12 questions I have after watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It's been with us for less than a week, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi has already generated a mass of opinions, theories, and discussions. Sure, checking out the review is a start, but chatting about Luke, Leia, Rey and Kylo Ren with friends is where the real heart of this movie lies... and you still need answers. After all, this film deals with many of the questions we had after The Force Awakens but opens up a whole load of other possibilities for the final movie in the trilogy. There is loads to talk about before Episode 9 releases in 2019. So, from the true identity of Snoke, right down to the origins of Rey, through to the role Luke plays in the movie - here are the big questions we still have about The Last Jedi.

CAUTION: There are massive spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead. This is not the review - this article is a discussion for anyone who has seen the movie. If you haven’t seen it, and you don’t want it spoiled, then bookmark the page, go see the film, and come back to discuss what you read below. Full spoilers after the Porg - you have been warned.

1. Who was Supreme Leader Snoke, exactly?

Oh Snoke, we barely knew you. No really, we hardly know anything about you. Which is odd, considering how powerful a Force-user you seemed to be. Who was Snoke? It’s unclear. While there are definite shades of the Emperor about him, given the way his face has been twisted and contorted in ways very similar to those of Darth Sidious, there’s no explanation of how he got that way. Having lightning powers, too, gives him definite shades of Emperor… so perhaps he was a second apprentice, kept in secret by Sidious and removed from the events of the original trilogy. Almost like a back-up plan for the Sith. His face is half-burned/melted, and he has a large crack in his skull. How did he get these? They do feed into the idea that he’s Darth Plagueis, a character referenced in the prequel trilogy who was incredibly powerful and had the ability to cheat death and create life. According to Emperor Palpatine, he killed Plagueis after learning all his secrets but… it’s very possible that he failed to finish off his former-master. Or he was lying. That would explain Snoke’s battered and melted appearance (almost like he’s been ravaged by Force Lightning?), and why he’s an all-powerful Sith who just seemed to have sprung out of nowhere. And what this could also mean is that Snoke may not actually be dead, especially if he’s cheated death before. Admittedly, it’s tough to come back from bisection by lightsaber.

2. Are Rey’s parents really nobodies?

I love, love, love the fact that Kylo Ren reveals to Rey that her parents were nobodies. It has a wonderful, demystifying effect for the Jedi, and it holds a middle-finger right up in the face of all the theorists in the nicest way possible. However, this being Star Wars, and a movie that makes an art of deceiving the viewer… do we actually believe it? While Kylo and Rey clearly share the same understanding about her parents, after she searches her feelings and knows it to be true, there’s enough ambiguity in the scene to leave room for doubt. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, director Rian Johnson says "For me, in that moment, Kylo believes it’s the truth. I don’t think he’s purely playing chess. I think that’s what he saw when they touched fingers and that’s what he believes. And when he tells her that in that moment, she believes it." While not definitive, this answer does support what's said in the movie.

It’s never really dealt with, and the revelation - possibly the most meaningful in the movie - is quickly swept aside as the pair scrap over a lightsaber (and the fate of the galaxy). Again, this could simply just be because Rey’s parents is the mother of all McGuffins (pun intended), but it could also be that it’s another feint to keep people guessing until Episode 9. Personally, I think it’s legit. Continuing on the subject, again with EW, Johnson adds that: "The hardest thing for her is to hear she’s not going to get that easy answer. Not only that, but Kylo is going to use the fact that you don’t get that answer to try and weaken you so you have to lean on him." So maybe Kylo Ren is game-playing a little, and the ultimate fate of Rey's lineage rests with JJ Abrams in episode 9, as this trilogy finishes.

3. What did the mirror sequence with Rey actually mean?

After being told not to dive into the cave on Ahch-To (bless you) by Luke, she inevitably dives into the cave on Ahch-To. What she finds in there is some kind of looping mirror vision, along with lots of creepy seaweed. What does it mean? Well, it’s a metaphor for Rey looking at herself, and acknowledging the truths that already exist within her. She says that she knows she should panic, and feel lost inside the mirror world, but she doesn’t. That’s because she knows that it’s a world of her own creation, and she holds the key to escaping it and discovering its secrets. Because they’re her own secrets, and she already holds them inside herself. It’s another way of presenting the information in Luke’s creepy-tree encounter in Empire. The shadowy figures she sees at the end are likely metaphors for her parents. They approach and merge into a single figure, which is just a reflection of her. The implication is that her parents are nobody - she’ll never know them - and that she is alone in the galaxy. It doesn’t matter who her parents are, as her destiny is in her own hands.

