There’s a big clue in the trailer for “The Last Jedi” about the Star Wars story’s endgame

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Force Awakens, and hopefully, The Last Jedi.

The first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi, the eighth film in the nine-part space opera that is the Star Wars franchise was released April 14. Take a look below:

The trailer seems to begin not long after we left Rey standing on a very small island holding out Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber to him. We see Rey training with Skywalker, much like he trained with Yoda in the original second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. Beyond a few short montages of explosions, people running around, and ships flying, however, there isn’t a lot to glean as to why Skywalker is training Rey. After all, The Force Awakens ends with the characters from the original films, and the new ones, destroying the base of the First Order, the latest incarnation of authoritarian evil in the Star Wars universe. But the film’s newest villains, Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke, are still out in the galaxy somewhere, leaving them as a threat that Skywalker, and his new protégé, Rey, presumably need to face in this film and the next.

While there isn’t a lot of information on how this will actually happen, this trailer hints at what may well be Disney’s endgame with the saga of the Skywalker family. In the meager dialogue in the trailer, Skywalker asks Rey to breathe, and what she sees. “Light, darkness; the balance,” she responds, while images of Princess Leia, Kylo Ren’s crushed helmet, and an old book with the logo of the Jedi on it play out. Skywalker responds, “It’s so much bigger.” After a moment, he continues: “I only know one truth—it’s time for the Jedi to end.”

The first six films have dealt with the fulfillment of a prophecy, that a Jedi will be born who will bring balance to the Force. This is believed to be Anakin Skywalker, and by the end of Return of the Jedi, with his death and the toppling of the Empire, it seems that after all the evil he’s committed as Darth Vader, he has finally fulfilled that prophecy. But when The Force Awakens begins 30 years later, it doesn’t really seem like much has changed: An evil, militaristic, group is threatening to overthrow the democratic government of the galaxy, with new Jedi and Sith characters fighting on each side.

It seems, that after his failed attempt to restart the Jedi order in the intervening decades, and after his self-exile to a very small island in the middle of nowhere, Luke Skywalker has come to realize that perhaps the true way to bring balance to the force is not by constantly trying to fight Jedi against Sith (or some variation thereof), but rather to destroy both religions altogether.
What’s interesting about this realization is that Skywalker is not actually the first person in Star Wars canon to have it. There are other beings, beyond the Jedi and the Sith, that are sensitive to the Force, but aren’t constantly striving toward controlling this mythical energy that no one really seems to understand all that well. And there’s a sense that Disney is trying to hint at the notion that balance in the Force doesn’t actually mean the same as “the good guys wining”—life, even in far, far away galaxies a long time ago, is more nuanced than that.

Star Wars Rebels, a cartoon airing on Disney XD right now, about—unsurprisingly—a group of rebels in the time before the original trilogy takes place, gives an indication of where the franchise may be heading. Kanan Jarrus, the leader of the group, a Jedi-in-hiding (much like, Skywalker, Yoda, and Obi-Wan Kenobi), is training a young orphan in the ways of the Force, and comes across a giant being called Bendu on the base planet of the rebels. Like the Jedi and Sith, Bendu can manipulate the Force, but claims to be entirely neutral, unswayed by either side. He does not care when the Empire discovers the rebels’ base, but when Jarrus calls him a coward for not helping to fight back, he becomes enraged, suggesting it was possibly the will of the Force to eradicate the Jedi “and all your kind.”

When creating the Star Wars universe, George Lucas was fascinated by Eastern philosophies, religions, and film. The original film was inspired by famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The concept of balance through opposite forces working in harmony pervades the films. Good and evil, light and dark, rebellion and order. When it was said that Anakin Skywalker would bring balance to the Force, it does not mean that that good would prevail. It means that there would be good and evil in the universe, light and dark, in equal parts, in constant struggle.

