The Last Jedi has now been out for over a month, and there has been plenty of time to reflect on and discuss the latest film in the Star Wars saga.
Along with each movie release, Lucasfilm also releases a Visual Dictionary written by Pablo Hidalgo, and The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary was released last month alongside the film. These Visual Dictionaries are always a must-read for those who want to know more about the movie, and they give a lot of helpful background information and details and notes.
The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary covers a lot of subjects, such as Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke, among others. This isn’t what you’re looking for if you want a complete backstory on the characters (like a Wookieepedia article), but if you’re looking for more background that better informs your viewing of The Last Jedi, then this certainly qualifies as a must-read.
There’s way too many interesting nuggets to include here, but I’ve picked out ten interesting insights from the Visual Dictionary that I think are both significant and interesting. Some may interest you and some might not, but I’d recommend checking out the Visual Dictionary to learn more about the following and much more.
1. Finn’s defection is secret
Finn has become famous throughout the Resistance for his heroics in defecting from the First Order and then eventually infiltrating Starkiller Base and helping in its destruction. We know that this has gotten around, and mechanics like Rose certainly know of him. But the First Order has apparently tried hard to suppress that news from spreading within their ranks. A note from the Visual Dictionary mentions that:
“Not all stormtroopers are aware of Finn’s defection, suggesting that word of his disloyalty has been suppressed to prevent it from inspiring others.” (71)
Earlier rumors suggested that there would be a scene in The Last Jedi (which apparently was cut) in which other troopers recognize Finn but congratulate him on his promotion, seemingly oblivious to his defection. Though that scene didn’t make it into the movie, it seems that the general feeling prevails: it’s not well-known. From the First Order’s perspective, it makes sense: they don’t want anything to provide a spark of dissension among their forces.
2. Han Solo still impacts Ben Solo
It was clear from The Last Jedi that Ben Solo’s actions in killing his father are impacting him. Snoke tells him that the deed split his spirit, and later Luke acknowledges to him that his father is always with him. But it seems Han’s impact on Ben is felt in another way, too: it planted seeds of doubt. Here’s what the Visual Dictionary mentions:
“Kylo has sacrificed everything in his commitment to the dark side, rejecting his family through his pledge of loyalty to Supreme Leader Snoke. But Han Solo’s warning that Snoke is only using Kylo for his power echoes through Kylo’s mind. Now that the First Order campaign to retake the galaxy is truly underway, Kylo plots his future through uncertain times. With ambition fueled by the dark side, Kylo prioritizes his own survival and ultimate ascension.” (28)
In other words, it seems that Han’s words have stuck with his son, and that means that Han’s words probably played a role in Ben’s decision to kill Snoke. It’s cool to see that they’re not moving on quickly from the death of one of the galaxy’s most beloved characters, as even though Han Solo isn’t in The Last Jedi his impact can be felt – perhaps most notably in one of the film’s most pivotal moments.
3. More information about Snoke
Many expected that we’d get more information about the First Order’s mysterious Supreme Leader – but that obviously didn’t happen. The Visual Dictionary doesn’t give away any shocking revelations about his identity, but it does add to the intrigue. Here’s part of what Hidalgo writes about Snoke:
“Though his name is known to the galaxy and his reputation as the Supreme Leader of the First Order precedes him, few have ever seen Snoke in the flesh. He obscures himself with distance, being forever unreachable save for a select few who can contact him directly. Even under such circumstances, Snoke disguises his true nature. Whatever frailties have broken his body are dwarfed by the immense size at which he typically projects his form.” (34)
So here’s what that tells us: 1) Snoke is well-known throughout the galaxy, as he has a reputation; 2) Snoke is a recluse who most have never seen and who only a select few can contact; 3) Snoke disguises his true nature; 4) his body is broken. We also are told from the Visual Dictionary that “Snoke’s force abilities are strong, but his body is broken, his stride is staggered, and his muscles weak” (36). Snoke places his Praetorian Guards around his throne to protect him from any threats present, but his headquarters are aboard the Supremacy, which remains hidden in the unknown regions to further protect him. Not many people have seen him, therefore, and it seems that even fewer know who he actually is (since he hides his identity), but his reputation precedes him. He’s very mysterious, but his existence is not a secret.
4. Snoke’s ring is from Vader’s castle
One thing that doesn’t seem to have an impact on our understanding of the film but that is quite an interesting tidbit is about the ring Snoke wears. The Visual Dictionary explains that the black crystal adorning the ring is an “obsidian from catacombs beneath Darth Vader’s Mustafar castle” (35). We got our first look at Vader’s castle in Rogue One, and we presumably will see more of it from Lucasfilm moving forward. It’s really interesting that Snoke has an artifact from beneath Vader’s castle. Does that mean he actually has been there himself, or did he receive it from someone else? And does that give us any clues as to his identity? Probably not, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
5. Snoke had a very specific reason for taking Ben Solo as his apprentice
Depending on who you believe, you might get differing opinions on just how much Snoke was to blame for Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side (Leia blamed Snoke, but Luke blamed himself). But one thing is for sure: Snoke saw something special in the young man, and lured Ben to become his apprentice. He explains in the movie that he saw raw, untamed power, and beyond that something truly special: the potential of Ben’s bloodline. But it turns out that idea of Ben’s bloodline is an even bigger deal for Snoke, as the Visual Dictionary explains:
“Snoke took Ben Solo as his apprentice as he believed only someone of the Skywalker bloodline could destroy the last Jedi.” (35)
So in addition to Ben’s unmistakable power, Snoke thinks that the only one who can end the Jedi is a Skywalker. It picks up on the mythology of the Skywalker line, as Anakin was seen as the chosen one who would bring balance to the force. So Snoke apparently believes that only a descendent of Anakin can put an end to the Jedi Order and kill Luke Skywalker. In other words: Han Solo was absolutely right. Snoke is simply using Ben Solo to destroy the last Jedi.
