Personally, I find it rather futile to guess and speculate the meaning behind a 1-minute teaser designed to market a movie. Ironically I find people who really hate spoilers are also ones trying to piece together a story out of the limited footage revealed in a trailer. I say, just wait for the movie to come out and you’ll find out. However, as the hypocrite that I am, I’m going to speculate on the new teaser for The Last Jedi with this article including a click-baity title. Why? Because this website needs more views and I’m going to indulge your need to speculate to get views. Firstly, if you haven’t seen the trailer already go watch it here:
I don’t know why these Star Wars teasers require a jump-scare at the very beginning. Anyways, the big thing that people are going on about is the statement Luke makes at the end of the teaser.
I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.
People have been freaking out over the meaning of this statement. Did Luke turn to the dark side?! Has he become so defeated from the betrayal of Ben Solo that he’s giving everything up?! Is he Rey’s father?!
Well, let’s take a step back and look at the Star Wars series as a whole. Some facts to be aware of before I give my educated guess as to the meaning of Luke’s statement. George Lucas was heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell when creating the Star Wars universe. Joseph Campbell is an anthropologist who studied mythology from all around the world. His studies were not to discover the differences between them but rather the values, meanings, and purpose behind these myths that are shared by the whole world. He wrote several books but the one most important to this discussion is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
In this book, Campbell discovered a structure that is shared by mythology all over the world. This is known by many as The Hero’s Journey or The Monomyth. This structure has been influential to storytellers all over the world and is used heavily by films, books, television, and video games. A textbook example of the Hero’s Journey is actually the first Star Wars film. George Lucas was, in fact, one of Campbell’s students in school and was very familiar with the themes, meanings, and structure found in mythology as outlined in Campbell’s book. Here’s s basic outline of the Hero’s Journey:
Several lectures can go into each step so I won’t attempt to go through the whole thing in detail. For the purposes of our discussion though, I wish to focus attention on Apotheosis (it’s misspelled on the diagram). Apotheosis is the process of a man (meaning the overall broad sense of humanity) becoming a God. In the context of the screen-writing, it’s a transformation that is made that allows him/her to reach beyond a stage of ignorance into a stage of knowledge, giving them the power to achieve a goal that the hero has set out to do in the story.
So how does this have anything to do with The Last Jedi teaser? Reading deeper into Campbell’s work helps you to understand the mythic context behind Apotheosis. A large portion of the text talks about the concept of the unity of opposites which can be summarized in the concept of the Yin Yang. If you don’t know, Yin Yang is a symbol of eastern philosophy that two seemingly contradictory elements are actually two sides of one great whole. According to Campbell, apotheosis is a stage where both opposites come together to form a God using the example of the Male-Female Gods of mythology. God in many religions represents many contradictory sides, a God of creation and destruction, of time and eternity, light and darkness, justice and mercy and so forth.
So let’s bring it back to Star Wars. The central conflict with the series has always been the light side versus the dark side of the force. In the prequel trilogy, the Jedi council speak about a chosen one destined to bring about the “balance of the force”. Because the prequel trilogy was poorly written, they do not explain what that actually means. Many in the series interpret that to mean the destruction of the dark side. But how does that bring balance?
Let’s go back earlier in the teaser when Rey talks about seeing the light and dark, the balance. Luke tells her that there’s more to it than that. Here’s where I start speculating on how Luke has changed over the years in exile. I believe he discovered that which one who was raised by the Jedi could not understand. That the force is not divided into light and darkness but is both all in one. Where Anakin failed to bring balance to the force, the reincarnation of the chosen one seen in Rey (they both are expert mechanics, pilots and force users) may, in fact, bring balance to the force. But in order to do that, the Jedi, who represents the light side of the force, can no longer exist. It doesn’t mean that Good needs to give into Evil, but rather the Jedi need to transcend the exclusive use and study of the light side and become one with the force as a whole, both light and dark. This would also mean the end of the Sith has to happen. Perhaps Anakin did fulfill his role as chosen one by ending the Sith by killing his master and himself. Leaving the end of the Jedi to his son and his reincarnation, Rey.
So worry not Skywalker fans, I do not believe that he has turned to the dark side. Rather I think he discovered a secret to the force that the Jedi and Sith have ignored for centuries. In fact, according to non-canon Star Wars history, both groups came from one group of force users who practiced in both light and dark sides of the force and sought true balance with the force named the Je’daii. So perhaps Rey will do what Anakin could not, which is to fully bring balance to the force and end the conflict between the light and dark sides for good.
Again, this is all speculation. But there is strong evidence that this is the direction they will be going. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until December to find out for sure.