5 Things to Prepare You for the Last Jedi

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Unless you’ve been living in a little hut in a Dagobah swamp, you’ll know that The Last Jedi is set to hit our screens at the end of the week. We’re more excited than Darth Vader was when he got to Hoth and realised there wasn’t any sand, so let us take your robotic hand and remind you of a few things you should know before those iconic words appear on screen: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

1. Luke around, things have changed

Already hailed as one of the greatest movie reveals of all time, Luke Skywalker’s return in The Force Awakens was truly something special. As we followed Rey up the treacherous steps of Ahch To (seriously, health and safety guys), and John Williams’ score shot up a notch from ‘that’s powerful’ to ‘why am I crying?’, we got to the edge of the cliff, and there he was: an older, lonely, and beardy Luke. He didn’t seem all that happy to see Rey, or the lightsaber she was holding out (although to be fair, the last time he saw it was when it was hurtling down a giant shaft on Cloud City along with his right hand so, you know, give him a break), which raises a big question: will he train her?

Rey has come a long way to be taught by the last remaining Jedi, but this isn’t the same optimistic, enthusiastic and loyal Luke we know and left in Return of the Jedi. Since that time he’s set up his own Jedi academy, only for it to be destroyed by bad boy and even badder nephew Kylo Ren, who killed the other students and made a run for the dark side. Understandably this sent Luke into an existential crisis, and as he has gone to inordinate lengths to avoid being found, he might not be thrilled at Rey for popping over and asking for some guidance. Remember that time someone rang the doorbell just as you were getting into the bath? Same thing.

2. Who is that Rey of sunshine?

The fact is, we don’t know who Rey is. I don’t know who Rey is, you don’t know who Rey is, and loud people on the internet don’t know who Rey is. We all fell in love with the galaxy’s favourite scavenger the moment she sat so contently eating that sad little meal in the AT-AT wreckage, and if you didn’t get goosebumps – or, in extreme cases*, literally jump out of your seat in excitement – at that moment the lightsaber flew into her hand in The Force Awakens, you need to seek medical help immediately. But the air of mystery surrounding exactly who she was never dispersed in Episode VII, only getting stronger with every pointed “who’s the girl?” or with Supreme Leader Snoke’s sudden interest in her.

Theories range from Rey being a Kenobi to her being the reincarnated soul of Anakin Skywalker, which would be pretty unfortunate for the galaxy as he did some real damage the first time round. The Last Jedi might not answer the mystery, but it’s sure to shed some light on the origins of Rey. Of course, she might just be some random girl from Jakku, but why did her parents abandon her there? Why is the Skywalker lightsaber calling to her? Who taught her to do her hair all funny like that? So many questions, only one answer we know to be true: she’s not a member of the Binks family.

*case in point: me.

3. The Porg’s Prayer

Look, first and foremost, Star Wars is a kid’s film. And what do kids love? Cute critters. What does Disney love? Selling merchandise. So put 1 and 1 together and you’ll get these adorable little creatures who have taken the world by storm from just one shot in the trailer for The Last Jedi. Based on the cheeky puffins on Skellig Island where filming took place, porgs are big-eyed, winged creatures that are basically the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. They’re already adorning posters and mugs, not to mention the stuffed animals that are sure to be flying off the shelf to fill the stockings of people who are probably too old to be receiving stuffed porg toys.* History hasn’t looked too kindly on the inserted comic relief of Star Wars movies (Ewoks and Jar Jar, here’s looking at you, kids), but The Force Awakens’ BB-8 and Rogue One’s KS-20 managed to be both endearing and funny without being all in-your-face about it. Let’s hope the porgs have been taking lessons.

*case in point: me.

4. It’s not all black and white

Star Wars has always been about good and evil: Luke vs Darth Vader, Anakin vs temptation to the dark side, Yoda vs grammar. There’s always been a clear distinction between the good characters and the bad: even in the prequels when Anakin was supposedly ‘falling’, he was still slaughtering sand people and younglings left right and centre which just seems straight up bad to me. Things might not be so easy in The Last Jedi, though. The marketing for the movie has focused on Rey facing both sides of the force, and with Luke himself uttering lines like “it’s time for the Jedi to end” in the trailer, perhaps Rey’s training (if it happens) will move away from the strict rules of the Jedi and embrace the grey.

5. How will we Carrie on?

2016 was the collective bad year that we all want to pretend didn’t happen but keeps coming back to haunt us. And the perfect full stop for such a year? We lost Leia. Because, as the legendary Carrie Fisher took to saying in her last few years: “I am Leia, and Leia is me.” Princess. General. Cinnamon Swirl-wearing, blaster-toting, Hutt-slaying royalty: there are too many ways to describe Leia that it’s hard to know where to start.

Remember that time she took control of her own rescue from the Death Star and told a disguised Luke he was too short to be a storm trooper? Luke does. Remember when she told Han that he was a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder? Han does. Remember that time she just waltzed into Jabba’s palace dressed as a bounty hunter and threatened to blow the whole place up with a thermal detonator in an effort to save her true love? Jabba does (or would, if she hadn’t choked him to death with her own chain). Leia stole every scene she was in, and was the badass heroine the galaxy desperately needed.

Sadly, she didn’t have much to do in The Force Awakens and, as it has transpired, Episode IX was going to be “her movie”, as Han took the lead in Force Awakens and Luke looks to be front and centre for Last Jedi. Whilst that makes our collective heart’s hurt, thankfully Fisher finished filming all her scenes for The Last Jedi, so we have one more chance to enjoy a complete performance from a woman who was extraordinary both in and out of Star Wars. Based on the person she was, Carrie is probably up there laughing at us all for being sad about it, but it’s a poignant thing to see Leia’s last run. Expect tears aplenty as we say goodbye to the galaxy’s favourite princess…