As JOPO outlined in his Last Jedi trailer reaction post, I’ve got a bit of a theory brewing about the general direction of Episode 8. I have a couple of scenes penned out in my head already, along with how I believe a returning Anakin Skywalker – played by Hayden Christensen – will slot into the movie.
“I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
After a long stretch meditating in isolation on Ahch-To (home of the first Jedi temple), I think Luke probably arrived at a rather game-changing conclusion. We know that the Force requires balance in order to be strong and to encourage stability in the galaxy, and that a challenge to this balance was the dark side.
We’ve seen periods where the light side was dominant (Old Republic era) and when the dark side prevails (Empire era). In both times, one side sought to destroy the other – believing that would bring stability. The reality though, of course, is that it always lead to chaos.
It’s a bit of a jump in logic for both sides really. Of course the Jedi and Sith both have motives other than just pure spiritual balance (indeed I don’t think the Sith care either way), but the Jedi were wholly inaccurate in their interpretation of the Chosen One prophecy. They thought a super powerful Force user (who turns out to be Anakin) would rise up and destroy the Sith – which they believed would bring balance to the Force. Obviously though, they were wrong. Destroying the Sith would also destroy any hope of balance in their partisan Force dichotomy, and consequently Anakin went a bit nuts and it all blew up in their faces.
I think the whole thing comes from recent Jedi’s fundamental misunderstanding of the Force. They believed the dark side was some cancerous growth on the side of an otherwise balanced light side. But they were wrong. The Force, as a whole, encompasses both the light side and the dark side. True balance, then, lies in the grey area in-between.
I think by Episode 8, Luke Skywalker has realised this. He’s had a long time to think about it, and I believe it is this revelation that makes him drop that dramatic bomb-shell on an unsuspecting Rey.
Anakin’s Force ghost
The truly awesome concept art for Anakin’s Force ghost totally aligns with this theory. The design, which differs radically from the ghost we saw (either version) in Episode 6, supports this idea of a fluid Force user.
The three sketches show Anakin (portrayed by Hayden Christensen) looking like a battle-damaged version of himself in the first image, with Vader’s robotics starting to engulf more of his face in the second, to a near full conversion in the last.
From those illustrations, my guess would be that this version of the Anakin Force ghost’s face would continuously phase between these different states, perhaps dependant on mood. For example his face could turn Vaderish when he’s feeling a bit darker, and more human-like when he’s happier.
This is all supported by concept artist Iain McCaig in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “If we see Anakin Skywalker, because he does flow back and forth between Darth Vader and Anakin, let’s see him as a character with a dark and light side. The reason Luke is this whole new entity is because he was the first to acknowledge his own dark side — that it was not separate from him.”
The idea of Force users who tap in to both the light and dark sides of the Force is seemingly informing a lot of the creative decisions around the new trilogy.
And that’s something really quite radical.
How many hundreds of thousands of people have the Jedi symbol tattooed on them? How many people listed the Church of Jedi on their census forum for reasons other than sticking it to the Man? The Jedi as a concept – wholly embraced not only by Luke, but all of Old Republic society – is now being discredited. I don’t think Luke is saying the Jedi were totally wrong per se – but misguided at the very least.
Now, 40 years after we first fell in love with the Jedi and what they stood for, we’re being told that our faith was misplaced. The emotional payoff in The Last Jedi, then, will be huge. It’s not just Luke or Rey who will have to deal with a crisis of faith, but millions of devout fans across the world.
Crisis of faith
And all of this will be personified by the controversial presence of Hayden Christensen, returning as Anakin Skywalker. I predict Anakin’s light side/dark side blended Force ghost will too have arrived at this conclusion. I think, as Luke shares this wisdom with Rey, Anakin will share it his grandson Kylo Ren – who might meet Anakin on some sort of pilgrimage to Vader’s castle on Mustafar (the one they wouldn’t stop talking about in Rouge One).
Many believe that, after The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is now irredeemable as a character and is destined to remain a baddie forever – though that doesn’t sound very Star Wars to me. Leia’s hope for her son’s redemption will be a major theme in The Last Jedi and will continue into Episode 9, I’d imagine. I believe it will be this meeting with Anakin that steers an already vulnerable Ren off his current path. Though I think he will respond differently to having his faith shaken to Rey, I think there is hope for all of these characters to eventually unite against the First Order (if not right until the final act of Episode 9).
So that’s how I see it going down. The Last Jedi will be a momentous film within the entire saga, regardless of this theory’s accuracy. If Luke means what he says in his intention to end the Jedi wholesale, then that is huge. Fans have spent a lifetime identifying with the Jedi, and such a shakeup to the integrity of that system will have repercussions outside of the fiction.
The idea of a truly balanced Force user is going to emerge in the coming films, and no one embodies that better than Anakin. Where Luke will guide Rey towards enlightenment, so too will Anakin for Kylo Ren. With Hayden Christensen present at the recent Star Wars Celebration event in Orlando, and his repeated claim that he would happily return to the role, along with some truly awesome concept art from Episode 7 – I think there is a good chance this could happen.
While I have my qualms with the prequel movies, I’ve always liked the character of Anakin – his tragicness is really interesting, and his power and ability makes him badass. If we get to explore him a little further – beyond Darth Vader – then I’m totally up for that.
Now, is it December yet?