01:45:01 – THE END
As the final chapter of the Awakens Edition of the 15-Minute Force begins Han sees Kylo Ren enter the thermal oscillator. He follows him down a long walkway and shouts, “Ben!” Because, you see, that was Kylo Ren’s birth name: Ben Solo.
Kylo responds to his father’s voice: “Han Solo. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”
Finn, Rey and Chewie watch on, helpless, as this is all taking place.
Han tells Kylo to take off his mask, and he does. Han looks on the face of his son for the first time in a while, maybe since Kylo was still a boy. All right, let’s be honest. I don’t know how long it’s been. Safe to say: A long while.
Han blames Supreme Leader Snoke for everything, and he tells his son that he wants him to come home with him. They miss him. This is an emotional moment, and the man now known as Kylo Ren seems genuinely conflicted. There are tears in his eyes, and pain visible in his face.
“I know what I have to do,” Kylo says, “But I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?”
Kylo extends his unlit lightsaber towards his father. Just then, the last of the sun’s light is extinguished. Kylo Ren ignites the lightsaber, sending the fiery laser blade through Han Solo’s chest.
“Thank you,” Kylo says. What a douche!
Han has a wonderful death scene. Harrison Ford has wanted to kill off Han Solo since Empire, so this was another item to check off his bucket list. Han topples off the walkway and falls into the depths of the oscillator.
Cut to: Leia at the Resistance Base. She senses the moment that Han dies. You know, her family is strong in the Force. Did Luke also sense his death? We’ll never know (although he seems surprised by Han’s death in the next movie. Just sayin’).
Finn and Rey are shocked. Chewie goes into a Wookiee rage, giving a mighty anguished cry and firing his bowcaster at Kylo, hitting him in the side. When Chewie is forced to retreat as Stormtroopers fire upon him, he uses the detonator. Explosions begin to rock the thermal oscillator.
The wounded Kylo sees Rey and Finn and begins to go after them.
At the Resistance Base, Admiral Ackbar announces that the Oscillator has been damaged but is still functional. Someone else announces that the Starkiller Base weapon will fire in two minutes. The dramatic chronometer continues to tick down.
Next, we get the snowy, dark forest scene that Rey saw in her earlier vision. Finn and Rey are running through the forest. They end up confronting Kylo Ren. Finn still holds Luke’s lightsaber. Rey has a blaster.
“It’s just us now,” Kylo Ren says. “Han Solo can’t save you.”
Kylo disarms Rey with a gesture, then hurls her through the air to slam into a tree thirty feet away. She lands in the snow like a sack of potatoes, dazed, possibly seriously hurt, maybe even dead. Who knows? Well, we know. Rey isn’t dead.
Finn fires up Luke’s lightsaber.
Kylo says, “That lightsaber. It belongs to me!” I’m not sure I understand his reasoning on this. Luke lost this particular lightsaber years before Kylo was even born. Why does he think it belongs to him? Was this the same lightsaber Luke inherited from Annakin?
A lightsaber duel nearly as awkward as the one between Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi in A New Hope ensues. But, lightsabers aren’t meant for former Stormtroopers. First, Finn gets burned by Kylo’s wicked lightsaber crosspiece. Rey regains consciousness during the battle. Finn gets in a lucky hit, further wounding the already wounded Kylo, but he’s still outmatched. Kylo seriously injures Finn, who loses his lightsaber.
Kylo attempts to use the Force to retrieve the lightsaber, but it instead flies into Rey’s hand. Rey attacks and Kylo is put immediately on the defensive. Rey has innate, Force-derived talent with the lightsaber. Another duel begins.
Cut to: The airborne Resistance squad. An explosion opens a new hole in the Oscillator, a small one. Poe Dameron, Hero of the Resistance, asks for covering fire as they go in. One of the X-wings is destroyed, not Poe’s, and then Poe goes in.
On Starkiller Base, a technician announces that the weapon will be at full capacity in thirty seconds. General Hux says to prepare to fire.
Lots of impressive special effects. Long story, short: Poe executes some fancy flying and blows up the Thermal Oscillator.
Meanwhile, back in the dark forest, the lightsaber duel between Rey and Kylo Ren continues. With the sun extinguished, the only lights are the blue and red of the lightsabers. The planet is beginning to crumble around them.
“You need a teacher!” Kylo shouts.
Hearing those words, Rey begins to teach Kylo Ren a couple of things. She quickly has the upper hand. She draws on the Force, and overpowers the wannabe Sith Lord. She severs his lightsaber and deals him a severe wound to the face. Kylo is defeated and she could easily have killed him here.
Maybe she hesitates. Maybe she’s resisting the pull of the Dark Side that has already claimed Kylo Ren. Or, maybe it’s just because a massive trench opens up and widens between Rey and Kylo as Starkiller Base continues the process of falling apart. Whatever the case, Kylo manages to live to see another day.
Rey is afraid that Finn is dead, because he isn’t responding. Chewie arrives in the Millennium Falcon before the planet itself can kill both of them.
General Hux reports to Snoke, who orders him to rescue Kylo, flee the base and bring Kylo to Snoke, so that he can complete his training.
The remainder of the Resistance fleet, including the Falcon, escape from Starkiller Base as it blows up. The way they all do. D’Qar and the Resistance Base has been saved. This time.
Back at the Resistance Base, Leia hugs Rey. The Resistance celebrates its victory while our heroes mourn Han Solo. R2-D2 finally emerges from his low-power slumber, and he has the rest of the map that fits together with the one BB-8 received from Poe. They now have a complete map that they can use to find the planet where Luke Skywalker went looking for the first Jedi Temple.
Rey sits at the unconscious Finn’s bedside in the medical unit. She kisses him on the head and thanks him for everything. She promises that they’ll see each other again. I’m pretty sure she’s right about that.
With Artoo and Chewie as her travelling companions, Rey takes the Millennium Falcon and follows the map to Luke Skywalker. They land on a island that’s very green and rocky. I think I could hear the Cranberries and U2 playing in the background. Rey follows a lot of narrow paths and precarious-looking rocky stairs, climbing to the top of a mountain where she finds Luke Skywalker in a deep-hooded robe. He turns and removes his hood. Just looking at Mark Hamill makes me feel old. Rey offers the lightsaber to Luke. He looks like he’s about to speak, but then . . .
Roll credits. Yes, that’s right. Luke Skywalker, the object of this installment’s big mystery and arduous search, doesn’t even have a speaking part in this movie. This initially surprised me, but, later on, when I thought it over, it made me laugh. This was a terrific cliffhanger. I wonder what sort of paycheck Hamill commanded for what was probably just a day’s work?
I enjoyed this movie. It’s easily my favorite since Empire Strikes Back. I felt that it was faithful to the franchise’s history while ushering in a new generation of heroes and villains. I didn’t even mind that Han Solo died in this one. I think we all expected it, anyway. I like Rey and Finn, and Poe and BB-8 are growing on me. I love the way Chewie is continuing on with Rey as his partner.
You know where we’re going next. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which I’ve seen only the one time in the theater. Will I like this one as much as I did Force Awakens? You’ll just have to wait and see. Or, you could just read the review I wrote in December last year.
In any case, I’ll be back.
Until next week . . . I’m Being Torn Apart. I Want To Be Free of This Pain! Here, Pops. Hold This for Me . . . And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You. Always.