UPDATE: Read how J.J. Abrams can fix these problems in Star Wars 9.
30 years of anticipation for the continuation of George Lucas’ epic original Star Wars trilogy is hard to live up to. There was a lot of skepticism after Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced that we would be getting new yearly Star Wars installments, starting with Episode VII of a brand new Star Wars trilogy.
The prequels have slowly started to be seen in a better light over the years, but most critics and audiences still had a sour taste in their mouth over the notion of new Star Wars, so it seemed like a miracle when The Force Awakens arrived in theaters and was able to successfully remind everyone about what they loved about a galaxy far, far away. Sure, it drew some complaints over being too much like A New Hope, but true or not, the fact is that it got the franchise off to a new foot and people were excited for Star Wars again. Especially for Episode VIII.
It was clear from the start that The Last Jedi would be the most different Star Wars movie yet. Not only did the name tease a major franchise bombshell, but even the dialogue in the marketing continued the trend established in The Force Awakens of the new movies serving as a meta-commentary on Star Wars fandom, with dialogue from Kylo Ren commanding “let the past die” and words from Luke warning “this is not going to go the way you think.”
Where The Force Awakens used Starkiller Base to “kill the past,” wiping away the relevance of the political and military history leading up to the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi used a familiar face to do the same thing to what we know about the Force and the Jedi by having Yoda’s Force Ghost confront Luke and destroy the Jedi Library.
While Yoda’s thematic and plot functions are all successful in the context of the story, the way the movie handles the topic of Force Ghosts, and Yoda, opens a can of worms that the franchise may very well never be able to properly resolve.
Why Did Yoda Only Appear Now?
One of the biggest questions with theYoda’s Force Ghost reveal is “why now?” Or, rather, “why not earlier?” Sure, it’s made clear by Rey that Luke has entirely closed himself off from the Force, so it (partially) makes sense that he wouldn’t be in contact with any of his former masters (although we’ll circle back to this in a moment). But is this the first time he’s talked to Yoda since his death in Return of the Jedi?
The backstory here could go both ways, but if Yoda and Luke did have any prior interaction it certainly wasn’t during the time of his training of Ben, struggling with his nephew’s growing darkness, or deciding to abandon the galaxy and allowing the Jedi to end. No, Yoda found it necessary to intervene in the end only to teach Luke a lesson he could have – should have – imparted years earlier.
It’s not as if that’s inconsistent for Force Ghosts. Obi-Wan speaks to Luke in all 3 original trilogy movies both to impart casual advice and to provide him aid in critical moments. Allowing Luke’s story to play out all the way to where it did beforeYoda’s Force Ghost intervenes demotes Force Ghosts from the status of etherial guide to something that resembles more of a deus ex machina, existing in the movie not for the sake of internal logic or consistency with Luke’s Jedi path in the previous movies, but merely as a plot device to round off Luke’s story on the island since no other characters are around to help him through the final stage of his character arc.
Where are Anakin and Obi-Wan’s Force Ghosts?
The other problem is the fact that the only Force Ghost present is Yoda. At the end of his time with Star Wars, George Lucas had just delved into the nature of Force Ghosts, explaining how Yoda learned from the ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn how to manifest consciousness after death. In turn, he passes the knowledge on to Obi-Wan, and the exiled Jedi Masters spend their years in isolation after the fall of the Jedi honing this ability, which ultimately allows them to guide Luke through his initial Jedi training to save the galaxy and, presumably, preserve the Jedi legacy.
But this poses another problem for The Last Jedi‘s Ghost Yoda appearance. Why OnlyYoda’s Force Ghost – or even Yoda at all? Obi-Wan was Luke’s master and he’s the one that guided him through the twists and turns of the original trilogy. Yoda’s only other canonical appearance after his death is when he appeared to Luke alongside Obi-Wan and Anakin at the end of Return of the Jedi.
In lieu of just Obi-Wan appearing, an intervention of the magnitude that Yoda presents would make a lot more sense for a Force Ghost Jedi Council of sorts. Luke is even at a Jedi Temple where this sort of vision or appearance could make a lot of logical sense. The decision to use onlyYoda’s Force Ghost means Luke’s own mentor, Obi-Wan; father, Anakin; and and even the first Jedi to manifest after death, Qui-Gon all had less interest in intervening than Yoda, who, while important, doesn’t make much sense to appear alone.
Fans should be thrilled to get any Force Ghosts at all, it’s an awesome thing for Rian Johnson to make this happen in The Last Jedi, but it sure does raise some questions about why several figures more important to Luke’s circumstance wouldn’t also appear to him, with the most obvious answer, unfortunately, being that incorporating Yoda was simply the most practical, not the most logical or story consistent, way to provide this story solution.
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