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Miller/McIntosh's View That Hermit Luke in Last Jedi is Same Luke in Return of the Jedi


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#1
James Madison

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Miller and McIntosh are of the opinion Luke at the end of ROTJ is the same or at least consistent with Luke in Last Jedi. They draw some parallels, specifically highlighting Luke's conduct in his confrontation with Vader and Palpatine in ROTJ and his confrontation of Ren and subsequent retreat to Ahch-To.

 

First, the comparison is between Luke at the end of ROTJ and AARP Luke on Ahch-To in Last Jedi.

 

"In one of the best arguments I've seen in support of Skywalker's character in The Last Jedi, Jonathan McIntosh—who runs the YouTube account Pop Culture Detective—explains why Luke's actions track perfectly with who he was at the end of Return of the Jedi."

 

McIntosh then addresses a misconception of Luke's victorious outcome in his duel with Vader.

 

McIntosh: "The misreading: Luke Skywalker uses his great warrior skills to defeat Darth Vader. Once he’s proven himself in combat and stands victorious, Luke does the honorable thing by showing mercy and sparing his enemy. Thereby saving himself from corruption and redeeming his father.

 

McIntosh "What really happened: Luke tries to avoid fighting but gives into anger. As he bests Vader in combat, Luke realizes his great mistake, winning this fight means losing his soul to the Dark Side. The battle itself is corrupting him, understanding this Luke throws away his weapon..

 

This is significant because Luke beating Vader in combat is explicitly depicted as a moment of weakness NOT strength.

 

Luke’s arc in the original trilogy ends with him not only refusing to kill the bad guy, but refusing to even fight a worse villain. This is why Luke’s force projection standoff with Kylo in The Last Jedi is so perfect. It's the ultimate expression of everything Luke has learned."

 

I have some disagreements with McIntosh's characterization of Luke at the end of ROTJ. Luke is contrasted at the end of ROTJ with his father in ROTS, specifically Anakin's defeat of Dooku.

 

Luke, fueled by his anger, defeats Vader in ROTJ. It is important to observe upon severing Vader's hand, Luke pauses his attack. As in ROTS, upon Anakin's defeat of Dooku, Palpatine tempts Anakin with an invitation to the dark side by telling Anakin to kill his adversary, and in ROTJ, Palpatine brings to Luke's attention how powerful Luke's "hate" has made Luke, tantalizing Luke with the power he can experience with hate, and then extends a dark side invitation by telling Luke to kill his adversary. Unlike Anakin, who submits to the dark side and kills Dooku, Luke refuses, throws away his weapon, and as a result, does not surrender to the dark side like Anakin.

 

Luke refusing to submit to the dark side was not a "moment of weakness" but one of strength, a strength Anakin did not project when he removed Dooku's head from his shoulders in ROTS. Luke had just experienced the power hate upon vanquishing Vader, but then had the strength to resist the tempting of the dark side by refusing to kill Vader. Throwing away his weapon was a physical manifestation of his refusal to kill Vader and refusing to surrender to his hate and the dark side. That was strength contrasted with Anakin's weakness.

 

Throwing away his weapon was also a message to Palpatine that he was not going to be bullied and no fear of Palpatine was going to make him act and kill Vader. Luke was sending a message to Palpatine that you can't make me kill Vader, I am throwing away the very weapon I could use to kill him, and I am not afraid of you, as I stand before you, unarmed and in this moment of vulnerability, I am not doing a damn thing you tell me to, to hell with your powers.

 

That to me was not a weak moment for Luke but a moment of strength.

 

McIntosh concludes:

"This is why Luke’s force projection standoff with Kylo in The Last Jedi is so perfect. It's the ultimate expression of everything Luke has learned."

 

Is it though? Seems to me Luke's force projection was a result of a verbal admonishment from Yoda, and realizing he was wrong and now wanted to do what he could to rectify the situation. In ROTJ, and its ending, Luke was not a hermit, neither was he someone who believed in being a hermit. He was very much involved in the Rebellion in ROTJ, including up to the end of the movie. The force projection is consistent with Luke realizing his act of retreating to Ahch-To, which is contrary to his conduct during all of ROTJ, was not the correct choice. Hence, he does what he can to assist the Resistance, just as he had aided the Rebellion decades previously.

 

The force projection with Kylo Ren also reflects Luke's difficulty of confronting family members who have turned to the dark side. He told Obi-wan he could kill his father, and similarly, he found himself incapable of killing his nephew, his sister's son. The force projection to Kylo is consistent with his view, from ROTJ, that killing family is not in his DNA.

 

 

Miller, building upon McIntosh's points, concludes by saying:

 

Skywalker's character tracks with his decision to kill Kylo Ren when he felt him turning to the Dark Side. That, again, was Skywalker realizing he was giving into his fear, and that's why he changed his mind. When he fled to solitude, that was his ultimate act of pacifism, as was his non-violent confrontation with Ren in the conclusion of the film.

