VIII things to know about 'Episode VIII': Breaking down 'The Last Jedi' trailer

Monday night, millions of voices cried out in joy as the all-new trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi lightsabered its way onto TV and computer screens around the world. And unlike the residents of poor Alderaan, those voices have yet to be silenced. The two-and-a-half-minute preview has been watched, rewatched, and dissected by Star Wars fans … ourselves included. The Yahoo Entertainment crew took a deep dive into the Last Jedi trailer and found eight things you need to know about this advance look at Episode VIII of the Star Wars franchise.

I. Luke is the last Jedi.

It’s time for the Jedi to end. And they end with Luke. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Since the eighth episode’s title was first announced, speculation has raged about the exact identity of the “last Jedi.” Is it Rey? Kylo? Is Jedi plural or singular? Today, with a mere two-word tweet, director Rian Johnson broke that particular mystery box wide open. “It’s Luke,” Johnson wrote in response to a Vanity Fair tweet claiming the filmmakers were still keeping that particular secret close to their vest.

The fact that Luke is the last of his kind explains, in part, why he’s so fearful of Rey’s extraordinary ways with the Force: “I’ve seen this kind of raw strength only once before,” the solitary Jedi Master tells his Padawan. “It didn’t scare me enough then — it does now.” That seems to be a clear reference to Ben Solo, aka Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who cast off Luke’s teachings to ally himself with Supreme Leader Snoke, snuffing out the second coming of the Jedi Order. Rather than risk history repeating itself, Skywalker would just as well let the Jedi pass into mythology with his own passing. Rey’s arrival on Ahch-To, and insistence on being trained, imperils that plan and shows us a side of Luke we’ve never seen before: the haunted orphan within the galactic hero’s body.

In the real world, at least, the Last Jedi has plenty of fighting spirit left, as evidenced by Mark Hamill’s spirited (and hilarious) Twitter feud with Star Trek star William Shatner. The sci-fi icons have been trading all-in-good-fun tweets for much of 2017, the most recent missive involving Borgs and porgs.

We hope this this won’t be the … wait for it … last installment in the eternal Wars versus Trek debate.  

II. We’ll learn more Jedi mythology.

The trailer gives us our best look yet at the very first Jedi temple on Ahch-To, the watery planet where Luke Skywalker went into seclusion. We see more footage of the mysterious tomes emblazoned with the symbol for the Jedi — which might be the Journal of the Whills, essentially the Jedi bible. We might also be seeing the inside of a Force tree, which, according to comics, is the descendant of the Great Tree outside the Jedi temple on Coruscant, rescued and replanted by Luke Skywalker.

Rey approaches a gnarled tree shrouded in mist. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

While they weren’t seen in the trailer, we know from earlier publicity stills that the Jedi artifacts are tended to by nunlike creatures called the Caretakers, who aren’t too fond of Luke.

These journals appeared to be housed inside a tree — could it be a Force tree? (Photo: Lucasfilm)

The trailer also features more of the flashback sequence, originally teased in The Force Awakens, where Kylo and his Knights of Ren destroy Uncle Luke’s new Jedi Order, killing all his Padawans and burning down the temple. We should finally learn more about how Ben Solo turned against his former colleagues. At one point during the trailer, Luke’s robotic hand pokes through the ruins, perhaps indicating that Ren left the Jedi Master for dead.

Luke and R2-D2 witness the destruction of what we believe to be the temple for his new Jedi Order. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

III. Porgs aren’t the only new creatures we’ll meet.

A covey of catlike creatures run for cover on Crait. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Porgs are as adorable as billed. We finally get to see the penguin-like creatures in action — during a brief snippet set in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca is accompanied by one of the Ahch-To natives, who squeaks in fright at something unseen outside. The trailer also features a glimpse of unnamed catlike Crait creatures whose coat seems to be composed of crystals. (As Johnson explained to us, Crait is a mineral planet and site of one of the film’s epic ground battles.)

IV. Finn’s in fighting shape.

Sparks fly as Finn clashes with Phasma. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Better smile the next time you try to dismiss Finn as a mere “space janitor.” John Boyega’s rebellious stormtrooper shows off some sweet fighting moves and a badass battle snarl, now that he’s over his Kylo-inflicted wounds. Maybe we can credit that new attitude to the new company Finn’s keeping. As Boyega recently told Yahoo Entertainment, fast Force Awakens friends Finn and Rey spend much of The Last Jedi separated; while she’s off with Luke, he’s hanging around hotshot Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and steely maintenance worker Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), who joins Finn during his sojourn on Canto Bight. Being Rey-less means he’s got to stand up for himself, which he does when he and former boss Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) come to blows. Boyega himself teased Finn’s big bout on Twitter. He may not have the Force, but he does have a Force-ful trash-talking game.

