Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Three: A Rose is a Rose is a Rose (Or: New Plans, an Unexpected Conspiracy, and Roasted Porg)

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00:30:01 – 00:45:00

As this chapter of The Last Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force begins, we are treated to a tender Mother and Son moment. Kylo Ren, still stinging from Supreme Leader Snoke’s virulent rebuke, is lining up for a bombing run on the bridge of the Raddus, the flagship of the Resistance. Suddenly, he and Leia connect via the Force, and Kylo hesitates to pull the trigger. Aw . . . Kylo Ren loves his Mommy.

Kylo’s TIE-fighter escorts don’t experience the same emotions. They don’t hesitate to blow up the bridge, killing most of the Resistance’s leadership, including Admiral “It’s a Trap!” Ackbar. Leia is sucked out into space as well, and, when I watched this in the theater the first time, I was sure that she was a goner.

Everyone’s favorite evil ginger, General Hux, calls Kylo back to the First Order fleet.

What’s the point of all this if we can’t blow up three tiny cruisers?” Hux asks, aloud. I think this was a rhetorical question, but the First Order characters, like the Imperials before them, are very literal minded.

One of Hux’s exposition officers says, “They are faster and lighter, sir. They can’t lose us but they can keep at a range where our cannons are not effective against their shields.”

Back to Leia, floating out in space. Surely, she’s dead by now. She should be, but she’s not. It’s the Force. It has to be. Leia manages to float her way back into the Raddus.

Because I am who I am, I’m thinking about Commander Shepard’s body being recovered from the vacuum of space and revived via Project Lazarus. This was the beginning of Mass Effect 2, still my favorite of the Mass Effect series, and in the video game, reviving Shepard seemed like a much larger task than reviving Leia. It had more narrative weight. This whole thing with Leia floating back into the Resistance’s flagship seems counterproductive in some ways.

Here’s the thing. Unfortunately, Carrie Fisher passed away before The Last Jedi premiered in the theaters. When I watched this scene, I thought I was witnessing the death of Leia Organa Solo as well.

SPOILER ALERT! Leia is still alive at the end of this movie, in outright defiance of reality. A part of me is hugely impressed with this. Because some other character I could mention, whose actor is very much still alive, doesn’t make it past this one. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

Once Leia is back on board, she drops something that Finn picks up. I think it’s the beacon that connects them to Rey, but I could be wrong about that. Leia’s vital signs are weak, but she’s fighting.

Back on Jedi Island, we see that Rey is sleeping outside. There is a brief scene, funny but troublesome, in which Chewie is unable to eat a Porg that he’s roasted over the campfire because all of the other Porgs are watching him with their dewy Sarah McLachlan eyes. Luke goes on board the Millennium Falcon and looks around, wistfully. He pulls down the metal dice that always hung down from the ceiling of the cockpit.  There’s also a bumper sticker on the Falcon that reads “If This Corellian YT-Class Freighter is Rockin’, Don’t Bother Knockin’.” 

Luke comes across R2-D2 and the two talk. Luke calls Artoo “old friend.”

In the exchange that follows, Artoo is obviously still trying to convince Luke that he needs to come back with them. Luke says, “I wish I could make you understand. But I’m not coming back. Nothing can make me change my mind.”

Artoo shows that old hologram recording of Leia from the first movie.

That was a cheap move,” Luke says to Artoo.

In the next scene, Luke is standing over the sleeping Rey, who wakes up.

Tomorrow at dawn,” Luke says. “Three lessons. I will teach you the ways of the Jedi . . . and why they need to end.”

Meanwhile, back at the Resistance fleet, it is announced that Leia is unconscious but recovering. And, that’s the good news. The bad news is that the rest of their leadership has been killed. Vice Admiral Holdo, of the cruiser Ninka, is next in the chain of command, so she is taking Leia’s place. Holdo is your typical purple-haired statuesque female Resistance leader, and she seems accustomed to command.

Vice Admiral Holdo announces that there are only 400 Resistance fighters left on three ships, but it will be up to them to ignite the spark that will restore the Republic.

Poe Dameron approaches Holdo to discuss what their plans are for shaking the First Order. Holdo reminds him that Leia’s last official act was to demote him from commander to captain because his actions cost them their entire bombing fleet. She calls Poe a “trigger happy flyboy,” and says that he is impulsive, dangerous. She orders him to stick to his post and follow her orders.

