That Grey Place:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

“I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.”

“So what does that make us?”

“Absolutely nothing….”

– Dark Helmet and Lone Starr, Space Balls

As of this writing, everyone and their Force immaculate parent incarnate are talking about Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And I wasn’t going to weigh in on this, at least not for a while. In fact, I’m not sure I’m going to be telling you anything that you haven’t already listened to, read, or even seen before. Instead, I’m going to do something different.

If I were to define this film in a few words, just a small selection of descriptors, I would start with the term grey. It’s an impression that remains in my mind ever since I watched The Last Jedi on Opening Night December 14, 2017. It didn’t help that I was running on fumes. Even with a reserved seat, I hadn’t eaten anything all day because I wanted to see this film. I wanted to see it badly after a series of real life challenges, and I wanted nothing more and nothing less at this point. I just wanted it in my mind.

But if I were to be honest with myself, even at this juncture before seeing the film, I think it was already in there in the pit of my stomach. Now, if you haven’t seen this movie – and you should – please don’t read any further. You can come right back to this part after watching it, and taking it from your heart, and placing it into your mind. I’ve practically told you this article’s thesis statement, in any case; it is grey. You can follow the fragmented Map to Luke Skywalker from there.

So, let’s say that at this point you have seen it, and I am not giving you inaccurate visions of the possible future that you may act rashly upon, and either get your hand cut off, or potentially kill someone you care about for something they might not have done yet.

Grey is how this film felt. The humour, especially the very human behaviour and interactions between the First Order officers, and the last of the Resistance, along with the inclusion of a certain visiting Jedi Master emeritus kept it from the despair horizon. Seriously, I loved the banter between Poe Dameron and General Armitage Hux at the beginning, the growing friendship and relationship between Finn and Rose, and even that place of understanding developing between Rey and Kylo Ren, but I will get back to that last part and some of the others soon enough.

I was saying that the humanity and charm of this film, carried over and accentuated from The Force Awakens, makes the other side of this narrative practically incandescent. The grey that had already been seeping into my soul came from the planet of Ahch-To, to the grey rocks surrounded by a faded sky on its surface, to the ruins of the First Jedi Temple where it all began, to the ancient and dead Force-sensitive Great Tree, to the crumbling grey books presumably containing the first Jedi koans, training katas, and ancient Force techniques, and the grey in Luke Skywalker’s robes, hair, and beard. It was on Crait, where the final battle occurs as well, its white salt made gritty like dirt in the faded sky.

There are two other free association words that come to my mind when I think of the word grey: dust and ashes. I watched a YouTube video created by the critic moviebob who says something to the effect of The Force Awakens being made in the mould of the previous films, and how The Last Jedi is the one that attempts to creatively obliterate that mould. I disagree with quite a few things he says on an ideological level, though I agree with a quite a few of his theoretical and cinematic points. Yet I want to expand on this. You see, throughout the entire video moviebob talks about how The Last Jedi in particular is meta-narrative: a story that is aware of itself, and critiques and even subverts the tropes that it utilizes to lead the way into becoming something else.

In that train of thought, and borrowing some of moviebob’s words, I can see the following with regards to the previous films when you place The Last Jedi into their cinematic lineage. A New Hope was the crucible in which different cinematic and mythological elements were forged by the harsh, unforgiving heat of the Tatooine desert world. This was the beginning, and it was further refined by the stark contrast of black and white in The Empire Strikes Back, and then cooled off and softened towards the end of Return of the Jedi. As for the Prequel Trilogy, they were the prototypes that were expanded on: some interesting ideas and even designs that needed more work, or to remain as the background ideology that ultimately forges the crucible. By the time when get J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, we go back to that same crucible beginning on Jakku – another desert planet where cults and religions begin – as a meta-narrative attempt to continue on from where the Old Trilogy left off, while acting as a spiritual successor we as the audience can either recognize from the films we grew up with, or from the timeless mythic space with which we’ve all been acculturated.

But now, by The Last Jedi and Rian Johnson’s run, the mould is ancient. It is dusty. It is full of ashes. The crucible is dim. Everything is in a twilight place where it could end, or begin. No one knows if the crucible will be lit again, the mould dusted off, or shattered so that something new can be made. This is the grey area.

It’s easy to say that to this regard The Last Jedi is a lot like The Empire Strikes Back, where light and darkness get defined but then we also discover that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. It’s also the same place where Lando Calrissian, that charismatic gambler and baron, is both a friend and traitor and redeemable character to Han Solo and Leia Organa. And let us not forget Luke’s archetypal challenge in the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah: where he was supposed to learn from failure. Character lines and roles can blur, and there are some fluid characters, and revelations.

