It’s now been about a week and a half since the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been released, during which time I have rewatched it a lot. A lot. If you’re not as obsessed as I am, then go ahead and check it out again, or even take a peek at the detailed breakdown that Darryn’s done. Pay careful attention to the end of the trailer though as Mark Hammil’s wizened Luke Skywalker drops that chilling line: “I only know one truth – it’s time for the Jedi to end.”
Why though? Why would Luke want the Jedi Order ended? Wasn’t he supposed to be the one that returns the Jedi to their former glory? I mean, the clue was right there in the title of the last Star Wars movie he featured in prominently: The Return of the Jedi. As we saw in 2015’s The Force Awakens though, a lot has happened in this beloved universe in the 30 years since Luke, Han and Leia overthrew the Emperor. And I’ve got a theory about one of the biggest mysteries from these missing years.
In the Last Jedi trailer, when Luke asks Daisy Ridley to reach out with the Force, she sees light, darkness and – this is the important bit – “the balance”. This rang awfully familiar to me as I had just finished watching the third season of Star Wars Rebels, which had introduced the character of Bendu.
An ancient being that looks more like a talking rock garden, Bendu is an immensely powerful Force entity that guides blind Jedi Kanan Jarrus. His origins and age are never revealed, but what’s pertinent about Bendu in this conversation though is that he doesn’t associate himself with either the Light Side of the Force or the Dark Side, but instead describes himself as “the one in the middle”. Whether it’s due to this middle-ness or not, Bendu displays a level of Force powers we haven’t seen in the official Star Wars canon before.
The connection to Bendu is even stronger when you look at the image that is onscreen when “the balance” is mentioned. We get shown what appears to be a shelf of old books in front of a wood-like background which very much looks exactly like Bendu’s stony growths on his body.
What’s more, those books and the open page with the Jedi symbol we see in the very next image in the trailer could be something that very much ties into the balancing of the Force. This something comes from way back – waaaaaaaay back – before there even was a Star Wars. When George Lucas first conceived of this space opera idea, he came up with the Journal of the Whills, which essentially would be some kind of tome/set of tomes presumably found in our world which tells these cosmic tales. This early draft also featured the “Jedi-Bendu”, the Emperor’s bodyguards who revolted and were subsequently hunted down by their replacements, the Knights of Sith.
While all of this was eventually dropped (except for Bendu getting his name), the Journal would turn up as an ancient religious text of sorts for The Force in various places, including the non-canon novelization of the original movie. Then in 2015, it was actually made canon when it got mentioned in the official novelization of The Force Awakens. It popped up again in Rogue One when we met Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, former guardians in the Temple of the Whills on the holy planet of Jedha.
More pertinently, the Force Awakens novelization actually opens with a quote from the Journal that may have a lot of bearing on this idea:
First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.”
The gray (or “grey” in some publications ) clearly refers to some kind of melding of both the Light and Dark Side of the Force. This is of course nothing new to Star Wars. It was often said that Qui-Gonn Jinn was a “Grey Jedi” as he practised the teachings of the Light Side of the Force but didn’t adhere to all the strict tenets. So too Ahsoka Tano is still a Force practitioner fighting for good, but doesn’t consider herself a Jedi. In the novel Dark Disciple, Jedi Quinlan Vos also has to tap into both the Light and Dark Side to overcome his enemies.
In the now non-canon comic book series Star Wars: Legacy, which is set 100 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the galaxy is ruled by the Fel Empire. This is a new, more benevolent Empire ruled Emperor Roan Fel and his Imperial Knights, who are neither Light Side or Dark Side, but something in between, something… yep, you guessed it: “grey”.
So where am I going with all this… grey-ness? I think that is actually what the famous prophecy that sends Anakin Skywalker on his journey is all about. The one about the chosen one who will bring balance to the Force. And that balance will definitely not be attained by a Jedi, because let’s face it, they had it wrong: their policies on forbidden romantic entanglement and the denial of emotions is everything but balanced. It’s actually about as extreme as the Dark Side but just on the opposite end of the spectrum. And I think that Luke Skywalker has finally realised that – the Jedi Order has to end so that these new “Grey Jedi” can finally be the balance the universe needs.
It could very well be that Luke already tried to do this with Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren. Could this mysterious group be the official equivalent of Star Wars: Legacy’s Imperial Knights? Or at the very least the failed version, as I suspect Luke found and read the Journal of Whills (that’s possibly his gloved hand in the pic above), and subsequently attempted to create this balance, which I assume would be more powerful than any normal Jedi or Sith (Maybe the ancient and mysterious Bendu is even the author?) However, when he tried to teach this new generation of Force users how to tap into both the Light and the Dark Side, they succumbed to the latter. That would totally explain why he would run away from everything to become a hermit on a stony island: He feels guilty for essentially being the one to introduce these Padawans to the Dark Side only to have them fall.
However, now with Rey he has a second chance to make things right, to finally attain this balance. It’s clear that Rey’s mysterious past and her seemingly rapid grasp of the Force has something to do with the Knights of Ren, so maybe she’s already well on her way to achieving this? Having a completely new order of Force users at the end of Star Wars: Episode IX certainly seems like a pretty good place to end this trilogy and kick off whatever the future of the franchise holds.
Or maybe I’ve completely missed the mark here and these are just the ramblings of a crazy person who has read too many Star Wars comics and novels. I guess we’ll find out for sure on December 15 when Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits the screen.
Last Updated: April 25, 2017