The Last Jedi trailer is here, and we’re breaking down everything you need to know about the thrilling and confounding preview!

There is plenty, of course, that the newly-released Last Jedi trailer leaves untouched. Rose Tikko and her sister Paige, the enigmatic Amilyn Haldo, Commander Hux, BB-8’s evil twin, and plenty of other exciting stories are still hidden from sight, waiting for the spotlight. But the trailer does reveal a profound sense of tone, and a thematic weight that has… well, pretty much set the internet on fire.

Plus, there’s a porg in action.

The Last Jedi trailer traces what seems at first glance to be a basic training arc. Prodigy has strength; strength calls teacher; teacher calls prodigy. “When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power,” Snoke intones, as Kylo Ren surveys the work of the First Order — and collects a (new??) lightsaber.

“And beyond that,” Snoke continues, “Something truly special.”

And then these simple ideas start to get weird.

At those words, Rey ignites Luke’s lightsaber, and The Last Jedi‘s thrilling, strange triangle of potential, power, and profound destructiveness begins to come into focus.

On Ach-To, Rey tells Luke that she “needs help,” and trains in motions that initially appear familiar. That is, until our mysterious protagonist begins splitting the fabric of the island itself. Luke doesn’t react great.

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before,” he grates at Rey, as apparent memories of his escape from his annihilated school of Jedi flicker across the screen. It seems that Luke is talking about his nephew Ben Solo — by most theories, the agent of this destruction.

“It didn’t scare me enough then,” Luke remembers. “It does now.” Luke storms off, lost in a kind of rage that Star Wars fans have almost never seen in the scion of Skywalker. Anguish, yes, and fear — but we have never seen Luke’s emotions manifest in such such naked, shouted resistance.

IT’S INTENSE, PEOPLE.

Rey, of course, is left behind looking abandoned and devastated. It’s not the first time this has happened to Rey, and we can only wonder what kind of response this will spark in the girl who waited so long for a rescue that never came.

Well, we’ll wonder for about another minute, at least.

The Last Jedi trailer sweeps ahead of this ambiguity, returning to Ben/Kylo’s side of this equation. “Let the past die,” Kylo mutters, smashing his helmet, piloting a TIE fighter in a display of deadly skill Star Wars fans haven’t seen since Darth Vader took the controls. And then, Ben says the critical words (to whom, tellingly, we are not yet sure.)

“Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”

Of course, Kylo is familiar with that kind of philosophy; that’s what killed Han Solo in The Force Awakens. But we were kind of hoping that the would-be Dark Lord’s parenticidal urges would have been sated with dad.

Apparently not, but then it totally looks like Kylo fires at Leia (HIS OWN DAMN MOTHER) in a Resistance ship. HIS OWN DAMN MOTHER.

BAD SON. GO TO YOUR ROOM.

The new trailer for The Last Jedi then lets us know that it’s coming out in time for Christmas, like the cheerful holiday film it appears to be.

As the Millennium Falcon soars through the jagged bowels of some planet or structure, we at least get one cute moment. Chewbacca roars in the co-pilot seat of the Falcom, an exclamation echoed by a super cute porg from the rocky crags of Ach-To.

Enjoy the porgs, everybody. Drink them in.

Then it’s back to the business of space battles, Poe Dameron’s business. He too, gets a bit of a speech, the type that sounds like — perhaps absent Leia’s indispensable guiding hand — the Resistance is in very poor straits indeed. Sparks, and fire, and burning down the First Order, and… oh hey, it’s sparks and fire and the First Order!

Yes folks, never doubt it; Captain Phasma is back, and her armor is shinier than ever. Amidst a positively apocalyptic landscape (possibly the ruins of the Canto Bight Casino?) Phasma clashes once again with her former charge, Finn.

Finn is rocking a new weapon, and what appears to be a First Order uniform. Later in the trailer, he is marched by stormtroopers down a very First Order-looking hallway, so perhaps the brief, sizzling battle between him and Phasma doesn’t go as well as we might hope.

Then BB-8 shakes off sparks in the midst of a dogfight, and a white, foxlike creature stands against the white surface of Crait (an old Rebel base that will be seeing plenty of action soon.)

“This is not going to go the way you think!” a rain-drenched Luke barks. In a quick cut, Leia turns her head in what looks like regal grief, and as battle rages on Crait, a sodden Rey pulls herself out of a pool to face her judgmental Jedi once again.

Red light glows against her cheek.

Quick reminder that this is Star Wars, so red = Dark Side.

Back to it.

“Fulfill your destiny!” Supreme Leader Snoke howls, with Rey in anguished and screaming in the grip of his power — and then, The Last Jedi goes quiet.

“I need someone to show me my place in all this,” Rey says, softly. Embers glow in the air around her, and in the final image of the trailer, Kylo Ren offers someone (REY) a black-gloved hand.

Whew!

Now look. None of us here were born yesterday, and we all know very well that movie trailers (especially for properties as heightened as Star Wars) are meant to tease, trick, and mislead us. The ending of The Last Jedi, whatever it may be, is probably not being revealed for all to see right here.

That being said, the themes and imagery we are meant to draw from The Last Jedi trailer remain highly instructive. The trailer paints a picture of teachers and students, instruction and disappointment — ideas that are also integral to the second film in the Original Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back. Luke was once the young and powerful student in need of guidance; now, he is the figure of both wisdom and rejection, neither Obi-Wan nor Yoda, but a would-be teacher who suffers himself from too many questions.

It’s no accident, of course, that Luke’s reluctance to teach Rey seems to stem directly from Ben’s path to the Dark Side — itself, powerfully directed by Snoke, who is only too happy to act as the teacher that Kylo and Rey both need. Intwined in this as well is the messy concept of parenthood. Leia’s influence is rejected by Kylo Ren, while Rey’s need is rejected by Luke; whether or not he turns out to be her father, it’s clear that the weight of a parent-child relationship hangs heavily between the hopeful student and scornful master.

Whether that will lead to as disastrous a collision as The Last Jedi trailer suggests remains to be seen.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi smashes into theaters (and our hearts) on Dec. 15, 2017.

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Episode #171 – The One Where We Don’t Talk About Star Wars

Hype Podcast 171 brings you the latest news from the entertainment world, including Disney, Fantastic Beasts, Runaways, Jurassic World and much more. But NO The Last Jedi discussion.

December 15, 2017
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