Star Wars: The Last Jedi had many audiences leaving with mixed emotions about the film and the surprise turn of events that changed the direction of what many thought was a sure thing for the Galaxy, Far, Far Away. The Force Awakens had set us up for what seemed to be an eventual epic battle between Kylo Ren, the emotionally unstable face of The First Order, who quickly dispatches Finn, and Rey who he tries to convince to let him become her master and show her the true power of the force. Though I was not a fan of the Kylo character, his killing of his father added that dark ingredient to make his career as Darth Vader’s successor that much more possible and take his place among the lords of the Sith. Though he does eventually do so by killing Snoke and declaring himself the new commander of The First Order, he first teams up with Rey to fight against his dark master. The two young force wielders coming together to take on the big bad Snoke after the initial betrayal of Kylo in setting the trap to bring Rey there was something writer and director Rian Johnson was excited to share with audiences and see their response to.
Before the release of the film, Johnson was somewhat unsure of how the general audience would react. Here’s what he told THR (via JoBlo):
“That was a big moment I was looking forward to. But that was also a moment where the deck is pretty stacked. I wasn’t holding my breath, ‘Is this going to play?’ I felt like, ‘I can’t wait to see an audience reaction to this.’ I was pretty confident in that moment. The [sacrifice] moment with Holdo was something I was holding my breath to see how the audience reacted, and I could not have been more thrilled with how the theater reacted to that big moment. And honestly, Kelly’s final little moment with John, and then she passes out. There were so many moments I was holding my breath to see how the audience was going to react to it. Because this was the first time I was seeing it with an audience. I can’t wait for opening night with a big crowd.”
The film has been in theaters a full month as of now and with a domestic gross of $595 million for its first four weeks, we can assume that Rian’s gamble was worth the risk. For those of us who were waiting for Kylo to embrace his grandfather’s spirit, the clever manipulation over his master and Rey was an exciting evolution of The First Order’s new leader.