After the highly anticipated return of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill to the Star Wars franchise was announced, some fans were left disappointed when Hamill's appearance in The Force Awakens was limited to a pensive exchange of glances with Rey in the final scene. Indeed, J.J. Abrams' reboot focused largely on Han Solo and Princess Leia, with Solo making his final bow in that famous galaxy far, far away. By contrast, The Last Jedi looks very much like it'll be a Skywalker-heavy affair.
The trailer for The Last Jedi has finally been released online, and although it may be a little spoiler-heavy for some Star Wars fans, it did reveal that much of the forthcoming film's focus will rest on the relationship and connection between Rey, Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren.
Of course, Luke and Rey have spent the past two years on an Irish hill staring at each other, and therefore the glaring, lingering question coming out of The Force Awakens was whether or not Luke will accept his old lightsaber. Will he train this mysterious young woman after his last Padawan infamously turned to the Dark Side? And perhaps more importantly, what exactly does Luke want from Rey?
Perhaps the most obvious answer to this question is that Luke wants a new student, although "want" might be a strong word for someone who's spent the last few years on a deserted island desperately trying to avoid all contact with the outside world. Nevertheless, footage released both The Last Jedi trailers explicitly depict Luke training Rey in the ways of The Force, teaching her both lightsaber duel techniques and how to control the newfound power Rey awakened in Episode VII.
As such, it might be logical to assume that Luke wants to turn Rey into a fully fledged Jedi, the same way Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda molded him back in the original trilogy. With the First Order on the rise, the galaxy needs all the Jedi it can get and although the new trailer makes Luke's misgivings very clear, Rey clearly wins him round enough to begin her tutelage.
A deciding factor in this mystery may prove to be Rey's parentage. Although currently unknown, the two most popular theories suggest that Rey is either Luke's own child or a descendant of Obi-Wan, and both possibilities could explain Luke's decision to take on a new student after the Kylo Ren debacle had seemingly deterred him from doing so. Whether Luke believes his own child will have a calmer temperament than his nephew, or whether he's simply repaying a debt to his former master, remains to be seen.
Material from The Last Jedi released thus far is heavily pushing the narrative that Luke Skywalker has become disillusioned with the ways of the Jedi and blames himself for the fall of Kylo Ren. It has also been confirmed that Luke believes the Jedi should be brought to an end before they cause any more destruction in the universe. As his quote in the first trailer stated: "It's time for the Jedi to end."
With this in mind, could Luke perhaps be training Rey in the hope that she'll be able to correct his mistakes? Is his intention to raise one "last Jedi" capable of bringing an end to the First Order, before calling time on the Jedi altogether? Skywalker has clearly lost faith in his own abilities but Rey might just offer a blank slate that Luke can use to atone for his past missteps.
While Luke Skywalker's self-imposed exile is understandable, it would go against everything fans know about the character if he were to simply sit back and do nothing, given that his ex-pupil Kylo Ren is currently wreaking havoc across the galaxy and has murdered Han Solo. Luke may be older and jaded now but he's unlikely to have become a man of inaction and Rey's arrival at Ahch-To may just be the spark needed to jolt the old-timer back to life. To that end, you can expect Luke to ultimately join Rey on the frontlines in her forthcoming struggle against the First Order.
One of the most significant takeaways from the new Episode VIII trailer is the concept of the "raw power" possessed by both Rey and Kylo Ren and interestingly, Luke comments that he was wrong to not be afraid of Kylo initially, going on to promise not to make the same mistake with Rey. Hearing this, it's possible that after a brief spell training Rey, Luke decides that what he really wants is for the youngster to go back to where she came from and leave her massive Jedi potential well alone.
Whether Luke chooses to stay isolated on Ahch-To or resolves to fight Kylo Ren and Snoke by himself, it appears that he may abandon Rey's training completely once he gets a glimpse of her true ability and would rather she played no part in the Jedi conflict.
Of course, it's entirely possible that in the finished film, this scene will act as little more than a blip in Rey's training, with the youngster eventually winning round her master and convincing him to continue teaching her the ways of The Force despite his evident reluctance to do so. However, it's also a distinct possibility that as Luke cut his own training short in The Empire Strikes Back, he ceases Rey's tuition also, forcing her to train alone in time for Episode IX, just as Luke did prior to Return of the Jedi.
Until The Last Jedi is released later this year, speculation over the relationship between Luke and Rey can only add to the massive sense of anticipation and excitement but one thing is clear: this meeting of Jedi Master and Padawan will not be a straightforward one. Although Rey's intentions are obvious, Luke's are far harder to read and it's worth keeping in mind those persistent rumors that Luke Skywalker could actually be the main villain of the new Star Wars trilogy...
- 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
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019