Luke Skywalker: “Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi”

In the final trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, there’s a line from Luke Skywalker in a voiceover that I think is really great and worth discussing a bit more.

We hear Luke saying (almost certainly to Rey): “Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny.”

I love that line, because there’s so much wisdom contained therein, but also because I think that is a good encapsulation of the role of the Jedi in the entire Star Wars saga.

If we’re looking at the saga chronologically, one of the first things we definitively find out about the Jedi is that they are not to be fearful. In The Phantom Menace, while Anakin Skywalker is standing before the Jedi Council, Yoda says, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”

Nowhere is that better seen than in the life of Anakin Skywalker, to whom that line is actually said. Anakin feared loss: first, it was the loss of his mother, and then it was the loss of his wife. And it was this fear that drove him to the dark side, as he sought out a way to ensure that this fear of loss never came to pass. But in doing this, the fear led to anger, that anger led to hatred, and that hatred led to suffering. In the end, Darth Vader became a menacing figure consumed by fear, anger, hatred, and suffering.

But then along comes his son, Luke Skywalker, who insists to Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back that, “I’m not afraid!” “You will be,” Yoda responds. Luke confronts his fear in the cave on Dagobah, as he comes to see that which he fears the most: what he might become. But by Return of the Jedi, when he stands before Palpatine and throws his lightsaber away, insisting, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” he has faced and confronted this fear. He has faced the possibility of becoming like his father, but instead of embracing the dark side like his father did, Luke stakes his claim as a Jedi – just like his father once did. In this moment, Luke has faced his fear, and he’s willing to die before turning to the dark side.

After that, Anakin Skywalker returns by saving someone he loved from death – the very thing that drove him to the dark side in the first place. He couldn’t save Shmi or Padme, but he could save Luke. So he finally confronts this fear of loss and gives his life for his son, saving him.

Like in our world, however, a victory – no matter how massive – doesn’t always mean “happily ever after.” And so, as Luke began training a new generation of Jedi, his fear was failure. In his view, he did fail Ben Solo, and this led him to self-imposed exile. But Rey forces him to confront this fear once more, as he is afraid of failing her too. He winds up confronting this fear, walking out to face the First Order and buy the Resistance time to escape.

And all throughout the Star Wars saga, we get other examples of characters facing fear. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, etc. all must confront their respective fears. In fact, it seems that confronting fear is almost a rite of passage that a Jedi must go through.

So because of that, it should come as no surprise that it sounds like Rey must confront her fears in The Rise of Skywalker. Based on what has been set up so far, the fear she has confronted and likely will continue to confront is the fear of not belonging or fitting in to this story. So she will have to confront her fear of not belonging, and probably will have to confront the fear that is facing Palpatine too.

That is the destiny of all Jedi. And that’s been a message of the Skywalker saga all throughout. Fear is the path to the dark side, but it’s not the absence of fear that makes a Jedi. It’s confronting those fears and emerging better because of it that makes a Jedi. Luke Skywalker has seen that in the history of the Jedi and in his own life, and so he’s the perfect one to pass it on to Rey.

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