4. Can we believe Luke’s version of what happened at the Jedi Training Facility?

One neat trick used by Rian Johnson during the various flashback sequences is the way Luke is presented in each one. In the first instance he’s almost saint-like in his appearance, in Kylo Ren’s version he’s crazed and dark, and in Luke’s ‘truth’ he’s a scared, weak individual who has lost control of his destiny. But which one do we believe? We’re meant to think that Luke’s final ‘truth’ version is canon, but given how both himself and Kylo have been unreliable narrators, based on their emotions, there’s no guarantee that any of the stories are the actual truth. Perhaps Luke fully intended to kill Ben Solo as he slept. Perhaps Ben knew Luke was planning to kill him and deliberately manipulated the situation as an excuse to unleash his own anger? Given how pivotal Kylo Ren has become to the whole story, we may not have heard the last of this, and it could impact how Star Wars 9 plays out.

5. How is Rey a Jedi now if Luke barely trained her?

If you thought Luke’s training in Empire was brief, it feels like an eternity compared to the time Rey spends with Luke on Ahch-To. One quick meditation session, a few ernest chats, plenty of brooding, and suddenly Rey is ready to go into the universe as a Jedi? Her most significant action on the planet is actually to defy Luke and enter the ‘Dark side’ cave by the ocean. Admittedly, Luke probably isn’t the right person to train her - he’s too disillusioned with the Force - but that doesn’t make her a Jedi by default. Yoda perhaps sums up the philosophy best, when he says that Luke can learn from Rey, and not get wrapped up in the teachings and ways of the Jedi. Rey isn’t a haughty ‘Light Side’ Jedi in the traditional sense - she’s a new type of moderate Jedi for an age that requires balance more than pure good or evil. In that sense, she is what you’d call a Jedi, especially after she accepts the truth of her connection and similarity with Kylo Ren.

Is Luke done with Rey? Well, he's definitely dead, but we know Mark Hamill is angling for a role in episode 9, based on recent interviews with Comicbook.com. "I’m just still holding on to the line, ‘See you around, kid.’ I can be in Episode 9!" he jokes. "I might consider catering the film just so I can hang out." Ok, Hamill is clearly fooling around here, but his relentless enthusiasm will likely land him a cameo of some sort, likely as an Obi-Wan style Force ghost. 

6. I repeat… who made the map to Luke Skywalker in the first movie?

Remember the map that someone made, showing the location of Luke Skywalker? It was kind of a big deal in The Force Awakens. Well, there’s no mention of it in The Last Jedi, almost as if it was a convenient plot device that has served its purpose and has now been quietly forgotten about. Even the idea that Luke himself made it - as there really isn’t anyone else who knows he’s on Ahch-To - falls apart when it becomes so obvious he doesn’t want to be found, he wants no part of the Rebellion, and he’s cut himself off entirely from the Force. So, again, who could have made the map? Maybe one of the surviving Jedi from the Training Camp? Yeah, perhaps, although it’s heavily implied that Ben Solo murdered all the ones he didn’t like, and kept the rest as the Knights of Ren. They didn’t even know Luke was alive.

7. What even is the Resistance now?

At the end of The Last Jedi, the Resistance is a bunch of people on board the Falcon. That’s it. And sure, as Leia says, the Resistance is a spark of hope that ignites the galaxy to rise up against the First Order etc etc etc. But what is the Resistance? No-one answered the distress call, so that implies other planets aren’t interested in their particular brand of standing up to the First Order. Sure, the Resistance is a symbol of fighting oppression, but it no longer really exists. If the First Order is really going to be overthrown in the final movie, there does actually need to be an opposition, beyond a simple idea, and that doesn’t exist right now. Perhaps Episode 9 will be all about the spread of the Resistance ideal, and the galactic overthrow of Kylo Ren’s oppression and anger - that’s what the sappy scenes at the end of this movie imply, even if they had the stench of Lucas’ original trilogy edits about them.

8. How are they going to carry Leia’s role into Star Wars 9?

Oh gosh - this is a tricky one. Disney has gone on record to say that Carrie Fisher won’t appear in Episode 9, so… Leia is still very much alive at the end of Last Jedi, despite several opportunities for a noble end (in the initial Cruiser attack, and when Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself). Either Leia will appear as CG in the final film (and Disney has said this won’t happen), which won’t go down well with fans after the CG in Rogue One, or she’ll be quietly written out of the film without ever appearing. That feels like a huge anti-climax, especially given how fitting an end Last Jedi would have been for her. She’s one of the strongest characters in Episode 8, there’s a wonderful dedication to her in the credits, and it almost feels like she should have passed along with her brother, to whom she has been so intrinsically linked. Still, you have to keep faith that the final movie will do it with tact.

