That was my first reaction to the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was premiered today at Star Wars Celebration and simultaneously dropped online for the starved space vultures of the internet to ravenously pick over.
The immediate takeaway is that The Last Jedi looks dark. Really dark.
Before we get to talking about that darkness, and the seriously major revelation about #LukeSkywalker, check out the teaser trailer again below, and weep.
At the Celebration panel, Kathleen Kennedy mentioned that #TheLastJedi is infused with director Rian Johnson's brilliant sense of humor, continuing a long tradition of balancing tyranny in the dystopia known as the Galaxy with comedy and heart.
And sure, that might be true, but pretty much every shot in The Last Jedi's trailer is brooding, menacing and foreboding — and while there's a lot to dissect in the trailer, there's one element which demands to be talked about. You know the one. I'm talking, of course, about the final line of Luke Skywalker's ominous voiceover...
"I Only Know One Truth: It's Time For The Jedi To End..."
What do those twelve words mean for the larger mythology Star Wars has created around the concept of the Force over the last forty years?
The fact that there's a dark side to the Force by default creates a light. It's a good/evil binary which has fuelled every Star Wars movie since A New Hope — and for all that time, we've been asked to believe that the Force should be dominated by the light, that it recognizes and depends on virtue.
The Last Jedi looks like it's going to tear up that misconception, in the process turning Luke Skywalker into the hero galaxy needs, but perhaps not the one they want — because his understanding of the Force, of its need for true balance, is a tough pill to swallow. Essentially, those words suggest Luke believes the Dark Side only exist because the Jedi have existed, that to purge one eradicates the other — after all, a Force which is dominated by the light really isn't balanced at all...
Daisy Ridley used the panel at Celebration to tease the dynamic between Rey and Luke, suggesting that The Last Jedi plays out as a cautionary tale about how it's never a good idea to meet your heroes — that is to say, that Luke might be a hero of mythical proportions to Rey, but if she was hoping for a father figure (let's not get into those rumors), she's about to be sorely disappointed.
More on The Last Jedi:
- Here's What Star Wars Fans Thought Of The 'Last Jedi' Trailer
- Why Rey Is In For A Shock When She Meets Luke Skywalker
- Did You Catch The 'Battlefront II' Hints In The 'Last Jedi' Trailer?
Considering The Force Awakens was a journey of self discovery for Rey, the first step on her path toward becoming a Jedi and perhaps fulfilling what she feels is her destiny, it's hardly a surprise that she'd have serious trouble with the idea of closing the door on the Jedi. To Rey, that's more than just a radical ideology — it also closes the door on her own dream of finding a purpose. That's going to hurt.
And so, ironically, the hero that the entire Resistance has been dreaming of now becomes somebody who represents a threat to their ideals. Luke has lived. Having witnessed first hand the destructive capabilities of the Force, its seductive ability to lead anybody down a dark path, he understands what Rey cannot — that the Jedi are the root cause of the cyclical dark manifestations of the Force, that everything is doomed to repeat itself until a change is made. Luke's not a villain, but he's also a long way removed from the kind of mentor Leia might have imagined him to be to Rey when she sent the scavenger to find her exiled brother.
It's exciting to think that, eight movies deep, Star Wars now has the balls to abandon the concept of the Jedi as the ultimate symbol of hope and the champion of all things good. By the time this trilogy wraps up, the door may well be opened for Episode X to leave behind the saga of the Force, of how, ultimately, it's the driving engine behind all the trouble the Galaxy has known.
We're on the cusp of a new dawn — so regardless of whether Luke's words feel like a slap in the face for Rey and the Resistance, they'd be wise to listen.
Is Luke right — is there really no hope for the Galaxy as long as the Force is imbalanced toward the light?