14. Luke’s lapse in judgment
The Last Jedi was an exploration of what might happen if Luke Skywalker failed in his goal of restoring the Jedi order after Return of the Jedi. Luke has exiled himself on Ahch-To, convinced that the Jedi need to end. Something happened that derailed the whole forward momentum of the original trilogy. Interestingly, we see two different versions of this watershed event, and each of them have their own level of spookiness to them.
According to Luke, he began to sense a rising darkness in his nephew Ben, and he believed this darkness to be so complete that he decided he needed to take matters into his own hands. As Ben slept, he lit his lightsaber with the briefest of intentions to end Ben’s life and save the galaxy from the darkness inside of him. Just as quickly as he ignites his saber, however, he’s filled with instant regret. If Darth Vader could be redeemed, how could he just give up on his nephew? But Ben wakes up and sees Luke and believes he needs to protect himself.
In Ben’s version, he awakens to see a menacing-looking Luke Skywalker standing over him with his lightsaber poised to strike. The imagery is startling, and Luke appears to have succumbed to madness. Ben seemingly has no choice but to defend himself. And Ben’s now inevitable progression toward the Dark Side begins as he sends Luke flying back with the Force. Because of the dual versions of the story, Rian Johnson casts doubt in our minds about Luke Skywalker the hero, which creates a disturbing dissonance that stays with you long after seeing the film.