Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally here, bringing the new generation of rebel scum – Rey, Finn, and Poe – back to the big screen. The long-awaited sequel to The Force Awakens is packed with action, humor, and heartfelt moments… but our heroes were also riddled with poor judgment, rash actions, and bad decisions.
This is not necessarily a criticism of Rian Johnson’s film. It’s clear that failure and rising above failure is a key theme in the film. As Yoda’s Force ghost tells a weary Luke Skywalker:
“Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”
If Yoda is correct, then the characters of The Last Jedi have learned a lot. By the end of the film, Rey and Kylo Ren’s mentors are both gone, and the two young warriors find themselves as the key players in the conflict between the First Order and what is left of the Resistance. Everyone, on both sides of the war, seems to make bad decisions, and no one (except for Benecio del Toro’s DJ, that is) comes out on top. Let’s break down where things went wrong.
This page: The Resistance, Rey and Luke
Page 2: Finn, Rose, and the First Order
The Last Jedi begins with Poe Dameron ignoring General Leia’s direct orders, opting to pursue the attack on a First Order dreadnought rather than standing down. As a result, the Resistance loses every last one of its bombing ships, and Leia demotes Poe as punishment. Even after Leia is injured, Poe still doesn’t learn his lesson, and when Admiral Holdo orders him to stand down he resorts to initiating a secret mission behind her back – culminating in mutiny. If Leia hadn’t recovered and disarmed Poe, the Resistance would have fractured and fallen apart.
Holdo isn’t free from blame, however. She does not instill much courage in her subordinates, and there’s no transparency under her command. Instead, Holdo hides her plan to have the Resistance shuttles go to a former Rebel base to hide from the First Order, which Poe is in favor of after Leia loops him in. She does not have any contingency plans or ways to protect the shuttles, and as a result, a vast majority of the already dwindling Resistance fighters die. In a final and suicidal attempt to divert the First Order, she destroys their largest ship, but this was not part of any larger plan of action.
If DJ hadn’t ratted out the Resistance shuttles to the First Order, the assumption is that they wouldn’t have been noticed… but Rose and Finn use a shuttle that has a hyperspace drive. Wouldn’t it be possible to evacuate silently until there was no one left on the ship?
The few Resistance fighters who are left all fit onto the Millennium Falcon, and if it hadn’t been for an intervention from Luke Skywalker and Rey separately, the Resistance would have been completely destroyed.
Rey and Luke
Luke Skywalker’s momentary lapse in judgment is arguably the bad decision that led to the resurgence of the Dark Side. Fearing the darkness he saw in Kylo Ren, Luke briefly considered killing his padawan in his sleep. Not only is this the antithesis of the Jedi code, it also bears strong parallels to Anakin’s horrific slaughter of the younglings. Luke quickly changes his mind, but Ben Solo witnesses his master’s betrayal and turns on him.
When Rey arrives to ask Luke Skywalker for help and he refuses to offer any aid, she doesn’t throw up her hands and return to help her friends against the First Order. Chewbacca and R2-D2 don’t do much to convince Luke either, and no one seems to be in a rush to get back to the Resistance. Luke points out that he didn’t want to be found, but Rey and her friends didn’t seem to have considered that as an option. Luke teeters back and forth between training Rey and wanting to end the Jedi Order, and his indecision in some ways leads Rey to search for answers elsewhere.
First, Rey pursues her past in the darkness under the island. Unfortunately, the infinite mirror reflections do not provide her with answers. Her mental connection with Kylo Ren leads her to quickly forget that he tortured her, killed Han Solo, and tried to murder both her and Finn. Rey becomes convinced that she can bring Kylo Ren back to the the light side. After confronting Luke – speaking of bad decisions, attacking Luke Skywalker with a quarterstaff doesn’t seem like a good idea – she has Chewbacca drop her off on a First Order ship, where she is promptly taken captive and brought before Snoke.
After Rey leaves, Luke angrily goes to set the Jedi Temple on fire, acting as if by burning the tree down, he can end the Jedi Order. Apparently, the wise Jedi Master did not notice that Rey took all of the ancient Jedi books with her. And even when Luke creates a projection of himself to distract the First Order troops, he doesn’t clue Leia or Poe into his plan, leaving the Resistance uncertain of what to do or where to go.
Page 2: Finn, Rose, and the First Order
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