Star Wars: The Last Jedi Wants To 'Kill The Past' — But Does It?

So much of the eighth 'Star Wars' movie feels familiar – and that's more of a fitting tribute than a bad thing

Were you unable to shake the sense of déjà vu the second you saw those AT-AT Walkers taking on Poe, Finn, Rose, and the next generation of the Rebellion? Is there something familiar about Rey and Kylo Ren's connection that you can't quite put your finger on? Did you squint to see if Luke was, in fact, wearing hand-me-down Jedi robes from Obi Wan himself?

If so, you're not alone: So many moments in Star Wars: The Last Jedi felt like an homage to things that came before in previous Star Wars films, and it goes beyond keeping Stormtroopers in the same uniforms and Jedi fashion sense. The Last Jedi, like the seven episodes that came before it, is rife with vibrant characters, explosive battle scenes, deep, probing conversations about inexplicable phenomena, and surreal landscapes that could only be dreamed up for a galaxy that counts Luke Skywalker as an inhabitant. It's also full of similarities to prior constructs we've seen in galaxies far, far away, from character development and the embracing of Star Wars archetypes to painting familiar pictures on planets that we swear we've seen before.

Here's a handful of our favorite familiar moments from The Last Jedi, from the necessary cuddliness of porgs to Poe's 'tude and more.

  • Orphaned outcasts have a thing for sandy planets and Jedi islands!

    The Force is strong in both Luke and Rey — but so is their capacity to inhale a bunch of dusty air and still be able to function. If you were to compare the settings for the first chapters of their respective stories, the backdrops are nearly identical. Luke’s native Tattooine was, like Rey’s Jakku, covered in rolling dunes perfect for the sketchy characters who frequented the planet’s canteens and trading posts.

    That carries on over to The Last Jedi when it comes time to learn the ways of the Force: Like Luke before her, Rey found herself traveling to a remote, green island with murky mysteries lurking in dark caves. Like Luke, she's struggling to keep up with a grumpy master and a frustrating curriculum; the only difference is this time the grumpy master is Luke, instead of Yoda, and Ahch-To is a little less, uh, humid than Dagobah.

  • This is all one intergalactic game of extremely intense tag across familiar territory

    The Galactic Empire wants to squash the Resistance, the Rebels are out-equipped, and thus begins a chase that takes them from system to system in every single Star Wars movie. The Last Jedi is no exception to that rule, as the First Order quite literally chases what's left of the Rebellion through the galaxy, hoping that they'll eventually overrun the Rebel fleet when they eventually run out of fuel.

    This high-stakes game of tag brought the First Order and the Rebels to blows in The Force Awakens on Takodana, a planet with vibrant forests that recalled those of Endor, the Ewok-inhabited moon of Return of the Jedi. The Last Jedi’s climax brought them to Crait, a planet covered in salt that could be the slightly less-frozen cousin of Hoth, where the Rebels sought refuge in The Empire Strikes Back. Once again, we’ve got characters from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi visiting terrain that feels like we’ve been there before — but they’re doing so while engaging in a conflict we recognize, too.


    Stormtroopers haven’t changed their uniforms or their fondness for TIE Fighters much since Darth Vader’s days, and the Rebels do love those X-Wings — and this time around we got to watch the First Order bust out a much bigger plaything inherited from the Empire. When the First Order followed the Resistance to Crait, they brought some AT-M6s with them to try to wipe out the Rebels once and for all — another throw to The Empire Strikes Back that recalled visions of AT-ATs, tauntauns, and gnarly clawed snowbeasts. (Thankfully, the icy critters on Crait were way more friendly and even saved the day, to a certain extent, unlike that nightmare yeti that made a meal of Luke's tauntaun a few decades prior.)

  • Poe took up Han Solo's wry, witty mantle

    No one could deliver a wise-crack quite as boldly or, uh, directly as Han Solo, but Poe definitely did right by the late smuggler and Rebellion general's legacy in The Last Jedi. The ambitious fighter we watched flex his hero status in The Force Awakens let the thrill of combat get to his head to a lethal point, in spite of the vehement protestations of his comrades, and his boss, Leia. In Episodes IV-VI, Han went toe-o-toe with Leia and drove her up a wall. Here, Poe's less interested in driving her crazy than getting what he wants, but he's pretty Soloian when it comes to blowing a bunch of things up (and loving it) while throwing attitude any chance he gets.

  • Embrace the cute. Embrace PORGS.

    The appearance of a cuddly character is much appreciated, especially after some heavy losses and plot points fraught with tension. Enter Porgs, and those frog nuns that probably deserve an apology after Rey knocked out one of their carts with a boulder, and those crystal foxes that took shelter in the Crait Rebel base: Like Ewoks in Return of the Jedi and a host of other fuzzy, non-human characters before them, Porgs offered much-needed laughs and adorable eye candy in between Luke and Rey's scowls and one nervewracking fight scene in the Millennium Falcon.

  • Force-ing Intimacy

    Leia’s ability to keep tabs on those closest to her through her own hold on the Force made for some of the most touching moments in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. When Han Solo came face-to-face with their son, Ben (a.k.a Kylo Ren), and fell to his death, she felt it, and we did, too. The same goes for that brief psychic transmission between her and Kylo Ren in a tense Last Jedi moment that (barely) kept young Solo from killing both his parents, and when Luke looked to the twin suns of Ahch-To one last time before he became one with the Force.

    We already know that Rey, with Skywalker's lightsaber in hand and her own impressive strength in the Force, is positioned to be the next Jedi, and we know that Kylo Ren is equally as strong in the Force with the added benefit of control that comes from training. The Last Jedi brought all of this into focus when Rey and Kylo Ren established a connection so strong that they could converse with each other literally across galaxies as if they were just feet away. This intimate connection goes beyond Dark and Light, in that it stokes the fires of one of the most enthusiastic fan theories out there: That Rey and Kylo Ren are not only related, but twins, hence the bond that does right by their (potentially) shared lineage.

    Even if they aren't twins and her folks did, in fact, sell her for drinking money back on Jakku, as Kylo Ren claims, we're conditioned to believe that there's a deeper link between them, seeing as Rey's stepping into Skywalker’s shoes. They come from similar places, trained with similarly grizzled, jaded Jedi, and sliced the same lightsaber in half with aplomb — and that's part of what makes the pull to this twin theory so magnetic.

  • The Glory of the Not-Good, Not-Bad Guy

    DJ the stuttering codebreaker and Lando Calrissian have more in common than a gambling problem: They both offered their wily resources to Star Wars heroes in their time of need, and they both betrayed them. DJ turned Rose and Finn over to the First Order, but his sign-off in The Last Jedi was just vague enough to indicate that this may not be the last time we see the resourceful dude who can hack into an unhackable system — just as The Empire Strikes Back wasn't the last time we saw Lando, who eventually redeemed himself with the Resistance.

  • And finally: Luke totally raided Obi Wan Kenobi's wardrobe

    Whatever, it’s a Jedi uniform, but Yoda didn’t have a beard. Or those jowls. Luke took his style cues from his mentor in The Last Jedi, and we're not upset about it. It's only fitting that Skywalker shape-shift in Ben Kenobi's image, as his relationship with Rey closely mirrors the one he had with the war-weary old Jedi in A New Hope.