Us nerds like nothing more than to banter back and forth on nerdy topics in Slack. Here is one of those chats, very lightly edited.[divider] Speculation on What Happens in Episode VIII [/divider]
Jason (Co-founder of Nerds and more loyal than Chewie): So, gentlemen, I will open with a little story. After watching the movie with my nieces and nephew, the youngest niece looks at the credits rolling and says “Wait! Is it over?” Proof positive that the successful relaunch of the Star Wars franchise has left us all wonder and speculating: what happens in Episode VIII?
Adkins (Co-founder of Nerds on Earth who would totally choose the Dark Side):
But on second thought, it’s perfect as is. Will Luke take a bit more convincing than a stranger (although that remains to be seen) with his old lightsaber in hand?
Jason: At first, I though of course Luke will say “Yes” but it may be a more interesting story if he doesn’t want to. For obvious reasons.
Clave (Co-founder of Nerds on Earth and aspiring Bounty Hunter): My only hope is that the use of flashbacks is limited. I certainly want to be given some of the backstory on how Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, but I hope they don’t make us suffer through young Ben Solo yelling “Yippee!” Instead, I hope the next movie starts with Rey running the steps of the temple while carrying Luke in a little backpack.
Adkins: I agree with the limited flashbacks. I am WAY more interested in what lies ahead now that the present has been established.
Clave: And in my opinion they couldn’t have done a better job in setting up new characters for what lies ahead.
Adkins: I am a little worried that family relations may make the universe feel…small. Ben is Han and Leia’s, some believe Rey might be Luke’s given some dialogue he speaks during one of the trailers, and I’ve even heard some speculate that Finn is Lando’s son (which is easily the least likely, but I guess there is room for it).
Clave: I absolutely hear you on the story feeling small, but telling the story through a small number of characters that the audience cares about is how you make the story resonate. For example, my chest didn’t hurt when the entire system of billions was obliterated, but when that one character who had been central to the mix died, I was a mess. The only way you really make people care is to make the story small.
But back to Episode VIII. Who has some dirt on Rian Johnson? What will be his lens as a director?
Adkins: I honestly don’t know much of his body of work. But do you like the idea of a rotating cast of directors? What other successful, blockbuster trilogies have done that?
Clave: (The original SW trilogy.)
Adkins: Touché, Clave.
Jason: Rian Johnson could not be more perfect for a darker next movie. His movie Looper was one of the best movies the year it came out and he has directed some of the most highly regarded episodes of television as well, most notably on Breaking Bad. He genuinely loves the genre and he can take it where it could go.
If I was hoping: Rey isn’t related to anyone else. The most compelling story to me is that the Force goes wider, way past the Skywalker family, and in doing so, brings a balance.
Adkins: Agreed. That makes it feel less hereditary. Maybe even takes a step past all the midichlorian BS, too.
Jason: The flashback thing also makes me wonder: Was Rey a little kid at the Jedi Academy and hidden away? Did Luke wipe her memories and now is awakening the first of his sleeper cell Jedis?
Adkins: Now THAT is a compelling angle. Are you on Johnson’s call list?
Jason: And related to the Force going wider, I think there are hints that Finn has some access. And I like that idea IF he isn’t a Jedi. Which, again, would undo some of the midichlorian stuff.
Adkins: I picked up on those hints, too. What is the specific appeal for you if he does not rank amongst the Jedi?
Clave: I’m sticking to my blasters that I want a small story that stays the story of the Skywalker family. I certainly want a wide galaxy, so I hope the Skywalkers are hopping through Hutt Space and throughout the Outer Rim, but I want the core story to remain centralized to the Skywalkers and Solos.
Jason: I like the idea of the Jedi as a called group. It has its appeal. But I also think there needs to be space for more. Finn’s compelling reason for what he is doing and has done: “It was the right thing to do.” That shouldn’t be limited to Jedi.
Clave: Finn is the analog to Han in that regard. The Force might be mumbo jumbo, but he did the right thing.
Jason: But then who is Poe? I mean, obviously, we didn’t get much of him in this first movie but he seems like a pretty important piece!
And, Clave, to some degree you are right. It feels like this trilogy is going to be Skywalker centered and the other movies that are coming will widen out the story.
Clave: Poe is just awesome. Is that not enough? (Actually, in canon, Poe is the son of famous old school Rebel pilots, so he didn’t come out of nowhere.)
Jason: I mean, Rogue Squadron is the next Star Wars property we see.
Jason: I am going to say something ridiculous in many, many ways: I don’t think Han is dead.
Jason: And I know that cheapens Leia’s feeling and all of that.
You want to make a weirdo full circle Star Wars? Han comes back as a cyborg that is manipulated and put together by his son.
Glenn hid under the garbage can, Han fell out the trash shot into the waiting arms of Lando.
Clave: I love that so much.
Adkins: So Han versus Luke in the end?
Jason: Oh. I wasn’t even taking it there. So, no redemption for Ben?
And I will have to say that the CG Andy Serkis character is so meh. Weakest part of the movie and I have no idea what is in store for him. (Except that he has the same scars as Ben and he could be a time displaced older Ben, coming to make sure that younger him is as strong as possible.)
Adkins: Don’t you just love the crazy possibilities inherent in sci-fi?
Jason: And I do think there is something to the idea that the eyes and heart of this wave of movies is Rey and Finn. I like the old guard but not so much that I want to build the whole series off them
So, does Luke accept the Lightsaber? Or is he the reluctant Master?
Adkins: YES. Finn’s character is extremely compelling apart from anything that might count as his backstory preceding the events in VII. And Rey is a strong female lead who doesn’t feel token or forced and has a lot of mystery and potential. I definitely want more of them both.
As for Luke: I hope he still requires some convincing. Maybe Han’s death will be his inciting incident, but I hope there’s more to it than that to bring him back from his hermitage.
Fingers crossed for a Rocky-styled training montage with him and Rey.
Jason: Definitely the next stage has got to give us more Rey and more Finn. And more great story. Star Wars is back!