‘The Last Jedi’ is not the first divisive piece of media Rian Johnson has directed. Breaking Bad’s ‘The Fly’ was a bottle episode released in the midst of the third season, bringing a halt to the show’s main plot. Instead, Rian utilizes symbolism and unconventional directing techniques to reflect on Walter White’s state of mind. This heavy use of meta storytelling and symbolism evokes our own theories on how Rian approached The Last Jedi.
The reactions to The Fly were wildly polarizing among fans, although mostly praised by critics. This reflects reactions to The Last Jedi quite blatantly, as The Last Jedi scored a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics praised Rian’s approach to dealing with a bottle episode by analyzing the relationship between Jesse and Walt. However, fans were annoyed and displeased to see the main plot line come to a pit stop, instead having to wait another week for things to continue. Retrospectively, fans have approached The Fly with more positive feelings, due to the nature of being able to ‘binge’ the entire series, eliminating the need to further wait another week for the next episode to air. These thoughts bear similarities to how some fans have felt about The Last Jedi, especially our own. As seen in our Rey Skywalker case, we believe that The Last Jedi leans more towards meta storytelling, rather than concretely advancing the plot.
As shown within this comment: if you simply change ‘another week’ to ‘another two years’, you have The Last Jedi.
Not all critics were positive towards The Fly, though. Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club stated: “a vision of Walt that did not in any way coincide with the mental image I’d built of him over the course of the series, as a self-justifying, angry man who could be a real badass when required: Instead, we have to see him as irrational and petty to the point of rank stupidity, taking moronic action after action that clearly risks his safety and well-being… all to catch a fly.” This criticism can easily be compared to criticisms of Luke Skywalker’s character in The Last Jedi. The decisions and actions of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi are of a meta and abstract nature, not one to fully move the plot forward.
In time, we hope that Episode IX will allow people to look back on The Last Jedi with more positive thoughts. The Last Jedi will retrospectively be seen as Rian Johnson’s deconstruction of the franchise; a character study of Luke Skywalker that is fully given room to breathe within an abstract canvas.