Another Star Wars trailer is here, and once again we’re hearing Luke Skywalker’s voice. Much like the second trailer for The Force Awakens, our first teaser for The Last Jedi, due for a December release, features a voiceover from the now old, bearded Jedi. But unlike last time, when Luke was touting the strength of the Force in the Skywalker family (“My father has it, I have it, my sister has it; you have that power, too”), his words now carry a much darker message. Toward the end of this two-minute spot, he drops a bomb likely to break the hearts of Rey and Star Wars fans across the galaxy: “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
Damn, Luke—that’s grim. No wonder John Boyega described The Last Jedi as much darker than its predecessor way back when we only knew it as Episode VIII. Director Rian Johnson is set to cast a cloud of doom upon Star Wars thicker than we’ve ever seen. But when you consider the journey of Luke Skywalker, it makes a ton of sense. He’s seen enough tragedy to lose faith in sanctity of the Jedi.
When Rey shows up to Luke’s island of solitude at the end of Episode VII, she’s interrupting his self-imposed exile and expecting him to go against the very reasons he put himself on that isolated island. He was fathered by a traitor—by the chosen one who betrayed the Jedi, destroyed its entire infrastructure, and joined the Sith. He saw the carnage Anakin Skywalker created when he became Darth Vader and actively fought against it, becoming a Jedi himself. And hey, it went pretty well. Luke convinced pops to double-cross Darth Sidious and fulfill his prophecy by restoring balance to the Force. Post-Return of the Jedi Luke had plenty of reason to be optimistic. Attempting to recreate the Jedi Order is a huge display of idealism.
But his triumph over Darth Sidious and Darth Vader and all of the goodwill that followed were for naught. He was betrayed by his own nephew, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, who would renounce his given name of Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren. Once again, a Skywalker betrayed the Jedi to destroy it and cross over to the Dark Side. What reason would you have to retain optimistic at this point? You know the saying: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
The Jedi are supposed to be the keepers of peace and justice in the galaxy, but Luke has lost faith in their ability to fulfill this carry out this role. Even if we avoid assigning blame ourselves, which Luke is clearly incapable of doing at this point, this is an unavoidable truth: in attempting to achieve peace, the Jedi have trained two pivotal figures in the Empire and the First Order, respectively. Both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren were created with the best intentions at heart. By choosing to exile himself and attempting to let himself die as the last Jedi, Luke is choosing not to fight the second wave of evil in his lifetime. But in his mind, he’s also choosing not to fuel the Dark Side any further. He’s not training anyone else who could possibly betray him and the beliefs he once held.
What did we expect? For Rey to show up with a lightsaber in her hand and Luke to immediately perk up and say, “Let’s build, fam?” He’s already committed to a massively tough decision, and it’s going to take a lot for him to believe in the Jedi once again. Knowing the general path of every hero story ever, we know there’s no way Luke doesn’t ultimately change his mind. But it’s going to take quite a lot from Rey, and possibly others, to finally push him. That’s why Daisy Ridley said earlier in the Last Jedi panel at the Star Wars Celebration that “it’s difficult when you meet your heroes, because it’s not quite what you expect.”
The trailer teased plenty more darkness in what looks like another flashback to Kylo Ren’s slaughter of the Jedi Order, Poe Dameron in trouble, and Kylo Ren looking as angsty as ever. But the most foreboding prospect of all is that of a jaded, disillusioned Jedi. This is no longer the blue-eyed teen learning about the legacy that surrounds him. It’s a beaten-down old man prepared to end it.