Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.
The Star Wars franchise prides itself on sticking the landing, and The Last Jedi does its best to rise to the occasion. The previous eight installments generally had iconic — or at least memorable — closeouts, ranging from the medal ceremony in A New Hope to Rogue One’s heartbreaking CGI Carrie Fisher cameo. But rarely have the final minutes of a Star Wars flick been as consequential and surprising as those of The Last Jedi. They also happen to be a little odd, and possibly divisive.
The central event of the ending is the Battle of Crait, about which we have a few questions. Why was the battering ram the only way the First Order could think to crush the Resistance members in the old Rebellion hideout? Sure, there’s a big door over the mouth of the cave, but couldn’t they just lower their Star Destroyers into the atmosphere to shoot the rocky top of the structure and cause a cave-in? And how hard would it really be to shoot down all the old Rebel B-wings in quick succession? And why wasn’t the First Order tracking the Millennium Falcon when everyone flew away in it?
Okay, okay, critiquing the logistics of a Star Wars battle is nitpicky. A more interesting matter in the fight is the aborted self-sacrifice of Finn (John Boyega). He flies toward the battering-ram laser in an effort to disable it, kamikaze-style, but his new pal Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) knocks him off course at the last second. They talk in the wreckage (and, improbably, don’t get blown up by the Gorilla Walkers) and Rose kisses him and tells him that the Resistance will win not by destroying what they hate, but by saving what they love. On one hand, it’s a solid line. But on the other hand, is that sound fighting strategy? Aren’t there only like a dozen Resistance fighters left, and wouldn’t they all be blown up due to Rose’s actions, thus meaning they’ll never win?
That question is rendered somewhat moot by the fact that the cavalry shows up in the form of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Or is it Luke Skywalker? The Jedi Master appears before the Resisters, speaks some words to Leia in a beautiful little scenelet, then walks out to the battleground to stand alone against the First Order. The baddies fire everything they’ve got at Luke, but it’s not enough to destroy him. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) exits his vehicle to confront Luke on his own and attempts to slash him with his lightsaber, only to find that it goes right through him. We cut to Ahch-To, where Luke is seen meditating — it turns out he’d just manifested an apparition of himself from across the stars. In doing all that, he buys the Resistance time to run away out the back of the cave. Luke ends his astral projection and, back on Ahch-To, promptly evaporates like Obi-Wan in A New Hope.
Okay. So. Some questions about Luke. First off: Jesus H. Force, how powerful are the Jedi? Earlier in the movie, we saw Leia save herself from certain death by somehow floating through outer space, and here, we see Luke convey his soul across countless light-years through sheer force of will. And that’s on top of Yoda showing up as a Force Ghost and physically interacting with the world, which we haven’t seen Force Ghosts do before. Perhaps we’ve gone too far into Dragon Ball Z territory? Then again, it’s mighty cool to watch all of that.
Another question about Luke: What, exactly, happened to him at the end? Did he die of exhaustion? Or did he choose to die? If the latter, then why? Maybe, given the new rules of Force Ghosts, he thought he’d be able to basically do the same stuff without having to worry about, like, diet and exercise. I’d be shocked if we don’t see more of him in Force Ghost form, and perhaps more than was originally intended: Force Awakens was a Han Solo showcase, Last Jedi featured Luke heavily, and Episode IX was supposed to complete the trinity by being a Leia showcase, but Carrie Fisher’s death made that a no-go.
Finally, let’s talk about the last few seconds of the movie. We head back to Canto Bight and see some of the child slaves (or are they wage slaves? Do we know if they’re getting paid?) from earlier in the picture. One of them gets sent outside to do some sweeping and pulls the broom to himself using the Force, then fondles a ring with the Resistance logo, and looks to the sky longingly. Presumably we’ll see more of this kid, yes? How many others are there like him out there? How prevalent is the Force, these days? Perhaps most important: If he gets a lightsaber, how badass will it be?