Throughout the prequel trilogy, we see a Jedi order that is overly bureaucratic, militaristic, and primarily concerned with its own self-preservation. They believe Anakin to be the “chosen one” and yet worry that he’s too arrogant, and needs to make sure he jumps through the requisite training hoops before he can be given certain ranks. They’re fixated on eradicating the Sith, and after Anakin falls to the dark side, he becomes obsessed with eradicating them.

But, decades later, his son has seen what happens when there is too much good (the bloated, ineffective old Republic Jedi) and too much bad (the Empire) in the world. It seems that by the end of the ninth film, we may well see what the Force wills, as Bendu suggests.

Disney has started dropping characters and ideas from its other Star Wars properties. Chopper, the droid that accompanies the group in Rebels, made an appearance in Rogue One. And the character Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker in the film, actually first appeared in another Star Wars TV show The Clone Wars that ran from 2008 to 2013. This could possibly be a cynical move by Disney to engage viewers across different media (your favorite character in Rebels is in our new spin-off movie, so buy a ticket, and maybe some merchandise!) But it also suggests that Disney is seeding out hints, and plot points for the main saga that encourage people to watch the series, and to get a deeper understanding for the motivation of characters, races, and groups in the Star Wars universe beyond the Skywalker family.

Luke Skywalker’s comment in the trailer seems possibly to be setting the series up for a bloody, fatalistic finish, where these characters must die—it is as the Force wills, but the actors are also getting pretty old themselves. Killing off the Skywalker family would bring closure to the series, and most likely balance to the Force, as no Jedi or Sith will remain.

It will also leave the door open for all sorts of new stories, in any time period, anywhere in the galaxy. Disney plans to keep spin-offs, TV shows, cartoons, and other series around the Star Wars universe going long after those who watched the first film in theaters in 1977 will be dead. The rich expanded universe can be explored by characters that might more accurately reflect the demography of the people watching Star Wars (the original trilogy had exactly three women characters with speaking lines in it, and both it and the prequels had almost no people of color.) There will always be religious offshoots, sects of people fetishizing the past (much like there is in this galaxy), and Lucasfilm (the production company behind the franchise) will always be able to create new films based on these same Star Wars tropes if it wants, away from the Skywalker family. But there could also be stories tied to the videogames that Lucasfilm has produced, such as Knights of the Old Republic, set thousands of years before the events we’ve seen on film. We could go even further back in time, to when, as fan legends suggest, the earliest Jedi used actual swords (not lightsabers). Lucas could realize his own dreams and actually make a samurai Star Wars film. The possibilities are endless.

The Last Jedi is only the penultimate film in the series, but even from its name, and just this one short trailer, it has weight of something grand coming to a close hanging over it. But it is very likely that even after the final Skywalker film airs in 2019, we won’t be done with the Star Wars universe for a long, long time. As Obi-Wan once said, “The Force will be with you, always.”

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer: a breakdown of its best moments and biggest mysteries

A damaged and dour Luke Skywalker. Rey training with her lightsaber on a rocky bluff. An epic space battle. A retaliation against the Resistance from the First Order.

Those images, among others in the long-awaited first official trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, suggest that Rian Johnson’s sequel will have a darker, more somber feel than 2015’s The Force Awakens, just like The Empire Strikes Back had in comparison with the original movie.

Some of that feeling can be chalked up to the second-movie-in-a-Star-Wars-trilogy syndrome, where the highs and celebration of the first film are undermined in order to set up the third film. But there’s a distinct suggestion in this trailer that things won’t come as freely to our main protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley) this time around, as evidenced by the unforgiving training we see her put herself through.

And we haven’t even touched on the trailer’s space fights, R2, Poe (Oscar Isaac), and BB-8.

In fact, there’s so much to talk about that the trailer is easily worth a second (or third or fourth) look. Here’s a rundown of our favorite moments and highlights.

The most shocking element of the Last Jedi trailer involves Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) ominous words in the trailer’s final moments. “I only know one true thing,” Skywalker says. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

It’s a foreboding message, particularly because we don’t expect Luke, the hero of the Star Wars franchise, to say something so pessimistic and doom-filled. On Friday, during the Last Jedi panel at the 2017 Star Wars Celebration convention, Ridley kind of explained the line, noting that in this movie, Rey meets her hero and experiences the disappointment many of us have felt in cases where our heroes don’t live up to the legend we’ve built around them.

