If TROS is truly amazing, could The Last Jedi become sort of Attack of the Clones for binge-watching? I wonder if you can enjoy 4, 5, 3, 6, 7, 9 without losing too much of the story? Probably a futile thought because we have amazing edits already available which make 8 quite enjoyable.
I don’t think so. I believe that The Last Jedi is a very important entry to the series in story. In terms of making an impact on the franchise, I would say that it’s the second most important Star Wars film.
There are two ways of defining the importance of The Last Jedi. Both the impact and the story.
The reason why the story is important is because, just like how The Empire Strikes Back took Luke, Han, Leia and Vader to new directions, The Last Jedi took Rey, Ben and Luke to the same direction.
The biggest weakness that is found within Rey is how she clings onto the past, believing that her parents may return someday. She learns that she must move forward and understand that returning to Jakku only to wait for them will not change a thing in her life, despite the fact that she’s already known that her parents were unimportant, despite holding onto hope that the truth she believes is incorrect. Now she understands her place and how to move on.
Ben’s biggest weakness is that he is holding onto the hatred and anger towards his childhood, past and family that had built up in him as Snoke continued to corrupt and manipulate his mind. While his goal of “letting the past die” is where he needs to strive towards, he is not going about it in the right direction. The only act of moving in the direction he needs to be striving towards that he committed as of now is murdering Snoke. He had put an end to the reason why his childhood became more dark and lonely as he grew older, and he saw this as Snoke had berated him, connected him and Rey through the Force, and tortured Rey. However, unlike Rey, he hasn’t let go of his past feelings quite as much as she has. He still doesn’t trust his family and the people he grew up with. This is why he wants to rule the Galaxy with Rey, and he never wanted to become the Supreme Leader either. He only took upon the role to save himself from the First Order. By the end, while he may have failed, he has still been given a chance of redemption from Luke and Rey.
Luke’s growth in the film came from his role as a Jedi Master. While he may have been a hero at the end of Return of the Jedi, that doesn’t necessarily mean that characters stay as the same person over a large amount of time. As Luke grew more older and carried out Yoda’s words of “passing on what he had learned”, he started his Jedi Academy. Luke, while wise in the Force, still had areas that he needed to grow in, such as his role of becoming a teacher and an uncle. From what was seen, it can be inferred that just like Han and Leia, Luke may have been more impatient with Ben than his sister and brother-in-law. He struggled as an uncle in helping to raise his uncle. When he saw the darkness in Ben, his first instinct, that he nearly committed was to kill him. Even though the situation between him and Ben is different between him and Vader, Luke is now put into a different role. He is now the older guardian above Ben, whereas he was younger than Anakin. Now that Luke had taken on the role of a Jedi Master, he had come to a knew way of thinking as a both a Jedi, and as a person. Once he had realized what he had done by taking out his lightsaber, Ben acted on self-defense and committed to Snoke’s mentoring teachings. All of this couldn’t’ve have happened if Luke had decided to spend more quality time with his nephew and help train him, to take on a responsible, yet caring role as an uncle. The first telling of the story he told Rey, I assure was the version of the story he told Han and Leia before going into hiding. Luke had gone into hiding and closed himself off from the Force due to failing his nephew, his sister and brother-in-law, and as a Jedi. It isn’t until Rey and Yoda are able to help convince him where to grow as a person, and especially as a Jedi. The scene with Yoda is a prime example of character growth, as is Ben smashing his mask. By projecting himself through the Force on Crait and saving the Resistance, yet also confronting his fallen nephew once more, Luke had come back from all of the guilt and shame that had clouded over him and had become even more stronger than he already once was, as well as projecting himself. Luke soon gave his life to become one with the Force, understanding that he had now played his role, and understanding that it is time for Leia, Rey and Ben to finish what he had started. Very much like how Timothy Zahn had described in Spectre in the Past, “If Luke’s own current level of knowledge was any indication, Yoda could surely have defeated the Emperor all by himself. Yet he’d chosen instead to leave that task to Luke and the Rebel Alliance.” Luke has now taken upon the role Yoda once did in the Original Trilogy.
As for the impact the film made, I believe that it introduced many new concepts within character growth, maturity and development, as well as deeper storytelling and more additions to the Star Wars mythology. I think these quotes from Rian Johnson in an interview with Los Angeles Times says it all.
“It’s fun because it’s kind of thinking, ‘OK, outside of the Skywalker story and outside of the recognizable iconography, what is this? What is “Star Wars”?’ Or what do we need to retain from that, to pull forward for it to still be ‘Star Wars’ — and what can we leave behind?”
“They’re all the big questions that need to be thought of. And even the ones that we don’t know the answers to are things we need to figure out if ‘Star Wars’ is going to be vital and alive moving forward and not just be a waxworks. We’re going to have to figure out how to tell vital new stories.”
"When people ask me, ‘Don’t you think people are going to get sick of ‘Star Wars’ movies?’ to me that question indicates that they’re thinking of ‘Star Wars’ movies as a museum exhibit that is wheeled out once a year so you can say, ‘Oh, I loved that thing. Oh, I remember that thing!’ And yes, if ‘Star Wars’ is that, people are going to get sick of it really quickly.
“But if ‘Star Wars’ are great new movies that are exciting and fresh, and that challenge you and surprise you and make you feel things and engage you the way that those original movies did — but always taking you to new places, both in the galaxy and emotionally — that’s never going to get old. That’s what it’s all about.”
However you think of how I interpreted Episode VIII, you may agree or disagree. That’s the fun of film fandom, we all have our likes and dislikes of different properties. We all have our opinions.