Finn heads for the escape pod bay. Once again, he seems intent on deserting. This time it’s because he wants to locate Rey before she attempts to return to the fleet. It’s too dangerous for her there. Down in the escape pod bay, Finn comes across a new character, Rose, who is crying when we first meet her.

Rose gushes over Finn, calling him a Resistance Hero. Rose says that her sister Paige called him a “real hero.” You know, one that knows right from wrong and doesn’t run away when it gets hard. Rose tells Finn she had to stun three people that morning who were trying to escape in the same escape pod they’re standing in front of.

Finn says that’s disgraceful, but he’s gotta get back to what he was doing.

Rose suddenly begins to assemble pieces of the puzzle. Finn says he was checking the escape pods. While boarding one with a packed bag, Rose says right before she stuns him and begins to take Finn to the bridge to turn him in for desertion.

My sister just died . . . protecting the fleet,” Rose says. “And you were running away.”

Finn says, “I’m sorry. This fleet is doomed. If my friend comes back to it, she’s doomed, too. I’ve gotta get this beacon far away from here, then she’ll find me and be safe.”

You’re a selfish traitor.” Everybody calls Finn a traitor.

When Finn tells Rose that they can’t outrun the First Order fleet, Rose says that they can jump to lightspeed. After Finn tells her that the First Order has been able to track them through hyperspace, they figure out a way together to disable the tracker. I had trouble following their logic. But, the gist of it is that the tracker is controlled on the lead ship only, but the process would have a dedicated power breaker. As someone who used to mop the Star Destroyer, Finn can locate the power breaker, and Rose has the technical know-how to deactivate it.

This all sounds a lot like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mission on the first Death Star to deactivate the tractor beam.

Finn and Rose go to Poe Dameron with their idea. Finn says if they can disable the tracker without the First Order realizing it, it’ll give the Resistance fleet a six minute window to jump to lightspeed and escape before the First Order can track them. It will be Finn and Rose’s job to deactivate the tracker. Poe will jump the fleet to lightspeed.

But, in order to sneak onto Snoke’s Star Destroyer they need clearance codes. They contact Maz Kanata, who is apparently in the middle of a firefight that she calls a “union dispute.” Of course, Maz knows a guy, she calls him “a master codebreaker, an ace pilot, a poet with a blaster.” She tells them that this codebreaker can be found in the casino on Canto Bight. He’ll be rolling at a high stakes table, with a red ploom flower on his lapel.

Poe wants to know if there is a way they can take care of this themselves. Maz says this is rarefied cracking. If they want to get on that Destroyer, there’s only one option. The master codebreaker on Canto Bight.

I really thought this would turn out to be Lando Calrissian.

We are given new story goals and a mission to achieve them, which is familiar territory. We are in Act Two now, for sure, but the act structure of this movie isn’t that easy to pin down. Act One was two parallel stories: Rey’s adventures on Jedi Island; and, the First Order’s pursuit of the Resistance fleet. I think we execute a double transition into the second act with Leia’s near-death experience and the apparent doom of the Resistance fleet and Luke’s agreeing to train Rey to be a Jedi after Artoo shows him cheesy home movies.

The Resistance storyline in Act Two becomes Finn’s story, and, by new association, Rose’s story. Instead of running again, Finn and his new companion are going to make it possible for the Resistance fleet to get out of the predicament that they are currently in. Perhaps this will also allow Poe to gain a measure of redemption for his earlier blunder. But, this can’t be all of what Act Two is supposed to be. What exactly is the set up for the third act? Even though I’ve watched this movie once, I’m having some trouble remembering what happens next.

As we reach the 45-minute mark and the conclusion of this chapter of The Last Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force, it seems that Rey and Kylo Ren are beginning to connect through use of the Force. This can’t be a good thing, can it? We’ll find out more next time.

Until then . . .In Every Corner of the Galaxy, the Downtrodden and Oppressed Know Our Symbol and They Put Their Hope in it. We Are the Spark that Will Ignite the Fire that Will Restore the Republic. That Spark . . .This Resistance, Must Survive . . . And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.

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