In Depth

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi reviews - the force is (mostly) strong with this one

Spoiler-free review round-up: majority of critics lavish praise on new instalment but some question its length and ambition

Star Wars 8: Is Luke Skywalker the Emperor's heir?

20 February

Star Wars 6: Return of the Jedi saw the end of the evil Emperor, but according to fans of the sci-fi saga, his villainy may live on in none other than hero Luke Skywalker.

Debate is raging on Reddit over whether Luke is not the eponymous "Last Jedi" of Star Wars 8, as many fans initially assumed. Instead, he may be the heir to the Empire he helped to vanquish.

In the original trilogy of Star Wars films, fans followed the journey of the orphan Luke Skywalker as he found himself caught up in an intergalactic conflict between good and evil.

Alongside the battle being waged with starships and laser blasters, the young Jedi also experienced an internal struggle, between the light and dark sides of a mysterious power known as the Force.

Initially drawn to the light, he later found himself tempted by his baser, more ruthless side, particularly after discovering that his father, Darth Vader, wrestled with and lost that same inner battle and went on to become one of the most powerful and feared men in the galaxy.

Pulling the strings behind the scenes throughout the initial three films was an even more malevolent enemy: the Emperor. But his villainy is undone at the end of the final movie, as both Luke and Vader turn back to the light side of the Force.

But could Luke turn again in the next film? That is what is currently being debated on Reddit.

"There is only one logical person that the Emperor had selected as the 'Imperator'. The heir to the Empire is Luke," says a Redditor who goes by the handle GLisdeadlongliveGL. "The Emperor believed he would fall to the dark side, like his father before him."

Others foresee a resurgent Empire being turned over to one or other of the new baddies introduced in Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens - Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) or Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

"I really like this idea, but there's no way it is the ONLY one logical person," says barrymacockiner11. "Definitely Snoke and possibly (but probably not) Kylo could be considered to fill this position."

GLisdeadlongliveGL disagrees, countering: "Kylo wasn't conceived until after Palpatine's death. A 'Skywalker child' may be a contingency but if this were so Kylo would direct Snoke. Not the other way around. Palpatine was convinced Luke would fall to the dark side. Otherwise he would never have allowed Luke in the throne room."

The idea that Luke might eventually turn to the Dark Side was first explored in a series of widely praised comic books released in the early 1990s, named Dark Empire. The series, which was set after the Return of the Jedi, posited what the outcome would have been had the Emperor survived his fall into the abyss at the end of the film.

The series is set six years after the Battle of Endor. Darth Vader is dead, but the Empire still presents a threat to the Rebel Alliance. Like in Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, the Empire has come up with a new, more powerful weapon called a World Devastator, which is "more powerful and unstoppable than the Death Star" destroying entire planets.

Meanwhile, Leia and Han Solo "struggle to protect the future for their unborn child," says [1]Wookiepedia. "But their greatest foe may be their closest friend: Luke Skywalker."

"Dark Empire has a big, galaxy-spanning storyline with plenty of bombast and peril… but Veitch's fanboyish story, in which the wicked old Emperor spirits himself away into a battery of waiting clones, lacks some finesse," says the Daily Telegraph. 

All will be revealed when Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi is released in December.

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi - Is Rey a Palpatine?

13 February

Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced us to a new hero, plucky young orphan Rey who starts out as a scavenger on a remote planet but ends up a key player in the battle against the evil First Order.

But who is Rey and what is her back story? These are the questions that have been occupying the minds of Star Wars's legion of super fans for the past year or so. 

At first, it was suggested that she was the daughter of the original trilogy's main character, Luke Skywalker. Others thought she might instead be the daughter of Han Solo and General Leia Organa.

Now, a new theory is gaining traction and says that rather than being related to the good guys, Rey may be much more closely related to the dark side of the Force - specifically, that she is a relative of the nefarious Emperor Palpatine.

While the theory has been doing the rounds on Reddit this week, it was most clearly expressed J Kenji Lopez-Alt on the Huffington Post last year.

The first clue is Rey's name, she says: "Names in Star Wars movie have always had significance. Darth Vader is the obvious Dark Father. Luke is a biblical name that derives from the Latin for 'light.' Han Solo is a loner [and] Yoda comes from the Hebrew for 'wisdom.'"

Many viewers originally assumed Rey's name was a twist on "ray" as in light, but "'Rey' is also Spanish for king, derived from the Latin 'rex'", Lopez-Alt says, indicating the young hero may come to have tyrannical motives. 

Next is her fighting style, which much more closely mimics that of Palpatine than any of the series' other characters.

Finally, the long-running space saga has always been a battle between the Skywalkers and the Palpatines, the journalist says. Given that tormented new villain Kylo Ren hails from the Skywalker clan, there is room for a new Palpatine.

So will Rey turn out to be a relative of the Empire's withered overlord? All will be revealed when Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi is released in December.

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