There's always been something tremendously endearing about the farmboy turned Jedi Master. It's not just that Luke Skywalker's always been portrayed as the ultimate optimist, it's more that he simply has an unshakable belief in the inherent goodness of people. Sure, Luke's never been the type to refuse to swing a lightsaber when the need arises, but he prefers to redeem rather than to ravage.
In the old Expanded Universe, Luke was often portrayed as the Great Redeemer. He saw the goodness in those he met, and somehow he called it out of them. He inspired villains to greatness, he led fallen Jedi back to the light side of the Force, and he changed the course of galactic history with his insistence that people could change. We've not really seen many signs of that Luke Skywalker in the last few years' worth of #StarWars canon, but with Battlefront II that finally changed. Luke Skywalker is back, and he's redeeming even the Empire's finest. Note: This article contains spoilers for #BattlefrontII.
Del Meeko's Mission To Pillio
Inferno Squad are the Empire's heroes, Imperial troops who inspire the Stormtroopers to greatness. Del Meeko was their technical expert, a smart and savvy Imperial who grew up on Coruscant. From an early age, Del heard tales of the terror of the Jedi and their nefarious plan to rule the galaxy. He believed Palpatine to be the savior, scarred during the Jedi Coup of Revenge of the Sith. You don't get to be a member of Inferno Squad if you don't believe in the Empire.
And then, on a mission to the oceanic world of Pillio, Del stumbled upon Luke Skywalker. His life was forever changed.
As part of Operation: Cinder, Del had been tasked with a simple assignment. Pillio contained a secret vault in which Palpatine had kept treasures he'd stolen from the Jedi, artifacts of power that he hadn't finished investigating. Naturally, Palpatine's plan in the event of his death was to ensure these artifacts were destroyed once and for all. As the Empire's leaders scrambled to enact Palpatine's last orders, Del was sent to do the deed. His mission was to penetrate the vault, and destroy everything within it.
Unfortunately for Del, the vault's defenses proved too efficient for him, and Inferno Squad's technical expert was soon trapped. Fortunately though, Del wasn't the only one headed to Pillio. Prompted by the Force, Luke had arrived on the planet, and the Imperial presence told the Jedi just where to go. Although Luke swept through the Stormtroopers with ease, he soon came upon Del. To Del's surprise, when he asked for help, Luke granted it.
An Unlikely Alliance
Against all Del's expectations, Luke proved to be a capable and willing ally. The Jedi expressed sorrow over killing the Stormtroopers, explaining that they didn't give him a choice. When Del asked why he was helping an Imperial, Luke simply pointed out that he'd asked for help. Even more amazingly, Skywalker didn't even get in the way of Del's mission. He simply asked to keep a single compass.
Luke's example was completely at odds with everything Del expected to see in a Jedi. Skywalker had no trace of pride or arrogance, and no visible signs of lust for power. Even as Del came to respect the Jedi, he began to doubt the Empire. Palpatine's vault was only accessible through use of the Force, offering persuasive evidence that the Emperor himself had the power to manipulate the Force. Everything Del had ever believed true was suddenly cast into doubt, and Luke simply assured him that he'd been afraid of the wrong thing on Coruscant. The implication was clear; not only did Palpatine have access to the Force, he was everything he had pretended the Jedi to be.
For Del, this was a turning point. Luke didn't ask him to join the Rebellion, but he did challenge him to change. That ultimately set Del on a path to treason against the Empire, as he sided with Iden Versio against her own father. As the epilogue revealed, after the war Del found peace as a member of the Church of the Force, no longer afraid of everything the Jedi and other Force cults stood for. A single brief encounter with Luke Skywalker had changed this Imperial's life.
The run-up to #TheLastJedi has finally seen #Lucasfilm focus in on the character of Luke Skywalker, with Ken Liu's tremendous novel The Legends of Luke Skywalker giving us a real sense of the kind of man Luke became after the events of Return of the Jedi. Now Battlefront II has given us a fresh glimpse of that man, and presented him once again as the Great Redeemer. Fans of Luke Skywalker will be delighted.
What do you think Luke's character arc will be in The Last Jedi? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!