Yet I would argue that The Last Jedi, at least at the beginning, acts as something akin to an Anti-New Hope. Whereas The Force Awakens seems to be an extension of A New Hope, The Last Jedi shows us the consequences of that ideology. What happens when you pin great expectations of a better life on one group, or even one person? What occurs when you expect them to do all the leg work for you, and others seek to imitate them despite the lessons of reality?

Ben Solo was a child made from great expectations, both good and bad. He is the child of two war heroes, and the nephew of the man who would restore the Jedi Order to the galaxy. But he never quite fit into that mould. It also didn’t help in the New Expanded Universe novel Bloodline, that his parents didn’t bother to tell him who his grandfather was, and that he found out along with everyone else after Leia Organa’s enemies in the New Republic gained access to that information and politically disgraced her. You can imagine how Snoke appealed to him and told him of the stability of the Empire and his grandfather’s “good work.” And even some of Luke’s other Jedi students betrayed and left him under Ben Solo, now Kylo Ren, perhaps seeking the power and truth that they thought their Master denied them: presumably becoming the Knights of Ren. There is more here, of course, in light of this film, but I will get to that soon enough.

Then there is Rey: the Force-sensitive hero of this story, who is still discovering who she is and believes that her lineage – her need to know her family – is what will make her important, and help others in the galaxy. She believes that Luke Skywalker is the only one that can teach her to be who she needs to be, and that she will be the next of another Jedi Order to assist the Resistance. But Luke will not teach her. She struggles to convince him and attempts to train herself, but ultimately leaves to attempt to redeem Ben Solo after they begin to converse and learn about each other through a strange Force bond.

Finn, a former stormtrooper of the First Order, follows the Resistance after being injured by Kylo Ren because he sees them as the opposite of everything he hated: everything he had been raised to be. Even so, he still thinks like a stormtrooper: that he is disposable, and almost sacrifices himself in the final battle of the film. Poe Dameron, too, the cocky Resistance space pilot attempts to emulate the heroics of Luke Skywalker and the antics of Rogue Squadron: to play the hero in destroying a Dreadnought ship instead of following the orders of General Organa to leave with them, and buy them some time to escape, costing many lives…. and not including those lives that were lost later on fleeing transport ships when he jeopardized Leia Organa and Vice-Admiral Holdo’s escape plan by sending Finn and the Resistance member Rose to disable the First Order’s hyperspace tracking device: a mission they ultimately failed. And the Resistance itself is shrinking, as opposed to the growing like the Rebellion after the destruction of Alderaan. Even at the very end of the film, none of the Resistance’s potential allies come to their aid on the salt-flat planet of Crait: leaving them essentially to die.

And then there is Luke Skywalker. For ages, people let him take the brunt of the burden on the galaxy. We’ve seen what the mantle of the Chosen One did to Anakin, Luke’s father, and even though aside from the television series Rebels Luke is never referred to as the Chosen One, he might as well have been. Here is a man who had been charged with defeating the Sith, and passing on what he has learned to the next generation of Jedi: to protect it in perpetuity. Luke has destroyed the first Death Star, had his hand cut off by his own father, and yet went out of his way to face both Vader and Palpatine to bring his father back from the dark side. Then he made it his task to resurrect the Jedi, only to have his own nephew betray and murder his life’s work. You have to figure, after a while, that the idealistic boy who had felt obligated to follow in the steps of the Jedi, to live up to the galaxy’s image of him as a legendary hero, as the first Jedi Master in two decades, and has literally been called the galaxy’s “New Hope” would eventually begin to lose it in himself.

The point I’m trying to make here is that almost everyone in The Last Jedi is stuck. They are stuck in this place of transition, and it must be so hard to move, to escape, to even breathe they might as well be getting Force-choked by Darth Vader himself. And the meta-commentary, the narrative of the film is clever. Rose, when she and Finn go to the gambling city of Canto Bight, explains that the rich guests of the casino are war profiteers: enslaving children and worlds to build weapons for the First Order and make a ton of credits in the bargain. Even DJ, the code breaker they find after being sent to Canto Bight’s jail, exposes this further by showing Finn how the profiteers are selling weapons to both the First Order and the Resistance. As he explains to Finn, “It’s all a machine, partner. Live free, don’t join.”

