- Some disorganized thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I've only seen it once, so a lot of this is probably contradictory and confused, and it's more a jumble of lists than anything else.
Through Vader's redemption arc, the original Star Wars trilogy questioned the idea of absolute evil. I wonder if the new trilogy is trying to tell us that there is no absolute good, either. TLJ's protagonists are flawed individuals who misjudge each other and make mistakes. Even if individuals have common goals and motivations, this is not a guarantee that they'll be able to work together.
Misplaced trust and distrust
There were plenty of times where two characters didn't trust each other, and if either had given the other the benefit of the doubt, both would have achieved their goals more easily. The movie gives us some sympathy for both sides and doesn't explicitly tell us which side was right or wrong. Really, both sides contributed to the problem.
Dameron Poe and Vice Admiral Holdo:
- Poe believes that Holdo is a coward with no plan, and leads a mutiny against her.
- Holdo believes that Poe is a loose cannon, so she doesn't reveal her real plan to him.
Luke Skywalker and young Ben Solo:
- Luke lit his saber to kill Ben (if we believe Luke, this was a moment of weakness and he wouldn't have gone through with it).
- Ben immediately attacked when he woke up and saw Luke with a lit saber.
Luke Skywalker and Rey:
- Luke doesn't trust anyone to wield Force powers and is unnerved by the way Rey "went straight to the Dark" by immediately spotting the Dark Force pit. He does not tell Rey about Ben Solo's fall because it ashames him (and he may see some parallels to Kylo Ren in Rey)
- Rey thinks that Luke has gone over to apathy, or even to the Dark Side, because he won't help her or the Resistance, and because of the story that Kylo Ren told her.
There were also some times where characters trusted each other when they probably shouldn't have. When you have gained sympathy for someone, it's easy to assume that you share the same motivations and goals. The movie demonstrates this isn't always true.
Rey and Kylo Ren:
- Rey thought that Kylo could be turned to the light.
- Kylo thought that Rey could be turned to the dark.
Rose and Finn (in their first scene)
- Rose was surprised that Finn was trying to desert.
- Finn was surprised that Rose shot him.
The rogue DJ betrays the the Resistance by revealing their plan.
Finally, the "allies in the Outer Rim" do not respond to the Resistance distress call, which foils the Resistance plan to fortify the old Rebel base against the First Order.
Appearances vs Reality
Sometimes appearances end up mattering more than reality...
- Ben Solo awakens to find Luke standing over him with a lit saber. Ben reacts to the appearance of danger, even though he was not actually in danger (assuming that we believe Luke's story, of course).
- Vice Admiral Holdo's secret plan was disguised by another, less palatable plan. Poe and his followers mutinied against the fake plan.
- Many characters in this movie idolize their heroes, behaving "as they believe their heroes would". But sometimes the heroes aren't really like that. There is a lot of idolization going on in this movie (I'd describe it as: Yoda <- Luke <- Rey <- Finn <- Rose), and a lot of unmet expectations all around. A lot of good the heroes do is inspiring other people to be the best they possibly can.
- The downtrodden citizens of the casino planet are thrilled by the Resistance activity on their planet, even though neither they nor the Resistance directly got anything out of it.
- Despite having no substance, Luke's Force projection successfully bought time for the Resistance to escape.
But sometimes appearances mean nothing and it's cold, hard reality that matters.
- The casino planet is seemingly glamorous but conceals evil.
- DJ initially appears as a drunken prisoner but is also a skilled escape artist who busts our heroes out of prison and supplies them with a ship.
- ... only to later sell them out. Sometimes a rogue is just a rogue.
Individuals don't always have control
- Luke hesitates on the brink of burning the tree (then Yoda burns it)
- Kylo hesitates on the brink of blasting Leia (then his wingman does it)
- Rey hesitates on the brink of the Dark Force pit (then it pulls her in)
- Leia and Holdo don't want dead heroes, but Poe and his followers keep on blowing up the Macguffins, anyway. (Perhaps inevitably, as the Resistance has been trained over many years (and many Death Stars) that the best thing to do is ALWAYS blow up the enemy base, hang the consequences). Anyway, in this instance, it was totally the wrong thing to do, and Poe's "heroism" just forces Holdo into her own heroic death.
- Finn decides to go on a suicide run against the battering ram cannon. He turns off his radio (kind of like Luke switching off his targeting computer during the Death Star trench run). Rose still manages to stop him.
- The galaxy still follows the legend of Luke Skywaker after the real Luke has hidden away. Reminds me of Dune, where Paul Muad'Dib wants to stop his followers' bloody uprising, but can't... it will move forward, regardless of anything he does.
- Compare: Saw Guerrera from The Force Awakens is another "Resistance hero" who comes to believe that he has outlived his usefulness.
- The entire conflict is fueled (and maybe even driven?) by war profiteers
- In the Dark Force pit, some of Rey's mirror images move before the real Rey. Is Rey in control, or is she being controlled by the Force?