V. Kylo probably doesn’t kill his mom.

Kylo Ren’s targeting system is locked … but will he pull the trigger? (Photo: Lucasfilm)

The trailer features a tense sequence in which Kylo, piloting his Vader-esque TIE silencer, seems to be closing in on the Resistance flagship that houses Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Through careful editing, the scene seems to suggest that Kylo may be ready to send his mother to the same fate as his father, but will he pull the trigger? Our guess is Kylo doesn’t commit matricide one movie after committing patricide. While we know The Last Jedi is Fisher’s final film and that her story will not continue in 2019’s Episode IX, we hope that Johnson and Lucasfilm found a better way to wrap up Leia’s storyline than having her blown to bits. She deserves a sendoff befitting a princess.

Besides, do they really want to upset Gary Fisher?

VI. This episode will take place over an extended period of time.

Kylo Ren’s scar appears to heal over the course of the trailer. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

We know the film’s story begins immediately after that of The Force Awakens, making it the shortest amount of time separating two Stars Wars films. Until now, that honor belonged to Rogue One and A New Hope, which are separated by roughly one hour. (Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo can probably confirm this. Quick, someone tweet him.) But this episode also has the potential to take place over the longest period of time. Whereas many of the previous films take place over the course of days to a couple of weeks, Kylo Ren’s healing scar, Finn’s recuperation, and even Rey’s longer hair are evidence that The Last Jedi could be our longest time in a galaxy far, far away.

VII. Snoke is more than a hologram.

Snoke appears in his golden robes. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Time to lock up that whole Force ghost theory in the containment system alongside Slimer. The new trailer makes it clear that Supreme Leader Snoke is a flesh-and-blood bad guy. (On second thought, ixnay on the ood-blay; it’s highly likely that something other than hemoglobin is flowing through the guy’s veins.) Glimpsed only in his holographic form in The Force Awakens, Snoke, once again played by Andy Serkis, now has color in his cheeks to complement his golden-hued robes. (For the record, he’s also not giant-sized, but, based on the toys, he’s much taller than the other characters.) His grip over Kylo Ren appears as powerful as ever, though, and he’s likely seeking to fold Rey into his grasp as well. And should she reject him in the same way that Luke rejected Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, he’s got a contingency plan for that too. One of the trailer’s most intense shots provides a glimpse of a writhing Rey, held immobile by the Force, with Snoke in the background looking on. “Fulfill your destiny,” we hear him saying in voiceover, though whether that’s directed at Rey, Kylo, or Yoda’s Force ghost will remain a secret until Dec. 15.

VIII. Kylo and Rey join forces?

Kylo offers his hand to Rey in the closing shot of the trailer. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

It’s the moment that broke the internet. “I need someone to show me my place in all this,” a desperate Rey says to someone we all believe to be Luke, only to discover that it’s Kylo Ren extending his hand. The screen smashes to black and we’re left with our jaws on the floor. Sure, Kylo had offered to teach Rey at the end of The Force Awakens, but we never thought she’d actually take him up on it. And we once thought there was nothing more shocking than “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Oh, how young and naïve we were…

The Star Wars Saga has always played with the idea of a mythic cycle. It’s no accident that The Phantom MenaceA New Hope, and The Force Awakens all mirror each other: An orphan from a desert planet is destined to bring balance to the Force. From there, their paths diverge. Anakin fell to the dark side and destroyed the Jedi. Luke defeated the Emperor but failed the next generation. We don’t know where Rey’s path will take her, but if she takes Kylo’s hand, it might be a dark path indeed. Fan theories abound. Did Luke fail another apprentice? Was Rey’s time on Ahch-To so traumatic that she would be tempted by the dark side? Is this the beginning of Darth Rey? Or is this something else, something that will reshape the saga: Kylo and Rey going off on their own to become Gray Jedi and bring balance to the Force?

One theory that is being floated around the Yahoo offices (after the 29th or 30th screening) is that this scene takes place after or during the battle of Crait. The First Order has cornered the Resistance, and Rey (because she is either truly tempted or trying to save Luke and the Resistance) plays to Kylo’s desire for an apprentice. Rey is then taken to Snoke’s Mega-class Star Destroyer, the Supremacy, where Snoke demands that Kylo kill Rey to “fulfill your destiny” and destroy the light side of the Force. Or it could be something completely different. We don’t know. We don’t know anything anymore.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens Dec. 15.

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