The following story contains so many spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. For real, turn and run if you haven't yet seen the movie, and come back after you have.
After years of waiting, Rian Johnson finally has followed up J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens with his own chapter in the ongoing Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi. And while his movie doesn't have "Force" in the title, the philosophical sequel delves deep into the meaning of The Force, the importance of its teachings (and the relevance of the Jedi, the Force's greatest champions), and the impact it has on the galaxy.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi also doesn't have a mid-credits scene (this isn't Marvel), but there is a final scene that's WILDLY separate from the main action in the story, and has connections that could speak to where J.J. Abrams is going to have to go when he returns to conclude the trilogy in Star Wars: Episode IX. Let's break down the finale of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and what it could mean for the future of this universe moving forward.
Following a tense standoff between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) on the salty surface of Crait, the Jedi master uses a hologram version of himself to distract the one-time Ben Solo long enough for Rey (Daisy Ridley) to rescue the remaining members of the Rebel Alliance. Rey uses her Force powers -- very important, in a second -- to remove a mountain of rocks, freeing General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and what's left of the Rebels. They all board the Millennium Falcon and prepare to escape.
At this moment, several important "shoes" start to drop drop. In his final bit of dialogue with Kylo Ren, Luke reveals that he is NOT in fact going to be the Last Jedi, even though he burned down the remaining Jedi artifacts (with Yoda's assistance) that were still on Ahch-to. Once Luke reveals this, Rian Johnson cuts to Rey using her Force powers to move the rocks and free her friends. Only, because the movie earlier revealed that Rey isn't from a traditional Jedi heritage, her latent Force powers stem from somewhere else.
And she isn't alone.
Aboard the Falcon, Rey communicates with Kylo Ren one last time. She slams shut the door to the Falcon... and the camera smash cuts to a barn on the outskirts of Canto Bight. It's nighttime on this distant planet, and a man is yelling over children's voices. A boy stumbles out into the darkness, where he has been told to get back to work.
The boy picks up a broom and begins to sweep. Well, he doesn't pick it up, so much as he summons the broom to him, using what we assume in The Force. Also, the straw that he's moving around the ground is moving through what looks like a combination of the broom and The Force. The boy grips this broom, and holds it like a lightsaber as he looks up into the night sky. A star (or a ship) shoots by, and the camera pans to the boy's hand. On it, he wears a ring. The ring has the emblem of the Rebellion. Rey and her team have help. And heading into Star Wars: Episode IX, they may find it in the next generation.
Let's discuss this on the next page.
What It Means
One of the larger points of Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that The Force can be found in everyone. It's not limited to the Skywalker family tree, as it has been in previous Star Wars movies (despite Han Solo telling Finn that's "not how the Force works!") It's bigger than the pupils that Luke trained in his Jedi monastery -- until Kylo Ren wiped them all out. And it will last beyond Luke's time in this universe... which came to an anti-climactic end when the Jedi Master faded away following his standoff with his former protégé, Kylo.
If The Force truly was woken up in the initial film in this trilogy, not just in Rey but in several other people around the galaxy, then in The Last Jedi we learned that it doesn't die out with Luke. But becaue Rian Johnson includes this scene of the stable boy who has Force powers, we also know that the Force isn't limited to Rey. It can truly be found in virtually anybody. Yet, to paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles, when everyone has Force power, no one has Force power. So I'm curious how J.J. Abrams will follow through on that in Episode IX.
Also, it was fascinating how Rey and Kylo Ren -- the proverbial sides of the Force coin -- flip-flopped numerous times over the course of The Last Jedi, blending the shades between Light and Dark to create a grey area where both existed. During her training on Ahch-to, Rey terrified Luke by drifting right towards a black hole that symbolizes everything evil about The Force. And in a moment of strength (or would it be weakness?), Kylo turned on his master, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and took him out of the contest. In this instance, The Last Jedi shows that these heroes and villains are capable of controlling both the light and the dark sides of The Force without committing one way or the other to either side. How will that be explored.
But it all comes down to the presence of this stable boy, and his Resistance ring, and I think that in Star Wars: Episode IX, we will learn that The Force is far more reaching than we imagined, with Force-sensitive people (like this little boy) in all corners of the galaxy. Luke Skywalker, in his final monologue, mentions that the Rebellion is stronger than it's ever been... even though Leia (Carrie Fisher) leads the tattered remains of her army in a hasty retreat. I think the boy indicates that when these Force-sensitive younglings turn their attention to assisting the Rebellion, the Rebels will become far more powerful than the First Order ever dreamed. And Luke, through his sacrifice, will unite the Force sensitive in their battle against the forces of evil.