This December's Star Wars: The Last Jedi eschews one of the traditions of the Skywalker saga. Instead of picking the story up years after the previous installment, it essentially starts immediately after the events of The Force Awakens. This means that the reverberations of everything that happened in Episode VII will still be felt, and the inhabitants of the galaxy far, far away have to deal with the various consequences. Of course, Rey is going to be off on Ahch-to training with Luke Skywalker, but her journey is only one part of a larger whole. There is a war going on, after all.
Both sides were sent reeling from major attacks in Force Awakens. The First Order destroyed the five planets of the Hosnian system where the New Republic was stationed, while the Resistance managed to destroy Starkiller base in a daring assault. It seemed to set up a rather interesting scenario for Episode VIII to explore, and now some details about the state of the galaxy at the movie's beginning have emerged.
Per Making Star Wars, the universe has fallen into a state of chaos following the dual strikes that took place in Force Awakens. One of the biggest changes is the population's attitude towards Supreme Leader Snoke. Prior to his annihilation of Hosnian Prime, many used to "laugh" at the notion the First Order was any real threat. But now, with the destruction of the Senate, the perception has greatly shifted. Snoke and his associates are viewed as "maniacal zealots" who pose a grave danger to freedom and democracy. Several are in agreement with General Leia Organa (once viewed as a political pariah for her mindset regarding the First Order) that they have to fight back against Snoke so he does not conquer the galaxy. The time has come to choose sides.
This isn't the most surprising development for The Last Jedi, but it paints a truly fascinating picture for the film to explore. In the live-action movies, there has always been a central government that is in command, be it the Old Republic, the Empire, or the New Republic. Now, however, the galaxy is in "complete disarray" as a full-scale war is on the horizon. Though the First Order lost Starkiller, they may be in better shape to rebound, as they are still well-resourced thanks to their link with the former Empire. The Resistance, on the other hand, was an offshoot group led by Leia with little backup to speak of. A scrappy band, they are rather limited with what they can do. As the Resistance looks to deal with the current situation, they are going to need all the help they can get - which is one reason why Leia is so desperate to have her brother rejoin the fold.
As exciting as it will be to watch the mentor/pupil dynamic between Luke and Rey, the escalating conflict with the Resistance and First Order should be just as compelling. Never before on-screen has the galaxy been in this much flux, and ideally it should be gripping to see the next stage in the war's development. The good news is that more people see eye-to-eye with Leia and know she wasn't just being paranoid, but the General still has an uphill climb to win the next battle. Perhaps this is where the trio of newcomers - Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran - come in, looking to tilt the scales in one way or another. Time will tell.
Source: Making Star Wars
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018