Ever since the title of The Last Jedi was made public, fans began questioning if a portion of BioWare’s video game Knights of the Old Republic would take a more significant role in the Star Wars canon.
The classic RPG game introduced the concept of “morally gray” Force users—those who didn’t align with either Light or Dark but utilized both sides to obtain a complete knowledge and mastery of the Force. It’s an obvious-but-unexplored aspect of the canon, a borderline fan-fictiony exploration of what’s supposed to be a cut-and-dry morality tale.
Regardless, the term “gray Jedi” struck with some and was further explored.
It also seems to be a huge theme in the latest film as Star Wars: The Last Jedi brings Luke Skywalker back on screen in a major way. One of the final surviving Force-sensitive beings at the end of Return of the Jedi, the ret-conned prophecy of balance in the Universe seemed to make sense.
But balance was confused to be speaking of either the dominance of the Light Side or an actual balance between Light and Dark. Are both sides meant to exist? It seemed unlikely, especially when George Lucas himself used philosophy to establish a broader thought process for kids, coaxing them to think beyond good and evil and to stretch into the reasoning behind their actions.
Light and Jedi = Good. Dark and Sith = Evil. It’s really quite simple. But there’s still room for the morally ambiguous even in A Galaxy Far, Far Away. That’s why Han Solo is as popular as he is.
So are the new movies explaining this morally gray area? Are they establishing that the old ways of Dark versus Light must cease to exist to make way for a shared balance between the two?
Possibly, but that seems to obvious. Consider that Star Wars, at its most effective, is a high concept fairy tale. Very little can be gained from the Saga converting to a tale of morally ambiguous gray zones—that’s what the spinoff stories are for.
When it gets down to it, Star Wars is about good and evil, the right choices versus the wrong ones.
Instead, the new trilogy seems to set up new hierarchies to both structures.
The Original Trilogy set up the Jedi is a myth, protectors of the idealogical good. But when they were further explored in the Prequel Trilogy, they were a bureaucratic fighting force—inhibited by producers, bylaws, and belief structure in their efforts to maintain order.
This proved the Jedi’s ultimate undoing when Senator Palpatine seized control of the galaxy. The Sith established their own order, but made sure to cut it down to the singular vision of a Master, who could guide their Apprentice, before they enacted their will. Sure, the order still had rules, but those were malleable under whoever maintained control.
So what Luke seeks, perhaps, is the abolishment of rules in the face of pure evil. He seems to be going back to the very roots of the Jedi Order to determine what’s most important int he foundation and determine what should remain.
It’s not a matter of eliminating the Jedi and thus eliminating the Light Side—it’s about adapting to the present times and creating a relevant society that can thrive. The Last Jedi might hint toward the demise of the Light Side of the Force. It might even end on a down note just like the Empire Strikes Back did. But it will probably establish a new foundation on which a greater, expansive set of ideals can thrive.
And though we’ll always miss the Space Knights who fought gallantly in the Clone Wars, those sacrifices won’t be forgotten. They’ll be honored so that we can further explore the future of the Star Wars Universe in a way that allows for growth, rather than restricts it.
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi, from writer/director Rian Johnson, is in post-production now for a December 15, 2017 release. The film follows-up and continues the story of the next generation of the saga as Rey, Poe, Finn, and Kylo Ren find their place in the galaxy and follow the legacy of Luke Skywalker, Leia, and Han Solo. Daisy Ridley returns to star as Rey, with other returning stars John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong'o Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern join the cast in as-yet-unrevealed roles.