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Why the Jedi ending in The Last Jedi would actually be a good thing

04.24.2017

We’ve all probably seen the new STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI trailer by now (most of us in the double-to-triple digits), but in case you missed it, here it is:

Now that we’re all caught up, what is most intriguing about the trailer (besides getting “Just Breathe (2AM)” stuck in your head) is Luke’s chilling last lines: “it’s time for the Jedi…to end”.

So what did he mean by that? Was it some Robert McKee-esque “refusal of call” script 101 bullshit, where Luke doesn’t want to train Rey because he feels regret over Kylo Ren, and only relents when the plucky Rey insists? Or did it mean something more? I mean, could it actually mean the end of the Jedi as we know it? Does Disney have the balls to actually go through with something like that?

Maybe!

For one, in the Extended Universe novels, videogames, and comics, Luke Skywalker eventually masters the ability to wield dark side powers (such as Force Lighting), but still remain on the light side. He’s essentially able to control his anger and dark emotions, rather than suppress them like the Jedi in the prequel trilogy. There are also many mentions of “Gray Jedi” throughout the EU, Force users who walk the line between the dark/light sides of the Force. Now, of course, the films have officially discarded the decades worth of EU content (turning them into LEGENDS); however, that still doesn’t mean they haven’t taken massive cues from them. I mean, Kylo Ren is a repurposing of Jacen Solo’s turn to the dark side in the EU novels, Commander Thrawn has jumped into official canon with the STAR WARS: REBELS show, and even the Starkiller Base is a redressed Sun Crusher. So it makes sense that they’d potentially use those plot points as well.

And there are definitely clues lending credence to the fact that the official film series is heading in that direction. For one, there was a recent interview with Kathleen Kennedy where she mentioned that the universe will be getting more “complicated and complex”, and that it needs to do so in order to thrive. This sounds to me like Kennedy and Disney will – at the very least – challenge some preconceived notions of the STAR WARS universe, so why not a deeper, more critical look at Jedi dogma? I mean, the trailer itself explicitly brings up “balance” and Luke’s line “it’s so much bigger” (which might be as – if not more – important than his final line about the Jedi ending) could easily refer to the fact that there’s more to the balance of the Force than simply “light/dark”. Admittedly, it’s unlikely that the soundbites are actually side-by-side in the film itself, but I feel that the placement was still deliberate. Hell, in STAR WARS: REBELS (which is canon) there was the revelation of the Gray Jedi Bendu, who himself rejects the extreme dichotomy of the light and dark sides of the Force. Not to mention the films are already exploring moral ambiguity within the two sides of the Resistance/First Order conflict, such as having one of the main characters be a former Stormtrooper, so why not the Jedi/Sith (or Kinghts of Ren) conflict as well?

But Disney won’t ever go that far, right? Why would they take away one of the most recognizable things from one of their biggest brands? For godsakes, they’re more safe and vanilla than an ice-cream cone covered in knee pads! And, don’t get me wrong, there is certainly some truth to that accusation. I mean, THE FORCE AWAKENS was basically a remake of A NEW HOPE (down to its own desert planet and its own freakin’ Death Star); ROGUE ONE continued to cash-in on the nostalgic iconography of the original trilogy; and the next solo movie is a goddamn prequel of Han Solo. This isn’t a very good look for Disney. However, having said all that, even within that paradigm, Disney has made some pretty ballsy decisions. I mean, they SPOILERS killed the entire cast of ROGUE ONE, and even TFA (a movie I despised) was admittedly clever enough to have one of its main characters be the aforementioned reformed Stormtrooper.

Now, look, I know I’m not the first person on the internet to bring up this theory of the Gray Jedi and the dismantling of the dark side/light side dichotomy, nor will I be the last. But I also think there’s something in the air, since not only is this a theory many people are predicting, but it's something many people want. For one, it would give the new trilogy its own arc, rather than simply a regurgitation of the original trilogy with new players on the board. Since the Jedi taught extreme emotional stoicism (repressing anger, disallowing any familial or romantic attachments, etc.), it makes sense that there would be an equally extreme reaction to that (such as the Sith or the Knights of Ren), and that no matter what, this conflict between emotional repression vs. emotional hedonism will continue to engross the galaxy, forever and ever. And it seems that that’s what happened by the beginning of this new trilogy – Luke tried to recreate the Jedi Order, but it led to more dark side users rejecting emotional detachment and ultimately destroying the Jedi once more. And even if the Jedi Order was to be rebuilt again, that’s how it will always be, for all time: Jedi vs. Sith/Light vs. Dark.

But maybe, just maybe, balance in fact didn't mean the dissolution of the Sith (or other dark side users). Maybe it meant something needs to fundamentally change altogether.

So if the end of this trilogy is Luke teaching Rey to use both sides of the Force equally – i.e. the ability to control your anger rather than repress it – then maybe it will create an end to that inevitable conflict. Maybe the Jedi doctrine will be wiped away, and lead to something new. Something more inclusive. Something better. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

Extra Tidbit: Maybe this will also lead to more weird colored lightsabers in the films.
Source: JoBlo

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