As a writer, the second act is always the most interesting to me: this is the meat of the overarching story, expanding on the themes usually briefly touched in the first act but not resolving them in a manner that the final act does. The viewer kind of expects things to be open-ended, eventually leading to a conclusion in the next part, but until that happens, they can discuss the moral implications, the character development, etc., without the same finality as the end of the story. Everything is a bit darker yet simultaneously more hopeful, more introspective and flawed – it’s a relationship, really. The shiny newness is gone, and you’re actually getting to know the characters and growing with them, for better or for worse.
Rey’s development throughout The Last Jedi is a great example of this, especially during my favorite scene. We know that she’s been abandoned – at this point, we don’t know why – and that she is looking for love and acceptance, which she initially got with Han, Finn, and Chewie, if briefly. Her search for Luke is an extension of this desire for belonging, only this time it’s to be a part of a larger group – the Jedi – with a purpose, and of course, because conflict drives story, Luke denies her training, although for a much different reason than Yoda initially denied Luke his own training in Empire. The draw of the dark side is so strong because it is based on fear.
- In the prequels, Palpatine was able to seduce Anakin by sensing and then honing in on Anakin’s fear of loss.
- Unlike his father, Luke feared falling to the dark side and was nearly driven to killing Darth Vader, the embodiment of that possibility.
- Her lack of identity or worth drives almost all of Rey’s actions, nearly to an obsession equal to that of Anakin’s with keeping those he loves alive.
Which leads us to my favorite scene in The Last Jedi. The cave scene, specifically the vision Rey has in the mirror, is just purely fascinating for a multitude of reasons, but I’m going to focus on just a few of them. The mirror answers her query – who are my parents – in a number of ways, but almost in a tarot card kind of way. One interpretation is that, nope, girl, you’re alone, from the beginning and all the way into the future, which is a very dark side way of looking at it but also tracks because this cave is basically Dark Side Central. Another interpretation is that her identity, her belonging, was in her hands alone, and she had always had that strength in her. With the revelation that Palpatine is her predecessor, this vision also reveals that her identity is eternal, a connection to the dark side that would continue perpetually, and it left me with the hope that the concept of Gray Jedi would finally make its way into the films proper. It didn’t, which was disappointing, because instead we got whatever happened in Rise of Skywalker.
Anyway, I have tried to come up with a way to close this for the last, like, ten minutes, and haven’t been successful, so I think I’m just going to say “this is my favorite scene and good night,” because that’s basically the best I can pull out of my brain. Nursing school might be the death of me. Thank god tomorrow is Sunday.