What's The Deal With Luke In 'The Force Awakens'?

Because there must be balance in the Force, the pure, giddy excitement of a new Star Wars movie comes with the cold dread that not every character will make it out alive. As soon as Disney announced that Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill would be reprising their characters for The Force Awakens, I began to fear for the safety of the original trio — especially Luke Skywalker. Rumors and speculation began running rampant online. Luke was already dead. Luke would die in the first ten minutes. Luke had finally been turned, and would be the real villain of the new series. Now that the latest Star Wars movie has made its theatrical debut, a few of my questions about what happens to Luke in The Force Awakens have been answered. (Not all, though. The script has to leave some for the next two movies.) Spoilers ahead. The new Star Wars film begins with the basics: Luke is alive, but haunted by a failure.

In fact, the "Luke is dead" theory is debunked minutes into The Force Awakens. General Leia Organa's best pilot Poe Dameron is dispatched to the planet Jakku to retrieve a map that supposedly leads to Luke. But his sister and the Resistance aren't the only players who have a vested interest is finding him. The First Order, an oppressive successor to the Empire, is also looking for Luke. When masked baddie Kylo Ren and his Stormtroopers storm the Jakku village to intercept the map, Poe hides the file in his plucky and adorable droid BB-8 and sends him off to find safety. Poe is being tortured for information at the same time BB-8 rolls across the desert planet and into the path of a scavenger named Rey. It's a fitting callback to R2-D2's Tatooine mission, and Rey is called to her destiny just like Luke was in A New Hope.

In fact, the parallels between Rey and Luke left me wondering if Luke may actually be Rey's father. Parentage is an important topic in The Force Awakens, and all we know of her family is that they left her on Jakku, and that she was counting the days until they'd come back for her. Also: the Force is strong with this one. Run in the family much?

The most shocking reveal of the movie is that Kylo Ren is the son of Leia and Han. (Ben Solo? Ben Organa-Solo? Hopefully the next episode will clear that up.) It seems that Leia did not train as a Jedi, though Ben did study under his uncle Luke to learn about the Force. He was lost to the Dark Side and the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke. Presumably, Luke blamed himself. Ben's spiral into evil is what sent Luke Skywalker packing. Where to? Han tells Finn and Rey that the stories and legends that are all he has left of his friend say that Luke went to seek the first Jedi temple.

After Han's death at the hands of his son (don't look at me!), the new crew of the Millennium Falcon head off to track Luke down. BB-8's map was only a piece of the puzzle; R2-D2, who'd been in "low power mode" since his master's departure, suddenly jolts to life and provides the missing data. The Force Awakens concludes with Rey scaling a mountain on a desolate planet and delivering his lightsaber back to Luke. (Who's looking awfully like Obi-Wan Kenobi, by the way.) Mark Hamill has no lines in the film, but his performance can still provide some clues. In my opinion, he looked wholly unsurprised to see Rey. No doubt, he felt the disturbance in the force when Han died and even sensed Rey and Chewbacca's approach.

Luke's return to the world will no doubt be a major plot point in the next installment of the new Star Wars series. Will he be able to bring Kylo Ren back to the light like he did his father? Will a connection between him and Rey be revealed? And will he train Rey, or does he consider himself out-of-business since failing Ben? No doubt there are more answers and even more questions to come when Luke and the gang return in Episode 8.

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Images: Giphy (2); Walt Disney Motion Pictures; Lucasfilm