A recent attempt to convince us all that The Force Awakens finds Luke succumbed to the dark side doesn’t make sense. The piece (which is worth a read truth be told) uses a lot of cues from the original trilogy to come to the conclusion that Luke has already flipped allegiances and joined the dark side. If we didn’t know anything about The Force Awakens, including what we’ve seen in trailers, then the theory would be worth some serious consideration.
But ultimately, it makes too many leaps and makes too many assumptions for it to be true.
The story of the Skywalkers in the first six films ends with in Luke succeeding in walking the line where his father failed. Yeah, Luke may have felt the sway of the dark side in his throwdown with Vader, but he ultimately rejects the call of the Emperor by throwing down his lightsaber and declaring himself a Jedi. Not for one second do I think he was lying about that, as the piece claims he is. To reveal, 30 years later, that he was lying, is to pull the rug out from a generation of fans, not to mention cheapen the entire original trilogy that now essentially has no hero. To claim Luke is lying is a massive leap.
Also, if you have followed spoilers, (skip ahead to the next paragraph if you haven’t), the story goes that Luke had founded a Jedi academy in the post Return of the Jedi era, (as expected he would) which gets sacked by some powerful thugs during a flashback sequence in The Force Awakens. The shot of a mechanical hand on R2’s dome is that of Luke’s after his academy was turned to ash, it’s pupils cut down. It is then that Luke goes in to a self-imposed exile, which is what The Force Awakens is pretty much all about – the search for Luke Skywalker. If these spoilerific plot points hold up, that’s a bit of a knockout punch to this entire piece. Dark Jedi don’t found Jedi academies. There’s also the small matter of the photo that circulated earlier this summer of Luke in his Jedi robes for The Force Awakens. The image was supposedly to be used in 3D scans of the character, but Disney moved mountains and issued every website publishing the image a cease and desist order. The outfit Luke was wearing in the image looked more like Obi-Wan from A New Hope than it did the robes of a dark Jedi, or Sith, or fallen Jedi, or whatever it is you think Luke has become.
But let’s pretend that the author knows very little about The Force Awakens. When Luke leaves Dagobah to face Vader and save his friends, Yoda tells Obi-Wan that “matters are worse”. He wasn’t saying that Luke was a lost cause, destined to join the Sith, another leap made by the author. This was simply the pessimistic side of Yoda being expressed; concern for Luke’s safety. Sure, Yoda could have also been worried that Luke would be turned to the dark side…after all, that was Vader and the Emperor’s plan. If Luke was already on his way to the dark side after his first encounter with Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, he would have resumed training under Vader once he embraced the truth about his lineage. He would have also skipped saving Han, and taken Vader to Dagobah to finish off a slowly dying Yoda. Of course. that’s not what happened. Before dying, the conversation Yoda has with Luke, and Luke’s ensuing conversation with the apparition of Obi-Wan clearly illustrate that Luke had every intention of saving his father instead of killing him. Someone drunk with the power of the dark side would not have even had the conversation and would have passed go, and gone directly for the kill.
The author of the HuffPo piece clearly put a lot of thought and effort in to his piece, but I think he’s suffering from a case of over-thinking things, by making leaps and assumptions that aren’t entirely reasonable. With literally decades of time between the Star Wars films, there’s a lot of themes, and characters to toy with. But nobody can lose sight of the fact that the original trilogy (you could expand that to episode 1-6) will forever stand on their own. After all, up until a couple years ago we were all resigned to never seeing a new Star Wars movie again. Even if Kathleen Kennedy said that the upcoming trilogy is also about the Skywalker family, the first six films were created by George Lucas, and intended to stand on their own. The new trilogy will build off of that 6-part saga, not subvert it for shock value. For Disney, Lucasfilm, Abrams, Kasdan, and everyone involved with charting out the arc of the next trilogy to alter what George Lucas had delivered would be a cruel and unnecessary gut punch to generations of fans who live and breathe all things Star Wars, and who grew up with Luke Skywalker as their hero. It would be the peak of taking your fans for granted to go down this path. In turning Luke to evil, even for a little while, would risk alienating millions of fans who would justifiably feel betrayed. Why do that?
These movies have been around for so long and have been dissected in so many ways that it boggles the mind. Fan speculation is part of the fun of being a Star Wars fan, and with the internet always a click away, sharing theories has never been more engaging. I don’t think I’m being naive or unwilling to be challenged as a fan on notions I’ve held for 30 years, but to force everyone to bend to this “theory” that Luke was already well on his way to the dark side in the original trilogy is not clever storytelling. It’s an insult to loyal fans, and to the story of Star Wars itself.