5 Reasons Luke's Fate in The Last Jedi Was Sloppy
The Last Jedi Review
If this article's title wasn't warning enough, spoilers for The Last Jedi (and prior Star Wars movies) ahead.
Before saying anything else–I loved Episode 8, even the dumb little porgs, and highly recommend it to both series veterans and casual fans. However, one aspect of the film greatly puzzles me— Luke's unusual death in the climax. To see why it struck the wrong cord, let's examine five disturbing qualities of Master Skywalker's fate!
1. It's Predictable
Heck, if a nitwit like me can figure it out, anyone can. Prior to the movie, my girlfriend and I excitedly discussed what we thought might happen, and I mentioned the films' history of killing off the old mentors. I hoped things would take a different turn, but lo and behold, Episode 8 stuck to the same formula we've seen numerous times:
- Wise old Qui-Gon dies in The Phantom Menace (Episode 1).
- Wise old Obi-Wan dies in A New Hope (Episode 4).
- Wise old Yoda dies in Return of the Jedi (Episode 6).
- Somewhat-wise old Han, while not a Jedi, still served as a mentor of sorts to Rey and Finn, and also met his demise in The Force Awakens (Episode 7).
Upon reaching senior status, no character has lasted more than an episode or so, and sadly, The Last Jedi (TLJ) is no exception.
2. Rey Has No Teacher
Some may argue that Luke chose to die planning to help Rey as a Force spirit. That may be true, but wouldn't he be of more aid alive? Rey is still quite inexperienced with the Force, and proper training alongside a living master dwarfs whatever tidbits Luke can give from beyond the grave.
Consider Obi-Wan, who provided small nuggets of wisdom after perishing, but rather than try to teach Luke elected to prolong his Jedi training for three years so then-living Yoda could step in. Plus, Obi-Wan's skills had waned in old age, limiting his physical help in fighting the Empire; as TLJ showed, Luke still had plenty of power in him, power the Resistance could certainly have used against the First Order.
3. Other Jedi Had Reason to Die
Here's a big one. Other Jedi actively avoided death, knowing it restrains their usefulness, and in the rare instances they orchestrate their demise, it was necessary for the survival of others.
- Qui-Gon died unintentionally because he was outdueled and slain by Darth Maul.
- Obi-Wan sacrificed himself both because his aging skills were dwindling and because someone needed to stall Vader while the young Rebels escaped the Death Star.
- Yoda simply died from old age. Had he been a spry 650 instead of 900, maybe he could have physically joined Luke in combating the Emperor.
Point is, these guys (all eventual Force spirits) all died either not intending to, or intending to but with an actual physical purpose. Luke just does it so that Rey can receive the focus in Episode 9, which makes sense from her arc's standpoint, but the way it's presented, not the narrative's.
4. Why Have the "Twist" that Luke is Alive if He's About to Die Anyway?
Remember Kylo Ren's confrontation with Luke in TLJ's end? After Luke toys with his former student, Kylo seemingly lands a fatal blow with his saber—until we see Luke has been fooling us with an illusion the whole time, and his actual body is safely elsewhere.
At this point in the film, I was ecstatic, thinking they had played with but finally subverted the trope of the mentor expiring. Yet a minute later, Luke actually does die, seemingly just choosing to pass on. Why trick us with the "Luke's actually alive" reveal if he dies so soon after? And isn't this what Kylo wanted anyway: Luke dead? Maybe in a slightly less-gruesome manner, but dead is dead.
5. Rose's Message is Contradicted
Sure, Rose's intended recipient of her "don't sacrifice what we love in order to win" message is Finn, not Luke, but the point still applies. Luke knows plenty living who still love him (Leia, Chewbacca, R2, etc.) and who could certainly use a hand (a mechanical one) when dealing with the First Order.
But soon after the audience hear's Rose's heartfelt belief, one that seems to identify a theme of the movie (look at Poe's story) of limited allied death, we witness Luke voluntarily die. Oops.
What do you think of Luke's death?
Future of Star Wars
As mentioned, I'm aware that Luke is dying is likely just a way to pin the Jedi responsibilities of the next film solely on Rey, but the writers could enact that end in far superior manners than a near-pointless death. Luke could be busy with a personal task, or he could have been captured and need a rescue. Heck, freeze him in carbonite—I would have preferred almost anything besides what I consider the strangest and most unsatisfying death in Star Wars.
Perhaps Episode 9 will shed light on the matter, but I doubt Luke will do more than the same old—offer words of encouragement (and nothing else) from the other side. Feel free to share your thoughts, and I'll see you at our next Star Wars review!
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Jeremy Gill