While critics were unanimous about their response to The Last Jedi, fan opinion has been far more mixed, with some putting it below even Rogue One. (Look, people, Rogue One made me cry, but it was unarguably a terrible film, especially from a technical standpoint.) One of the sticking points with fans is The Last Jedi ending where we return to Canto Bight to see that Rose and Finn's complete disaster of a mission is paying unexpected dividends. WARNING: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi follow.
The ending, which features a little boy slave with a broom, staring out to the horizon dreaming of joining the Resistance, was interpreted many ways by fans from those who complained it was cliche and dumb to those who felt it was classic Disney and deeply disturbing in today's world: Resistance/rebellion is futile, but the kids are alright.
Personally I read it as a callback to the Yoda cameo: This is the future of the Resistance and the Jedi, always staring out at the horizon, like Luke did, until the end. Others saw it as comfort. The Resistance message was penetrating, those who heard it were just too young to come to the aide of the leaders in their hour of need.
But one theory goes a step beyond all of that. With Rian Johnson signed on to create a completely new trilogy from scratch after Episode IX, what if this boy and his compatriots are going to grow up to star in Johnson's next set of films?
Johnson won't talk about that trilogy yet, but he does feel that the ending has a deeper meaning than most are assigning to it. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he said the following about the ending:
It’s mostly about Luke. To me, it shows that the act Luke Skywalker did, of deciding to take on this mantle of ‘the legend,’ after he had decided the galaxy was better off with, had farther reaching consequences than saving 20 people in a cave.
It sure felt like it was a callback to Luke, with the staring at the horizon. Though there might not have been twin setting suns as Luke always seemed to be gazing at, the little boy was definitely a dreamer, just like Luke always was.
But the little boy also was a call back to Rey, and her "nobody" status. As we learned in this film, Rey's parents were no one and nothing, traders on Jakku who had fallen so low and into the grips of their addictions so badly, they sold their daughter for a fix. This little boy is also a nobody, a trainer of the animals that the rich bet on, completely unaware of his existence. He's sleeping in the hay of a stable, while the rich, only a few hundred feet away spend money a night on hotel rooms, using their war profiteering gains.
One day he'll step up and change the world. And they'll never have noticed him, until it's too late.
But could he also be the subject of the next set of films? One of the most important moves Johnson made with The Last Jedi was making Rey not a Skywalker of any kind. (Though already some fans are hoping it's a fake out, and Abrams will make her a Skywalker/Solo after all.)
But that choice speaks to Johnson being less interested in the Force as something that's a multi-generation family saga, and more of a "balancing of the Universe" that plucks people at random to wield the two sides of the power. Even if this little boy in particular isn't the star of the next trilogy, it's almost guaranteed that wherever Johnson goes with the story, it will star someone like this child, who will be taken from obscurity and raised up next by the Force to stand and fight the powers of evil for another generation.