The first Star Wars 8 trailer came with a few surprises that drove the Star Wars fandom crazy. Red logo! AT-ATs! Kylo Ren unmasked! Balance! And above all: Luke wants the Jedi to end?! What does it all mean?
You can actually tell what it all means by looking at the first 7 Star Wars movies through the right lens. In fact, you can even predict with a lot of detail the storyline of Episode 8— and even 9.
The key to unlock the future episodes is an ancient storytelling tool called Ring Theory.
Star Wars follows a Ring structure
When SW7 — The Force Awakens was released in 2015 after over a decade of waiting, fans loved it. Yet they complained that it was extremely similar to SW4 — A New Hope. Why was it so similar? Why did people like it so much if it wasn’t that novel? They loved it for the same reason why they love Star Wars: it has the best storytelling we’ve ever seen.
All stories follows the same rules: a situation, a complication, and the hero starts his journey. There’s not a lot of variations in the journeys. In fact, it seems like there’s just 6 types of journeys in stories, and the 6 are just variants of the same one: the hero goes up, then down, before resolving the conflict, back to a new reality.
The Ring of Anakin and Luke
For example, Luke Skywalker in SW4 is a poor boy in a desert. He becomes a Jedi (up), but gets captured by Darkness (Death Star) and Obi Wan gets killed (down) before Luke finally destroys the Death Star (up, new reality).
What Ring Theory says is that this structure is followed not only across a single movie, but across many levels: across scenes, across movies and across trilogies.
For example, let’s take Anakin’s ark. He also starts a poor boy in a desert. He also becomes a Jedi in SW1. He then becomes more and more powerful through SW2 and SW3, before the mid-point of his arc at the end of SW3, when he falls for the Dark Side.
In SW 4 he is deep in the Dark Side. He starts to have doubts in SW5. Finally, he turns to the Light Side at the end of SW6. If this was a poem, rhymes would be ABC CBA.
According to Ring Theory, where the same motives are repeated, Luke follows a similar arc as his father‘s, with some differences.
Anakin’s arc through Episodes 1→3 mirror his arc through Episodes 4→6 (ABC CBA). But it also mirrors Luke’s arc through Episodes 4→6. Luke’s arc is ABC again — or A’B’C’ — repeating Anakin’s in 1→3, but ending on a different note: he chooses the Light side. All 3 arcs are basically the same story. It’s like a circular history that repeats itself over time, with slight variations every generation. Like a set of rings.
All of Star Wars follows the ring
The ring is the building block of all the movies. It doesn’t just appear in the heroes’ journeys. Every big plot element follows a ring. Let’s look at a few more.
The mentors follow the same pattern. It’s the same story, with small differences. Anakin has a mentor who dies, Qui-Gon Jinn. He then gets a new mentor, Obi Wan, in the same movie. Luke also loses his first mentor in the first movie, but Yoda only becomes the new mentor in the second movie. The rest of the rings are exactly the same.
The structure of the ring is very clear with the Republic and the Empire, with the rise and fall of the latter. Parallel to the politics are the themes.
Together with the Republic are the Jedis and the Light. The Empire and Darkness beat them in the Prequels. This is reversed in the Original Sequels.
The more you dig into Star Wars, the more rings you discover. There are a hundreds more, especially in cinematics. For a full analysis of all the rings, visit the source of the theory.
Ok, now that we’ve established the pattern of rings, what does it mean for Episodes 7 through 9? They’re an extension of the ring. In fact, they are the resolution of the ring.
Ring Theory in Episodes 7 through 9
Light and Darkness
Episodes 1 through 6 are completely circular. They are the rise and fall of Darkness, of the Empire, of Anakin. In Episode 4 through 6, we see the Light rising again.
But at the end of Episode 6, we don’t quite go back to where we were in Episode 1. Darkness is beaten by Light, but both are weak. None of them won. There’s not a single Republic back. There’s a weak New Republic, again the Rebels, and the First Order inheriting the Empire.
Episodes 1→3 were the Thesis, 4→6 the Antithesis, and 7→9 the Synthesis.
The New Sequels will bring resolution to the saga. They are a new ring that pits Light and Darkness as equals, until they find… Balance.
According to the Ring Theory, by the end of Episode 9, we need resolution of the fight between Light and Darkness. We need to go to a state similar to the beginning — the Republic — but evolved.
What does that look like? To answer this question, we need to go to the climax of Episode 6.
Luke diverges from the path of Jedis
“Never! I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” — Luke Skywalker
Luke has struggled between Light and Darkness in Episodes 4 through 6. In Return of the Jedi, after cutting his father’s arm, he realizes he’s very close to Darkness, so decides he won’t fight back. He does not act like most Jedis before him: Mace Windu, Yoda, Obi Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin… all tried to kill Siths. But Luke decides he will not fight back. He doesn’t follow the path of Jedis before him.
When we look at Jedis in Episodes 1→3, they’re radical. They seem like mirror images of the Dark Side. Instead of following your passions to the end like Darkness suggests, they force Jedis to eliminate feelings. They’re dangerous. You can’t fall in love if you want to be a Jedi, for example. Anakin’s love with Padme is dangerous.
What if Light and Darkness were two sides of the same coin? What if the only way to resolve them was Balance?
The parallels of Episodes 1, 4 and 7
This parallel can be seen not just in the Theme, but across all major elements of the story.
If we look at Episode 7, we see that the Ring Theory still holds true. It’s not hard.
If Star Wars follows the Ring Theory, there’s a parallel between Episodes 1, 4 and 7, but also between Episodes 2, 5 and 8. This is how Episode 8 can be predicted.