That arc makes sense.

In The Force Awakens, we learned that Luke exiled himself after Kylo Ren, his apprentice, turned on him. His mindset might be that for as long as Jedi exist, evil will always be there to counter them — it comes back to the theme of balance and the Force. Training Rey is something he doesn’t want to do, considering how he’s been burned by a student before.

Yet we do see clips of what appears to be Rey engaging in some Jedi training, like this sweeping shot of two figures, one of whom is wielding a lightsaber:

Even though Luke may not be living up to Rey’s expectations or acting like the hero she thinks he is, it does appear he’s teaching her the ways of the Jedi.

The attack on the Resistance
At the end of The Force Awakens, the Resistance had plenty of reason to celebrate. They’d destroyed the Starkiller base. The First Order’s planet had imploded. Poe Dameron had looked dreamy while saving the day — everyone was happy.

Here’s an empirical truth: When the Millennium Falcon comes swooping in and blasts a TIE fighter (or any permutation of a TIE fighter) to pieces, it will induce goose bumps in any human with a soul. Couple that with a John Williams score playing in the background, and such a scene has the capability to bring grown men to tears. Seeing the Millennium Falcon still soaring in The Last Jedi is especially resonant now that Han Solo, who died in The Force Awakens, is no longer flying it.

Who is the mysterious figure with R2D2?
One of the more mysterious shots from the Last Jedi trailer is a glimpse of R2D2 and a hooded figure staring at burning rubble. The shot looks different from the one where the First Order attacks the Resistance. The hooded figure looks to be taller than R2 but also falls to his or her knees at the sight of the fire. One popular theory that has already started to circulate is that this scene is a flashback of Luke seeing his Jedi Academy burn to the ground.

Who’s reading this map?

Throughout the first part of the trailer, a voiceover asks Rey questions about the light, the dark, and the Force. Rey says she sees “the balance,” as we see the image in the GIF above: someone tracing their finger on an ancient book or map, and in the way it’s lit, there’s a metaphorical balance of light, dark, and gray.

The map or book seems like an important key to the mythology of Jedi and the Force. Susana Polo at Polygon has theory about the collection of books it comes from:

Perhaps these books might even be the fabled Journal of the Whills, something of a lost Star Wars concept left over from George Lucas’ very early days of fleshing out the universe. The Whills was brought back to prominence in modern canon with the introduction of Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe in last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, two characters who were former Guardians of the Whills, Force-sensitive, Force-worshipping Jedi temple acolytes.


STAR WARS REBELS ENDING WITH SEASON 4

The end is almost here for Star Wars Rebels, with the announcement that Season 4 will be the final year for the animated series.

The announcement was made at the Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando by Dave Filoni, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, who revealed the previously-announced fourth season will wrap up the story of the Ghost crew. Rebels’ core cast members Freddie Prinze, Jr. (“Kanan”), Tiya Sircar (“Hera”), Taylor Gray (“Ezra”), Vanessa Marshall (“Hera”), and Steve Blum (“Zeb”) were all present for the panel, and the announcement, as well.

During the panel, Filoni told the crowd of fans, "I really appreciate that love from you guys. I think I can make this story as meaningful as can be." He stressed ending the show now was his decision, adding, "I know what it's like when I don't get to end a series," referring to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which infamously had the plug pulled on it with a couple more seasons planned at the time.

The timeline of Star Wars Rebels, which began about five years before the events of the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, has always raised questions about where these characters were during the events of the original trilogy, especially Jedi like Kanan and Ezra, whose presence in the Rebel Alliance at the same time as Luke Skywalker seems highly questionable. Rogue One established that Hera and the Ghost crew’s droid, Chopper, were at least still Rebels, stationed on Yavin 4, in the timeframe of A New Hope, but there is still plenty to learn about where everyone else ended up… including whether they survived.

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