I just don’t find it believable, that a man who believed his father could be redeemed, a father who had been a true monster, guilty of the death of millions, would even for an instant contemplate killing his newphew, long enough to ignite his lightsaber, his sister, and best friend’s son, a boy who had done nothing, but have dark thoughts.
Yes, Luke believed his father could be redeemed. It’s also fair to assume that Luke believed he could right the troubled Ben Solo ship.
But it’s important to remember that as soon as Vader threatened Leia, in ROTJ, those thoughts of redeeming went out the window. His fear of losing someone he loved was too great and he reacted with violence. He nearly killed the man he wished to save.
The same goes for Ben, and Luke says why he ignited his lightsaber in the film: “Snoke had already turned his heart. He would bring destruction, pain, death, and the end of everything I love because of what he will become. And for the briefest moment of pure instinct, I thought I could stop it.” It isn’t just dark thoughts. It’s his heart, his future, and premonitions of darkness to come. (Which is believable considering what we have seen from Ben/Kylo so far in the ST. Plus, he killed his master and became the head bad guy, which is something Vader never did). Most of all, it’s a threat to everything Luke loves and, like in ROTJ, he instinctively reacts in fear.
In both cases he’s left ashamed of his actions.
And yes, the future is always in motion, too. Luke didn’t listen to Yoda in TESB. But I think right after he quickly and instinctively reacts over Ben, he remembers that this is his nephew and that the future isn’t set in stone. Unfortunately, it’s too late.
Good post! Allow me to retort. In defending TLJ’s handling of Luke many fans point to Luke’s flaws in the OT to argue that the character’s portrayal in TLJ is consistent with the OT. In my view that perspective misses the point of the OT entirely. The characters and their story are not defined by their flaws, they are defined by overcoming those flaws. You say Luke attacked his father with a fury, after Vader threatened his sister. True, but and it’s a big but, there’s the pivotal moment, where Luke looks at his own mechanical hand, and at his cyborg father, and realizes what he might become. He steps back and learns from his mistakes. In that moment the character is transformed, and becomes a Jedi. To have Luke make the same mistake with Ben, that he made with his father, negates much of his character arc in the OT. That is where the problem is. It’s not that Luke makes a new mistake, and learns from it. He makes the same mistake, and seemingly forgets everything his entire arc in the OT was about, and on that faulty basis becomes the anti-thesis of what his character represented in the OT.
This is a recurring issue with the ST, where the classic characters and the plot developments regress, such that a similar story can be told with new characters. The victory of the rebels is undone, such that we can have Empire versus rebels again. Han again becomes a smuggler, who wants nothing to do with galactic politics, and conflict, and is a bad husband, and poor father to boot. Luke becomes that impulsive boy again, always looking to the horizon, and adds cynisism to his list of flaws. Leia is stripped from her connections to the other classic characters along with her heritage, and becomes almost solely defined by her mission, spurring Han to seek out their son, and Rey to seek out Luke, since she has a more important job to do apparently. It is through these developments, that the ST diminishes the OT’s story, its characters, and their connections, and all in the service of giving the audience a thusfar very familiar story, a remix of what came before.
I agree with you about Han and Leia in TFA for sure. I have a lot more problems with that film than I do TLJ. If Leia is going to be a politician, let her be one! Too me, The film relied too much on getting the look and feel of the OT, but forgot to flesh out a true new story. The studio was definitely being restrained and fearful of fan reaction so the filmmakers took the soft reboot mantra to heart. Plus its JJ, and the story kind of jumps all over the place, and never stops to breathe until the end which is a weird cliff hanger ending that forces RJ to pick up right then and there. I almost wish Luke wasn’t even in TFA at all. End it on D’qar.
Back to Luke. One way I have always looked at his scene with Ben is that in an instant he goes from being in a room with his nephew to being in a room with the next dark lord. That catches him off guard, and he responds instinctively. Seems like a logical reaction. He doesn’t lift his lightsaber up or swing it, or anything like that. He just ignites it, and then regrets it. For a moment he had fear, a type of fear he may not have experienced since that faithful day in ROTJ. Wouldn’t that be kind of terrifying?
