Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Two: Kylo Ren Unmasked (OR: Luke Skywalker, Curmudgeon)

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00:15:01 – 00:30:00

It may be too late in the game to explain the premise of this blog series, but just in case there is any confusion while reading this installment of The Last Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force, and I’m imagining that someone has just dropped in to read this particular article without having seen the literal dozens that preceded it, we here at the 15-Minute Force studios have dedicated hours upon hours of our time to dissecting, synopsizing, and commenting upon all of the Star Wars movies, fifteen minutes at a time.

Please excuse the length of the previous sentence. I was unconsciously channeling William Faulkner.

Today, as we rejoin Rey and Luke Skywalker on Jedi Isle, the members of the bullpen—who, after much debate, have settled upon “The Fifteeners” for our softball team name—are pondering the endgame of this series. Six, perhaps seven, segments of The Last Jedi remain, and the next installment of the sequel trilogy isn’t expected to hit the theaters until late 2019. Solo is already out there, of course, but after hearing the anti-buzz surrounding it, none of the staffers are chomping at the bit to dive into that movie. At least, not yet.

We’ll get around to it, of course. I mean, we did the prequel trilogy, didn’t we? But, we are seriously entertaining the idea of taking a Star Wars hiatus after this movie. I’ve caught a glimpse of the custom vinyl banner in the office of one of our senior editors, James “Tiberius” Kamyszek. It says 15-Minute Federation. It’s a mystery as to what that could possibly mean.

Anyway, back on Jedi Isle, Rey returned Luke’s lightsaber to him and he tossed it over his shoulder like trash. That type of behavior is what made Iron Eyes Cody cry in those old commercials. Luke walks away, still without uttering a single line of dialogue, and Rey follows him. Luke goes into a stone hut and slams the door.

We get our first movie appearance of the Porgs on a grassy hillside as Rey retrieves the lightsaber. Rey takes littering very seriously. The Porgs are cute, big-eyed creatures, the most Disney thing about these new movies aside from the sudden proliferation of princesses. For some reason, I find them less annoying than Ewoks. Probably because none of them say “yub nub.” Plus, they don’t seem to have a taste for human flesh.

We get a glimpse of an X-wing submerged in the water at the base of the cliff. Luke’s X-wing fighter, of course, and it has the hallmarks of his usual parking jobs.

Rey knocks on the door of the stone hut.

Go away,” Luke says, sticking with his new antisocial attitude.

Chewbacca then breaks down the door to the hut and roars at Luke.

Chewie,” Luke says. “What are you doing here?”

Rey, who has a gift for languages, interprets Chewie’s growls for Luke. “He said you’re coming back with us.”

How did you find me?”

Long story. We’ll tell you in the Falcon.”

Falcon? Wait. Where’s Han?” And, this is how Luke finds out that his dear friend Han Solo is now deceased.  You would think that he would already have felt a tremor in the Force or something.  I mean, Leia knew, and she’s no Jedi Knight.

Meanwhile, back where the bad guys hang out, Kylo Ren and General Hux stand before Supreme Leader Snoke. The real Snoke this time, not some giant hologram.  He’s of relatively normal stature, it seems.

Snoke is praising Hux for having the Resistance fleet “tied to a string,” whatever that means. Then he proceeds to berate, belittle and besmirch Kylo Ren. While facing Snoke’s rebuke, you almost begin to feel sorry for Kylo . . . until you remember he just killed Han Solo in that last movie.

Snoke refers to Kylo as a rabid cur, even telling Hux that the cur’s weakness, properly manipulated, can be a sharp tool. Right in front of Kylo Ren, Snoke is admitting that he is manipulating and using him. If that weren’t harsh enough, Snoke then goes for the jugular.

The mighty Kylo Ren,” he says, sneering. “When I found you, I saw what all masters live to see. Raw, untamed power. And beyond that, something truly special. The potential of your bloodline. A new Vader. Now, I fear . . . I was mistaken.”

Ouch. Kylo says, “I’ve given everything I have to you. To the Dark Side.”

Snoke tells him to “take that ridiculous thing off,” referring to his mask. And then Adam Driver gets to show his face again, something David Prowse never got to do.

You have too much of your father’s heart in you, Young Solo.”

I killed Han Solo. When the moment came, I didn’t hesitate.” He kinda did, though, didn’t he?

