber to slice Snoke in half. He and Rey then face Snoke's Elite Praetorian Guards together, killing them all.
Finn, Rose, and DJ disguise themselves as Imperial officers but get caught by Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and her troopers. Poe attempts a mutiny on Holdo, but a recovered Leia stuns him. Holdo stays behind to pilot the cruiser while the rest of the Resistance evacuates to Crait. The First Order, having uncovered the Resistance's cloaked transports with help from a treacherous DJ, opens fire on the defenseless ships.

Rey tells Kylo to spare the transports, but he wants them to rule the galaxy together and forget about the Resistance and the First Order, the Jedi and the Sith. He tells her what she's known all along: her parents were nobodies, and she's a nobody, too, but not in his eyes. He offers his hand, but instead she summons the Skywalker lightsaber and they grapple over it with the Force, eventually splitting it in two.
Holdo rams the Supremacy with the Raddus at lightspeed, decimating the First Order's fleet, interrupting Finn and Rose's execution, and saving the remaining Resistance ships. Rey flees and Kylo becomes the new Supreme Leader, telling Hux that she killed Snoke and the guards alone. Finn faces off with Phasma and she falls to her death in the crumbling ship. He, Rose, and BB-8 commandeer a First Order shuttle and join the Resistance on Crait.
The Resistance sends out a distress beacon as the First Order lands its AT-M6 walkers on the salt flats of Crait. Poe, Finn, Rose, and others pilot old ski speeders to counter the walkers. The Millennium Falcon arrives and draws the TIE fighters away, with Chewie piloting and Rey manning the gunner's position. 

Against Poe's orders, Finn heads on a suicide path to the First Order's battering ram cannon that threatens to blow open the Resistance's bunker. At the last second, Rose crashes her speeder into his before he can sacrifice himself. The cannon breaches the bunker and she kisses him before passing out from her injuries.
With no one answering their call, the Resistance is at its lowest until Luke appears and reunites with Leia. He steps out and faces the First Order alone while Poe, Finn, Leia, and the remaining Resistance members follow crystal foxes towards a secret exit. Kylo furiously orders all walkers to open fire on Luke, to no avail. Kylo steps out of his shuttle to deal with his uncle himself. 
Kylo duels Luke until he realizes that it's only a Force projection, and Luke is still on the Ahch-To island. Luke tells him that the Rebellion isn't over, the war is just beginning, and he's not the last Jedi, before vanishing. Back on Ahch-To, Luke breaks from his intense concentration and looks up at the planet's twin sunset before becoming one with the Force.

Poe, Finn, and Leia find their exit blocked by rocks. Rey lifts them with the Force and she and Finn embrace. The Resistance escapes aboard the Falcon as Kylo and Hux storm the base. Finn tends to an unconscious Rose and Poe introduces himself to Rey. She and Leia both sense Luke's passing, but Leia tells her that the Resistance has everything they need to rebuild.
Back on Canto Bight, the enslaved children who helped Finn and Rose recount the story of Luke Skywalker. One boy uses the Force to summon a broom. He holds it like a lightsaber and looks to the stars, wearing Rose's ring with the Rebel Alliance symbol. 

Review

There are many things you can call Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's epic, it's emotional, it's long – like, long enough that it drags in places, particularly Finn and Rose's subplot – but the best word would be "unexpected." It's a genuinely surprising movie, and no one could have predicted that events would pan out quite like this.
When The Last Jedi is good, it's really, really good. Kylo killing Snoke with his family's lightsaber, then pulling it towards himself so that Rey can grab it and fight the Praetorians alongside him is shocking and spectacular and everything we could have hoped for. It's the film's best fight scene and quite possibly its best scene, period.

And Finn and Rose's subplot, while dull and superfluous in comparison to Rey and Kylo's, is a key part of the film's central theme: anyone can be a hero, anyone can fight for what they believe in, as long as they have people they care about. You'd think the whole "hope and rebellion" thing would be boring by now, but The Last Jedi manages to explore it in a whole new way. 
But for a movie that was billed as game-changing, it doesn't really change that much. By the end of the movie, Rey's firmly on the Light Side, while Kylo is darker than ever. The Resistance is still on the run from the First Order, who suffer heavy losses but still probably have dozens more Star Destroyers and other new terrifying technology. 

