I only know one truth: it’s time for the Jedi to end.
Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi
When Luke Skywalker spoke those words to the world on April 14th, I can confidently say there was no one who could have seen that coming. In the crowd of the Celebration Stage I heard gasps, shouts, questions, and shocked silent faces. What? No! What does he mean? In a way it shook the fandom.
After having time to watch the teaser multiple times and reflect, I figured it’s time to talk about why Luke believes this, and what it could mean.
I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.
-Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: A New Hope
We all remember that moment. Faced with the death of the only family he had ever known, Luke embraces the heroes path and follows Ben Kenobi towards his destiny. Right then we knew Luke would become a Jedi and that it was all he desired.
Soon after, his training began, aboard a starship of all places. Slowly getting the hang of wielding a blade of pure energy, Luke began to trust his feeling and reach out, batting aside blaster bolts using more than just his eyes. In almost no time at all, after again witnessing the death of someone close to him, he used the Force to put an end to the planet destroying Death Star, saving the Rebel Alliance and his new family.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke continues his training under the wise and powerful Master Yoda. Despite his deep desire to become a Jedi, he rushes headlong into a confrontation with Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. By the end he’s been terribly wounded, and had his world shattered by the revelation that Vader is his father.
But, our hero comes full circle in Return of the Jedi. After rescuing his closest friend, Han Solo, and returning to complete his training, Yoda reveals that Luke has everything he needs. He need only confront Vader. While he refuses to kill his father, Luke does confront him, but out of love. Tossing his weapon aside and choosing to die rather than turn to the Dark Side, he redeems his father. Anakin lived again, if only for a short while. Luke has truly become a Jedi, one to make his predecessors proud.
Pass on what you have learned.
Yoda, Return of the Jedi
I say all this to bring us to a question. What we have seen of Luke so far tells us that being a Jedi has been his goal, period. And we know that he obviously took Yoda’s request to heart because we learn he started a new Jedi Order, or at least tried to. So why in the galaxy would he decide the Jedi need to end?
I think there’s two possible answers. Well, two and a half. Almost twice within his lifetime, the Jedi were basically wiped out. That might be more than a little discouraging. So, one answer with two parts could be that the Jedi either are the problem, or, at least part of the problem.
It can be argued that the Jedi were either directly or indirectly involved with Palpatine’s rise to power. Blinded by their hubris and straying from their true path, Palpatine played a masterful game and wiped out the long time enemy of the Sith. In a way, they were somewhat responsible for the tipping of the balance towards the dark side. So when yet again a talented Jedi apprentice turns to the dark side and wipes out the Jedi Order, you could see how someone might begin to think that the Jedi are the reason for imbalance.
The other possibility is that Luke has come to the conclusion that the Jedi need to change. To be fair, he is a student of the last two Jedi of the old order. He may have incorporated enough of their old rigidness and ideology that he feels it contributed to the second fall of the Jedi. So they must evolve if they intend to defeat Snoke and the First Order. I know this has brought up fears of the much dreaded “Gray Jedi” idea. (I think I’ll tackle that in a later article). Honestly, that may be so. I personally don’t think that will actually happen, but it is possible that Luke thinks it needs to happen.
So the two very possible reasons Luke believes the Jedi should end is because they are part of the problem and need to be done away with. Or, they need to evolve in order to become the guardians of peace and justice once again. Who can say what his motives are and what will become of them. We’ll find out December 15th.