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What the Middle Chapters of STAR WARS Could Tell Us About THE LAST JEDI

The Star Wars saga films are tied together by deep mythology, the Skywalker family, the epic fight of good vs. evil, and parallels. While the movies aren’t formulaic, they have beats that put them into the same rhythm. For example, Episodes I, IV, and VII all start with a character on a desert planet that goes on a Hero’s Journey. Connective elements like that make the trilogies a kind of poetry with repeating verses.

The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson told Entertainment Weekly that having the middle chapter of this trilogy follow in the footsteps of The Empire Strikes Back wasn’t intentional, but some similarities are just there. He explained, “Rey is off in a remote location with a Jedi master, and the Resistance is in a tough spot, and we’re intercutting those stories. By its very nature, there are some structural parallels.”

With a new trailer for Episode VIII here, it’s easy to see the parallels Johnson referenced, particularly when it comes to Rey. Training with Luke does not seem to be going as Rey hoped and dreamed. Luke’s scared of her strength. And in the trailer, she seemingly turns to Kylo for help. Jedi learners rebelling against their Masters has been part of the middle chapters of the prequel and original trilogies.

In Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker rebelled against Obi-Wan Kenobi. Instead of sticking by Padmé’s side on Naboo, he took her to Tatooine because he had visions about his mother Shmi. Once home on the desert planet, Anakin turned vengeful after learning of Shmi’s death and killed Tusken Raiders—which you could argue was like a rite of passage similar to Luke’s experience in the dark side cave.

Anakin then rejoined with Obi-Wan for the Battle of Geonosis, which started the Clone Wars.

In Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker constantly resisted Yoda‘s teachings. He was impatient and angry and barely listened to any of the Jedi Master’s coaching. After an unnerving vision in the dark side cave, Luke rebelled against Yoda by ignoring the Jedi’s warnings and leaving Dagobah to go to Cloud City to help his friends.

Luke’s story was brought into the same place as the other main characters in Cloud City. Luke’s confrontation with Darth Vader led him to the truth about his father’s identity.

And now, in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Rey appears to be having a difficult time with Luke. To ask someone for help and to have that person look at you with frightened eyes has to be unnerving. Maybe Luke handles his fear by trying to discourage Rey from using the Force. He sends her into the Force tree, and she could have a vision like Luke did all those years ago. That could be where the scene with Kylo happens.

The stage is set for Rey to rebel against Luke’s wishes and to leave to help the Resistance—the Millennium Falcon has a heck of a pilot in the scenes in the mines underneath Crait’s surface and “Rey’s Theme” is playing during those scenes—and/or to look for guidance from Kylo and Supreme Leader Snoke.

I like this connective tissue. Just because the outline has similarities to previous Star Wars films doesn’t mean it’s not different or unique. Like with The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi will stand apart because of the new (more diverse) cast, settings, character conflicts, etc.

Are you making any predictions for The Last Jedi based on what we’ve seen in the middle chapters of previous Star Wars films? Let me know in the comments.

Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. Follow her on Twitter and keep up with her Disney food adventures on Instagram.

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Images: Disney/Lucasfilm

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