The Last Jedi doesn't give us a truly satisfying resolution to the mystery of Rey's parents. It kills Snoke before we can learn his identity. It completely throws away the Knights of Ren, an intriguing concept only teased in The Force Awakens. It gives Luke a badass scene, but it's not really him, it's just an illusion, and then he suddenly dies. And yet, all of these moments are done so beautifully that it's easy to forget how disappointing they really are.
JJ Abrams set up the mysteries of Rey's parents, Snoke, and (to a lesser extent) the Knights of Ren, and then The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson just decided that they didn't matter. Not only is this a huge letdown for all the fans who have been theorizing for the past two years, but it also spells all kinds of discontinuities when Johnson hands the story back to Abrams for Episode IX.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will go down in history as a polarizing movie. It has the superb character work of The Force Awakens and the boldness of Rogue One, but unlike either film, fan service is very low on its list of priorities. If you think it's the best Star Wars ever, you may not be wrong, but unless you're looking for a fight, you'd be wise not to say so in the presence of other super-fans. 
If The Last Jedi has proved anything, it's that Johnson's recently-announced Star Wars trilogy is something to be truly excited for. As the sole creative force, he won't be obligated to explore – and ultimately discard – story threads that other directors deemed significant. This trilogy is going to be different, it's going to be beautiful, and it's going to drop our jaws every step of the way. 

The Characters

Rey

If The Force Awakens was about Rey discovering the Force inside of her, then The Last Jedi is about her finding her place in it. She struggled with this throughout the film; when Luke first encouraged her to "reach out," she was quickly drawn to the Dark Side because it promised the truth about her parents. She sought out Kylo to bring him to the Light, but when fighting by his side, she had no problem brutally killing the Praetorian Guards.
Ultimately, it was Rey's loyalty to her friends that kept her on the Light. She chose them over a partnership with Kylo, and she accepted her role as the next Jedi. She now has the original Jedi texts (we don't see her taking them but if you look closely, they're clearly stored in a compartment on the Falcon), a near-mastery of the Force, and Luke's teachings about how the Order failed in the first place. And as the last scene showed us, there are Force-sensitive children out there who are ready to join the Rebellion and Rey's new order.
In many ways, the truth about Rey's parents could be viewed as anticlimactic, especially since the film goes to great lengths to build the suspense (in the scene in which she looks in the mirror in the Ahch-To cave and sees her parents as two shadowy figures). She's not a Skywalker, or a Solo, or a Kenobi, or a Palpatine, or even a Chosen-One-virgin-birth-Force-creation, and everyone who spent two years developing those theories must feel pretty dumb now.
But it's an empowering message for both Rey and the audience, and it keeps with the film's theme of bringing the Force back to the people. If the daughter of two alcoholic, cruel "nobodies" can be the galaxy's new hope and one of the most innately powerful Force wielders of all time, it teaches us that you don't have to be born to privilege to make a real difference in the world.

Luke Skywalker

Luke's arc in The Last Jedi was about accepting his failings. He failed Kylo by not believing that he could be saved from the Dark Side, and he failed Rey, too, by pushing her away when she revealed her own plan of turning Kylo to the Light. But as Yoda told him, failure is the best teacher. Luke learned to stop focusing on his mistakes – "still looking to the horizon, never here, now," Yoda said – and face reality: his nephew was beyond redemption, Rey was the key to saving the galaxy, and his sister needed his help.
Luke's showdown with the First Order wasn't just his return to the forefront of the galactic conflict. Appearing on Crait as a Force projection rather than in person could be viewed as just a more convenient method of helping his friends ASAP, but it can't be a coincidence that Luke stalled the First Order and saved the Resistance all without hurting a single person. Jedi aren't supposed to respond to violence with more violence, and the Order never understood that. 
Luke's death was difficult to swallow, but as he said himself, no one's ever really gone. He seems to have overexerted his physical form by projecting himself across the galaxy like that, but there's no way that he isn't coming back in Force ghost form in Episode IX. And since we saw Yoda's ghost summon a bolt of lightning to burn down the Force tree, Luke might even be able to make tangible contributions to the Resistance from beyond the grave.