Between Rose and DJ, who themselves are moral opposites – the former fighting to prevent others from suffering the fate of hers and her late sister’s planet, and the latter out to save and help only himself – we see a critique of Star Wars at its heart: of a galaxy that is always at war. It makes you wonder, just what would a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away be without conflict? Without others propagating war? Without war itself? It even seems to be a dig at the Manichean structure of the metaphysical struggle in the galaxy, of the binary opposition between light and the dark, of good and evil. Perhaps it isn’t as simple as the agents of evil attempting to destroy the forces of good, and that war itself – and the attitudes of arrogance, self-entitlement, selfishness, and ignorance that lead to it – is the true enemy of Star Wars.

Critics like moviebob might have you believe that this is the cycle that The Last Jedi is attempting to destroy, or at the very least subvert in a narrative context. Perhaps they might even think there are elements of deconstruction in Johnson’s work. Luke Skywalker, the former hero of the Old Trilogy, isn’t willing to help the Resistance even against the rise of a darksider group because when he looks at the history of the Jedi Order, and his own actions, he finds himself in that defeatist place where he is afraid he will only make things worse with his interference. Supreme Leader Snoke, who has been built up from the first film in the Sequel Trilogy to be the main villain is killed off midway through this film by Kylo Ren who then allies with Rey to destroy the rest of his Guard. Poe Dameron’s actions, and those of other mutineers against the Resistance leadership who seems to keep everyone in the dark and do nothing, do not win the day and in fact put it all at risk. Even Kylo Ren shows moments of conscience when he can’t find it in him to kill his own mother, despite killing his father in the previous film. Luke doesn’t really teach Rey much of anything, but rather seems to instruct her in the bare minimum and by example in a similar way to how Obi-Wan did with Luke himself and Vader on the Death Star by sacrificing his life: albeit in a different way.

And then there is the ending. Rey and Luke do not fight and defeat darkness in a straight on fight. Rather, they remember the very heart of what it is to be a Jedi: which is to help people with their power, and bring hope. It ties extremely well to something that Rose tells Finn after she saves him from a potential suicide run, “That’s how we’re gonna win; not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”

This is the fire at the heart of the Resistance. This is the flame in the soul of the Jedi, something the Order forgot even before Luke’s time: especially then. Rey does something beautiful, as does The Last Jedi’s cinematography. Even as the film actually illustrates the waxing and waning of life in almost a stop-motion manner on Ahch-To when Luke gives one of his few lessons to Rey on the nature of the Force, she finds herself drawn to the dark side nexus at the pit of the planet which was her first instinct to find. You would think, as does Luke, that her inclination towards darkness would be a sign of foreboding, but we know from The Empire Strikes Back that dark side nexuses such as the Cave on Dagobah, also show potential futures and truths. It is an age-old mythic journey for the hero to travel to darkness, to the Underworld, and come back enlightened.

During Rey’s time in the nexus, she finds herself in a chamber of mirrors. Rey sees herself, both going forward, and back: different frames of existence separate but part of a whole. It is unique in another sense. For the first time in a Star Wars movie, there is actually internal monologue. Rey is telling us, in the past tense, what she saw and experienced in that nexus. It is a daring departure from the usual cinematic structure of the movies, but it works here. She wants to know herself. She wants to know who her family is, and what her place is in the entire galactic scheme of things. But when she comes to a reflective wall and sees a murky figure coming towards her, she realizes it is literally her own reflection.

I have used this reference before, but it bears repeating in this context I think. Neil Gaiman, in his “A Game of You,” posits the stereotypical idea that while young boys fantasize about having secret and powerful identities in themselves, little girls supposedly have fantasies about belonging to powerful and noble families such as those found in certain generations of fairy-tales. In this sense, Rey starts out precisely in this manner: hoping to get her family to come back for her on Jakku, or to find out that they are really someone important, or good, and that this will impact her actions one way or another. But it is only after she faces this nexus, and sees herself, and then later meets Kylo Ren who tells her that her parents were junk dealers that traded her away for money, and died a long time ago. Whether or not this is true, or if Kylo even saw this accurately – for if the future is always in motion, as Yoda once said to Luke, and we will get back to that, the past as someone else sees it might be as murky as the grey of this film – is irrelevant.

