The debut of The Empire Strikes Back brought with it a significant tonal change from the original Star Wars, taking our beloved characters to darker places. Given that The Last Jedi is the second installment in this new sequel trilogy, many expected it to mirror Empire, despite Rian Johnson denying these claims. However, by comparing it to another installment in the saga, Johnson may have subtly revealed a huge twist earlier this summer.
***WARNING: Spoilers below for The Last Jedi***
During The Last Jedi's second act, Rey confronts Kylo Ren in hopes of convincing him to leave the Dark Side and abandon Snoke. Kylo instead imprisons Rey and brings her to Snoke.
Rey attempts to kill Snoke, unsuccessfully, causing the Supreme Leader to demonstrate his Force abilities on her, including Force lightning. Amidst this torture, Snoke also mocks Kylo for being too weak and too conflicted to have carried out the task himself.
After the young Sith is pushed to his breaking point, he turns on Snoke, killing him, then fights Snoke's guards alongside Rey before asking her to join him in leaving their pasts behind.
The important beats of this sequence mirror the events of the end of Return of the Jedi, right down to the fact that this sequence takes place on Snoke's ship during a space battle, similar to the Emperor taunting and torturing Luke while the Rebels make an assault on the Death Star II.
When Johnson said that Return of the Jedi was a big influence on his film earlier this year, he might have meant it in more ways than one.
“The automatic temptation is to say, 'Well it’s a middle chapter, so it’s got kind of that Empire thing,’" the director revealed to Fandango's Erik Davis at the D23 Expo when asked about his inspirations for the film. "But at the same time, I really wanted to maintain the same sense of fun that J.J. [Abrams] had in The Force Awakens, that to some extent in Return Of The Jedi, which I was like 10 years old, that was prime for me when that came out, and the sense of playfulness, I think."
Johnson added, "So when I say Empire, I guess I don’t want to give the impression that it’s kind of a dark, gloom and doom. It was also really important to me that this was a fun adventure. I don’t know, it’s a mixed bag of a lot of different stuff. And
Fans can see the similarities between the two films as The Last Jedi is in theaters now.