Kylo Ren

The Force Awakens treated Kylo as an immature villain whose deep inner conflict and emotional depth was overshadowed by his hilarious tantrums and highly-debated loss to Rey in their duel. But The Last Jedi cements him as a fascinating character whose significance to the Sequel Trilogy nearly rivals Rey's.
For the better part of the movie, Kylo was a protagonist. Rey saw the chance for redemption in him, and so did the audience. He couldn't bring himself to kill his mother and he formed a genuine bond with Rey over their shared turmoil. When the time came, he killed Snoke, his true enemy, saving Rey and freeing Kylo from his master's control.
But at the end of the day, Kylo's neglect by his parents and uncle has made him an unstable and selfish individual. He finally found someone just as powerful and emotionally damaged as him, and it's no surprise that he seemed to develop more-than-friendly feelings for Rey. So when she rejected him, it only sent him spiraling further toward the Dark Side and seemingly destroyed any mercy he previously held.
Now that he's the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo will be the central villain of Episode IX, completely focused on snuffing out the Resistance and getting revenge on the mother who abandoned him and the girl who refused to join him. There's still a chance of his redemption, but you can bet he and Rey will have some epic duels before he considers switching sides.

Leia Organa

When Leia was thrown into the vacuum of space, body icing over, it was so easy to think that she was really gone. Carrie Fisher's death has loomed over the film for almost a year now; it wouldn't be surprising if they cut out most of her role and gave her this sudden death after just a couple of scenes. The quiet notes of "Princess Leia's Theme" made it an especially tearjerking tribute to the character and Fisher herself.
But then Leia's finger moved and her eyes opened and her body started to thaw, and then she used the Force to fly back to the cruiser and save herself, as her musical theme played loud and strong. This wasn't her tragic sendoff, it was one of her most empowering scenes ever. The filmmakers originally wanted to give Leia an incredible Force moment, they wanted her to keep on giving orders and doling out advice for the rest of the film, and Fisher's death changed none of that. 
The Last Jedi was never meant to be Leia's last appearance, but it captured the essence of her character perfectly. She wielded blasters, she had no patience for her hotshot male friends, and she stood strong as a symbol of hope and rebellion. She had a beautiful reunion with Luke and even some semblance of a reunion with Kylo (they were probably intended to have a real face-to-face confrontation in Episode IX).
Editing Fisher's scenes to give her a convenient death – either if her body stayed still when she was blasted into space, or if she took Holdo's place as the veteran leader to stay behind on the Raddus – would have been far easier in some respects, since Episode IX will now have to explain her sudden absence. But this really is the sendoff that Leia – and Fisher – deserved.

Finn

Finn started off The Last Jedi the same way that he ended The Force Awakens: focused on Rey, just Rey, and not really caring too much about the Resistance. Once again, he tried to run, but it was Rose who inspired him and changed his mind. On Canto Bight, she showed him just how much injustice there was in the galaxy, and despite DJ's advice to stay neutral, he chose to do the right thing and stick with the Resistance.
Of course, Finn's whole mission with Rose was pointless. They failed to find the codebreaker that Maz suggested, they got caught aboard the Supremacy, and the whole mission was totally unnecessary, since Holdo and Leia had their own plan of escaping the First Order. If anything, they hurt the Resistance by handing the First Order a codebreaker who exposed their transports.
But at least Finn got some closure on his past by defeating Phasma, and he learned to be just as boneheaded a hero as Poe, which, uh, is some kind of progress for his character. Finn seems to be motivated by a true moral compass now, not just his crushes on smarter, braver women like Rey and Rose, and we can assume that he'll be giving his all alongside them in Episode IX.

Poe Dameron

Poe Dameron is an idiot. That's not really an opinion, it's more of a fact that the movie repeatedly presents. His disrespect for Leia and Holdo's orders had sexist undertones, and it was almost nice to see them (literally) slap him around for the first half of the movie. 
But Poe did seem to learn something from it. At the end of the movie, he evolved from his immature "hero" mentality and stepped in to lead the Resistance, guiding them through the Crait caverns to safety while Leia proudly trailed behind. With the General out of the picture in Episode IX and most of their other leadership dead, Poe will certainly be taking up the mantle as the new head of the Resistance in Episode IX.

