If J.J. Abrams set up a clear path for the Star Wars series to follow with The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson takes a sharp left turn in The Last Jedi. For the most part, this is a good thing, as Johnson keeps the audience on their toes and introduces some twists that are shocking but right.
In other ways, though, Johnson seems to recklessly disregard plot points and characterization from The Force Awakens. He has said that Abrams and Lucasfilm never told him the solution to some of the mysteries established in the last film, and he was allowed to come up with whatever he wanted to happen next. As a result, there are now some apparent inconsistencies between the two movies. Some are very minor, but there’s one huge inconsistency that Episode IX absolutely must explain. We’ll get into that one on page four.
Here are some of the ways The Last Jedi doesn’t quite line up with The Force Awakens — at least until the series can come up with an explanation. Warning: Major spoilers for The Last Jedi lie ahead.
What’s the deal with the Knights of Ren vision?
In The Force Awakens, Rey touches Luke’s old lightsaber and receives a series of visions. One of those is of a massacre carried out by Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren. The assumption at the time was this was Kylo’s betrayal of Luke and the destruction of the Jedi Temple.
But that can’t be the case. In the flashback to that betrayal in The Last Jedi, it’s not raining, and Kylo doesn’t have the mask yet. So what the heck is this scene? Some fans have theorized it could be a flash forward. But that can’t be true because Kylo destroys his mask in The Last Jedi and he’s wearing it in this vision.
Besides, who exactly are the Knights of Ren, and where are they in The Last Jedi? This seems to be a crucial plot point that Abrams set up but that Johnson wasn’t interested in. Luke does say in The Last Jedi that Ben left with some of his students. But it’s not confirmed whether these are the Knights of Ren.
Hopefully, Abrams will make some sense of the Knights of Ren — and this vision scene — in Episode IX, considering he’s the one who came up with the characters in the first place.
Maz asking Han Solo, “Who’s the girl?”
Making Rey a random young woman whose parents are unimportant was a wise decision. The Last Jedi tosses aside the question of Rey’s parentage as if we should never have been asking it. But was that always the plan? Looking back at The Force Awakens, there are definitely some moments where the film seems to call on us to speculate about Rey’s background, and so it’s easy to understand why some were disappointed in The Last Jedi‘s solution.
For example, there’s the scene at Maz’s Castle where Maz asks Han Solo, “Who’s the girl?” The movie then cuts away and does not reveal Han’s answer. Abrams is clearly being intentionally cryptic here, potentially suggesting that Han knows more about Rey than he’s letting on. If not, at the very least, the edit suggests that Abrams is calling on us to ask who the girl is. It doesn’t seem like the sort of scene you’d put in the film if Rey’s identity and background are completely unimportant.
Based on The Last Jedi, though, Han presumably just told Maz that he has no idea who she is. Ultimately, because of little scenes like these, we get the sense that Abrams was into the idea of building up the mystery of Rey’s background, but Johnson wasn’t into it, resulting in a bit of inconsistency in how the movies present this information. Johnson himself told Slashfilm that Abrams did not tell him what he had in mind for Rey’s parents. Some more collaboration between directors might have resulted in two films that feel less disparate.
The ending of The Force Awakens happens differently in The Last Jedi
This one is more of a minor inconsistency, but it’s still a little annoying. The Force Awakens ends with Rey walking up to Luke on Ahch-To, holding the lightsaber out to him from a distance. About 30 seconds of silence pass, and then the film ends.
In The Last Jedi, we see that same scene a second time, but it’s completely different. Now, Rey walks right up to Luke and hands him the lightsaber. So the whole idea of her standing and holding it out — the iconic image that concluded the last film and that audiences were left with for two years — just doesn’t take place anymore. In addition, the scene also looks nothing like it did before. In The Force Awakens, Ahch-To has a cool, blue tone to it, while the new scene is warm and more orange.
To be fair to Johnson, though, Abrams put him in a difficult spot. Abrams probably legitimately did not know how the encounter with Luke would end and just thought it would be an effective cliffhanger. This forced Johnson to desperately try to figure out what happens after a 30-second awkward silence.
That’s pretty nitpicky, but this next one is actually is much more significant and bothersome.
Why are Rey’s parents leaving Jakku on a spaceship if they’re poor junk traders who died on Jakku?
This is the giant inconsistency between the two films that Abrams needs to explain in Episode IX. In The Last Jedi, it’s revealed that Rey’s parents were junk traders who came from nothing and are buried on Jakku. They were apparently so poor, they sold Rey for drinking money.
Yet in The Force Awakens, during the Force vision scene, we get a flashback to Rey as a child. She’s on Jakku looking up at the sky as a ship flies off into the distance, and she yells, “Come back!” Unkar Plutt tells her to be quiet. It’s very heavily implied that her parents, whoever they are, are on that ship, and we’re witnessing the scene where Rey is abandoned. Technically, it’s not confirmed that her parents are the ones flying away, but there really is no other reasonable way to read the scene in the context of a film where the main character is a girl who was abandoned by her parents.
