(Warning - the following contains potentially HUGE SPOILERS for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and beyond. Proceed with caution, and - as Taylor Swift might have suggested to Obi Wan before his confrontation with Darth Vader - "don't say I didn't say I didn't warn ya'...")
Now, with all of the excitement surrounding the release of the latest - and seemingly final - trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it's not too surprising that speculation about what we did - and didn't - see within it has been rife.
One of the most pondered questions?
Just Where the Hell Is Luke Skywalker?
Seriously. Where is that guy? I mean, one minute you're the main focus of one of the most beloved movie franchises the world has ever known, and the next, you're not even in the trailer for its first sequel in over 30 years. How's that for bad luck?
Except, of course, it has nothing to do with luck, or fate, or fortune. Instead, it has a whole lot to do with The Force Awakens' director J.J. Abrams, who recently revealed that Luke's absence from the trailer is "no accident." Which, it seems, suggests that there's a damn good reason for us not seeing Luke in the trailer - in turn suggesting that something may well have happened to our erstwhile hero since the original trilogy to make any appearance from him in the trailer counts as a spoiler.
Which is exactly the kind of mystery that the Internet tends to be able to solve in about 30 seconds. Step forward Rob Conery, who might just have solved the puzzle almost two months before the film's release.
(Note, this is where the potential SPOILERS really kick in - turn back now if you don't want to risk having several major plot points from Episode VII SPOILED...)
...Wait for it...
...Last chance to turn back...
...Probably already too late at this point...
It Seems That Luke Really Might Have Turned to the Dark Side
Yup, that's right. According to Conery, not only are the rumors of Luke turning to the Dark Side true - as we've talked about before - but there's actually a whole lot more to it than the apparent absence of our hero from the trailer and promotional materials for Episode VII. Y'see:
The Original Trilogy Might Have Already Told Us It Was Going to Happen
Now, according to Conery, that goes all the way back to The Empire Strikes Back, and Yoda's warning to a Cloud City-bound Luke that:
"Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his emperor. If you end your training now... if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did... you will become an agent of evil."
Which, were Luke to later turn to the Dark Side, would sure seem prophetic.
The even more intriguing part of Conery's argument, though?
Luke Might Have Already Turned to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi
Remember how, back in A New Hope and Empire, Luke was essentially a snarky farm boy with issues with authority and a latent ability to use the Force?
And, of course, how by the start of Return of the Jedi, he'd suddenly become a badass, ever-serious warrior-Jedi?
Well, think about when that process started...
Yup, that's right - when Luke ended his training, faced Darth Vader and discovered that he was, in fact, Darth Vader's son.
As Yoda would have put it, he chose the quick and easy path, ended his training, and was unable to conquer Vader. In Yoda's logic, he became an agent of evil, and turned to the Dark Side.
Which, as it turns out, is pretty well reflected in Return of the Jedi. After all:
Luke Is Basically a Villain in Return of the Jedi
Think about his actions in Jabba's palace. Not only does he straight up threaten to kill everyone...
"Nevertheless, I'm taking Captain Solo and his friends. You can either profit by this or be destroyed. It's your choice, but I warn you not to underestimate my power."
...after lying through his teeth about his droid-based 'gift'...
"As a token of my gratitude, I present to you these two droids. Both are hard working, and will serve you well..."
...but he then proceeds to orchestrate the murder of Jabba and all of his entourage. Which...kind of seems more like something Anakin Skywalker would do, in retrospect. What's more:
The Movie's Whole Finale Is Basically Just Luke Giving in to the Dark Side
After all, when the Emperor tells Luke to kill him, thus completing his transition to the Dark Side...
"Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.
...HE TOTALLY DOES IT.
Now, sure, Darth Vader's intervention stops him from actually killing the Emperor, but the following fight only acts to highlight how far from the Light Side of the Force Luke has fallen. Indeed, the crucial moment of the fight - Luke looking down at his mechanical hand, having just cut off his father's - might just prove the exact opposite of what the movie initially seems to suggest.
In Conery's logic, Luke isn't looking down and realizing the error of his ways - he's recognizing the power of the Dark Side, and finally deciding to use it rule the galaxy alongside his father. His apparent redemption with his rejection of the Emperor's offer, then...
"Never. I'll never turn to the dark side. You've failed your highness, I am a Jedi, like my father before me..."
...becomes simply a lie, employed as a stalling tactic - much like the droid-based deception he employed with Jabba the Hutt. Luke has, presumably, recognized that he has to kill the Emperor to rule, and is just stalling for time until Vader can recover enough strength to help him (which his speech seemed intended to inspire). His father steps in to save him, and...then dies, leaving Luke to work out how to take over the galaxy without the help of his Imperial figure-head dad.
At the End of Return of the Jedi, Luke has Turned to the Dark Side
Now, evidently, Luke's two mentors, as well as his father, don't realize just what's happening - with Obi Wan presumably giving Yoda a hard time for his cynicism and what not, before the two of them wail on Anakin for what he did to all those junior padawans.
That, though, doesn't mean that Luke wasn't playing the long game, reasoning that - much like Palpatine before him - he'd have more to gain from being seen as a hero than a villain.
The Really Intriguing Part of All That?
Well, remember Yoda's words after warning Luke not to head off to rescue Han and Leia, back in Empire Strikes Back? He turns to Obi Wan, and sighs:
"Told you I did. Reckless is he. Now matters are worse."
At which point Obi Wan pretty much resigns himself to the universe being doomed, noting:
"That boy is our last hope."
Before Yoda, who clearly doesn't bother sharing secrets with his close friends, points out:
"No. There is another."
Meaning, we all kind of assumed in retrospect, Luke's sister Leia. The only problem? Leia doesn't really save the day - Luke does. All she gets is the reveal that she's the sister of the guy who singlehandedly defeated the two greatest villains in the universe. In narrative terms, then, Yoda's mention of there being another is the equivalent of someone promising you a puppy, and then giving you a drawing of someone else holding one instead.
What, Though, if Leia Wasn't That Other Hope?
In fact, what if J.J. Abrams and the rest of the creative folks working on Star Wars Episode VII took that one, seemingly inconsistent line from Empire, and turned it into the plot of The Force Awakens. What if Luke has, indeed, turned to the Dark Side, thus extending the galactic civil war by decades - and what if Yoda wasn't actually referring to Leia, but to her daughter, or son? Could Rey, then - or perhaps even Kylo Ren (they've both been rumored to be Han and Leia's kid) - prove to be the other hope Yoda spoke of?
Or, alternatively, is Luke just going to turn out to be a hero, who Abrams has been keeping back from the publicity machine to stoke speculation?
It's hard to be sure - but Conery's argument sure does make the wait for The Force Awakens' release even more difficult to cope with... Nicely played, sir...
What do you reckon, though?