Since we did not even get to hear Luke Skywalker speak in The Force Awakens, we do not know much about his current state of mind. However, given that the main plot of The Force Awakens was finding Luke and the title of Episode 8 refers to Luke, he will undoubtedly play a major role in The Last Jedi. Therefore, this article will theorize about Luke’s current mental state and discuss the implications for The Last Jedi. My theory will foreshadow the importance of Rey in The Last Jedi, explain why Luke wants the Jedi to end, and suggest that the force ghosts will not get along in Episode 8.
Luke is Likely in a Bad Place Psychologically at the Start of the Last Jedi
To understand why Luke’s mental state is likely in a bad place at the start of The Last Jedi, consider all of the psychologically damaging events and experiences in his past:
- Luke grew up without knowing either of his biological parents
- Luke’s loving guardians are brutally murdered and Luke sees their burnt carcasses
- Luke sees one of his mentors, Obi-Wan Kenobi, murdered in front of his eyes
- The pressure of destroying the Death Star, a technological terror that has the capability to kill trillions of people, falls on Luke
- Luke has his arm chopped off
- Luke learns that his father is a terribly evil man that has killed thousands of people and helps lead a repressive totalitarian government
- Two of Luke’s main mentors, Obi-Wan and Yoda, lie about the true identity of his father
- Luke feels significant pressure to murder his own father
- Luke learns that the woman he made out with and likely has romantic feelings for is his sister
- Luke is tortured by the Emperor
- Luke’s father dies in his arms, minutes after he turns to the light side
- Even after Luke helped overthrow the evil Empire, many people turn on him (and Leia) after they learn that Darth Vader was his father
- Luke’s nephew Ben Solo, who Luke was supposed to ensure remained on the light side, helps murder Luke’s students
- Luke’s former apprentice, Ben Solo, murders Luke’s best friend (Han Solo)
- Luke’s hard work and sacrifice overthrowing the Empire is at least partially reversed with the rise of the First Order and the destruction of the New Republic
After all of this trauma, there’s little mystery as to why Luke would be severely depressed and discouraged at the beginning of The Last Jedi.
In The Force Awakens, Han explains how Luke reacted to his apprentice, Ben Solo, betraying Luke and his new Jedi Order:
“He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice, turned against him and destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible. He just walked away from everything.”
Clearly, Luke felt guilty about the death and destruction his own apprentice caused. This made Luke (at least temporarily) turn away from his hero’s path and abandon the fight against evil in the short-term. Although we don’t know whether Luke went searching for the First Jedi Temple to try and gain information or wisdom that could help counter evil in the long-term, clearly Luke stepped away from the short-term fight against the First Order.
In The Force Awakens novelization, we also get a hint about Luke’s state of mind when Rey sees Luke on Ahch-T0:
“…his countenance was haunted.”
Likely, Luke is haunted by the damage Kylo Ren and the First Order have done to the galaxy, as well as his other past traumas.
Similarly, in the script for The Force Awakens, Rey senses that Luke is in a bad place psychologically:
“A kindness in his eyes, but there’s something tortured too.”
Again, we see evidence that the cumulative effect of Luke’s suffering has taken a toll on his psyche.
Furthermore, Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, had this to say about Luke in The Last Jedi:
“…and what is very apparent from where we left off in The Force Awakens and begin in The Last Jedi, is that Rey has a certain expectation of Luke. And as a lot of people know, it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because they might not be what you expect.”
Although Rey has a very high opinion of Luke in The Force Awakens and appears to consider him a hero that would not think twice about fighting evil, Luke clearly disappoints her in, at least, the beginning of The Last Jedi.
Finally, I would like to point to The Last Jedi poster as one final piece of evidence. Though one might question whether posters can actually tell us anything about the plot of The Last Jedi, remember that Luke’s absence on The Force Awakens poster actually hinted at an important plot point (i.e., that searching for the missing Luke would be the main plot of The Force Awakens). What stands out from this poster is that Luke is juxtaposed with the evil Kylo Ren, but both are shrouded in red and in darkness. While one might think this is a comparison of good versus evil, if that were the case, then Luke would not be colored in red and in darkness. Therefore, I believe that this poster signals that Luke will at least start off the movie in a very dark place (as will Kylo Ren). Considering that the only beacon of light in this poster comes from Rey, I believe this suggests that she is the only ray of light (pun intended) for Luke, and possibly Kylo.
So, if Luke is in a bad place mentally at the beginning of The Last Jedi, then what are the implications for the movie? I believe that the main implication is that Luke will initially reject or resist Rey’s pleas for Luke to rejoin the fight against the First Order and the dark side. Consequently, I believe that Rey will actually need to persuade Luke to accept the call to adventure one more time and become the leader he is. Since we see Luke training Rey in The Last Jedi trailer, it seems that Rey will eventually be successful in this effort. Nevertheless, I believe that in the beginning of the film we are going to see a very different Luke Skywalker than we have ever seen before.
