When most little girls (and all the older women) were falling in love with Han Solo, I was OBSESSED with Luke Skywalker. I loved him, I chose to be him when playing “Star Wars” with my cousin Bess, and I was super excited to see him return in The Last Jedi. And unlike the people who shouted their complaints about Luke’s mischaracterization in that film, I thought it was perfect and I loved him even more at the end of it all. But I didn’t have the words to explain why.
Here are some words that someone else said in a video review of Return of the Jedi: “Luke wins by being a stubborn idealistic twerp. ‘Love will save the day, father! Love…and friendship!'”
Actually, just watch the whole thing now. It’s really well done.
Because YES, that is exactly the Luke that I fell in love with: a man defined by his compassion and faith. It’s worth pointing out that Jill Bearup made that video in 2015 before either film in the newest trilogy had been released, which is why it’s so perfect that I find those words to be perfect descriptions of Luke’s emotional arc in The Last Jedi.
The Luke we meet is a grumpy hermit. Why? Because this extremely compassionate man experienced a moment of judgment because he lacked the faith that Ben Solo could resist the allure of the Dark Side. So he almost killed his nephew, and the consequences of that almost-action were devastating. Death, destruction, and the loss of his identity.
But in meeting Rey, in being reunited with R2 and Chewie, and in seeing his sister’s famous hologram that once summoned his noblest impulses so long ago, Luke regains his compassion and faith. He chooses to stop Kylo Ren in a way that will not harm him in the faith that his friends will escape, survive, and win the fight without him. Which is…exactly the same faith he showed in Return of the Jedi.
Luke has changed when we meet him in The Last Jedi, and like, yeah? But even though he is at his darkest when we reunite with him, he doesn’t stay there. His emotional journey is one of recovering his truest self, of reclaiming his compassion and faith. Oh Luke, you stubborn idealistic twerp. I love you!!