But wait. If Rey’s parents were poor nobodies, why were they flying away from Jakku on a nice spaceship? Even if they could afford that, if they died on Jakku, why are they leaving at all? This inconsistency is now being used as evidence that Kylo might have been lying to Rey.
Johnson himself has said that Kylo wasn’t lying, although he left open the possibility that his vision was incorrect. Rey herself confirms that her parents were nobodies, though. Hopefully, future pieces of Star Wars content can find an explanation so this doesn’t just remain one of those annoying plot holes that happens when the reveal of a mystery isn’t planned well.
Why does Rey care that her parents were nobodies when she previously only cared about what happened to them?
Speaking of Rey’s parents, in The Last Jedi, the big moment of revelation comes when Rey says that her parents aren’t anybody important. Kylo Ren tells Rey that she knows who her parents are, demanding that she “say it.” Beginning to cry, Rey says, “they were nobody.” It’s Kylo who then says that Rey’s parents were filthy junk traders who sold her off for drinking money.
But why is the revelation that Rey’s parents were nobodies something that would even bother her? In The Force Awakens, the idea was that Rey was waiting for her parents to come back, and the thing she was desperate to know is what happened to them and where they are. She never seemed to care much about them being anybody important.
It was the fans who invested a lot in the idea of Rey’s parents being of great significance, as many people theorized that her father could be Luke Skywalker, for example. But having Rey become so distraught because she realizes her parents are “nobodies” feels more like a response to fan theories than something that’s consistent with her character in The Force Awakens. It would have made more sense for her to become upset realizing that her parents are dead or that they sold her and are never coming back; the Rey we met in The Force Awakens never seemed like someone who would be upset about her parents being “nobodies.”
Why does Kylo Ren seem to know who Rey is in The Force Awakens?
In The Force Awakens, it’s heavily implied that Kylo Ren already knows who Rey is early on in the movie. When Kylo is told that BB-8 is being accompanied by a girl, he becomes extremely angry and asks, “What girl?” We’re led to believe that Kylo knows about Rey, and when he hears that it’s a girl who stole the Falcon and has BB-8, he freaks out thinking it’s her.
This line was cited in hundreds of fan theories suggesting Kylo was involved in Rey being abandoned on Jakku. But in The Last Jedi, it’s suggested that this is not the case and that Rey is just a random girl who the Force awoke in. So then what’s up with Kylo’s line? Plus, in the novelization, when Kylo meets Rey in the forest, he says, “It is you.” If Rey comes from nothing and nobody knew about her before The Force Awakens, why do we have lines like these that imply Kylo was already familiar with her?
It’s possible that Kylo just saw Rey in a vision; we know he’s been getting visions from when he asks Darth Vader to show him the power of the Dark Side again. But for now, this is just a theory.
General Hux seems like a totally different character in The Last Jedi
This one is not a storyline inconsistency, but rather a sudden change in the way a character is written. In The Force Awakens, General Hux serves under Kylo Ren in the First Order and is played pretty seriously. His most memorable scene involves a fiery speech delivered to a crowd of stormtroopers.
But in The Last Jedi, Johnson plays Hux for laughs. One of the first things that happens in the movie is a comedic exchange between Hux and Poe, with Hux almost serving as comic relief. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Hux is arguably more entertaining in The Last Jedi. But considering all the other characters are basically the same between the two movies, it’s a bit of a strange experience watching these films back to back and seeing Hux’s role in the story transform so suddenly.
Johnson must not have been particularly fond of Abrams’ version of Hux and decided that turning him into a loser for the other characters to dunk on would be more fun.
Why was the lightsaber calling for Rey specifically?
It’s not unreasonable to accept that Rey is just a random person who is strong in the Force and had an awakening. Snoke even says in The Last Jedi that as darkness rises, light rises to meet it, and this is sort of an explanation for why Rey is so powerful. This makes sense.
But then why is it that the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker specifically called out to Rey? And why does Maz Kanata explain this in a way that implies Rey is the next in the Skywalker lineage? There’s a scene in The Force Awakens where Maz tells Rey, “That lightsaber was Luke’s and his father’s before him, and now it calls to you.” This was one of the main reasons some fans felt that Rey must be a Skywalker. Now that we know she’s not, why is it that the lightsaber called out to her? And why did Abrams write this scene in this way?
Perhaps the idea is just that the lightsaber called out to the person who it sensed is strong in the Force and is the rising light that Snoke warned about. But in that case, Abrams should have constructed this scene differently, with Maz just telling Rey that the lightsaber calls out to her and not mentioning anything about the Skywalker family specifically.
As is, this is one of those things that Episode IX can technically explain but is good evidence that Lucasfilm didn’t plan the trilogy well from the start — kind of like Obi-Wan using “Darth” as if it’s a first name in the original Star Wars. Consistency has never been Star Wars‘ strong suit.
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