WARNING: MAJOR spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead
Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson laid out plenty of clues that Luke Skywalker wasn't actually on Crait in the film's finale - more than you may have realized!
The Jedi master returns in Episode VIII after Rey tracks him down and asks him to teach her the ways of the Force. However, Luke is a reluctant teacher, shying away from Rey's strength with the Force, and refusing to get involved in the war between the First Order and the Resistance. But eventually, Rey leaves Ahch-To in an attempt to convince Ben Solo/Kylo Ren to join the light side rather than continue aligning with the dark. While she fails in this endeavor, it does set the stage for Luke to face off against Kylo Ren and the First Order on Crait
It's at the end of this sequence, after Kylo has failed to kill Luke with all of the First Order's firepower behind him and in a one-on-one lightsaber battle, that The Last Jedi reveals Luke was never actually on Crait. Instead, Luke remained on Ahch-To and Force projected an illusion of himself to the salt planet. It's one of the biggest twists in the movie, but Johnson laid out a number of clues that hint Luke never actually left Ahch-To to go to Crait before the big reveal.
First off, Luke's illusion looks much younger, with a different hairstyle and clothes than how he appeared less than a day before on Ahch-To. Another massive hint is that Luke uses the Skywalker lightsaber in his battle against Kylo Ren, even though audiences saw that destroyed in the Force tug-of-war between Rey and Kylo. Still, one of the most obvious hints that many viewers may recognize but not put meaning to is that Luke doesn't leave footprints in the salt on Crait. In fact, he doesn't make physical contact with anyone - and seemingly disappears when the First Order guns start firing on him - aside from Leia. But, after Kylo Ren and Rey are shown touching hands through their own Force connection, the sweet moment between Leia and Luke is through their Force connection, not physically touching.
Further, if we think about the mechanics of how Luke got to Crait and into the Resistance base, it doesn't make sense unless he's an illusion. Although we see an X-Wing submerged in water on Ahch-To, it's unlikely he'd be able to drain and fix it quickly enough to get to the Resistance in time - even accounting for The Last Jedi's confusing timeline. Further, after Luke's arrival but before the big reveal, viewers see there actually is no way into the base; the only exist is blocked by rocks and, though Luke could have easily cleared them when he entered, why would he put them back?
What's most interesting about Luke's big moment when he faces off with the First Order is that it's foreshadowed earlier in the movie when he's arguing with Rey about joining the fight and he says, "You think what? I'm gonna walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order?" He's obviously scoffing at the idea, and while the movie makes viewers think that's exactly what he does when he arrives on Crait, Luke actually takes a different tact by sending an illusion instead. It's a tricky twist to pull off, but all the clues laid out by Johnson before the actual reveal help to establish it.
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