Rey has liberated the ancient books from the dead Tree on Ahch-To. She decided to go forth and attempt to save Ben Solo, who is now Kylo Ren, after the learning the truth of what happened to him, and what he could still be. Then Rey refuses his offer to join him in ruling the galaxy, and helps Luke evacuate the surviving Resistance members: using the Force to lift up the rocks to let them out of the cave from which they were sitting within. In this sense, Rey no longer defines herself as where she came from, but rather how she acts. Rey has learned in the mirror chamber, in the existential tradition, that “existence precedes essence” and she is a verb made from a noun that always means mercy. That ultimately seems to be her decision and it is a mirror of the same compassion Luke had when he saved his father from damnation.

But if Rey lets go of her attachment to her past, then so does Luke. And he has help. It isn’t Rey’s presence in making him confront his past with his nephew, but also the ascended Force spirit of his old Master Yoda. When Luke threatens to burn the old Great Tree down, along with its books, Yoda uses the Force to strike it with lightning and destroy it instead. The Tree, of course, is a symbol of a weight of mouldering ages, a dead weight that must be stripped away so that something new can grow in its place. Even though Yoda presumably knows Rey took the books already, this isn’t the point. The point is that the Tree represents Luke’s sense of failure, the ancient stratified hubris of the Jedi to which Yoda had probably not been immune if you look at his own failure to save his Order, which has ultimately until this moment become his attachment: an unhealthy attachment that he needs to let go in order to remember his true self.

Remember what I said about the heart of a Jedi? It is telling, when you think about it, that there were things that neither Obi-Wan nor Yoda told Luke about the Jedi Code in the Old Trilogy; or seemingly even about the existence of Ahch-To back during his training. At best, like any student, Luke learned the basics and no Master can help their pupil extrapolate from those foundations. A Master can guide, sometimes even from beyond death, but the student must make the effort to realize the lesson. Rey herself has learned the bare basics of the Force from Luke, and unlike Luke’s rashness in The Empire Strikes Back, she realizes that she must act from that place of mercy, of light. At best, I feel as though Luke could only attempt to refine in Rey what she already knows, and even Obi-Wan and Yoda before him realized they only had so much time to teach Luke anything: that what it would come down to, what it always comes down to, is a Trial of Spirit, of his personal character. In Return of the Jedi, it is Luke facing Darth Vader, and in The Last Jedi it is Rey acting as who she is, while with Luke it is his last trial, a Master’s trial. It is facing his mistakes.

Towards the end of the film, Luke comes to the Resistance’s aid and apologizes to his nephew for “failing him.” And he doesn’t fight him. As it turns out, after opening himself up to the Force he has separated himself from for years, Luke has mastered a powerful Force technique that allows him to astral project himself and create illusions of movement and objects. He uses this illusion to distract Kylo Ren while Rey rescues the rest of the Resistance. But it comes at a cost. After Luke sheds his attachment to his failure, perhaps remembering what he learned at the Cave on Dagobah with Yoda, along with his guilt and regret, and his sense of needing to be the all-powerful Master, he finally lets go of his physical form and becomes one with the Force like Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his father before him. The astral projection seems to serve as one more stage towards ascension, perhaps symbolic of Luke’s zenith of achievement in the material plane, and becoming a Force spirit.

So what does all of this ultimately mean? Well, before Luke’s revelation, he tells Rey that “It is time for the Jedi to end.” And this actually still remains true. But not because of his bitterness, or dejection, but because the original cycle of good verses evil, of Jedi verses Sith, or even the Knights of Ren, simply doesn’t work anymore. This dialectic never did. The Jedi, as Force-sensitives helping others, and the Resistance as people helping to liberate the galaxy from corruption and tyranny are bigger than just one bloodline or group, and definitely larger than one person. It is no accident that the final conflict happens on Crait: a salt-flat planet and former Rebel base from the Imperial Era where no one, not anyone from the First Order, nor the Resistance can actually walk on its surface without leaving something akin to a bloody footprint.

They are all part of this bloody dialectic. No one here can say they are not tainted by the cycle of violence. So it means something when Luke, remembering the path outside of the “machine,” walks on Crait without red, without footprints binding him to the linear path of the past and the future, leaving only a numinous lesson, a hallowed mark of hope, on a place representational of ancient bloodshed. This miracle becomes something more as the cinematic eventually transitions to the child at the very end of the film, with his broom facing the stars, having also “awakened” to the Force, and representing the hope of the next generation: the tale and journey of Luke Skywalker becoming not an inspiration for a dynasty, but for all peoples wanting peace and freedom.

