We finally have our eyeballs on the first trailer and officially released footage from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. What’s new? What do we know now that we didn’t know before? What can we infer about what The Last Jedi means for the story of the saga of Star Wars?
Let’s dig in.
Rey is training with Luke
To be fair, that wasn’t too difficult to guess from the ending of The Force Awakens. But here we are, opening our trailer on a star field, which becomes a stone surface that a gasping Rey slaps her hand down on, a cave in the background. It’s awfully reminiscent of a certain cave full of visions that Luke encountered during his training with Yoda, and, indeed, the first part of the trailer is all about Luke guiding Rey through a meditative vision.
What does Rey see?
As she describes her vision to Luke, we get a visual for each and a soft, whispered sentence or sound.
“Light,” she says, and we see General Organa from behind, as a voice says “Help me, Obi-Wan.”
“Darkness,” she says, and we see Kylo Ren’s mask, smashed into pieces, with the soft sound of Darth Vader breathing and a voice saying “Dark side.”
And finally ...
Rey says “balance,” and we are shown a small shelf of books at the center of what looks like a network of tree roots. “You will be,” says the voice of Yoda, possibly taken from his Empire Strikes Back line about how Luke should be more scared. A closer look at the books reveals that one of them is imprinted with the insignia of the Jedi Order, but it’s surrounded by an unfamiliar script, which doesn’t appear to be any of the fictional alphabets yet used in the Star Wars franchise.
This is potentially the most interesting of the three images, especially given its framing as equally important as “light” and “darkness.” “Balance” is a nebulous concept in the Star Wars movies: The Jedi believed that a prophesied “Chosen One” would bring “balance” to the force, and Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn believed Anakin Skywalker to be that Chosen One. If Anakin was the Chosen One, then “balance” seems to have a pretty wide definition in the Star Wars universe; his actions lead to nearly fifty years of imperial rule and revolutionary conflict throughout the galaxy. (To be fair, they did reduce the number of trained Jedi in the galaxy to a number far closer to that of the dark-aligned Sith.)
The Last Jedi necessarily has to grapple with the future of the Jedi in the galaxy, featuring, as it does, two of the only light-aligned Force-users that we’re aware of in a mentor/student relationship. But the idea that it might also finally give us a firm answer on what “balance” means with regard to the Light and Dark sides of the force, when the Jedi and Sith have historically had such a black-and-white attitude, is thrilling.
Perhaps these books might even be the fabled Journal of the Whills, something of a lost Star Wars concept left over from George Lucas’ very early days of fleshing out the universe. The Whills was brought back to prominence in modern canon with the introduction of Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe in last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, two characters who were former Guardians of the Whills, Force-sensitive, Force-worshipping Jedi temple acolytes.
“It’s so much bigger,” Luke says
And we’re launched into our obligatory trailer montage of action shots in quick succession: a plethora of new ships and planetary locations; Finn in what looks like some kind of stasis pod; Poe and BB-8 racing down a hallway and dodging an explosion in a hangar bay; the Millennium Falcon dodging TIE-fighters; Rey running with Luke’s lightsaber; an unmasked Kylo Ren; Ren and several storm troopers walking through a ruined corridor.
We also get one fascinating shot that seems to be Luke viewing the destruction of his ill-fated Jedi academy: a hooded figure, dropping their knees next to R2-D2, in front of a burning building. Over this montage, Luke makes an ominous pronouncement: “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
What we didn’t see
That’s what we have now. But there are a few things we didn’t see in this trailer that have yet to be pictured or revealed.
For one, there’s no hint of the movie’s broader plot. Rey is training with Luke, the Resistance continues to clash with the First Order — we don’t really know more about what’s going to be in the story than we did before. We also didn’t get a shot of Rose, our most prominent new character in The Last Jedi, played by Kelly Marie Tran.
Supreme Leader Snoke, our ultimate big bad guy and Kylo Ren’s Dark side mentor, was also conspicuously absent, and after all that build-up ... the green flash of Luke’s lightsaber was nowhere to be seen.
All things to look forward to in the seven months left between us and The Last Jedi hitting theaters on Dec. 15.