 

McIntosh and Miller's view is the best attempt at reconciling Luke in Ahch-To and ROTJ, although I am not entirely persuaded.

 

https://www.esquire....-jedi-analysis/



#2
Odine

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I mean... I can buy it. 

 

But that people have to attempt to 'reconcile'  Luke's character from one movie to another in order to validate the writing of his character in TLJ speaks volumes.


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#3
The Choc

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The reason what happens to Luke in the ST is "in character" is simply because it's "in character" for every single human being on the planet.

 

Luke in the OT is many of our idols from our childhood, we loved him, wanted to be him, pretended we were him. Most of us hopefully had someone real from our childhood who was similar, a parent, grandparent, older sibling, whatever. This person was perfect and we idolized them as kids. Ofcourse as time went on and we got older we realized that no one is perfect. Everyone has the ability to disappoint us or let us down in some way. Maybe your dad got a DWI, maybe your sainted mother cheated on your dad, maybe your grampa has less than ideal views on race. The fact is no one is perfect and anyone can disappoint us. That's all thats going on with Luke. Now I get that in real life chances are your uncle isn't going to stand over you with a weapon contemplating killing you in your sleep. That's not a normal, real world mistake. The thing is though that Star Wars amplifies things. It takes relateable real world stuff and amplifies it. In ANH Luke was wants to leave him and go on an adventure. It's something we relate too. Get out of our mundane lives and do something exciting. Now we probably won't leave the planet, rescue and princess and blow up a death star. We may go to college or move to a larger city or go on vacation somewhere we've enver been. Star Wars amplifies it. Just like here. Luke is that childhood idol that as we grow up we learn isn't perfect or made a big mistake. Its just amplified.

 

Just like the idea that Luke would never run away to Act To. Anyone can have a terrible or traumatic event lead them to despair and withdraw from their loved one. NOw in real life they probably won't disappear to another planet, they may just become withdrawn and become depressed. But one is immune is from it. I don't care how great or selfless or heroic someone was, if an event is traumatic enough this could happen to them. Again, Star Wars amplifies it by having Luke actually go to the "most unfindable place in the galaxy." But it's the same basic thing as a parent who loses a child and just can't get past it and is never quite the same again.

 

And that's why the way Luke is in the ST is perfectly acceptable, he is a human being. He is capable of making mistakes, disappointing us, going into despair. He is capable of it because everyone is capable of it, no matter who they are. 



#4
Poe Dameron

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Agreed with Choc.  Luke basically acted human.

 

I would add something not mentioned.  Luke's essential character flaw from the Original Trilogy was maintained.  When he ignited his lightsaber to kill Ben, he made the exact same mistake as he did on Dagobah when he abandoned his training to foolishly try and save Han and Leia.  He allowed a vision of the future to spur him to a reckless action with grave consequences.  Yoda remarks on it in each movie.

 

The Empire Strikes Back

This one a long time have I watched.  All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon.  Never his mind on where he was.  Hmm?  What he as doing.  Hmph.   Adventure.  Heh!  Excitement.  Heh!   A Jedi craves not these things.  You are reckless!

 

The Last Jedi

Skywalker.  Still looking to the horizon.  Never here, now, hmm.  The need in front of your nose (smack).  Hmm.

 

Luke spent his youth feeling trapped, so he lived his life in the future and this persisted.  And when Luke received a vision of losing Ben to Snoke, he again fell into the Dark Side's trap.  But instead of it merely being the loss of his hand and his innocence as it was in The Empire Strikes Back, this time he lost his nephew's soul.  His students were murdered or turned to the Dark Side.  Losing a single student is traumatic for any teacher.  To lose them all, and to have your own actions play a part is soul crushing.

 

There's nothing about Luke in The Last Jedi that made me blink at all and I left the theater thinking that he carried the movie.  Everything he did came from an understanding of the core character and attempted to justify just how he got there in a way that is in line with what we already know.  It doesn't surprise me that people complain because he doesn't match Luke at his most virtuous Mary Sue heights because I've been on the other side of the creative process myself and have seen an author I know work hard to seed character flaws throughout his stories, only for people to complain that it's out of character when those character flaws bloom into conflicts and roadblocks the characters must work through.

 

But then, I like my characters to have flaws.

 

Skywalker's character tracks with his decision to kill Kylo Ren when he felt him turning to the Dark Side. That, again, was Skywalker realizing he was giving into his fear, and that's why he changed his mind. When he fled to solitude, that was his ultimate act of pacifism, as was his non-violent confrontation with Ren in the conclusion of the film.

