The new Star Wars movie The Last Jedi is thoughtful and inventive, presenting a fresh take on familiar elements like Luke Skywalker and the Force. Fantasy author Erin Lindsey says those changes have proven to be too much for some diehard Star Wars fans.
“When people get really attached to a property, they get a certain sense of entitlement about how the story needs to unfold,” Lindsey says in Episode 287 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And when expectations are dashed—even in a way that ought to be pleasing, because having your expectations dashed sometimes is a lot of fun, it’s a good thing—it can be disappointing.”
“This is arguably my favorite Star Wars movie,” Kirtley says. “It has the most moral complexity of any of the movies, it has the most surprises of any of the movies, and is the most intellectual and self-aware, and gives you the most to think about afterward.”
Science fiction writer Seth Dickinson agrees that The Last Jedi is doing fascinating things with the Star Wars universe, particularly when it comes to the movie’s surreal presentation of the Force.
“There was a sort of David Lynch-ian scene where Rey goes down into this ‘dark side hole’ and encounters a mirror that turns her into a causal string of herself in the past and the future,” he says. “I thought that scene was fantastic. It wasn’t a pastiche of any other mystical vision. I wanted Rey to have three more of those scenes.”
Author Rajan Khanna feels that some amount of disorientation and alienation is inevitable, as we start to lose some of the most familiar Star Wars actors and characters. “They’re setting up a world more removed from the touchstones that we know from Star Wars,” he says, “which I think is why it’s starting to feel a little bit weird to some people.”
Listen to the complete interview with Erin Lindsey, Seth Dickinson, and Rajan Khanna in Episode 287 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
David Barr Kirtley on J.J. Abrams:
“My impression of J.J. Abrams at this point—and this might be completely unfair, I don’t know him or anything—but my impression is that he loves movies, and he knows everything there is to know about movies, and doesn’t have a lot to say. Whereas I feel like Rian Johnson has things to say. And I’m afraid that this trilogy could easily mirror the first trilogy, where you have the crowd-pleasing first movie, then you have the dark, kind of weird second movie that people only in retrospect recognize was the most interesting one, and then you have a third mindless crowd-pleasing one again. And I’m sort of expecting that J.J. Abrams is going to come in on the next movie and it’s just going to be fun and the good guys are going to win, and there won’t be anything more to it than that.”
Seth Dickinson on the Force:
“I think Luke realized that there are very, very many bad ways to use the Force. One of them is you become a dark sider who wants to take over the galaxy. But another is you just get enough Force knowledge to wave your sword around and kill people who don’t have the Force, and you set yourself up as this monastic order of space cops, who rather than trying to understand the universe or achieve enlightenment, just become a tool of the state. Luke realized the Jedi order was basically these nebbishy, purposefully self-deceiving bureaucrats who refused to take the next necessary step in studying the Force, which is to leave the world and go off on your own and do nothing. And I think that is why Luke is unwilling to act.”
David Barr Kirtley on Supreme Leader Snoke:
“I don’t know that they have to say where Snoke came from—I mean, they never really say where the Emperor comes from in the other movies, before you get to the prequels and everything—but apparently there’s all sorts of stuff in the books and comics that is going to explain all that. Apparently there’s stuff in the Chuck Wendig books—which I haven’t read—which is sort of indicating that the Emperor had a contingency plan where all the Imperial forces were going to leave the galaxy and then come back, and they hooked up with Snoke out there, and he’s some sort of alien from beyond the rim of the galaxy. I’m sure there’s going to be 10 years worth of books and cartoons that are going to flesh all that out, and I’m really not too enthusiastic about that. I wish there had just been two lines in the movie that said where he came from, and I would have been happy with that.”
Erin Lindsey on Luke Skywalker:
“It would have made more sense with Luke going off to become a cranky hermit if he were not only somehow indirectly responsible for the downfall of Ben Solo, but somehow that piece—of the re-establishment of the Jedi order—is somehow connected to tipping the scales, and tipping the scales is what creates that imbalance that brings the dark side into ascension again. And he kind of implies that the Jedi have done that in the past, without implying that the Jedi have done that this time around, so you don’t really get a sense of how we got from there to here. For all these callbacks to the previous series, there is this missing space, both for the dark side and the light side—how did we get to this point?”