Achariya and I had a ripping discussion on The Last Jedi today. Yes, it begins with light fangirling over Adam ‘Bae Vader’ Driver, but that doesn’t last long. Tonight we’ll be seeing ‘Darkest Hour’ and will have something up on that tomorrow or Wednesday. May the Force Be With You!
Spoilers Below the Cut!
ACHA: I am watching Adam Driver clips today because reasons.
JEN: “Can you put on a towel or something.” Rey is made uncomfortable by his flawless skin.
ACHA: But you know what that reminds me of? Men who send shirtless pictures “accidentally.”
JEN: See, I thought it was Snoke who was randomly connecting them. Which somehow makes it hilarious he would connect them then, when Ren’s fresh out of the shower and glistening. I can see Snoke snickering through his weird lopsided head…
ACHA: You know what, that is bizarre. Does Snoke even understand Unresolved Sexual Tension? But I think Snoke was lying. I think they were connected very naturally before that. Or — maybe I believe too many Buzzfeed conspiracies.
JEN: I think they were connected by their use of the force, but neither would have been strong enough to ‘transmit’ like that on their own, as Ren says at one point.
ACHA: Oh wait not Buzzfeed. The article I was reading was from Elite Daily. I think the quote I remembered was this one:
Despite Snoke claiming that it was he who connected the two of them, their connection clearly went past what Snoke envisioned, which was mostly an entrapment to bring Rey to the Dark Side and give him Skywalker.
JEN: I think we’re both right — Snoke saw the fires and stoked them but failed to recognize it was beyond his control. And I liked how Kylo killing him was foreshadowed by how he killed Han – in both situations Ren surrendered the lightsaber but a last-minute rotation killed the receiver. It underscores the kind of modern-day villain he is: one who’ll use lies, deceit and betrayal rather than brute force. Vader never pulled that because he was confident in both his power and his ability to bend people to his will. Ren isn’t that at all.
ACHA: I hadn’t thought about that. Nice parallel.
JEN: Also… Sweaty sexual tension.
ACHA: While I find Adam Driver sexy as all hell, his Kylo Ren hits me in the place that distrusts Men Online. I loved Helen O’Hara’s description of him in her The Pool review:
And then there’s Driver’s Kylo Ren, a walking, Force-wielding Reddit board. He’s still lashing out in uncontrollable rage at anyone nearby, still terrified of being beaten by a girl and still deeply, desperately insecure despite his (over)achievements. Kylo is a portrait of wounded male pride and toxic masculinity, desperate to prove himself against… well, he’s not entirely sure and he may not even care.
JEN: I can get with that. Absolutely. His whole ‘You’re nothing to anyone… except me’ is the ultimate neg, as Chuck Wendig discusses in his review. Also, this morning I was reading something that pointed out that Luke doesn’t leave footprints during his fight on Crait, and I was like OH MY GOD I WAS A FOOL FOR NOT NOTICING.
ACHA: That’s right, especially since there was so much fuss made about red footprints whenever anyone moved the salt.
JEN: And ALSO I read that Mark Hamill was 64 when he appeared in The Force Awakens – one year older than Alec Guinness was when he played Ben Kenobi in New Hope! How weird is that?
ACHA: And back then I thought of Obi Wan as ancient, older than the hills.
JEN: Me too! I wonder how they’re going to handle Leia’s death in the next one.
ACHA: That was truly the best bait and switch. “We’re going to kill a Skywalker!” — The other one dies.
JEN: I am going to sob hysterically when I see Luke as a force ghost.
ACHA: I feel like Luke wasted his best years living amid the porgs, and want to know if he’ll redeem himself in force-ghost form.
JEN: I hope so. Subject change: the only storytelling problem I can see is with Hux – I can believe he’s in charge of the First Order at 30, that he’s ruthless and power hungry enough to have made it that far, but I can’t believe he’d be that capable AND dumb enough not to know how to manipulate an emotional wreck like Kylo Ren.
ACHA: Yeah, I didn’t get the feeling that the First Order was very powerful, especially after Snoke dies basically by accident. Yes, Kylo moved the sword to cut him in half, but didn’t that seem too easy? I feel like the movie didn’t earn his death enough.
JEN: See, I liked it because it establishes that Snoke was never the REAL villain – he was all smoke and mirrors and a weird lopsided head anyway. Seriously I can’t let go of his head. It was like somebody got halfway through a jack-o-lantern, gave up, and dropped it.
ACHA: Hm, that’s an interesting point. Also that maybe there is no true “villain” anymore. One of the best parts of the film for me was listening to Rose after she saves Finn from nearly dying a heroic death. She says something like, “We aren’t going to win by killing what we hate, we’ll win by saving what we love.” And that seems to be the central message of this new movie — to look beyond good and bad.
JEN: Indeed! Going back to Snoke’s death: it subverted that ‘elderly mentor’ trope all the other SW movies have. And since Luke died, Snoke had to die too only because Rey and Kylo are two entirely new types of force-users. They seem to be moving toward a more nuanced understanding of the force rather than absolutes of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – which if you think about it makes sense. There’s a point at some point in the prequels where Obi-Wan says ‘Only a Sith deals in absolutes’ which means the Jedi have to have some concept of moral relativism (killing is wrong, unless you are preventing a killer from killing more people). So Rey and Kylo have to be alone in their journey of discovery in the next movie, as Luke was after Obi-Wan and Yoda passed.
ACHA: Even Luke was looking for that more nuanced understanding. His enormous regret was instinctively drawing his sword when he sensed the dark side in Kylo Ren. And — that was a very interesting moment of self discovery that sent him to uselessly live with porgs.
JEN: Indeed! Acting before thinking – he was always a little too impulsive. Now he’s milking giant camel cow things. “I’ve seen your routine. You’re not busy.” ~ Rey, casting Force Truth-Lightning.
ACHA: It was a true mirror of Obi Wan “failing” Anakin. Oh god blue milk.
JEN: “HERE’S BLUE MILK IN YOUR EYE, FANS!” ~ Mark Hamill, probably.
ACHA: I loved the look on Rey’s face: “I’m only drinking soy from now on.” But circling back to something you said earlier, my favorite parts of the movie were when it moved beyond that very basic and simplistic understanding of good and evil that the previous six movies espoused. My favorite character was Benicio Del Toro’s “DJ” (short for “Don’t Join,” apparently) — he teaches Finn an important lesson about good and evil too. That moment where he cycles through all of the weapons that the owner of the stolen ship sold — many to the First Order, and one to the Resistance. Neither side is good.
JEN: Yes! And more to the point, that interchange and betrayal was further development for Finn. Even going back to TFA, Finn’s motivations are very simple: he either wants to get away from the First Order, or save Rey. The Resistance doesn’t interest him – very like Han in the original trilogy. People who are complaining about the middle third of the movie being slow or uninteresting are missing the important point: this is Finn’s part of the Hero’s Journey (and Rose’s too), but it’s out of order from what we’re used to seeing because of his being press-ganged into the First Order at a young age. He’s seeing the hypocrisy yes, but he’s also feeling it firsthand by DJ’s betrayal and Rose’s self-sacrifice.
ACHA: Yes. And to end with how we started, here is a picture of Adam Driver shirtless:
JEN: Yes, excellent point.
That’s it for now, folks! Have a great day, and please check back for our Darkest Hour review, which we will discuss like adults. Probably.