With Carrie Fisher’s untimely passing, the fandom again found, if for but a moment, something to come together over. When The Last Jedi came around, we all wondered what it would be like to see our princess one last time (or at least what we then believed to be the last time). Her posthumous appearances in Episodes VIII and IX proves one of the axioms presented by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to be true. “No one’s ever really gone.”
When this line was written, it was not intended to break the fourth wall. It was, nonetheless, meant to have multiple meanings. In the context of the conversation, the statement is clearly speaking about Ben Solo. Leia, the beacon of strength and hope throughout the saga, has lost hope for the first time. Luke is there to reignite that spark, in the Resistance and in his sister. Then he hands her Han’s dice, a reminder that through the Force he too is with her.
Being the man who redeemed Vader, Luke is somewhat of an authority on this matter of non-goneness. Despite being damned, manipulated, and used by the dark side for two decades, all it took for Anakin to find his way to the light again was to see the glimmer of Padme in his son. If there is hope for Vader, there must be hope for all of us. Even those amongst us who may not be Force wielding, midiclorihan created Chosen Ones. Cassian Andor’s first act on screen in Rogue One is to murder an informant. Through the story he redeems himself, giving his own life for a greater purpose. A man willing to do anything, no matter the cost, gives everything, at the greatest cost.
Rogue One itself is a testament to the truth Luke presents, each character of the main crew starts the story in a place of darkness and finds the light. Bodhi sees the vileness of the Empire, and Galen Erso promises him he can do something to redeem himself and realigns his heart. He does. Jyn, witness of her mother’s murder, raised as a child warrior by Saw Gerrera, and later abandoned by him, starts as a petty criminal hiding her true identity (in part because of the shame she feels about who her father is, in part because she has to to stay alive), to eventually give her life to a higher purpose and reclaim her identity with pride and in defiance of evil. Her true self was never really gone.
Chirrut would seemingly be the exception to this rule, but in actuality his story is about finding himself as well. From the start he is the most complete character of the bunch, knowing that his life is centered on the Force. How he uses that shifts dramatically, though. When we first meet him, he is using the Force for “simple tricks and non-sense.” “Trade you that necklace for a glimpse into your future,” he tells Jyn. In his final moments, he walks through a rain of blaster fire with ease, trusting the Force for more than making a nickel.
He would not say that is his greatest is flipping the master switch. He is a character much more concerned about the people around him than anything else. He fights the Empire because of what he sees in Cassian and Jyn. He follows Jyn because, “Her path is clear.” In those final moments, he tells Baze, a Guardian who has lost his faith, to “look to the Force and you will always find me.” This is his version of “no one is ever really gone,” promising Baze that the Force will be there for him, and thus will Chirrut.
Mythology, which is what Star Wars is deeply rooted in, should not be limited by the laws and realities of this realm. It speaks to our higher selves, promising us that we all have the potential to be more. Were we to view Vader by our laws, his final moments would not have such profound meaning. Kylo Ren would not have a glimmer of hope. But Rogue One is all about hope never being able to die as long as it lives in our hearts. Mythology provides us a chance to know that, no matter how dark the alley or how bad the storm, we too can find our way home. And some, like Rogue One or Carrie Fisher, will transcend the limits of life and live on forever.