In 1977, audiences were introduced to the concept of "The Force" in Star Wars, which Obi-Wan Kenobi claims "is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together." In other words, it's an ability that allows those trained in its ways to control objects, manipulate other people's minds and detect the presence of others familiar with the Force. In The Last Jedi, most of what we know about the Force is drastically changed, with the demonstration of a new Force ability opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
***WARNING: Major spoilers for The Last Jedi below***
As audiences learned in The Force Awakens, one factor that led to Kylo Ren's descent to the Dark Side was Luke Skywalker's failed attempt at training his nephew. In The Last Jedi, Luke is reluctant to take sides in the war between the First Order and the Resistance.
With the Resistance staring down the barrel of the First Order's AT-M6s, Luke emerges from the shadows to lend them assistance. He hands his sister Leia the golden dice from the Millennium Falcon before emerging from the bunker to confront Kylo Ren.
Kylo first unleashes the firepower of all the walkers on his former master, which proves ineffective. Kylo then lunges at Luke with a lightsaber, only for his saber to go completely through him. The film then cuts to Luke back on Ahch-To, deep in a trance, seemingly just projecting his visage across the galaxy to serve as a distraction in the battle.
This may seem to be a strange ability to interject into the film's final act, but it feels only like a slight modification of Obi-Wan or Yoda's decision to become Force Ghosts instead of staying alive. Luke concentrates his spirit into another form that can appear anywhere while deep in a meditative state.
It's also possible that Ahch-To is more than just a random location, but that the island serves almost as a conduit for these powers, allowing a Jedi or Sith to accomplish things previously thought impossible.
Audiences might immediately know something isn't quite right when Luke appears on
Another explanation for the appearance of his younger self is that, with the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas inserted the image of Hayden Christensen as Anakin, claiming that a Force Ghost took the appearance of how a Jedi looked when they "died," or in Anakin's case, when he turned to the Dark Side. It's possible Luke looks younger because he had turned his back on the Force when he failed to train Kylo.
Additionally, Luke was able to conjure the tangible feeling of the dice, as Leia didn't seem confused when she grasped them, only for them to disappear in Kylo's hand when he picked them up. How a projection can manifest tangible objects is yet to be clarified.
What makes this concept exciting is that it shows Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson wasn't afraid to attempt ambitious things and changes the audience's expectations, allowing future films to reinvent the Force in various ways as well.
The Last Jedi is in theaters now.