We’re nearly two years removed from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney’s calculated and entertaining reboot of the beloved franchise. That’s a big time gap, so I wouldn’t blame you if you completely forgot about where we left off in the fight between good and evil.
Consider this a refresher.
The Force Awakens ends in a very unambiguous way. Han Solo dies, the First Order is defeated, and Rey finds Luke. That’s about as straightforward as things get. But it’s what happens next that’s important.
Rey’s journey to control the Force
The most important question we have going into The Last Jedi is how Rey (Daisy Ridley) will evolve as a character. Her journey will pickup exactly where it left off on Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had gone in hiding following a traumatic event.
Rey is fully aware of her Force sensitivity. In The Last Jedi, it’ll be a matter of learning to harness and control that power. But she can only do that with Luke’s help, who appears reluctant to mentor someone so powerful.
In addition to Rey’s Force journeyi, we may finally learn more about her past and why she was abandoned on Jakku. She seems determined to move forward and fight against the First Order, but clever editing in the most recent trailer suggests she may be tempted by the Dark Side.
Luke is suffering
Luke didn’t have a single line in The Force Awakens. But he’ll play a key role in The Last Jedi. After Luke helped defeat the Empire in Return of the Jedi, it looked like he’d live happily ever after.
The recent trailers of The Last Jedi have teased that Luke has become disillusioned by the Jedi Order and believes there’s more nuance to the Force outside of there being a Light and Dark side. As a result, he seems reluctant to mentor Rey.
Also in the forefront of his mind is the fact that Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) seemingly destroyed Luke’s Jedi Academy with the help of the Knights of Ren. Ben was supposed to be the next great Jedi before being seduced by the Dark Side.
That’s why Luke seems afraid to impart his knowledge to Rey. Her untamed power scares him, and he doesn’t want to relive the traumatic events that led him to go into exile.
Finn’s role is even more crucial
Finn (John Boyega) sustained a life-threatening injury at the end of The Force Awakens, but he’ll be back to his normal self in The Last Jedi. Finn acted as the movie’s early emotional lynchpin, going from First Order defector to a hero of the Resistance.
In The Last Jedi, he’ll be thrown in the mixer and team up with a new character named Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), infiltrating the First Order’s elite ranks as undercover agents. Judging by the trailer, he’ll also have a key showdown with Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), who was essentially Finn’s boss in the first film.
Carrie Fischer’s last appearance
General Leia Organa (Carrier Fischer) will lead the Resistance against the remaining First Order forces. She didn’t factor too heavily in The Force Awakens, but the trailers for The Last Jedi suggest she’ll be a huge part in how the events unfold. Not only in the fight against the First Order, but in how Ben Solo (Kylo Ren), who is her son, deals with the death of his father, Han Solo, whom he killed.
It’s a complicated situation, to be sure, since her son is an important figure in the First Order. The most recent trailer for The Last Jedi suggested she’ll have a reunion with Ben, which will be very compelling to watch. Can her love and sincerity bring him back from the Dark Side’s grip?
Kylo Ren seems conflicted about being evil
In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was determined to do evil things, like a child acting out because he didn’t get desert. But we don’t really know why Kylo ultimately turned to the Dark Side. The Last Jedi will seemingly explore his complicated mental state and provide important answers.
On the one hand, he seems to idolize his grandfather, the great Darth Vader. On the other, he doesn’t seem to know why he’s doing what he’s doing. He’s full of anger and angst, making him a vulnerable target for Supreme Leader Snoke. But there have been hints he may come back to the Light Side—but that likely won’t happen until Episode IX.
Poe Dameron, Supreme Leader Snoke, Chewbacca, and General Hux
The remaining main players of The Last Jedi will all have influence over the overall story, but they’re not necessarily the major focus. One could argue Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is among the franchise’s most important new characters, but we don’t really know how heavily he’ll factor into how everything plays out. Like Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, Snoke’s role will likely grow in importance as the trilogy goes on.
As for Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewie (Peter Mayhew and Joonas Suotamo), and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), we have no idea how important they’ll be. Poe is expected to forge a key relationship with General Leia, while Chewie will help Rey pilot the Millennium Falcon. As for General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), he pretty much failed to take down the Resistance, so there’s no telling if he’s still in control of the First Order’s military.
New characters are coming
In addition to new vehicles, planets, and aliens, The Last Jedi will debut several new characters, including Rose Tico , DJ (Benicio del Toro), and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern).
How these characters will factor into the story is unclear—the only one to show up in footage so far has been Tico, but only very briefly. Holdo will supposedly assume control of the Resistance following an injury to General Leia, but her tactics will apparently clash with the views held by Poe.
In any case, it’ll be really cool to see an actor like del Toro appear in Star Wars, as he knows how to bring weirdness and gravitas to a role.
What’s great about The Last Jedi’s upcoming release is we know just enough about the movie without knowing too much. We know Luke and Rey will spar over her Force sensitivity, and that Kylo Ren will be angsty and conflicted.
But we’re not entirely sure what lies ahead as the First Order looks to regain power after The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.