Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Everything We Know, Think We Know, and Desperately Want to Know About The Last Jedi [Contributor: Melanie]

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It is almost time kids. Once again the wait is over, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi comes out in less than a week and we’re entering the final countdown of what is easily the most anticipated film in box offices since... well, the last Star Wars movie. To help get over the grueling final moments of waiting, I’ve compiled a list of everything we know, everything we’re pretty sure about, and some questions that are completely up in the air.

For that reason, some minor spoilers might abound for those who have kept themselves completely in the dark about information leading up to the film, so if you’re the type to stay in the dark about this, stop here. If you want to be armed with all the information possible, keep on going.


WHAT WE KNOW


It is the longest Star Wars ever

Rian Johnson confirmed this film, clocking in at 152 minutes, is the longest Star Wars to date by a solid eight minutes. That may not seem like much, but that’s extra scenes and then some. The film that previously held this title was Attack of the Clones (which, I know, truly did feel like the longest film ever). To give you a better example of how long this is, it’s almost a full 20 minutes longer than The Force Awakens.

Rey’s parents will be revealed

After two years of speculation, the identity of Rey’s family will finally be revealed. It’s such a contested part of the story that an offshore book offers gambling odds for the daring fan to put money on the reveal. The most popular theory is, obviously, that Luke will finally get his own “I am your father” moment, but there’s some solid support in camp Kenobi as well and the crack Palpatine theory does have a surprising amount of serious believers. The Schrodinger's Skywalker is almost solved, however, and we can all stop getting into fights at the holiday dinner table (or maybe get into more fights).

We will see Snoke in the flesh

It was revealed a while back that we’ll get to see Snoke in real time in this movie and no, he’s not a giant. He is, however, brought to life utilizing an articulated puppet, rather than full on CGI. We don’t know yet if we’ll get to see him in action (he is using the Force to torture Rey in the trailer) and we also don’t know if seeing him in person will answer any of the questions we have about him. But he’s here to ruin all the joy and extend his totalitarian regime.

We will see Rey vs. the Praetorian guards

Speaking of Snoke, he’s got his own band of Imperial Guard knock-offs and they’re going to come to blows with Rey. While a rematch between Rey and Kylo Ren is highly anticipated, we’ve got no shots yet indicating it happens. What we do have, however, is BTS footage showing Ridley rehearsing a fight with the guards and a Rey action figure that deals some serious damage to the accompanying Praetorian Guard. This could be the big fight of the film, but they also promoted the crap out of Finn vs. Kylo to hide the true definitive duel between Rey and Ren. Either way, she’s going to get some serious saber action in this movie.

The most interesting part of this fight? She’ll actually be using Kylo Ren’s lightsaber for a portion of it. Brief footage at the end of a TV spot showed Rey summoning Ren’s lightsaber to use in battle against the guards and hopefully kick some booty (after all, no Skywalker seems to be able to hold onto that blue lightsaber for very long).

There will be new planets: Canto Bight and Crait

With the addition of Ach-Too, Luke Skywalker’s current squatting location and location of one of the first Jedi Temples, we’ll actually see two new planets. Crait is a mineral world with some vibrant colors as we saw in the trailers. It appears more prominently in the September tie-in novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan where she first visits the planet as a teenager when it served as one of the first Rebellion bases. We return to it here for what looks like a pretty epic battle between the Resistance and the First Order. Canto Bight is a casino planet that we know will be traveled to by at least Finn and Rose during their mission from the Resistance. Rumor has it they may meet Luke and Rey here and deal with a First Order invasion as Kylo Ren ups his hunt for the scavenger from Jakku.

 


WHAT WE’RE PRETTY SURE ABOUT


Resistance dissent

We know for a fact that Poe will have a hard time adjusting to his “new boss” Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. But the “new boss” bit is what has some people eying this story. There have been rumors for a while now that Holdo will be a rival to Leia’s leadership in the Resistance. While the Rebellion was cohesively loyal to Mon Mothma, the Resistance is a little more fractured and has something of a Problematic Fave™ at its center. At this point, Luke and Leia’s connection to Vader is common knowledge thanks to an opportunistic politician in the tie-in novel Bloodlines. Backlash from that reveal cost Leia her place in the senate, and may have cost her the loyalty of her son when he found out. The rumor mill continues with a belief that Holdo, a friend of Leia’s from her teenage years and a close ally in the senate, or perhaps other leaders in the organization, may use this information to call Leia’s leadership into question.

Force Trees

I know this one sounds wonky but Force trees are canon. In a prequel comic to The Force Awakens we learned that Luke entrusted a portion of the Great Tree from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to Poe Dameron’s family for safekeeping. We also know that these trees apparently are Force sensitive and may even give off Force energy. Some hawk-eyed fans think they’ve spotted a Force tree in a few places in the trailer but what is clear: the tiny library where Luke seems to be keeping his Jedi literature is situated in the roots of a tree.