Chewbacca

After his one reunion scene with Luke, Chewie didn't have much to do on Ahch-To. In fact, most of his scenes were just comic relief involving the porgs; as fans predicted, Chewie roasted a few and intended to eat them, but ultimately let them nest in the Falcon and hang out in the cockpit during his dogfight on Crait.
Though he served as Rey's chauffeur to and from the Supremacy, Chewie proved himself to be the Falcon's rightful pilot and the savior of the Resistance, rather than just her sidekick. And this time, he got the hug with Leia that he was so sorely deprived after Han's death in The Force Awakens. With new pets and a ship full of friends, Chewie's doing pretty well. 

Rose Tico

As expected, Rose was the most relatable character and a stand-in for the audience. She was wowed by Finn as a legendary stormtrooper-turned-hero who blew up Starkiller Base and saved the day. But she didn't play second fiddle to him during their adventure; she saw right through the glamour of Canto Bight and educated him on galactic classism.
Rose's had the natural moral compass of Rey or Poe, but without either of their heroic star power. Coming from a planet stripped by the First Order for its resources, she had a natural grudge against the First Order, but it didn't make her jaded. She was fun, she was good at her job, she was compassionate, she was selfless, and it was these subtleties to her character that made her the Asian-American female hero fans were waiting for. 
The film didn't let Rose shine in the way that Holdo or her sister Paige did. But when Finn questioned why she risked her life to stop his suicide path to the battering ram cannon, she delivered one of the best lines in the movie that perfectly summed up her purity: "I saved you, dummy. That's how we're gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love."

Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo

Initially introduced as an antagonist for Poe, Holdo proved herself to be nothing short of a hero and an icon. She wasn't the coward and traitor that Poe made her out to be; she was a skilled tactician who confidently stepped in to lead the Resistance, and no one can blame her for having no patience for Poe's hotheaded insolence.
Holdo's death had the potential to be a "the captain goes down with the ship" cliché. Instead, she pulled off one of the most ballsy, awesome starship maneuvers ever seen in Star Wars. The whole suicidal ramming technique has been done before – just ask the A-Wing in Return of the Jedi, or Rogue One's Hammerhead Corvette – but Holdo took it to a whole new level, resulting in a silent, stunning sequence in which she literally split the First Order fleet into pieces.

Yep, Amilyn Holdo singlehandedly saved the Resistance in a stunt that would have Han Solo turning in his grave. Even if she had been the villain Poe first saw her as, that would have redeemed her. It's a shame she was certainly obliterated in the process, but God damn she went out with a bang.

DJ

DJ was probably the worst of the three major new characters, mostly defined by his stutter and eccentricity. But in a trilogy that definitively presents the Resistance as "the good guys" and the First Order as the "the bad guys," it was interesting to see the perspective of someone who chose neither. Both sides perpetuate ceaseless violence and destruction, so can you blame him for staying neutral?
DJ seemed to have left on his (stolen ship) with the First Order's paycheck before the cruiser got Holdo'd, so as long as the fan response to his character turns out positive, he'll probably come back in Episode IX to lend a hand to our heroes or villains...and then switch sides again.

Snoke

Snoke's scenes fleshed him out (literally, since he was seen in-person for the first time) as unforgiving, sadistic, and very strong in the Force. He probed Rey's mind without breaking a sweat, and both times she tried to fight back (first by summoning the Skywalker saber, then Kylo's), he flung her around like she was nothing.
As the Emperor-like figure of this trilogy, we all expected Snoke to live on until Episode IX and eventually reveal his true identity to the audience...which is why his death was such a shock. Given his immense power and influence, it's easy to imagine him returning, but that would make no sense from a storytelling perspective; his death serves the purpose of liberating Kylo and making him the new "big bad," and there's no point in undoing that.
Someday a story might explain who Snoke really is. Or maybe he's just Snoke, a plot device used to facilitate Kylo's descent to the Dark Side and then bisected when deemed unnecessary. If Rian Johnson decided that he doesn't care, maybe we shouldn't, either.