The Resistance needs to be all people who want to be free. The Jedi need to be part of the people, and to help them, even and especially if it is by showing mercy to the enemy and recognizing the foe for what it is: conflict. As I said before, The Last Jedi has an excellent meta-narrative. It is intelligent and attempts to break the mould. The film has heart and charm. And good and evil still do exist in this story, but more akin to selfishness and an attachment to pain through the example of Kylo Ren and the greed of others, and the compassion and selflessness of Rey and the Resistance and ordinary people like Rose Tico. Certainly, writers such as Gerry Conway have interesting takes on how this film and the Sequel Trilogy represent the differences between our real life generations.

However, there is another matter to consider. It’s true that moviebob in his response to The Last Jedi criticism mentions how it is a good thing to be able to tell new stories and not get weighed down by the detritus of old matter or cliched tropes in doing so. It is also true that sometimes it’s unique to see how a new voice like Rian Johnson, for instance, can take a narrative and imitate life as much as possible. Life is not wrapped up in a neat little bow. Sometimes life is about tangents, and paths that seem to go nowhere, and general messiness.

Yet my own observation, as a critic and creator myself, goes a little something like this. There is a fine line between making something iconoclastic, and maintaining a sense of continuity.

I have absolutely no issue, for instance, in downplaying or even eliminating elements from the Star Wars universe such as the Prophecy of the Chosen One, and especially midichlorians as indicators of Force powers. I feel like those elements of the Prequel Trilogy did cheapen a lot of the mythos around the Force and the old, worn feeling of that established world. However, the Prequels are still considered to be a part of the Star Wars universe: specifically the cinematic universe. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the importance of the Skywalker Family: all of six films. If anything, I personally would have had less issue with Disney and LucasFilm retconning the Prequel Trilogy into “Legends,” with the exception of a few elements such as Darth Sidious taking over the Republic under the Jedi’s collective noses, as Luke mentions in this film.

It’s also appropriate that Rey found herself in a chamber of mirrors, because that is exactly what the Star Wars films do. They parallel and mirror each other. There is a symmetry to how they all interact and work with each other. However, I do have some issues.

For all others might state that The Last Jedi destroys this “machine,” it nevertheless still does something similar, albeit not as smoothly. The interaction with Rey and Kylo Ren mirrors the dynamic with Luke and Darth Vader, all the way to Return of the Jedi where Vader brings Luke to Palpatine, just as Kylo Ren brings Rey to Snoke. The Empire Strikes Back has Cloud City with a gambler baron, and so The Last Jedi has Canto Bight with a casino segment that ran entirely too long and could have been shortened for brevity’s sake: an arc that, while Rose and DJ’s contributions were interesting, proved to be ultimately pointless. In fact, instead of creating a world populated by unsavoury cartoon caricatures and obvious “little Orphan Annies,” that I myself couldn’t have cared less about, it might have been better to simply have had a world where Rose came from, display relatable characters who turn out to be greedy and corrupt, and make your point that way without taking away from Rose, Finn, or DJ.

And Snoke’s death, while satisfying to watch, is a let down because of all the build up there was around the mystery of who he was. He dies quickly, almost anticlimactically. I mean, can you just imagine it? If Luke, instead of just calling his lightsaber to him in Return of the Jedi, just turned it next to Palpatine and ignited the thing through his malicious cackling body? I can just see Luke and Vader fighting the Royal Guard, who were sent out of the room, side by side and then what? At least Palpatine had three movies to be introduced in the Old Trilogy, even obliquely in A New Hope as the Emperor. Snoke doesn’t even have that. Hell, there are supposed to be a line of two Sith, a Master and an Apprentice, that presumably ended with the deaths of Palpatine and Vader. So where did Snoke actually come from, and what was he? It is a similar issue I have to Rey: especially if her interaction with Luke’s lightsaber from the first film is a red herring instead of something that links them together. She even greatly resembles Leia, Padme Amidala, and Shmi Skywalker. It is all very well and good if you want to state that bloodline doesn’t matter, but when you spend six films stating this to be exactly the case, and then discarding it to make someone just as powerful as someone in that bloodline without explanation after teasing otherwise, it does feel like a bit of a cop-out, like a cinematic “because I said so.”

But I think the most egregious asymmetry here is what happens with Luke. I’m not talking about his seclusion from the Force and the galaxy for his sense of failure. I’m talking about what happened between him and his nephew in the flashbacks to before the destruction of the Jedi Training Temple. Remember how Yoda told Luke, ages ago, that “Always in motion, the future is”? Recall how Darth Vader killed massive amounts of people, including what was left of the Jedi Order? Luke sensed great darkness from his nephew in those flashbacks. So what does he do? Does he try to talk sense to Ben Solo? Does he tell him a story about what he went through? Does he decide to tell him more about how his grandfather regretted the rest of his life after going to the dark side?