The Force mythology

In following with our Force trees, overall it’s believed that this film will focus heavily on the mythology of the Force (some fans have come up with crazy Shanara-level theories about what we’ll learn). But, what is clear is that Rey is reading from the Jedi Path in the trailer and Snoke seems surprisingly concerned with the idea of balance in the Force (“Darkness rises and light to meet it”). According to some interviews with Mark Hamill, the prophecy of the Chosen One will resurface. Remember, Mace Windu and Yoda both had their doubts about Anakin’s place as the Chosen One and now it turns out Obi-Wan may have been wrong all along. Luke, according to Hamill, believed his nephew was this Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force. With that theory shot, eyes turn to Rey. But is it possible this prophecy referred to more than one person in the Skywalker bloodline? We shall see... probably. 

The Force bond

In lot of interviews, Rian Johnson referred to an unsettling and “treacherous bond” between Kylo Ren and Rey that we got a sneak peak of in the final full length trailer back in October. While some might take this in the shallow romantic sense (you know who you are), there is a precedent for this kind of bond in the Star Wars universe. Force Bonds are a common type of emotional and mental connection held between Force sensitives, especially family members. It’s likely that this is what Rian Johnson is referring to and the danger arises from the bond playing tug of war between the two of them as they each try to pull the other to their respective side.

Past examples of Force Bonds include the one between Luke and Leia and the one between Luke and Vader.

THAT Skywalker tradition

So, with the majority of the fandom believing Rey is a Skywalker, one tidbit from someone who sought out the film set to try and get a glimpse of some shots claimed to see something very interesting: Daisy Ridley sporting a green CGI glove on her right hand. Further, Ridley was asked in a podcast interview if Rey will be injured in the new film to which she replied: “Injured emotionally, or just physically? I’ll say... yes.” The second films in the trilogies always feature a Skywalker sporting a robotic replacement for that pesky right arm. It’s possible Kylo Ren gets this honor as the hook-handed Skywalker but if Rey is Luke’s daughter, she’s basically got a birthright to uphold here.

UP IN THE AIR


A Skywalker family reunion

One of the marketing points has been Luke and Leia and the possible reunion the entertainment world’s most famous twins (sorry Lannisters). With Han gone, the Skywalkers are the only members of the original trio left and, as we know from the original trilogy, have a very close bond between them. It’s even more important considering this will be the last Star Wars film Carrie Fisher appears in, so if there’s no reunion here, we’ll never again get to see Luke and Leia interact on screen.

Whether or not they’ll actually meet in this film is unknown and could be a huge disappointment or a moment to shed a tear. We know from interviews we’ll learn about why Luke refused his sister’s call for help and why he cut himself off from the Force so completely.

Who is Rey?

We know we’ll find out who Rey is but that identity is easily the most talked about question leading up to the film. For her part, Daisy Ridley was surprised to find people thought the question of her parentage was not answered in The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson said that he was not focused on surprising the audience when he wrote out the reveal of her parents but the impact the information has for characters. Former director for Episode IX, Colin Trevorrow, said the answer to her heritage is “deeply and profoundly satisfying” and that Rey is “important in this universe.” Those comments certainly blow the holes in the Rey Nobody theories, especially considering the novelization of TFA had several instances where it was clear Kylo Ren not only knew exactly who Rey was but had met her before. We know she’s related to someone (or several someones) we know, it’s just a matter of who. 

What is Snoke? 

I’m fairly certain we won’t get anything to go off of in this film as far as Snoke real identity (I could be wrong) but some tie-in material does offer hints to his past. We’re fairly certain the “voice” that Palpatine heard calling out to him during the end of his life was Snoke’s. We also know Snoke is very, very old. Some fans believed him to be Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s master, but Pablo Hidalgo confirmed on twitter that Snoke is not a Sith. Is he someone we know? Is his Star Wars’ version of the First Evil? Further rumors say that Snoke may, in fact, be a bit of sickly creature which is why he’s only really ever seen in holograms or sitting on his throne.

Will this play into his dynamic with Ren? We know Vader was more powerful than the Emperor, at least prior to his nearly fatal duel on Mustafar. Perhaps Ren will be less hesitant than his grandfather to take back his own abilities and seize his master’s power for himself, which had always been Vader’s goal.

What’s the deal with Jakku?

While I doubt we’ll ever be returning to the junker planet of Jakku in real time, there is some background importance of this place that might be a clue to Rey’s origins, as well as Snoke’s backstory. While it seems like a Tatooine rip off (because it is), turns out Jakku was once fertile planet that suffered some sort of cataclysm leaving it arid and scorched. We know from the Aftermath novels that Jakku had some strange importance to Palpatine. He sensed a strong pocket of Force energy at the center of the planet, which was known to once be home to an ancient Sith temple. He stationed an Imperial base there, dedicated to investigating something so covert that when the Rebels attacked the base in the Battle of Jakku, the Imperials had it destroyed, rather than surrender its contents. We also know that the Church of the Force, a group of non-Force Sensitives who practiced Jedi teachings and studied the spirituality of the Force set up camp on the planet (we see them in the beginning of TFA).

So it’s kind of super coincidental that Rey just happened to get dumped on the weird Force planet one day. Could the Church of the Force been aware of her existence? Were they perhaps watching her Ben Kenobi style? Is the immense Force energy at the core of the planet partially responsible for her prodigal abilities?

We’ve got only days to wait now and with immensely positive early reactions coming in from the premiere over the weekend, we’ve got more reason to get hype for this film.

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