6. Luke and Lor San Tekka discovered Ahch-To
For many years, Luke traveled the galaxy searching for Jedi artifacts and history. Somewhere along the way, he discovered the location of the first Jedi Temple, on Ahch-To. The Force Awakens seemingly gave the impression that Luke discovered the location only after Ben’s fall (since Han says “those that knew him best think he went searching for the first Jedi temple”), but in reality Luke already knew of the location before his apprentice turned against him. Hidalgo writes of Luke’s searching to find the planet’s location:
“Luke’s search for Jedi lore led to him uncovering many lost relics, which he collected and brought with him to Ahch-To. Key to finding the island itself was studying the spread of uneti saplings, a rare type of tree that is sensitive, in its own way, to the Force.” (47)
“Luke’s travels have allowed him to collect and assemble ancient scriptures containing lost Jedi wisdom and abilities. Actual books such as these are a true primitive rarity.” (47)
“… Over the years, [Luke] uncovered tantalizing clues as to the origin point of the Jedi, but its exact location remained a mystery. When he finally did piece together its location with the help of the old scholar Lor San Tekka, Skywalker kept this information to himself…” (42)
So Luke gathered artifacts (which he brought to Ahch-To, like the Emperor’s compass) and Jedi texts (which he also brought to Ahch-To and placed in the uneti tree), and he searched for the location of the first Jedi Temple, studying the saplings of uneti trees to help him figure out its location. Lor San Tekka, who gave Poe Dameron the map at the beginning of The Force Awakens, assisted Luke in discovering the location (San Tekka had a history with Luke and Leia). But upon discovering the location, Luke simply filed it away secretly and went about his other business. It wasn’t until Ben Solo rebelled and Luke was overcome with a sense of failure that he knew exactly where to go into exile: Ahch-To, the site of the first Jedi Temple. It also explains how Lor San Tekka would have had the missing piece of the map, as he would have known the location of the Temple as well (perhaps even being the only other person who knew it).
7. Ben Solo’s rebellion remained secret for many years
The novel Bloodline gave us a timeline that, at least six years prior to the events of The Force Awakens, Ben Solo was still training with Luke Skywalker. So his rebellion happened within six years of the film, and whenever it happened, it remained a secret for years. Here’s what the Visual Dictionary notes about the event:
“Skywalker kept the location of his Jedi training temple a strict secret, known only to members of his burgeoning Order. When he found it ablaze, the grounds littered by slaughtered students, he knew that the betrayal came from within. It was his nephew, consumed by darkness, who had led its destruction. The wider galaxy would not know of this calamity for years to come.” (47)
The Visual Dictionary also confirms that Leia was supposed to be Luke’s first apprentice but decided to focus on her family and on politics. So instead, as Luke traveled the galaxy he gained followers who became his first students at his Jedi temple. But he kept the location of that temple a secret, and he then also kept news of Ben Solo’s rebellion a secret, too. We still don’t truly know how widespread news of Kylo Ren’s true identity is throughout the galaxy, but it certainly wasn’t broadcast right away.
8. Luke put his crashed X-Wing to good use
When the image of Luke’s X-Wing crashed under the water on Ahch-To was shown early in the movie, it likely was done in an effort to misdirect people as to how his arc would go, but more importantly it shows Luke’s determination to stay in exile, as he has no plans to ever leave. But his X-Wing has also served him a practical use, too: the Visual Dictionary explains that the door on Luke’s hut on Ahch-To is actually “made from salvaged S-foil of Luke’s T-65 X-wing” (45). Adding a door to the hut helps protect against the unpredictable elements on Ahch-To and also give him a sense of privacy, and it’s all thanks to Luke utilizing parts of his X-Wing. He also kept an S-foil actuator clutch disc as a memento from his X-Wing, too.
9. Ahch-To is mysterious
Luke Skywalker has cut himself off from the force, as Rey comes to realize while meditating on Ahch-To. Luke has forsaken his Jedi lifestyle intending to live out the rest of his days in isolation, and part of this includes cutting himself off from the force. Ironically, however, he does so on a planet strong in the force. The Visual Dictionary states:
“[Luke] has lost track of time on the island, the result of his willful neglect as well as a mysterious quality the world shares with such Force-infused locales as Dagobah and Mortis. News of the disaster that has befallen the galaxy shocks him out of isolation. The past will not be buried.” (44)
Ahch-To’s inclusion alongside Dagobah and Mortis seems to imply that the planet might have a similar mysterious connection to the force, which would certainly be understandable since it’s the location of the start of the Jedi Order. It will be interesting to eventually learn more about the planet, like we have with Dagobah and Mortis (which are both explored more in the Clone Wars TV series).
10. Broom Boy has a name
During Finn and Rose’s arc on Canto Bight, we are introduced to an unnamed boy who speaks no lines, a slave who tends to the Fathiers and who assists Finn and Rose in their escape from prison. Broom Boy (or Stable Boy) shows up again in the final scene of the movie, hearing the story of Luke Skywalker confronting the whole First Order and being inspired by it. He heads out to the stable and uses the force to call a broom to his hand, then stares up at the sky as the force theme blares and he raises the broom like a lightsaber.
It doesn’t impact our understanding of the movie in any way, but the Visual Dictionary gives us his name: it’s Temiri Blagg.
There’s a ton more that I could have mentioned her but just didn’t have space for (because I limited it to ten things), and I’m sure that I didn’t cover all of the most interesting aspects or revelations of the book. Pablo Hidalgo’s Visual Dictionaries are always a must-read accompanying the movies, and this is no different. I highly recommend checking it out for more tidbits, easter eggs, and background on The Last Jedi.