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Saturday, December 09, 2023

‘The Last Jedi’ title invites plot speculation

Following the events of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” “Episode VIII” will hit theaters Dec. 15 of this year, but has remained nameless—until Monday morning.

“The Last Jedi” has been pegged as the title of the eighth installment, a name that carries its own mysterious aura. Turning to past titles could provide some context for what the next Skywalker installment holds.

“The Phantom Menace,” the first film in the prequel trilogy, is about Emperor Palpatine’s rise to power, as he is promoted from a senator to the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Palpatine’s secret identity is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, and this position gives the him power unbeknownst to the Republic.

“Attack of the Clones” is based on the Republic’s creation of a Clone army. This army leads an attack to help the Jedi when the Separatist army corners them on Geonosis.

“Revenge of the Sith” refers to Palpatine’s efforts to turn Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force. His efforts bear fruit as Anakin spurns his Jedi roots, and armed with the Clone army, utilizes Order 66 to wipe out the Jedi entirely as the Sith take control of the galaxy.

“A New Hope,” the beginning of the original trilogy, represents the reemergence of the Jedi to bring hope to the galaxy that was ruined by the Empire. Luke Skywalker, under an old Obi-Wan’s guidance, begins his Jedi training, set on the path to restoring balance to the Force—something Anakin was supposed to do.

“The Empire Strikes Back” follows the Empire’s assault on the Rebel base stationed in Hoth to make an example of the Rebels following the first Death Star’s demise. The attack leaves the Rebels fleeing and retreating as the Empire starts building the reincarnation of the Death Star.

“Return of the Jedi” seems to signal to Luke because he is returning the Light Side’s rule to the galaxy. However, this mistake could be made without close attention to Yoda’s words, who tells Luke he is not a Jedi until he battles Vader. The Jedi returning in this film is actually Anakin, whose Jedi roots reemerge when he throws Palpatine to his death to save Luke from death.

“The Force Awakens,” the beginning of the new trilogy, calls attention to the demise of the Jedi who lay dormant as Luke goes into hiding after the massacre of his apprentices by Kylo Ren. That awakening takes the form of Rey, a force-sensitive orphan whose origins remain unknown, which brings us to “Episode VIII.”

“The Last Jedi” makes first thoughts drift to the obvious: Luke. This could be a story about what Luke has been up to while in hiding and how he lost Ben Solo to Supreme Leader Snoke. However, he is also old and very reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi hiding out on Tatooine. The menacing red text that the signature “Star Wars” logo is written in could be a sign of blood and what usually follows it: death. Luke’s possible impending defeat could leave Rey as the last Jedi. Yet, without much training—just like Luke before—she doesn’t yet constitute the title of a Jedi. So, this could play into that point, making Rey and Luke both the last Jedi (it works as both singular and plural) as her training begins for her date with destiny to take down Kylo Ren—unless Chewbacca beats her to it.

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