Beware of MAJOR spoilers to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, ye who enter here
There’s only Room in this Film for one, Former Teacher…
As fans of the Star Wars original trilogy will know, Luke Skywalker had two masters. The first was his mentor and friend, Ben / Obi-Wan Kenobi. The other was Master Yoda, a small creature he discovered hiding on the planet of Dagobah in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Well, the Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi needs a little more teaching. He’s been closed off and unwilling to spread Jedi teachings throughout the Universe after his nephew, Ben Solo, fell to the dark side. But that doesn’t stop Rey from asking. She’s persistent; she’s stubborn. Just like a young kid was in his day. It helped the film to have a different dynamic between Rey and Luke than Luke had with Yoda. It made it different.
But Luke needs some help in The Last Jedi as well. One of his masters comes out of “retirement” to give him some passing knowledge. To impart to him some wisdom regarding the vast knowledge contained, or not contained, within the Jedi library. It’s a touching scene because of how good it felt to see a small, green puppet once again voiced by the great Frank Oz.
“We are what they grow beyond, that is the burden of all masters.” Immortal lines uttered by a green puppet next to Luke Skywalker. But those words weren’t from 1980, they were from 2017. The Jedi Library on Ahch-To burned to the ground thanks to a lightning strike caused by Yoda. The elder master is more than aware that Rey took the teachings with her, that she “has everything she needs.”
Yoda accuses Luke of always “looking to the horizon…never here, now…” It’s also one of the most heartwarming scenes in the film. The chemistry between the puppet and the student is the same as it was almost 40 years ago. A triumph and testament to the talents of the actors and creative team involved.
But in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rian Johnson discusses the possibility of another teacher from Luke’s past having a place in the film. Peter Cushing and a young Carrie Fisher are two performances that Lucasfilm has recreated for the sake of a film, both taking place in Star Wars: Rogue One.
But Johnson was adamant about which former master would be in the film. “When I was thinking about what Luke’s arc is going to be, and realized that someone coming back and kicking his butt would be his final beat on the island, Yoda just made the most sense.”
Johnson elaborated on Yoda’s inclusion with Uproxx and talked about why he used The Empire Strikes Back version of Yoda:
That felt really important to me. And, actually, I cut some of that out and Frank Oz said to me I had to put it back. Because when I first pitched him the scene, it’s like the Yoda from Empire is back because that’s the one Luke had the emotional connection with. And that’s why we did the puppet and recreated the Empire puppet: Neal Scanlan and his team did a recreation of the Yoda puppet. It’s not only a puppet, it’s an exact replica of the Empire puppet. They found the original molds for it. They found the woman that painted the original eyes for Yoda. Then Frank came and worked with them for a few weeks to get the puppet right. He did a lot of testing and a lot of adjusting with the puppet creators. It was amazing to watch the process. The idea that the last time Luke saw Yoda was in Return of the Jedi and the notion of getting back to that version of Yoda to form the emotional connection with Luke – including a glimpse of the impishness, as part of their relationship. It made a lot of sense.
Mark Hamill even enjoyed Yoda’s return, “That’s what I love, still smacking me on the nose, trying to train me like a puppy. Oh ‘young Skywalker.’ Really? This coming from a character who’s 947 years old.”
Though Obi-Wan told Rey that “these are your first steps” in the dream sequence in The Force Awakens, it wasn’t Guinness. Ewan McGregor came in just to speak the line. A fun, exciting and memorable easter egg for any fan.
But the sad truth is that Obi-Wan Kenobi was an amazing character who is greatly missed. However, fans may not have to wait long to see the old sage back in action.