How the new trailer suggests SW8 is a variation of SW2 and SW5
Many images of the trailer is a throwback to Episodes 2 or 5. Let’s look at a few.
We start with a fight between the incumbent forces, which own AT-ATs, and the Rebels. In SW5 this happens in the first half of the movie, whereas in SW2 it happens at the end. In this case, SW2 and SW5 are mirror images. Even the colors — red/blue — and the type of desert — sand/snow — reinforce the mirror structure.
The incumbents (Republic’s Anakin, Dark Side’s Vader, First Order’s Phaser) attack the rebel base.
Anakin, Luke, and Rey train to become Jedis. All three levitate stones. All three end up in cavernous areas: for Anakin it’s Geonosis, for Luke Dagobah, and for Rey Ahch-To. In the case of Luke and Rey they are extremely humid. To highlight the mirror image of SW2 vs. SW5, Geonosis is extremely dry.
Both Luke and Rey will go into a cave, where they will experience a fear that changes their life.
Even simple shots in the trailer hint at a continuity in the story, like with the very same scar displayed by once-light-jedis-turned-to-the-dark-side-grandfather-and-grandson Anakin and Kylo Ren.
It’s clear SW8 will follow the Ring structure of the Star Wars universe. What does this mean for Episode 8’s plot?
Predictions for Star Wars 8 — The Last Jedi
The pattern of 2 and 5 is clear enough that Episode 8’s broad strokes are pretty clear.
Hero plot predictions
Between the Ring Theory and the Trailer, we have lots of hints about Rey’s plot:
- Luke will train Rey
- They will talk about the paths of Light and Darkness
- They will have different opinions
- Rey will eventually disagree with Luke
- She will have a life-changing experience — maybe in a cave, which will trigger her fears
- She will brashly leave
- She will fall into a trap because of love — probably due to Finn?
We also know a few more things:
- The First Order will attack a Rebel base. It will have AT-ATs.
- Captain Phasma or Kylo Ren will enter the attacked base.
- There might be a bounty hunter — or something equivalent.
Main Theme predictions
What about the main theme? We’ve seen the thesis in the Prequels (Darkness wins) and the antithesis in the Original Sequels (Light wins). It’s time for the Synthesis, and the trailer for SW 8 give us plenty of hints.
This is the key image of the trailer. It looks like a book, half lit-up, half in darkness. Rey says “Light”, “Darkness”, and when the book appears, she says “Balance”. She is introducing the Synthesis. The Balance between Light and Darkness. But what is this sign?
It’s the sign of the Order of the Jedi, which is supposed to bring balance to the Force. Given the sign, the book on the left is probably the Journal of Whills, an old book of the beginnings of the Order of the Jedi. Its most famous quote reads:
“First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.”―Journal of the Whills, 7:477
Jedis were supposed to find Balance. Anakin was the Chosen One to bring balance to the force, which he ended up doing at the end of SW6 by killing Darth Sidious. Luke helped by choosing neither Light nor Darkness and just refusing to fight. This drive is what Jedis were supposed to be, but weren’t.
How can we interpret all of this for SW 7 →9? What this suggests is that, after Kylo Ren turned against Luke between SW6 and SW7 and killed all the young Jedis, Luke disappeared, looking for the original truth about Jedis. He probably found the source material, discovering that the right Jedis were not supposed to be what they currently were. They should be balanced, not defenders of the Light against the Darkness.
So the entire arc of SW7→9 is about bringing light and darkness together to find balance. Based on this, we can make a few speculations:
- When we hear Luke say “It’s time for the Jedi to end”, he might mean instead: “The Jedis as we know them are not right. They tilt towards Light. They aren’t Balanced. They need Balance.”
- Kylo Ren is known to have both Light and Darkness in him. Luke was probably training him as a new generation of Jedis that had the right Balance, but failed when Snoke turned Kylo to the dark side. That might be why Luke left: he had failed to craft a new generation of Jedis and needed to go back to the source to understand what the right Jedis should be.
- Rey and Kylo eventually become the Balance. They come at it from different angles — Light and Darkness respectively — but their fight is the fight of Light vs. Darkness that will bring Balance.
Summary: the plot for Star Wars 8 — The Last Jedi
Putting everything together, this is what we can speculate from SW8:
Luke has been learning about the origins of the Order of Jedis, and sees the issue with the lack of Balance. He will train Rey to become the kind of Jedi he believes in, the original kind. He’ll share with her what he’s learned in his recent travels. They will have a different understanding of what a Jedi should be. Luke will defend Balance and Rey Light. Rey will go to a cave where she will experience a life-changing fear that brings her closer to the Dark Side.
Meanwhile, the First Order will attack a Rebel base. Captain Phasma will enter that base. She might capture somebody. Either her, Snoke or Kylo Ren will craft a trap to capture Rey.
Luke will advise against it but she will go to another planet and do something foolish for love (maybe towards Finn). There, she will face her mirror equal, Kylo Ren. She might learn something about her family there (maybe that they’re cousins?).
Star Wars 9
We can also start making predictions. For example, the Rey and Kylo will have a final battle where none will win, Balance will be reached, a new Jedi Order will be created, and Luke will die. There’s still a bunch of unanswered questions: Who are Rey’s parents (and if Luke is the father, who is the mother?)? How and why did Kylo Ren turn? What was Luke trying with the new generation of Jedis? Hopefully, new trailers and the new movie will bring new hints to the puzzle!
If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in my new book, The Star Wars Rings. It goes in depth into the Star Wars movies, the patterns across them, and where these patterns come from. You can buy it here.