Warning: The following may contain spoilers for the upcoming “Star Wars” film.
On Monday night, tickets for the upcoming “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” went on sale, and Lucasfilm released the first official trailer for the next entry in the Skywalker saga. Unfortunately, some fans missed it, with Fandango crashing harder than this AT-AT. Some others simply heeded the advice of director Rian Johnson, avoiding the trailer altogether. Regardless, the hype surrounding “The Last Jedi” is only bound to get bigger as fans debate their most pressing theories. Without further ado, here are four of mine.
1. Snoke is from the Unknown Regions
This is a theory that’s been kicking around online, especially on Collider’s “Jedi Council” podcast, and with good reason — the “Aftermath” series of novels, an issue of the Poe Dameron comic and “The Clone Wars” television show have all involved the Unknown Regions in some capacity.
In essence, the Unknown Regions are sections of uncharted territory in the Star Wars universe, and they are significant because in the “Aftermath” novels, Emperor Palpatine sends explorers to search for the ultimate source of the dark side. In such novels, it is suggested that the First Order, the evil military cell from the sequel trilogy, originated in the Unknown Regions as a result of Palpatine’s exploratory missions. I believe that the Empire found Snoke (Andy Serkis), who we saw leading the First Order as a massive hologram in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” hanging out in the Unknown Regions, which is why the Empire built a base on Crait — a planet I’ll explain below. In essence, the First Order originated from the Unknown Regions, because the Empire found Snoke there.
This is where Monday’s trailer comes in. That trailer, along with the teaser which released last April, features a planet called Crait, tinged with red dust and red crystals. From Monday’s trailer, you can find Crait at 0:08, 0:11, 1:28, 1:47 and 1:56. Rian Johnson has said that Crait is “way out there,” which suggests to me that the planet is in the Unknown Regions.
Given the Empire and First Order’s interest in the Unknown Regions, it isn’t surprising to see Imperial-era AT-AT’s walking alongside the much bigger, much newer First Order Gorilla Walkers amid the red dust of Crait at 0:08. The presence of Imperial-era AT-AT’s suggests that the very first shot of the trailer (the first photo below) is an Imperial base on Crait, as that shot features AT-AT’s (circled in yellow) and Imperial-era chicken walkers (circled in red).
The shot at 0:08 (the second photo below) suggests that the First Order is repurposing an old Imperial Base, along with the old AT-AT’s (circled in yellow) within it. The implication of an Imperial base on Crait fits with what we know from the recently released novel “Leia, Princess of Alderaan” — that Crait functioned as a Rebel base during the Galactic Civil War (that’s Episodes IV through VI). If the Rebels had a presence on the planet, then it follows that the Empire would, too. Snoke’s presence in the Unknown Regions would explain the Imperial and Rebel presence on Crait.
In short, if there were a powerful Force user somewhere out there, wouldn’t both sides want to know about it? In any case, I believe that “The Last Jedi” will reveal some tidbit about Snoke’s identity, and I’m betting that it’s got something to do with the Unknown Regions and the planet Crait.
2. General Leia might die, but probably not how you think
In Monday’s trailer between 1:07 and 1:25, it is heavily implied that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) will follow his recent patricide with the murder of General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) in a space dogfight. Kylo’s ominous narration lends credence to this possibility: “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”
The editing of the trailer, however, is a misdirect of sorts. We’re led to believe that this closeup of General Leia signals her facing imminent doom:
But the extras in the background don’t seem worried about anything. The view of space outside does not at all suggest a dogfight, either. Thus, it seems likely that this shot is not Leia reacting to an attack from Kylo Ren — the meditative, calm expression on her face suggests tapping into the Force, sensing something significant happening to Kylo or Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), just as she did in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Even though I doubt the trailer shows anything more significant than a clever red herring, I still think there’s a high likelihood that Leia will be killed off in “The Last Jedi,” especially given the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher last December. Killing Leia in a film so soon after Han Solo’s death might not be intuitive, but sending Leia out heroically is one of three options that Lucasfilm and Disney have, the other two being writing her out of the story, Paul Walker-style, or recasting the character.
Neither of the two latter options seem viable — ignoring such an important character in a never-ending franchise seems impractical, and recasting such an iconic role would invite more ire than Lucasfilm and Disney can handle right now. Nevertheless, editing the film so as to suggest Leia’s death — perhaps as a result of something Kylo Ren does, filling him with the guilt necessary to turn to the light side — seems like the most efficient and tasteful way to address Fisher’s passing. Regardless, it’s pretty safe to say that I’ll be an emotional wreck in the theater.
3. Kylo Ren’s redemption
This most recent trailer ended with what I believe is another misdirect — the suggestion that Rey embraces the dark side of the Force. This suggestion is bolstered by a line said by Luke himself: “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” Here, Luke seems to reference his ignoring of Kylo Ren’s strength, which led to Kylo giving in to the temptation of the dark side. Luke fears the same might happen to Rey, leading into the two final shots of the trailer — Rey saying that she needs someone to show her her place in the world and Kylo holding out his hand, as if to bring Rey into the fold of the dark side.
These two shots don’t match up, though. The calmer background behind Rey and the fire behind Kylo suggest two completely different shots merely stitched together for the trailer. It’s possible that a fire could just be behind Kylo but not Rey, but Rey’s line of dialogue about searching for her place in the world could easily be spoken to Luke.
While the theme of temptation to evil is a staple in the Star Wars franchise, I actually think that Kylo will have a redemptive arc in “The Last Jedi,” similar to Darth Vader’s ultimate redemption in “Return of the Jedi,” but distinct given that he’ll start down the path of redemption earlier, not at the eleventh hour like his grandfather — think Prince Zuko’s redemptive arc in “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” What’s more, any good screenwriter knows that a character must be fundamentally changed throughout a story, and if there’s anything we know about Rian Johnson, it’s that he’s a damn good screenwriter. It would be boring to see Kylo go from a patricidal, peak of evil to just slightly more despicable peaks of evil. Rather, the more interesting route would be to have Kylo join forces with Rey at the end of the film, teaming up to take down Snoke in “Episode IX.”
If the Porg — the adorable space-puffins that befriend Chewbacca — don’t do a rendition of John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates,” I refuse to watch “The Last Jedi.”