If you've seen my review of Episode 7, you'll know that I really enjoyed it, though by no means was it perfect. I want to discuss some of the things I noticed and things I'm wondering about after having seen it so many times. One thing I've never liked about Star Wars is how inconsistent it is and how the power ranking/scaling is just as bad as your typical Shounen Jump manga. But I digress, let's jump right in.
How strong was Kylo Ren in actuality? Originally, I feel like a lot of us may have overestimated how powerful he truly was (not to say he was weak though). Kylo was trained by Luke for a bit and then Snoke. However, Luke isn't particularly a great Jedi, his Force sensitivity is off the charts, but he has very little formal training. This is a world that hasn't really seen any true Jedi for nearly 70 years. A lot of knowledge has been lost over the ages and I found that evident in the movie. Canonically, Luke hasn't preformed any incredible Force feats and his Lightsaber skills were sub-par at the end of Return of the Jedi. Even Phantom Menace Obi-Wan is a more capable duelist than Episode 6 Luke. So knowing that, I came to the conclusion that in a sense, since there are no Jedi to train him properly, there's no way he could have been a great Master. There's also so little people in the galaxy who have any Force training and those who do have to start from scratch.
So with that in mind, unless Snoke truly IS Darth Plagius, Snoke should be a new generation "Sith" as well ... meaning he also isn't trained the way we are used to seeing. Say what you will about the first 3 Episodes, but a lot of the Jedi are a lot more skilled with a Lightsaber than Luke ever was and anyone in Episode 7. Kylo Ren and Rey included. These Force sensitive people are strong but only in an era with no properly trained Force Users of any side. Comparatively, the potential is greater than it's ever been, but they are all unpolished.
Snoke even tells him, "even you, master of the Knights of Ren have never faced a task like this before". I believe he was not only talking about Han Solo, but Rey. If you watch the fight again, look at the moment Rey focuses, feels the Force and starts believing. Ren after tanking the first stab begins to doubt himself (afraid of not being Vader) and at that moment the battle was lost. He takes a frustrated, undisciplined swing at Rey, leaving him open. Undisciplined, disorderly and uncontrolled. Those things define Ren. Down to his Lightsaber which is crackling and looks like at anytime it might stop working, yet, menacing. Unlike Rey who is holding Luke's Saber that has a nice, confident, clean beam coming out from the base of the Lightsaber.
So how powerful is Rey? Is she too strong? Too perfect? She's a gifted pilot, competent fighter, mechanic, great shot with a blaster, extremely Force sensitive and was able to use the Jedi Mind Trick with no prior training. In a lot of ways, I see in her what Anakin should have been in the prequels. He should have had her natural talent, mixed with the multi-dimensional character depth of Kylo. But anyways ... On Jakku, Rey has become proficient with a staff but does that translate well into Lightsaber wielding? Should she have been able to beat Ren like that? Ren was clearly not as good as a duelist as he was with Force knowledge. Untrained sporadic swings, none of the seven forms present in his fighting style, even his tantrum swings are unclean.
It's not uncommon for a Force user to be better in one aspect than they are the other. Obi-Wan was a competent Force user but was much better with a Lightsaber than he was with Force knowledge. Anakin was balanced but thought himself to be much better with a Lightsaber than he actually he was. Later on when he became Vader, that would change. Dooku and Windu are praised to be some of the best duelist ever seen and Ahsoka Tano was very skilled with Lightsabers at a very young age. Her Force application was decent but her unconventional and duel wielding combat style was hard to best. We see proof of this when she easily beats two Inquisitors that Erza and Kanan couldn't beat. For those who don't know, Ahsoka was Anakin's Padawan.
The identity of Rey is a big mystery in this movie. But the movie strongly alludes that she is Luke's daughter. Anakin's Lightsaber is almost like a family heirloom at this point. Obi-Wan passed it off to Luke and then the weapon called to Rey. Part of me wants to beleive that it is a Saber that only calls to those with Anakin's DNA. Maz Kanata also tells her that, the belonging she seeks in not in her past, but in her future. What does that mean? That the person or persons she's waiting for on Jakku are not coming back there and to find them, she must embrace her destiny and move forward. So while Luke is the obvious answer, I also think it makes the most sense. Luke was ultimately as strong or stronger than Anakin so it would make sense that Luke's kid is as strong or stronger than him.
Let's talk about Luke for a bit. What's up with him? Why did he rage quit and leave the galaxy in chaos? I have a bit of a theory. First of all, Luke was always a quitter. YES, your hero Luke often doubted himself in the original trilogy, so miss me with "that's not Luke, Luke wouldn't do that." He would and he has. He rejected his initial call to action but only went with Obi-Wan after his family was killed. He constantly doubts himself when training with Yoda, especially when he has to raise that ship out of the water. He then leaves before finishing his training, gets smoked by Vader and runs. This would be a different story in the Expanded Universe if Master Luke was canon but it is not.
I think it was too much for Luke to handle. He redeems his father and starts training Jedi, something he's not even qualified to do. I assume he had the Force Ghost of Anakin, Yoda and Obi-Wan to consult at times but he was on his own. Now, your nephew turns to the Dark Side and with the Knights of Ren, murders everyone you were training. But that's not all, I beleive in the midst of all that, whoever Luke was romantically invovled with died as well. So he left it all behind and became the "strange old hermit" he once called "Ben Kenobi". It's also interesting to note that Ben Solo is essentially a combination of Jacen Solo and Ben Skywalker from the EU while also being consistent with the fact that in the EU, lots of Luke's students get seduced by the Dark Side.
I'm not entirely sure where the story is going to go but, I hope to see a trained Rey and Ren. Ren needs to control himself better and learn from his defeat. Rey needs to tap into her latent powers and bring Luke back. Assuming Luke is even willing to train her. But I find that he probably will or else why leave a map to where you're hiding? I want to see some flashbacks about some of the events that have taken place in the last 30 years. I also want to know how strong Luke became and if he's fully realized his Force potential like he does in Star Wars Legends. Grandmaster Luke is broken.
I need more Poe x Finn bromance. Finn and Poe need to become the leading forces of the Rebellion and be the figure heads. Maybe Finn learns from Poe how to fly and maybe becomes a General. I'm a little sad he's not a Jedi but, I still love Finn and think he has a crucial role to play. Captain Phasma needs to redeem herself and not go the way of Jango or Boba Fett. Boba Fett has great feats in the cartoon and EU, but is the most overrated character from the original movies. He really didn't do much and I never understood why so many fans loved him.
Ultimately, the onslaught of Star Wars movies we have coming up has started off great. Episode 8, 9, Star War Rouges, the Boba Fett movie (I think) and the Han Solo movie. Hoping for greatness.