Luke Skywalker has been my favorite character in all of fiction, ever since I saw the original trilogy for the first time.
My favorite moment in all of Star Wars is in Return of the Jedi when he saves his father and says, “You’ve failed your highness. I am a Jedi like my father before me.” It still gives me chills to this very day but I truly love him because I see myself in him. He’s a real human and so when Rian Johnson brought my hero back and gave him his final and greatest trial I couldn’t have been happier. Luke Skywalker teaches us, “The greatest teacher failure is.”
The Last Jedi
In The Last Jedi it has been thirty years since Return of the Jedi and as explained in the last film, The Force Awakens, everything Luke had built was destroyed by Ben Solo, his nephew, and former apprentice. After that, he had walked away from it all. Luke has also since learned of the events that took place during the Prequel Trilogy. Luke being this jaded man who holds a lot of anger towards the Jedi makes sense because he’s really angry at himself for failing. He believes if the Jedi of the past failed and he failed then the Jedi must be inherently flawed.
Luke’s actions the night he confronted Ben were wrong, he even says this, but it does make sense in terms of his character. We know Luke is someone who in the heat of the moment will act on his instincts like in A New Hope when Obi-Wan dies he shoots at Darth Vader or in The Empire Strikes Back when he rushes off to save his friends because of a vision he had of them dying or even in Return of the Jedi in which multiple times Luke attacks the Emperor out of anger when he shows him his friends dying and when Vader says he will turn Leia to the dark side. In the final and true flashback, it is no different.
A Legend’s Failure
The night Luke goes to confront Ben Solo he goes into his hut to check on him and see the darkness inside him, which he’d noticed during his training. Unlike his father Darth Vader, Luke sees no light in his nephew and only sees what he describes as “Snoke had already turned his heart. He would bring destruction and pain and death at the end of everything I loved because of what he would become and for the briefest moment of pure instinct I thought I could stop it.” Like the previously mentioned moments in Luke’s life, he became caught up in his emotions and was scared. He loves his family and friends and wasn’t thinking.
Luke goes on to say, “It passed like a fleeting shadow and the last thing I saw were the eyes of a boy whose master had failed him.” Luke knew what he was thinking was wrong and stopped himself as he did with his father except this time he wasn’t the triumphant hero. As shown in Ben’s flashback, the young man misunderstood what was happening and he felt betrayed. Before Luke could explain himself and talk to his nephew the hut was destroyed and everything around him was in ruins. The responsibility of carrying on the legacy of the Jedi Order was on him and he failed.
Failure Is Not The End
When Yoda goes to teach Luke that he must accept his failure and learn from his past mistakes, not run away from them it is one of the most powerful scenes in all of Star Wars. Yoda tells Luke that it’s time for him to let go and move on. Later, when Luke confronted his nephew I feel many people missed the point of the scene. If Luke had just straight up killed Ben and some crazy duel with him it would have been completely out of character and he would’ve been repeating his mistake that turned Ben in the first place.
What we got on the other hand was perfect. Not only did Luke do the most Jedi thing we’ve ever seen him do (besides saving his father of course) by not killing a single person but he also apologized for what he did and put it on Ben to make the right choice because the only one keeping him on the Darkside at that point was himself.
Pass On What You Have Learned
During The Rise of Skywalker when Rey feels she is allowing her worst fears to come to fruition she runs away to Ahch-To where her master, Luke Skywalker, had hidden away for so long.
When she is about to make the same mistake as her master Luke steps in to guide her and pass on what he has learned. He passes on not only his strength but his folly and failure. He states, “I was wrong. It was fear that kept me here.” his fear of his failure. His fear of failing again and letting his family down. Luke learned from his failure and confronted it.
Luke’s great trial allowed him to embrace his legend, inspire the galaxy which took down the Sith, and teach the next generation so that they don’t make the same mistakes as him. What makes Luke such a great Jedi is that he’s an imperfect human. He makes mistakes and stumbles but he always gets back up. He’s like you and me. That’s what makes Luke Skywalker my hero.