When Luke Skywalker went into self-imposed exile on Ahch-To, he made sure to destroy his only way off the planet: his trusty X-wing. Up until the release of this month's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, not much was known about what the character was up to following the events of Return of the Jedi. The Force Awakens, which primarily concerned itself with the search for the missing Luke, filled in vital gaps by suggesting he embarked on a search for the first Jedi Temple after Ben Solo turned to the dark side. With Episode VIII placing Luke front and center, writer/director Rian Johnson was able to peel back more layers.
As Last Jedi tells us, Skywalker came to "the most unfindable place in the galaxy" so he could die, along with the last remaining remnants of the Jedi religion. He never wanted to be discovered and had no intention of ever rejoining the fight before Rey arrived and inspired a change of heart. Luke was very serious about his desire to remain on the remote world until the end of his days, going so far as to intentionally ruin his beloved starship.
Early on in The Last Jedi, there's a short shot where Rey notices Luke's X-wing fully submerged in the water. Some may have thought this was to set up a potential callback to The Empire Strikes Back's famous scene where Yoda lifts the X-wing out of the swamp, but unlike Dagobah, Luke doesn't want to get off Ahch-To. VFX art director Kevin Jenkins had this to say in the book The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
"Rey explores the island, trying to understand Luke's self-imposed exile from the universe. She comes across a cave, sunk at high tide within the base of the island. Here she discovers Luke's scuttled T-65 X-wing, rusted and rotting away in the water. It was set alight before it sank. It shows Luke's commitment to his exile, as he destroyed his only means of leaving the planet."
The state of Luke's old fighter is one of the many dead giveaways in the film that Skywalker isn't really on Crait when he returns for his heroic stand. By that point in the film, Rey, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 had already left Ahch-To in the Millennium Falcon, which apparently was the only working ship on the island. Many would have loved to see Luke take flight in his X-wing one last time, but his sendoff (projecting himself across the galaxy via the Force) was much more fitting for The Last Jedi's story and the character himself. It was an awe-inspiring illustration of how powerful he had grown, and frankly more memorable than him blasting TIEs out the sky again. Fans got that thrill when the Falcon swooped in during the battle, and Luke deserved something monumental.
Knowing the X-wing was damaged beyond repair just gives viewers further insight into Luke's psyche at the start of The Last Jedi. From his nonchalant lightsaber flip to daily routine that involved fishing and milking native creatures, it was clear he had moved on. Thankfully, he came around and went out as the hero we all knew he was, but it was truly fascinating to watch him as a broken man filled with regret.
Source - The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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