This is the transcript of the above video blog...
Hello. My name is Barry Scott Will and this is episode two of my video blog, “Go Game, Young Man.” Even though I won’t always talk about games. I don’t know, I might have to rethink that title.
I want to talk today about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, specifically about Luke Skywalker. I can’t discuss Luke or his actions in this movie without MASSIVE SPOILERS! I’m going to put a large “SPOILER” warning on the bottom of the screen. Right about there.
Before I talk about the “new” Luke, I want to revisit the original trilogy, i.e. Episodes four, five, and six. I was eleven (well, actually ten, almost eleven) when Star Wars was released in 1977. And in Star Wars, Luke was the hero, Leia was his love interest, and Han was the sidekick.
A few years later, Empire totally rewrote the script. HAN was the hero, Leia was his love interest, and Chewie was the sidekick. Luke was the B plot. Return (of the Jedi) kept the same basic scheme. If you think about it, it’s Han and Lando who save the galaxy, and Vader kills the Emperor. Luke does exactly bupkis.
And then the prequel trilogy came along and rewrote the entire thing into the anti-hero journey of Anakin freakin’ Vader. Suffice it to say I’ve been...disappointed in all the movies since Star Wars. That’s right, I’m not a big fan of Empire, even though that seems to be the favorite of most people. I identified with Luke as the hero, and I want him to be the hero again.
So, fast-forward to Episode seven. The Force Awakens. We get just a glimpse of Luke at the end of the film and it looks like he’s going to be called on to save the galaxy once more. And that’s really exciting. I was truly looking forward to seeing Luke SAVE THE DAY in The Last Jedi.
At the beginning of Last Jedi, Rey gives Luke his lightsaber in a wordless plea for help, he looks at it, then tosses it over his shoulder.
There has been some angst about that scene.
I LOVED IT. Maybe it’s because I’m most of the way toward being a grumpy old man myself, but I totally get Luke. Let’s rehash what we know from the original trilogy, the prequels, and flashbacks in Last Jedi.
The Jedi order takes force-sensitive children--YOUNG children--and trains them for DECADES. Why? So they can learn to control their emotions, especially anger and hate, and use the Force for good.
The exemplar of this is Qui-Gon Jin. If he had been played by anyone other than Liam Neeson, he would have been robotic. He’s just so cool, calm, and collected. He displays emotion, so he’s not Spock, but he’s always in control. This is what the Jedi want.
So, the Jedi council doesn’t want to train Anakin because, at nine, he’s too old. But Obi-Wan trains him anyway, for a decade. And he still turns to the dark side. Jump forward 20 years, and Luke gets, what, a week’s training with Yoda? I mean, you can’t even call him a half-trained Jedi.
But, he goes running off to save his friends (which he mostly completely fails to do). He discovers the truth about Anakin. He does manage to turn Anakin back to the light, but, then thinks he’s got what it takes to train other Jedi.
So, he opens a school, starts training people who are way too old to start training, and manages to create the next Sith lord from his OWN NEPHEW. He’s so distraught at this, he actually considers murdering his OWN NEPHEW while Ben is sleeping.
Is it any wonder he hermitted himself away on a remote island of a remote planet where he spends his days avoiding fish nuns and drinking unpasteurized green milk?
OK, I’m not comfortable with the green milk bit, but I’m with him the rest of the way.
Yes, Luke is wallowing in self-pity. But he’s also weighed down by guilt and a massive inferiority complex that is--to be perfectly honest--well-deserved. As a Jedi, his one great accomplishment was to rescue Han from Jabba, and, well, as long as we’re being honest, Leia, Lando, R2, and blind Han did most of that work as well.
So, Luke tries to run Rey off because he has no confidence in himself and he’s wracked with guilt. She talks him into training her anyway. He tries to train her OUT of being a Jedi, and, when she finally realizes he’s a useless old man, she takes off to save the galaxy herself. In other words, she does just what young Luke did to Yoda.
It’s no wonder Luke sees history repeating itself before him and just wants nothing to do with it or the Jedi any more. This gives us the second greatest scene in the movie, the burning of the tree containing the sacred Jedi texts.
Again, lots of angst over this scene and I loved it. Luke as a not-even-half-trained Jedi is locked into formulas. Luke the guilt-ridden teacher is focused on his failures. So Yoda burns down his traditions and tells him “The greatest teacher, failure is.” Beautiful.
Luke is so worried about what MIGHT happen, he can’t act on what is happening. If that’s not a real reflection on all of us…what is? Worry is pessimistic predictions of the future. Yoda has to burn down Luke’s angst to get him to focus on what’s happening right now. That’s a great lesson for all of us.
Now let’s talk about the greatest scene in the movie. Early in the film, Luke asks Rey, “You think what? I’m gonna walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order?” When he said that, I thought, “How cool would it be if that’s exactly what happens.”
AND THEY DID IT! The best scene in the movie, maybe the best scene in any Star Wars movie, is when Luke (OK, an illusion of Luke) walks out on the sand flats and faces down Kylo Ren and the entire First Order. And, ALSO, his own failure.
Yes, Poe is an arrogant idiot. Vice Admiral Holdo shouldn’t have kept secrets. The entire casino side plot was egregiously bad. But...
For one, shining, glorious moment, Luke Skywalker was the hero. That’s all I wanted. That’s all I’ve been wanting for 40 years.
I’ll take it.
Sound off in the comments below, or track me down on Twitter (@PapaGamer), Facebook, and Instagram…links in the description.
Check out bettysterlingbooks.com for my fantasy novels. You’ll love them. Next week…I’m actually going to discuss gaming. I’m talking about Horizon: Zero Dawn. Don’t miss it.
Until next time, go game, young man.