Star Wars: The Last Jedi had some problems. In my last article, I talked about plausible solutions in Episode IX for three of those problems. But there was one other problem that I thought was simply a lost cause. I barely mentioned it because I thought it was something that could not be fixed. I was wrong.
Rian Johnson killed Luke Skywalker. That statement may seem way too obvious, but I’m not talking about Luke’s strange death at the end of The Last Jedi. I’m talking about a flashback scene in the middle of the film that destroyed the character. The scene comes about as Luke tells Rey what it was that drove Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) to the dark side. He tells her that while he was training Ben to be a Jedi, he saw darkness in him (because Snoke had been influencing him) and he was afraid of what Ben could become. So in a moment of weakness, he went into where Ben was sleeping and was prepared to kill him. He changed his mind at the last moment, but it was too late. Ben awoke to see Luke standing over him with an ignited lightsaber, and he reacted by force-pushing Luke away from him and proceeding to destroy the temple where he had been training. He then fled with some of Luke’s other students. From Ben’s perspective, his reaction would make sense — especially if he had already been heavily influenced by Snoke. What Luke did would have confirmed in Ben’s mind that Snoke’s side was the right side for him to choose. Unfortunately, Luke’s almost-homicide does not make sense, and it assassinates the character.
In Episodes IV - VI, Luke Skywalker went from being a naive but pretty grounded young person to being a confident and compassionate Jedi. He was a character filled with hope and optimism, and he never gave up on people. This is especially evident in the way he treated his father. His father was basically the prime minister of the most evil empire the galaxy had ever seen, yet Luke wanted to believe that there was still good in him. And even when he was filled with battle-fueled rage and ready to kill his father at the end of Return of the Jedi, he held off. He showed his father compassion.
Contrast original trilogy Luke with the man we see in The Last Jedi. Ben Solo was just showing signs of being influenced by the dark side. He wasn’t a full-blown dark side devotee like Darth Vader. Yet instead of working with him and trying to turn him back to the light, Luke decides that his only option is to straight-up MURDER his nephew in his sleep. Even though he decided against it at the last second, just the notion that he was ready to kill the son of his sister and his best friend in cold blood was a horrifying turn for the character that absolutely destroyed him. And for a while, I thought — Well, there’s no coming back from that. It’s done. The franchise will just have to move on from it. But then I realized that that’s not actually how it has to be.
Snoke is shown to be an extremely powerful and proficient force user in The Last Jedi. He even managed to connect Rey and Kylo to one another and make it possible for them to basically Forcetime with each other over enormous distances. And long before that, he had apparently been able to exert a great enough influence on Ben Solo (and from a large distance at that) that Luke Skywalker was extremely concerned about him turning to the dark side. So is it possible that Snoke was influencing Luke at the same time he was influencing Ben?
Mind tricks are nothing new for force users, so I certainly wouldn’t discount the possibility that Snoke was able to influence Luke’s thinking. It’s been well established that he can get into people’s minds (like he did with Rey and Kylo in order to telepathically connect them to one another), so heavily influencing Luke’s thoughts might not be a stretch for him. If it turns out that he did indeed heavily influence Luke’s thinking, it would mean that Luke did not decide to murder his nephew on his own. It would mean that Luke was being controlled by an outside force, and that would be the character’s salvation.
But since Snoke is dead, how would this information be uncovered in Episode IX? The way I see it, all that the writer(s) would need to do is introduce a former Snoke apprentice. Maybe it could be a character who became disillusioned with the dark side after discovering that Snoke had manipulated him/her the same way that he would eventually manipulate Ben Solo. If Kylo Ren were to learn that another Snoke apprentice had a master who was mind-tricked by Snoke into trying to kill him/her, it could be a major turning point for his character — making him question every decision that facilitated his ultimate rise to Supreme Leader within the First Order.
Luke Skywalker doesn’t have to go down in Star Wars history as a character who was willing to murder his own nephew. He CAN be saved.