By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
Now that filming has wrapped on Star Wars Episode: The Force Awakens we can now begin to patiently wait for the next year to pass until its release. While most major aspects of the story have been closely guarded, that has not stopped the rumors from swirling around the internet regarding some major plot points. Like any good person occupying the deep dark Sarlac Pit that is the internet, I have thoughts on these rumors, but first let me give you a brief synopsis of rumored The Force Awakens plot:
Following the “battle of Endor” in Return of the Jedi, Luke begins the task of rebuilding the Jedi Order. Failing in this endeavor, he exiles himself and falls to the dark side. In the intervening 30 years, the Force has seemingly died out, as there are no more sensitive people in the galaxy. Meanwhile, the death of Palpatine created a power vacuum in the Empire. A new tyrant rose to the top and strengthened the empire by creating an alliance with the Mandalorians.
At the start of the film, Force sensitivity “awakens” in people. Daisy Ridley’s character, who by many accounts is the lead in this trilogy, is the daughter of Han and Leia. As her Force sensitivity surfaces, she begins training in the ways of the Jedi in order to battle her uncle.
A Note on Rumors
Rumors are fun but they are just that – rumors. Some come from inside sources and some are inferred from other rumors and press releases. Unless something comes from Walt Disney Pictures, J.J. Abrams, or Kathleen Kennedy, it should be regarded with suspicion. Some of these rumors may already be dead with the release of some character names. For example, Daisy Ridley’s character is named “Rey,” which is not the name of any of Han and Leia’s children in the books. On the other hand, Disney has brushed aside the Expanded Universe stories, so it is possible that Abrams has decided not to use the name “Jaina.” We will not know until Disney releases more information. Until that time, let us just go through these rumors and have some fun.
Luke As a Bad Guy
This is a rumor that I have been hearing for months but I never liked it. It was not until recently that a friend told me about his failure to rebuild the Jedi Order. That makes the rumor much easier to stomach. Prior to that conversation, I just heard that he disappeared after the Battle of Endor and was not heard from for 30 years. I really like the idea of Luke as a failed Jedi Master. The Star Wars films are essentially a story about the Skywalker family. The first six films are about the fall and redemption of Anakin; the final three should be about the effects on his son. If he is indeed a Sith and Daisy Ridley is a Skywalker then that keeps the foundation films as a Skywalker story.
The Empire Strikes Back (Again)
As we can see from the trailer, the Empire looks to be alive and well (or at least the Empire’s storm troopers and Tie Fighters are). You may be thinking, “If the Empire is still strong then what did Luke and the rebels accomplish in the original trilogy?” Trust me, this story arc makes sense so it is a rumor that I hope is true. The Empire is big, so it would probably have a contingency plan in place for when the Emperor dies. If there is not a plan, then at least there are officers in the Imperial Forces with access to troops and equipment. Some admiral could have taken over, or several admirals could have fought over control. Either way, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Empire could have survived the Battle of Endor and the death of Palpatine. Hopefully we can get a scene explaining definitively how the Empire is still around after 30 years.
The Force Awakens?
The lack of Force-sensitive people seems like a real no-brainer to me. The very title of the film seems to give this one away. I mean, the Force is awakening, right? The bigger question is why had the Force been dormant for so long? It could have something to do with Luke’s possible seclusion. With the galaxy’s only known Jedi Master in a self-imposed exile, there is nobody left to foster the Force powers that live within the next generation of would-be Jedi. Without that mentorship, the Force becomes dormant.
That big question is the nature of the Force and how J.J. Abrams chooses to embrace it. In the original trilogy the Force is mystical. The new trilogy gave us the more scientific explanation of the Midi-chlorians. Neither one really lends itself to the explanation of the Force becoming dormant. Luke did not knowingly use the Force until he was 18; obviously his Force aura or Midi-chlorians did not die off. The other explanation is that the Force does not literally become dormant. It just no longer gets used. As Han Solo described it in A New Hope, it has become a “hokey religion” that is no longer practiced. The “awakening” happens when Daisy Ridley’s character realizes her powers and seeks out Luke. Whether she trains with or against Luke, her discovery is the awakening that the title implies.
What Does It All Mean?
Failure is a major theme in Star Wars. “Obi-Wan’s failure” is referenced throughout the original trilogy. Anakin Skywalker failed to protect Padme from her fate. The Jedi failed to prevent the rise of the Sith. The failure of Luke Skywalker to rebuild the Jedi Order fits in with the omnipresent theme of the first six films. Will J.J. Abrams destroy the image of Luke and make him go full-Sith? I doubt that, but I have no problem seeing Luke as a recluse at the start of this film. Think of his biggest Jedi influences – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Both Jedi Masters were hermits when Luke encountered them. It would make sense that he does the same when faced with his own failures.