9. What is Kylo Ren’s end game?

I genuinely believe that Kylo Ren wants to bring order to the galaxy, and that he saw Rey as a way to do that as a pair of balanced Jedi. The pair differ in their methods, rather than their opinions. However, given that Kylo Ren wants to forcefully bring peace to the universe, why does he need Rey to do that at all? In fact, why doesn’t he just stick with Snoke and use the First Order to rule by force and Force? Admittedly, Kylo Ren’s other philosophy is that he wants to leave the past behind, and he sees Snoke as part of this… but his methods are so closely aligned with his former master’s that it seems bizarre that he doesn’t see it himself. He’s all set to fully recreate the past in his glorious new future. He wants control, but I don’t see him as a pure dictator figure, because his intent isn’t evil. And in Episode 9? He just doesn’t seem motivated enough to wage a focused war on anything. Perhaps he’ll pursue the rest of the Resistance, even though there’s really little left to crush. He’ll go after Leia, but there doesn’t seem much point as he’s rejected the pure Dark Side, and he has no master to cater for either. Luke has passed away (even if Kylo doesn’t know), which leaves… Rey. And his relationship with her isn’t one of hate, but of kindred spirits with morally opposed views. She hardly seems like a target for his barely contained anger. 

10. Is DJ (Benicio Del Toro) really the code-breaker they were sent to retrieve? And did he really betray them?

So, it’s left a little unclear about who DJ actually is in The Last Jedi. Maz sends Finn and Rose to Canto Bight to search for the guy with the flower emblem, and they find a very handsome, James Bond style character playing some kind of craps, before being slung in jail. Here they conveniently meet DJ, who is most of the things that Maz describes. So, case closed? Well, not really, because even if you ignore the vast coincidence that they’re put in the same cell as the person they went to find, he doesn’t fully match up to the guy they were looking for. We don’t see his exceptional skill with a blaster, or his charm - just the hard hacking skills. The only thing that might prove otherwise is that he’s playing the long game and didn’t really betray the pair, but it’s hard to see how he’s going to redeem himself and what long-game DJ might be playing. Del Toro’s character is, for me, way too compelling for the limited scenes he’s in, so I’d expect to see him back for Episode 9.

11. Is Captain Phasma really dead?

She looks really dead. Not many people survive a fall into an explosion in the middle of a collapsing Dreadnaught, no matter how badass they’re meant to be. However, given how big a deal Phasma was seen as in all the pre-movie hype (she was on magazine covers, and treated like a part of the main cast), it seems very strange that she’d appear for five minutes and then die. Blink and you miss her in The Last Jedi. I honestly think she’ll be back, especially as Disney’s Marvel influence increasingly bleeds into Star Wars. You can definitely see shades of the MCU in The Last Jedi, and if there’s one thing we know from that particular series it’s that main characters NEVER GODDAMN DIE. Of all the shocking deaths and twists in The Last Jedi, Phasma’s death is the weakest and most suspicious, because she has barely been in the last couple of films. Either a surprising resurrection is due, or Star Wars has completely mishandled one of its most prominent characters.

According to Last Jedi's costume designer Michael Kaplan: "Gwendoline [Christie] has it all figured out how she wants to come back,” he says in another interview with Entertainment Weekly. Mark Hamill too is a fan of Phasma and says: "I think she’s got to survive. She falls through the flames and lands on a big pile of rubbish." It's just a guess, but a good one nonetheless.

12. What happened to the other students at the Jedi Training Facility?

Kylo Ren says, when talking about the Jedi Training Facility, that he killed most of the students and took the rest for his own. One notion is that they're the Knights of Ren, who we see in The Force Awakens flashbacks (and in Last Jedi). However, the timeline is a little unclear here, because it's implied that the Knights existed before Ben was turned and that he was eventually elevated to their Master. Did the Knights of Ren help Ben massacre the rest of the Jedi at the training facility? Well, that seems very unlikely as they'd have to have been there at the exact moment Luke decided to try and kill Ben Solo in his sleep. It's more likely that Ben incapacitated Luke and murdered the rest of the students, with the exception of those he could turn. Did these young Jedi students merely swell the ranks of the Knights of Ren? Given that the Knights were under the ultimate control of Snoke and NOT Kylo Ren, it's safe to assume they were his bodyguards who face-off against Kylo and Rey after Snoke's untimely end... so they've probably got a few vacancies open right now. And are we sure all the other Jedi students are dead? Maybe one of them escaped with Luke and created the star-map that leads to him. It seems unlikely that it’ll be revisited at all, and will likely form the basis of endless spin-off novels and fan fiction. Someone’s probably doing a video game too.

If you're after more in-depth The Last Jedi coverage, why not check out our round-up of the best critical opinions on Episode 8 (the most divisive Star Wars movie yet), or maybe you want to see how many Easter eggs you spotted (how about that Rogue One reference?!).

Andy Hartup