OK so the trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this movie. Let me count the ways:
First and foremost, Kylo Ren. I don’t think there’s been a more beautifully balanced anti-villain in my lifetime. I want so desperately to see this murderous little shit redeemed—I want to see him redeemed despite that he killed literally my favorite fictional character of all time, I want to see him redeemed SO HARD, AGAINST A WALL… wait, where was I? Right, Kylo Ren and how masterfully these folks have managed to put us both in sympathy with, and in terror of, this complete and raging asshole. It starts with the very first scene, a contemplative and quiet moment as Kylo Ren looks out a window. It’s so peaceful and pretty that your brain almost doesn’t register that the shower which he’s watching out the window isn’t rain, but sparks from assembling weaponry. We’re meant to draw a parallel between Kylo and the weapons outside—both he, and the At-Ats and other insensible war machines, are just tools for Snoke to manipulate, as the voiceover makes clear: “When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power… and beyond that, something truly special.”
The trailer cleverly uses this as the pivot point to Rey, who is presented as Kylo’s opposite in every way: dressed in homespun tones of dust and cream, sharing an island with Luke that is as green and verdant as every space occupied by the First Order isn’t. Rey, upon realizing that the Force is active and coursing within her, is looking for help learning to control it, and the voiceover makes it sound like she’s asking Luke for that help. “Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.” I’m going to go ahead and guess that this snippet of dialogue is actually from her encounter with Kylo Ren at the end of the trailer (“I need someone to show me my place in all this.”), which encounter I’m furthermore going to guess takes place in the flaming wreckage that Luke’s eventually going to crawl out from under. That makes sense as a story arc, right? Hermit!Luke trains Rey, behaves like kind of a dick to her because he’s Luke and it’s been lonely on the island, and when the full extent of her powers reveal themselves he gets spooked and refuses to train her further. We don’t get to see him change his mind because Kylo Ren picks that exact moment to show up and burn shit to the ground; Rey, still stung by Luke’s rejection, decides that Kylo is the only other mentor who can possibly understand her and goes off with him, leaving Luke, who knows what kind of danger she’s in, to dig himself out from under the flaming drywall and follow them—with C3PO as his erstwhile sidekick. Finn, too, is surrounded by enemies—he’s back in his First Order uniform, embedded with the enemy on a mission of subterfuge. Poe is the only one of the trio who seems to be free of the First Order and running loose around the galaxy; my guess is that he’ll take the wild-card/Han role in the new trio of friends, providing rescues and sex appeal as needed.
Beyond speculation, this trailer offers tantalizing glimpses of two new creatures—a Porg, which, we learn, has a battle yelp like the beginning of “Immigrant Song” as sung by a Furby, and a crystal fox, which looks like a coyote designed by Swarovski. We’re going to need some interesting animals around to distract us from the knowledge that we’re watching Carrie Fisher’s last performance. Even if Kylo Ren doesn’t kill her, 2016 did, and seeing Leia in a situation of terrible peril with the knowledge that she’s gone feels strange and obscene, especially from the vantage point of 2017, when we are all in terrible peril. The Aboriginal people of Australia refuse to see any movie that may contain images of a dead person. I’m beginning to understand why. “The Last Jedi” promises us an ever-darkening world, just as “The Empire Strikes Back” did. I only hope we all live long enough to see the return of the Jedi.