Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Seven: Act Two May Have Been a Colossal Waste of Time (Or: Things Fall Apart, The Center Cannot Holdo)

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01:30:01 – 01:45:00

Here we are with a whole lot of Act Three stuff zipping around us like Matrix bullets. We’re done with training montages and Ahch-To (mostly), and Canto Bight is now a distant memory from a James Bond flick. We are back in the meat of the story as we begin the seventh chapter of The Last Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force.

Our plot lines are converging, as they are wont to do, on that Mega-class Star Destroyer where Kylo Ren, General Hux and Supreme Leader Snoke are all hanging out. Rey boldly landed in a hangar bay in a one-person escape pod and was immediately taken prisoner by her buddy Kylo and a bunch of Stormtroopers. Meanwhile, DJ the Slicer managed to get Finn and Rose past the destroyer’s shields by working his techno-magic. Finn had asked Poe Dameron to buy them some time back on the Resistance flagship while they attempt to deactivate the tracker. We’ll see what that looks like in a moment.

Things feel like they’re coming to a head. The expectation is that, somehow, Rey, Finn and Rose will be successful at whatever it is they’re trying to do, which will allow the Resistance fleet to jump to lightspeed and escape the First Order without being tracked through hyperspace. Then, our heroes will manage to escape from the Star Destroyer as well, perhaps blowing it up (always a good thing to do in Act 3), and there will be a minor celebration at the new Resistance base, wherever that may be.

Sure, that might be what we expect. But, we should keep in mind that this is the second movie in a sequel trilogy, and if The Empire Strikes Back is our classic template, we shouldn’t necessarily expect a happy ending to this movie. The second movie in a trilogy is, in many ways, like the second act in the classic three-act structure. Things don’t go well for our protagonists in Act 2. Minor victories, sure. But also major setbacks. That’s what we should expect.

This movie throws an additional curveball at the viewer by monkeying with the three-act structure as well. More on that in a bit.

It turns out that Poe’s idea to buy Finn and Rose some time is to stage a mutiny against Admiral Holdo. Before he relieves Holdo of command, he lets her know what their plan is. She points out that he’s bet the survival of the Resistance on bad odds and put them all at risk. Their best option is to load the transports and get clear of the cruiser.

Back inside the mega destroyer, there’s a quick shot of a clothes iron coming down, looking a lot like Slave One. I’m pretty sure this was intentional. Then we see Finn, Rose and DJ in First Order uniforms.

Kylo and Rey are going up in an elevator. She’s still trying to turn him. She’s not one to give up hope easily.

She says, “You don’t have to do this. I feel the conflict in you. It’s tearing you apart. Ben, when we touched hands, I saw your future. Just the shape of it, but solid and clear. You will not bow before Snoke. You will turn. I’ll help you. I saw it.”

To which Kylo Ren responds: “I saw something, too. Because of what I saw, I know when the moment comes, you’ll be the one to turn. You’ll stand with me. Rey, I saw who your parents are.” Hey, great. This means that her parents are important people to the plot, right?

Then, there they are, standing before Supreme Leader Snoke, who currently has no backstory at all.

DJ uses Rose’s pendant, made of Haysian smelt, apparently the best conductor, to get them into the tracker. He gives the pendant back to Rose.  Hey, he’s not such a bad guy after all. BB-8 is disguised as a rolling wastebasket. Finn talks to Poe over the comm and tells him that they’re almost there and to prep the cruiser for lightspeed.

Poe has sealed the bridge, counting on Finn and Rose to uphold their end of the bargain.

DJ gets them into the tracker. There’s another of those un-railed walkways suspended over a bottomless chasm, but that’s just a Star Wars thing. It seems that our second-tier heroes are on the verge of success when they are captured by an assortment of Stormtroopers and our chrome-plated Captain Phasma.

Meanwhile, back on the bridge of the Raddus, the door is breached and a revived Leia appears. She shoots Poe, knocking him out.

The Resistance continues to load the transports to make their escape. Leia and Holdo agree that they both like the unconscious Poe. Admiral Holdo has elected to stay behind to pilot the Resistance cruiser while everyone else escapes. Holdo is one of those self-sacrificing heroes.

Snoke removes Rey’s restraints as she faces him, as if she isn’t a threat. I remember Emperor Palpatine doing the same with Luke Skywalker.

Come closer, child,” he says. “So much strength. Darkness rises, and light to meet it. I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise. Skywalker . . . I assumed. Wrongly. Closer, I said.” Snoke uses the Force to drag her closer.

You underestimate Skywalker, and Ben Solo. And me, “ Rey says. “It will be your downfall.”

It turns out that it was Snoke who used his own powers to bridge the minds of Kylo Ren and Rey. And he stoked Kylo’s conflicted soul, using it as bait to draw Rey in. Now he plans to use Rey to get Skywalker, after which he will kill her.

Poe wakes up on one of the transports and isn’t happy about it. The transports are heading for the mineral planet, Crait, where there’s an uncharted hideout from the days of the rebellion. It is heavily armored and should have enough power to get a distress signal to their allies in the Outer Rim. This is a strategic retreat.

Poe seems impressed by Holdo’s logic. Leia tries to make him feel bad by saying that Holdo was more interested in protecting the light than she was in seeming like a hero. Ouch.

Finn and Rose are marched before General Hux. It turns out that they were betrayed by Benicio del Toro. He apparently cut a deal with the First Order. That was such a Lando Calrissian thing to do. DJ has squealed about the transports heading for Crait as well. I take back that thing I said about him not being a bad guy.  The Star Destroyer begins firing on the transports, like shooting fish in a barrel.

Crait and Barrel. Get it?

Back on Rey, Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke is gloating about how the Resistance is about to be wiped out on those transports. Then, after the Rebels are gone, they will go to Luke’s planet and obliterate all of Jedi Isle. Snoke says he senses the resolve in Kylo Ren now. He orders his apprentice to complete his training and fulfill his destiny.

I know what I have to do,” Kylo Ren says.

Ben,” Rey says.

You think you can turn him?” Snoke asks. “Pathetic child. I cannot be betrayed. I cannot be beaten. I see his mind, I see his every intent. Yes. I see him turning the lightsaber to strike true. And now, foolish child, he ignites it, and kills his true enemy!”

As this chapter comes to a close, Kylo Ren gives Supreme Leader Snoke the Darth Maul shave, cutting him cleanly in half with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

Exciting stuff. The Ahch-To and Canto Bight side missions suddenly seem to have been a colossal waste of time. Luke did not come to join the Resistance force, and Finn and Rose failed at deactivating the hyperspace tracking. On the surface, at least, it seems that nothing productive was accomplished.

But now, it’s safe to say, Supreme Leader Snoke is dead. The Big Bad of the movie is no more. This feels sort of like the movie should be wrapping up now. Except it’s not. Maybe Snoke wasn’t the Big Bad, after all. Hmm? We have to wait and see.

This is a long movie. We still have two chapters to go.

Until next time . . . Well Done, My Good and Faithful Apprentice. My Faith in You is Restored . . . And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.

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