Luke is Extremely Frustrated with the Jedi Philosophy
The reason I believe that Luke is extremely frustrated with the Jedi philosophy is that he has seen first-hand many of its failings. This starts with the fact that Darth Vader emerged directly from the Jedi Order. Moreover, if Luke has talked to the force ghost of his father, then he will likely learn that Anakin turned to the dark side because the Jedi forbade him from having an open relationship with the woman he loved and did not provide him any comfort when he believed Padme was going to die in childbirth. In fact, Yoda’s advice was about as cold as you can get:
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
This pattern of the Jedi putting little value on compassion and love continued in the original trilogy. When Luke wanted to leave his training with Yoda early to come to the rescue of his friends, Han and Leia, Yoda advises Luke that: “if you honor what they fight for,” then you should sacrifice them for the greater cause. Yoda makes this same mistake a third time when he insists that Luke kill his own father rather than try and turn him back to the light side.
Furthermore, the Jedi’s cold philosophy is clearly illustrated by their practice of taking force-sensitive children away from their parents and never letting them see their mom and dad again. Of course, Anakin was taken away from his caring mother, and he ostensibly held a grudge against the Jedi for not letting him come back to Tatooine and free her/save her from death.
It should also be noted that Luke may have followed the advice of Yoda and Obi-Wan’s force ghosts by taking (with permission from Han and Leia) Ben Solo from his parents in an effort to prevent him from falling to the dark side. However, this strategy clearly did not succeed, and there is evidence that this Jedi philosophy actually had a part to play in Ben’s fall. For example, in The Force Awakens documentary, Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, says:
“…having all of these special powers and having your parents kind of be absent during that process on their own agendas…He is lost in the world he was raised in and feels abandoned by the people he’s closest with. He’s angry because of that.”
In the same documentary, JJ Abrams says:
Snoke targeted Ben Solo and his “parent’s aren’t there to guide him.”
Leia had it right when she said, “Luke is a Jedi. You’re his father.”
It is no great mystery why some would reject the Jedi’s often cold and compassionless philosophy and turn to the dark side instead. Perhaps one reason Luke wants the Jedi to end is to stop this cycle.
Besides the Jedi’s often cold philosophy, they also often have a tendency to lie. For example, Obi-Wan and Yoda lied to Luke about the true identity of his father. Although this betrayal did not cause Luke turn to the dark side, it certainly had the potential to. Luke easily could have lost faith in Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the Jedi, and instead accepted his father’s offer to rule the galaxy as father and son.
Though lying about Luke’s true father did not have serious consequences, the decision not to tell Ben Solo about the true identity of his grandfather (i.e., Darth Vader) may have been disastrous. Clearly, Ben Solo has become obsessed with emulating his grandfather and finishing whatever mission Ben believes that he started. Perhaps if Ben’s parents (or Luke) had told him this truth before he likely learned about it on the news or through a video message from Leia (see Bloodline), then they could have better educated Ben about the tragedy of Anakin’s life and squashed any curiosity he might have about his grandfather. Again, maybe Ben was lied to on the advice of Obi-Wan and Yoda’s force ghosts.
There are theoretically many reasons why Luke might be extremely frustrated with the Jedi philosophy.
The quantity of evidence that Luke is extremely frustrated by the Jedi philosophy is small, but what we do have is significant. Of course, the most important piece of evidence comes from The Last Jedi trailer:
“I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
Given Luke’s devotion the light side in the original trilogy and his proud proclamation to the Emperor that “I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” this is a shocking line to come out of Luke’s mouth and must signal a strong dissatisfaction with the Jedi.
Besides this bombshell, the other evidence that Luke is severely upset with the Jedi philosophy is indirect. For example, since we know that “The Last Jedi” in the title of Episode 8 refers to Luke, if we take the title literally, then we might conclude that Luke will be the last Jedi because of his belief that the Jedi must end.
Additionally, there is evidence that Lucasfilm is preparing Star Wars fans to move past the duality of the Jedi and the Sith. For example, Pablo Hidalgo has asserted that “there were no Sith in The Force Awakens”; Ashoka proclaimed that “I am no Jedi” and instead appears to be more a Gray Jedi; and Bendu says that “I am the one in the middle” between the Jedi and the Sith.
Since we see Luke training Rey in The Last Jedi trailer, I believe that there are two possible implications of Luke’s disillusionment with the Jedi. The first is that Luke believes the Jedi need to end in the beginning of the film, but Rey eventually convinces him to abandon this position and train her as a Jedi. Although this is consistent with my argument that Rey will convince Luke to join the fight once again, I don’t believe this is how it will play out in The Last Jedi. Instead, I think what Luke learns from The First Jedi Temple will help him develop a new philosophy of the the force distinct from the Jedi philosophy, and it is with this philosophy that he will train Rey. So, I actually believe that Luke will be the last Jedi.
Another possibility that this theory suggests is that we might see what I call “warring force ghosts” in The Last Jedi. Since Obi-Wan and Yoda essentially represent the traditional Jedi philosophy and Anakin likely still has grievances against the Jedi, despite turning back to the light side, there is the potential for significant disagreement among the force ghosts about how Luke should proceed with training the new generation of Jedi. My argument suggests that Obi-Wan and Yoda’s force ghosts convinced Luke to follow their advice initially, but after the betrayal of Ben Solo I would think that Anakin’s force ghost would have much more sway over Luke.
Whether my theories are right or wrong, I think we can all at least count on and look forward to Luke being a central player in The Last Jedi!