A Peaceful Passing
The twist of having the Luke whom Kylo fights be merely an astral projection of his old master and not the real deal is a clever move, but what happens next is sure be what will dominate much of the discussion. After Luke's illusion disappears from Crait, the film returns to Ahch-To and the real Luke. In order to project his image clear across the galaxy, Luke has been intensely meditating, focusing all of his energy on the task as end. Once Luke stops the projection, he collapses from the strain.
Luke gathers himself and returns to his seated position on the rock overlooking the sea, now appearing more calm and relaxed. He looks out with a serene and hopeful expression on his face, gazing at the sunset - and seeing the binary sunset he would stare at longly while on Tatooine. As Luke watches the horizon, he slowly fades away, leaving only a pile of clothes, his robe blowing away in the breeze.
Many will be shocked and saddened to witness the most beloved Jedi in the galaxy pass away, especially after only just returning to action and reconnecting with the Force. But as Rey remarks to Leia - both of whom who sense Luke's passing - his death was peaceful and with purpose. For those who are strong in the Force, death is not the end but another beginning. As Yoda once told Luke all those years ago during his own training, "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter." And though Luke has died, he is most certainly not gone for good.
One With The Force
When Luke looked on in horror as Darth Vader killed Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was shocked to see the old Jedi's body simply disappear. But as we've since learned, those Jedi who are at peace when they die and are strongly attuned with the Force can preserve their life energy and still communicate with the living after death. The first Jedi to learn this ability was Qui-Gon Jinn, though his training only came after he had already died, so he was only ever to return as a disembodied voice and not a proper Force Ghost.
It was Qui-Gon who then taught Yoda and Obi-Wan this technique, and when they died, they were able to manifest themselves blue and glowing Force Ghosts, offering guidance to Luke in his times of need. Now that Luke has passed on, it seems only logical that he was also taught how to do this. He did, after all, just demonstrate an ability that seems uncannily similar to a Force Ghost with his intergalactic illusion.
We won't know for sure if Luke returns as a Force Ghost until Episode IX, but the opportunity to do so sure seems too good to pass up. Mark Hamill's turn as Luke in The Last Jedi is being widely regarded as his very best performance, surprising movie-goers with his touching and nuanced portrayal of the weary hero. Having Luke become a Force Ghost, either to counsel Rey or maybe even haunt Kylo Ren, would give Hamill more chances at developing this wiser, more enlightened version of Luke, and we wouldn't have to say goodbye quite yet.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018