 

Now that I don't buy.  This is trying to ennoble Luke's actions in going into exile and the movie clearly was doing the opposite.


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#5
The Choc

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The real issue is this: Alot of fans just flat wanted to see Luke be the old Luke for either the entire or at least a large part of the movie. And thats 100% fine. Nothing wrong with thinking "hey it woulda been fun if Luke had just been the old Luke, I would have enjoyed that more." And that's a fine opinion to have, but just because you didn't get what you want doesn't mean the character is written poorly or that "Luke wouldn't do this."



#6
The Choc

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I'll add it would have been cool if Luke had come back to being himself in training Rey and at one point had become enthusiastic about her training. Then when Kylo kinda wins Rey over, tells her his version of events, and Rey leaves Luke it breaks him all over again. Could have made it even sadder. Ofcourse you could make the argument that if Luke had embraced Rey she wouldn't have turned to Kylo for the belonging and understanding like she did. 



#7
James Madison

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The real issue is this: Alot of fans just flat wanted to see Luke be the old Luke for either the entire or at least a large part of the movie. And thats 100% fine. Nothing wrong with thinking "hey it woulda been fun if Luke had just been the old Luke, I would have enjoyed that more." And that's a fine opinion to have, but just because you didn't get what you want doesn't mean the character is written poorly or that "Luke wouldn't do this."


Well, I think theres some merit to the view Luke wouldnt tell his friends and the galaxy to F off, Im not helping and I couldnt care less if and evil dark side tyrant covers the galaxy in oppressive darkness.

But I also think, the totality of the movie, was good story writing, including Luke.

Perhaps my greatest irritant is Abrams setup a different Luke for Episode 8 than the one Rian Johnson conjured.

#8
The Choc

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The real issue is this: Alot of fans just flat wanted to see Luke be the old Luke for either the entire or at least a large part of the movie. And thats 100% fine. Nothing wrong with thinking "hey it woulda been fun if Luke had just been the old Luke, I would have enjoyed that more." And that's a fine opinion to have, but just because you didn't get what you want doesn't mean the character is written poorly or that "Luke wouldn't do this."


Well, I think theres some merit to the view Luke wouldnt tell his friends and the galaxy to F off, Im not helping and I couldnt care less if and evil dark side tyrant covers the galaxy in oppressive darkness.

But I also think, the totality of the movie, was good story writing, including Luke.

Perhaps my greatest irritant is Abrams setup a different Luke for Episode 8 than the one Rian Johnson conjured.

 

How?



#9
Poe Dameron

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Perhaps my greatest irritant is Abrams setup a different Luke for Episode 8 than the one Rian Johnson conjured.

 

Let's roll back to The Force Awakens:

 

REY: Why'd he leave?

 

HAN: He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice turned against him, destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible... He walked away from everything.

 

That rather accurately describes Luke in The Last Jedi.


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#10
Filthy Jawa

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I had many problems with TLJ, but Luke was not one of them. He was always flawed - he's impetuous, he doesn't live in the moment like a good Jedi, he's whiny... and because of these things he almost turned to the dark side in ROTJ.
Maybe some fans didn't notice all those things and just remember from their childhoods: Luke=Hero=Perfect.

Or possibly they think he had all those flaws, but learned his lessons in the end and overcoming them all is how he defeated The Empire. Maybe it wasn't until he stopped being whiny that he won.

Those people would be wrong though. He won by being whiny. When he was getting zapped by that lightning he was at his whiniest. Vader, ever the permissive parent, gave in to Luke's whining and gave the boy what he wanted. So Luke grew up to be a selfish, arrogant prick who thought he could teach Jedi as well as Yoda; failed, and ran away from his mess. Seems right to me.
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#11
James Madison

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Perhaps my greatest irritant is Abrams setup a different Luke for Episode 8 than the one Rian Johnson conjured.

 

Let's role back to The Force Awakens:

 

REY: Why'd he leave?

 

HAN: He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice turned against him, destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible... He walked away from everything.

 

That rather accurately describes Luke in The Last Jedi.

 

Ok but let’s not act as if that was the only treatment of Luke in TFA. To understand how, or whether, Abrams created an impression or anticipation of what Luke may do in Episode 8 requires an examination of the entire film, as opposed to isolating one line from the movie. Such factors include all the references to Luke, the plot of the movie, what the characters are doing in the movie, and so forth.

 

Han also said Luke went looking for the first Jedi Temple. Han didn’t say Luke retreated away to abandon his friends and the universe to its fate, and die there. Han’s statement doesn’t hint at Luke’s F’ you mentality. So, Han’s statement explains some of Luke in TLJ but not the entirety of Luke depicted in TLJ.

 

Piecing parts of the movie together to show whether, and how, Abrams created an impression of Luke for Episode 8 is very time consuming. I will have to post it later.





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