Archive | May 11, 2020

Luke Island Blues

Rian Johnson has been either praised or blame, according to taste, for subverting, in The Last Jedi, the expectations raised by J. J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens.

In some respects the description is accurate – for example, in regard to Rey’s parentage, with Johnson subverting Abrams, and Abrams subsequently counter-subverting Johnson (like the humorous alternating-teacups-and-battlefleets round-robin mutual-hostility story that used to hang on the wall in the Chapel Hill Philosophy Department, and which I wish I could find online).

But one aspect that has been viewed as a subversion that I think is no such thing is Johnson’s treatment of Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t Johnson’s decision to have Luke hiding on a distant planet while the First Order was rising, his sister was fighting a desperate battle against it, and his nephew and former pupil was stalking around as a Vader wannabe. That was what Abrams established in TFA. If Rey had shown up and told Luke his sister and the galaxy needed him, and he had immediately replied, “oh, then I guess I’ll end my hermit-like existence and go fight the baddies,” it would have rendered inexplicable his not doing so long before Rey’s arrival.

The opening of TLJ¸ with Luke tossing the lightsabre over his shoulder and walking away, wasn’t a subversion of the final scene of TFA; it was pretty much the only continuation that made sense. If you wanted a more active role for Luke, blame Abrams, not Johnson.


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