I believe Luke had grown and learned, and that there was way more restraint shown by him than in ROTJ. But what I think it boils down too is that he was caught off guard with the amount of darkness that was in Ben.
And also, with Ben in this scene the situation becomes a little different. This is a troubled kid with a shadow in him that was growing and he has the devil whispering in his ear, too. What does the dark side feed on? Fear. And in that moment Ben’s worst fears came true and he snapped. Luke isn’t even given a chance to explain, and Ben is given an excuse to take a new darker path.
And also what does that instinct mean for Luke? He was taught to kill the bad guy, and he was taught detachment from his feelings. There is his instinctive response as a Jedi as he stood over Ben. And just as he redefined what being a Jedi was in ROTJ, in the scene with Ben he realizes that the old ways of the jedi, which is all he had to go on for learning and teaching, aren’t good enough anymore. They need to change or it needs to die. Ben’s reaction, and ensuing destruction, put him into a grief stricken state and he decided with option 2.
This is the beginning of Luke’s attitude toward the Jedi changing ,that we see at the start of TLJ. (And rightfully so as this organization has more to do with the creation of Vader than palpatine ever did).
I could talk about this scene forever. It’s very layered and really interesting.
I disagree. The Jedi represent an ideal, that goes well beyond the few individuals we met in the PT. That ideal was the basis for a peace that lasted for a thousand generations. The fact that a number of Jedi made mistakes doesn’t alter this. Luke states, that at the height of their powers the Jedi allowed Darth Sidious to rise, create the Empire, and wipe them out. This is wrong. During the events of the Prequel Trilogy, the Jedi weren’t at the height of their powers at all. The Sith were rising from the shadows, and the Jedi were growing weaker. Master Yoda admitted that he could no longer sense as clearly as he used to, which is why no one predicted the rise of Darth Sidious. The reality is, that by accepting Anakin as a Padawan, the Jedi abandoned their rules to honour a fallen comrade. Individual Jedi made mistakes, but this does not make the ideal they were striving for wrong or misguided. Like the PT Jedi Luke failed, because he didn’t follow the Jedi code, and allowed fear into his heart. The moment Luke ignited his saber, he was giving into the dark side, and forgot the lesson he learned 30 years before, when he faced an actual mass murderer, his father, and his evil master, watching powerless as the rebellion was being blown to bits, rather than a frightened young boy in his bed, who had up to that point done nothing wrong. Yet, the same Luke who was able to restrain himself from attacking the Emperor for the longest time, and under extreme duress, immediately went for his lightsaber when faced with a sleeping young boy, and a possible dark future, a future he knew was not set in stone.
I agree that the jedis main ideals for peace and justice are good. But they are also an ancient order that were stuck in their ways. In particular, their insistence on emotional detachment and to bury your feelings deep down was something that irked Anakin (causing him to feel shame for the feelings he had for others. This is also the break that pushes him away from the jedi) and Luke (who defied obi-wan about this). I’m not saying that the ideals need to change, but I think that status quo of the jedi and how they accomplish those ideals needed to change and grow with the times. Luke saw the beginning of that (maybe Ben too in a twisted way), and Rey will have to take it a step further.
When Luke is talking about the jedi at the ‘height of their powers’ he isn’t referring to their force power level. He’s referring to their sheer numbers and their wide influence in the galaxy. Their inability to use the force is irrelevant and had more to do with their own hubris than anything else. Furthermore, when windu and Yoda mention how the dark side is clouding their vision and their ability to use the force has diminished, that’s in AOTC and a full 10 years after palpy entered the game. Luke wasn’t privy to these conversations either, so he would have most likely been basing his statement on historical data.
Ben’s potential dark future caught him off guard and he reacted instinctively. He straight up didnt have time to think rationally like a jedi about the always in motion future because he was in a state of brief fear. And while visions, dreams, and premonitions of the future are difficult to see/confirm because the future is always in motion, for skywalker’s it’s got a perfect batting average. Think about it, both dreams anakin had of his mom and padme came true. And Luke’s vision of his friends in trouble was also true (they didnt die, but han came close). So, when being presented with another vision of the future Luke is going to take it seriously (and we as viewers will as well, since every time something like this has been in a star wars film, its come true. Even Ben’s fall to darkness. See, 100% shooting! Haha.)
This is fun.