This post contains spoilers from The Last Jedi trailer. If you want to know the extent of the spoilers in a spoiler-free way, check out "Did The Last Jedi Spoil Anything Major?"
Fans of Star Wars may have just met the saga's new heroine, Rey, but is her path headed for the Dark Side of the Force?
As Disney fires up the Falcon for another trip to the cosmos in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth installment of the Skywalker saga looks to be another one for the ages. With a whole Dagobah system of new footage in the latest trailer, there are some major questions about who is good and who is bad hanging over The Last Jedi ahead of its December release.
Even darker in tone than the previous peeks, easily the biggest puzzler has become: whose side is everyone actually on? Seeing a brooding Mark Hamill hiding out on the rocky outcrop of Ach-To, fans have already been questioning whether the former franchise hero Luke Skywalker has turned to the dark side, but a fresh look casts a shadow of doubt over the true intentions of Daisy Ridley's Rey.
Returning as the de facto villain of the piece, Adam Driver's Kylo Ren finally appears to be putting his master plan into play, leading everyone to ask, "Can Kylo Ren really turn Rey [INSERT SURNAME HERE] to the dark side?" As the action-packed trailer ends with Rey questioning her place in that galaxy far, far away, director Rian Johnson sets up a shot of Kylo Ren reaching out to her. Could Episode VIII repeat the tragic arc of Anakin Skywalker to turn the Chosen One into the villain?
With The Force Awakens coming under heavy fire for echoing George Lucas' original trilogy, one way to take Disney's era in a new direction would be to see the "good guy" (in this case girl) actually succumb to the evil streak lurking inside all of us. There have already been parallels drawn between The Empire Strikes Back, but Johnson promises that his foray into Force sensitivity won't be a retread of old ground. Perhaps the biggest twist would be to see the dark powers do what they couldn't to Luke, and see Rey emerge as a fallen
Some have already pointed out that Rey's quick mastering of Jedi skills may have come from a sinister source. All those decades ago, Yoda warned that dark side was undoubtedly a quicker and easier route to power, which is why so many have chosen to take that path. Rey clearly has some serious mojo going on in The Last Jedi, but also, note Luke's stoic warning to Rey from the trailer:
"I've seen this raw strength only once before. It didn't scare me enough then. It does now."
Luke seems skeptical to carry on with his new protégé, and it looks like Rey will be left to either go it alone or look for a new mentor. With Kylo Ren being an equally lonely soul in the galaxy, he could certainly be a prime candidate to take Rey under his wing. Also, let's not forget the scene of Rey being tortured by Snoke, meaning that the two will cross paths at some point.
All the pieces are in place for Ridley's fiery heroine to become the next Anakin, but ask yourselves, wouldn't that all be a bit obvious? Everyone knows how a bit of clever editing can mix things up a bit, and who's to say that the shot of Ren's extended hand isn't just there to throw audiences off the scent? Johnson may have warned Star Wars fans to avoid the trailer for fears of spoilers, but something as major as Rey taking up the teachings of the Sith would surely be saved for the movie's impressive runtime.
Much more likely, The Last Jedi will see the situation work in reverse and Rey turning Kylo Ren to the side of righteousness. Lucasfilm is clearly setting Ren up to be far more complex than the standard Sith Lord, while even The Force Awakens showed him briefly battling with his inner demons. The Last Jedi trailer clearly focuses on a conflicted Ren preparing to fire on Princess Leia aboard a spaceship, and although Episode VIII will be Carrie Fisher's last time in the iconic role, something like a trailer is hardly going to spoil a major plot point like this. The chances of Ren killing both his parents is slim to nil, and it is expected that Episode VIII will also deal with Kylo processing the death of Han Solo by his own hand.
As it stands, Kylo Ren appears to be the puppet of the shadowy Snoke, but let's all remember how Darth Vader had that redemptive arc in Return of the Jedi to rebel against the Emperor. While it is probably never going to be as easy as Rey = good, Kylo = bad, fans still shouldn't rule out Rey's untimely fall to the dark side of the Force under the tutelage of Snoke or any other of the dark forces in play. Either way, Hutts, Wookiees, and even Nerf herders can find out more when Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits cinemas on December 15.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017