Written by robotical712, any views are my own.
The most surprising and widely discussed part of the D23 footage is that of a dark version of Rey wielding a red saber staff. Discussion has centered on whether Rey falls to the dark side or if it’s a vision. I believe it is indeed a vision, but the most important question is: whose vision?
Soon after the D23 footage was released, sharp eyed viewers noticed there appears to be someone wearing brown clothes moving out of frame in the right hand corner. (Very sharp eyed, I can’t see it watching unmodified footage.) Speculation on who this is has naturally followed. Most people believe it’s Rey and a few even think it’s Ben/Kylo. While Rey may indeed be experiencing a vision of what may be, I think the mystery fabric actually belongs to Luke.
Luke in The Last Jedi
Infamously, throughout The Last Jedi Luke spent most of his time trying to dissuade Rey from staying on the island or becoming a Jedi. He refused to acknowledge her pleas to help save the Resistance or even his sister and the only assistance he reluctantly offered was to tell her why the Jedi had to end. Rey, looking for answers and a personal connection, wound up going to the only person who seemed to offer them – Kylo Ren. Luke nearly left with Rey, but after finding her communicating with Kylo, he lost his new found enthusiasm and told her to leave the island.
The defeated and angry version of Luke has been polarizing to say the least. The Last Jedi gave the explanation Luke had a fleeting compulsion to kill his nephew when he looked into his mind and saw him destroying what he loved. Ben then went on to destroy Luke’s temple and kill his students. Blaming himself and the Jedi philosophy, Luke exiled himself to the first Jedi Temple so he and the Jedi could pass quietly into history. For some, this was perfectly adequate and understandable, others felt it ruined an iconic character.
This blog has taken a very different stance than either side – there’s more to the story. As laid out in our Case for Rey Skywalker, we suggested not only is Rey Luke’s long lost daughter, but he recognized her and was terrified he’d turn her to the dark side as her cousin had fallen. His rejection of Rey and the Resistance wasn’t simply the act of despair of a jaded old man, but a selfless act of love to save his daughter from the fate of her grandfather and cousin.
Luke’s Greatest Fears
How does the new footage connect to all this? If this theory is correct, the footage is of what Luke experienced in the tide cave on Ahch-To. When Rey explored the cave, she found a mirror which was a manifestation of her confusion over who she was. When she asked it to show her parents, the mirror showed only her reflection. For the first time, Rey felt truly alone and hopeless. However, this is being a dark side cave, what she really saw were a reflection of her own fears.
When Luke entered, he carried altogether different fears. In the wake of Ben’s fall, Luke too explored the cave looking for answers. What he found destroyed him. The cave showed him his daughter yet lived and that in his grief, he had given her up for dead, condemning her to abandonment. Even this faint glimmer of hope was taken when the vision shifted and showed him something reminiscent of what he experienced on Dagobah. However, instead of a visage of Vader advancing on him just to reveal his own face, he saw his daughter twisted by the dark side. The warning was clear – should they be reunited and she learn who she was, she would be doomed by the same family legacy and blood that brought down Ben Solo.
Already weighed down by his fear Skywalker blood was tainted and that he had led his nephew to darkness, Luke became consumed by what he saw. In a bid to ensure the vision could never come to pass, Luke destroyed his X-Wing, cut himself off from the Force and resolved to destroy any chance of Rey following in his footsteps and becoming a Jedi.
When Rey came to Ahch-To, Luke was faced with his greatest dreams and nightmares. The person he loved and missed most stood before him and it was time to choose. Then she unexpectedly offered him the lightsaber that Anakin had held when he fell and spurred Luke onto the path that brought him so much pain and suffering.
Luke made his choice.