And look at you,” Snoke adds. “The deed split your spirit to the bone. You were unbalanced . . . bested by a girl who had never held a lightsaber. You failed! Skywalker lives. The seed of the Jedi Order lives. As long as it does, hope lives in the galaxy. I thought you would be the one to snuff it out. Alas, you’re no Vader. You’re just a child in a mask.”

Double-Ouch. Okay, Kylo Ren may be a patricidal man-child, but Supreme Leader Snoke is a big meanie.

Kylo smashes his helmet in the elevator as he orders someone to prepare his ship. He will no longer be a child in a mask. Our little wannabe Sith Lord is growing up. Also, Adam Driver needs to show his face as much as possible. His character isn’t being voiced by James Earl Jones.

But, for now, back again to Rey and Luke on Jedi Isle. Rey says that the Resistance needs Luke Skywalker. Luke says they don’t need Luke Skywalker.  This goes on for a while.

You think what?” Luke says. “I’m gonna walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order? What did you think was going to happen here? Do you think that I came to the most unfindable place in the galaxy for no reason at all? Go away.”

When Luke puts it this way, I have to question the Resistance’s expectations here as well. What could one man, even one Jedi, be expected to do in this situation? Luke was the MacGuffin that drove the plot of the first movie. Depending on him to save them all from the First Order seems like the ultimate Hail Mary. Even Doug Flutie couldn’t pull that one off.

Rey tags along behind Luke as he milks weird-looking Dr. Seuss animals. Then he rides a long pole across a chasm, and uses that pole to spear a huge fish. Rey is persistent, dogging Luke’s every step. Rey begins to hear voices again as she follows Luke to the haunted tree, which is another callback to Luke’s own Dagobah encounter with Vader.  You remember, the Darth Vader doppelganger who turns out to have his face.

I know this place,” Rey says, as she follows Luke inside.

Built a thousand generations ago,” Luke says, “to keep these.” He indicates some old books on a shelf. “The original Jedi texts. Just like me, they’re the last of the Jedi religion.”

Luke wants to know who Rey is, where is she from? She says the Resistance sent her, and she’s from nowhere. No one is from nowhere, Luke insists. When Rey says she’s from Jakku, Luke says, “All right, that is pretty much nowhere.” Another comedic beat in an endless parade of beats beginning to resemble a 15-minute John Bonham drum solo.

Rey tells him, “Something inside me has always been there. Then, now it’s awake. And I’m afraid. I do not know what it is . . . or what to do with it. And I need help.”

You need a teacher,” Luke says. “I can’t teach you.”

Rey says she’s seen his daily routine and he seems to have ample time on his hands. Luke insists he’ll never train another generation of Jedi. He came to this island to die. It’s time for the Jedi to end.

Cut to: Leia and Poe. Leia slaps Poe and demotes him to commander.

What?” Poe says. “Wait! We took down a dreadnought.”

At what cost?” They ended up losing an entire bomber squadron, if you recall. A Pyrrhic victory, at best.

If you start an attack, you follow through.”

Poe, get your head out of your cockpit. There are things you can not solve by jumping into an X-wing and blowing something up! I need you to learn that.”

There were heroes on that mission.”

Dead heroes. No leaders.”

Soon after, Admiral Ackbar sounds a proximity alert. The First Order has managed to track the Resistance Fleet through lightspeed, which is supposed to be impossible. They have enough fuel left for one more jump, but if the First Order can track them again, they will be out of fuel.

Poe turns to General Leia and says, “Permission to jump in an X-wing and blow something up?”

Permission granted,” Leia says.

In the ensuing battle, Kylo manages to fly into the Raddus‘s hangar bay and destroy most of the Resistance’s fighters, including Poe Dameron’s X-Wing fighter.

As we reach the 30-minute mark and the conclusion of this chapter, Leia is ordering Ackbar to get out of the range of the Star Destroyers so that the fighters will fall back.

So, here’s where we stand. The Resistance Fleet is possibly about to be wiped out by the First Order, while Rey is trying to convince Luke to become her personal Mr. Miyagi. We’re still firmly in Act One as this chapter ends, in my opinion, and while our story has been perhaps a bit more jokey—and “talky”— than I would prefer so far, it’s kept my interest. If memory serves, it’s the Second Act that becomes problematic for me. We’ll see together this time around.

Until then . . . Get Your Head Out of Your Cockpit . . . And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.

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