Captain Phasma

Oh, Phasma. It turns out all you needed to become a badass was a hunger for revenge. Between addressing Finn as "FN-2187," insisting that he and Rose die painfully by laser axe rather than blaster, and pushing Finn over a ledge after proving herself the better warrior, Phasma was finally treated as a threatening villain in The Last Jedi...which is why it's such a shame that she had to die.
At least her death was a memorable one. After getting pushed over a ledge by Phasma, Finn got the drop on her and smashed part of her mask, exposing Gwendoline Christie's eye in a shot that called back to a memorable Darth Vader scene from Star Wars Rebels. She even got one last verbal jab – "You were always scum" – before falling into flames.
Of course, Phasma didn't fare too well at the end of The Force Awakens either, but still managed to come back, so we can't completely rule out her return. After all, the Phasma novel revealed that more than anything else, she's a survivor. The only question is if fans even care at this point, since the Sequel Trilogy is clearly uninterested in giving her the meaty villain role that we so desperately wanted.
Ultimately, Phasma's character has always been defined by her relationship to Finn. And maybe that's okay. Maybe Phasma was always meant to be Finn's antagonist, in the same way that Kylo is Rey's. Maybe she just didn't serve that much purpose anymore, seeing as the Kylo/Hux dynamic already provided tension in the First Order's leadership. She'll probably still go down in history as a woefully underused Star Wars character, but hey, at least she'll always have that one Supremacy hangar scene. 

General Hux

While The Force Awakens made Hux out to be a ginger Hitler, The Last Jedi toned down the Nazi allegory and instead mocked Hux as the sniveling, cartoonish general that he was. From the first scenes of the movie, he was more of a source of comic relief than a legitimately threatening villain.
Hux's rivalry with Kylo – the most interesting part of his character – has taken an interesting turn, now that Kylo is the Supreme Leader and they're not competing for Snoke's praise anymore. With Kylo growing increasingly unhinged, we can look forward to more delicious scenes of him bickering with (and Force-choking) Hux in Episode IX.

Maz Kanata

Maz only got one scene in the movie, but you have to give the filmmakers credit; they could have easily just given her a generic hologram communication with Poe, Finn, and Rose. Instead, she was in the middle of a war zone (a "union dispute," as she called it) with a blaster and a jetpack as she provided our heroes with details on an old acquaintance of hers.
Granted, her cameo was almost definitely due more to Nyong'o's contract more than a necessity for her in the story, but at least it revealed something new about her character: she can fight. And with the Resistance in desperate need of allies, she's sure to return in Episode IX to lend them a hand once again.

The droids (BB-8, C-3PO, and R2-D2)

Once again, the new, shiny droids – BB-8 and BB-9E – took the spotlight while the legacy bots stayed to the sidelines. BB-8 wasn't nearly as central to the plot as he was in The Force Awakens, but he still had some great scenes with Poe and Finn and Rose, saving each of them at various points. (The highlight, of course, was BB-8 piloting an AT-ST to draw Phasma's attention.)
C-3PO got some funny interactions with Leia and Poe as he fretted about their imminent demise. Artoo, meanwhile, had far too small a role but still made quite an impact, singlehandedly changing Luke's mind with Leia's heartwarmingly nostalgic "Help me, Obi-Wan..." recording.

Yoda

If Yoda's ghost had appeared in front of Rey to give some generic words of wisdom, it would have been sweet but unnecessary. Instead, his appearance was a truly touching one, as he and Luke both reflected about the end of the Jedi Order and the failure that all masters must accept. (Yoda, after all, trained Count Dooku.)
There's always the possibility of Yoda coming back to coach Rey alongside Luke's ghost, but he really shouldn't. The practical effects, while jarring, made this scene a perfect callback to Yoda's introduction in The Empire Strikes Back. He was funny, powerful, and as wise as ever. It'll be nice to see him in future stories in different time periods, but when it comes to the Sequel Trilogy, let's let Yoda rest.

Paige Tico

More so than even Holdo, Paige was the unsung hero of The Last Jedi. We never expected that Rose's sister would have such a pivotal role in the opening scenes of the movie. We saw her fear, we saw her struggle, we saw her determination, and we saw her drop those bombs to destroy the Dreadnought, saving the Raddus and all of its crew and personnel. 
Rose's screen-time and character development was exponentially greater, but Paige was the one who got the true hero moment, the kind of which has never been given to a woman of color in Star Wars before. The Tico sisters are equally important when it comes to the representation and empowerment of Asian-American women in this movie.

What did you think of Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Where do you think the Sequel Trilogy will go from here? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.