No. Instead, Luke must have somehow heeded Yoda’s other words, to Obi-Wan from Revenge of the Sith where he states “Destroy the Sith, we must.” Luke ignites his lightsaber and prepares to kill Ben Solo in his sleep because of what he could do. It is entirely out of character for Luke. There’s no lead up to this, no real proof beyond suspicions and feelings. And even though Luke immediately says he felt regret and wasn’t going to do it, it was too late. A young boy, confused by his legacy, and afraid defended himself, believed the Jedi were hypocrites anyway, and decided to destroy them: all because apparently Luke didn’t remember the lesson he learned thirty years ago when he was about to cut his own father down over so much more than feelings or premonitions, and remembered that wasn’t the right thing to do. And let’s say Luke did decide to go through with it, and kill his nephew, what would he have done? Would he have gone back to training his Jedi like nothing happened? And what would he have told his sister and Han Solo? That a young darksider named Kylo Ren, who was once a pupil of his, betrayed and murdered their son? Yeah, Luke: how well did that work out for you?

Essentially, my main issue is primarily with the idea that meta-narrative trumps world-building, symmetry, and continuity in a saga. In other words: cleverness does not always for good storytelling make. And critics stating that not all stories have to end neatly or mean something, wilfully and smarmily ignore storytelling conventions to either excuse sloppy narrative creation for the sake of art as a message at best, or disingenuous spectacle for its own sake at worst. The way I figure it, and others have stated, this cinematic storytelling approach in The Last Jedi might have been excellent as a good, experimental standalone art house piece in the universe – which actually makes me fascinated with what Rian Johnson is planning to do for his new Star Wars Trilogy set beyond the scope of the saga – but it may not have been as effective situating it within the main saga or its Old Trilogy characters due to issues with continuity.

With all of this fan snark said, however, I have no issue with how Luke evolved in this film beyond the jarring break in his character. It makes sense to me. In fact, I think I really like this take on him for similar reasons to why others might hate it. Charles J. Moss puts it best in his Medium article ”Letting Go of Luke Skywalker,” much in the Jedi manner of releasing one’s attachments, but I have my own take. When I look at Luke now, I see someone who had to be a symbol of hope for far too long. But more than that, I see someone who had believed his whole life that with hard work and dedication, he would achieve the impossible. And he fails. He fails after a series of life’s disappointments, and retreats from the world, retroactively despising everything else he did and not trusting himself again. At the self-prophecy of his own personal sense of futility. I know this, because I’ve been there. I still am.

I might possess the internal combustion fury created by conflicting emotions of Kylo Ren at times, but as I get older I just feel more of Luke’s heartache. And seeing him like this, after the bright innocence and enthusiasm of his youth, and the serene confidence of his last film, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because perhaps, though he’s in his sixties, it’s like looking into another mirror chamber: perhaps even my future. But seeing him transcend that and find peace in the sun, it is the first time in that whole film that I actually feel something other than grey. I feel hope.

But where does this leave the last film in the trilogy? With the blatant, commercialized image of the child with the Resistance Cereal Box decoder ring aside, how much time will pass until the next film in-universe? Will it be longer than the short amount of time between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi? Will Kylo Ren and Rey lead the next generation against each other? Just what kind of story can J.J. Abrams tell in the ninth film after everything feels so…. finished in The Last Jedi?

I do hope that, whatever happens, this greyness, the lessons of this grey area, are remembered and that what we see next will be glorious colour, and that while each film should have its own nature, that in the end it is all part of one greater story.

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Matthew Kirshenblatt is a graduate from York University, Toronto, Ontario, and is a writer and blogger living in the city of Thornhill. He is a comics and mythology fanatic; having written his Master's thesis, "The Spirit of Herodotus in Gaiman and Moore: Narrative Spaces and their Relationships in Mythic World-Building," he also contributes science-fiction, horror, and revisionist short stories to Gil Williamson's online Mythaxis Magazine. Nowadays, he can be found writing for G33kPr0n, and creating and maintaining his Mythic Bios: a Writer's Blog, in which he describes his creative process and makes weird stories, strange articles, reviews, overall geek opinion pieces and other writing experiments.

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