The “Misdirection” Wars
Why the “GA” or “Surface” Interpretation Totally Gives you the Red-Herrings
For two days now I’ve been seeing way too many people crying “misdirect” at, well, the entire trailer. Which is frankly silly because I’ve no doubt that he THEATRICAL TRAILER = exactly what the movie is going to be about. That doesn’t mean there aren’t red-herrings ala Jedi Finn from the TFA trailer, the only red-herring I remember. The TFA trailer was pretty straight-forward in introducing the main players (”I’m no one” Rey, “I was raised to do one thing” Finn and “I’ll finish what you started” Kylo) and giving you a feeling of what the movie was going to be, but I digress…
There are a few red-herrings in the trailer for TLJ, they just aren’t what everybody’s up-in-arms about all over the internet. The GA got two big things from the trailer: Kylo is going to kill Leia and Rey is going to join or at the very least be tempted by the dark side. That’s the surface interpretation and it’s absolutely what Lucasfilm intended people who were only going to watch the trailer once and haven’t been obsessing over this shit for two years to take from it, amirite?
Red-Herring # 1: Kylo Is Going to Kill Mommy
They used a combination of Han’s murder in TFA and Carrie’s tragic and untimely passing as a means of suggesting that Kylo kills Leia because we all know Kylo already did it once and Carrie/Leia won’t be in IX. That said, for us spoiler-fiends there are a whole slew of reasons why we already know that he totally isn’t going to kill his mom, most notably the fact that he has his Act I stitches and Leia survives into Act III on Craft. But, that said, on a one-time viewing the trailer totally gives the surface impression that Kylo’s going to pull that trigger (he did kill daddy, right)? That’s the red-herring, the surface interpretation is that Kylo is going to shoot her while the clip is actually about outlining his internal struggle and really ins’t about Leia dying at all. It’s introducing what is going to be one of Kylo’s major plot-points in TLJ: the struggle, once again, to jump of the self-destructive “kill the past” path and take on a new goal.
Red-Herring # 2: The Infamous Hand
This is the big one, no doubt. Why people are so fixated on discounting it is a totally different story, but either way the surface-read is that Rey is going to go off with Kylo and join the dark side. This time around they’re playing with Empire expectations like Vader’s request that he and Luke overthrow the Emperor together, but a second watch of the trailer quickly reveals that’s not what’s happening at all. In TFA Kylo told Rey “You need a teacher, I can show you the ways of the Force”, so this bit of the trailer is not only an extension of that, it’s also a response to Rey’s line of FORESHADOWING (not misdirection) that will be heard earlier in the film, possibly around a campfire to either Luke or Chewie. Twice in this trailer she says she needs help controlling her powers and finding her way. The trailer answers at the end not with Luke’s hand, but with Kylo’s. The red-herring is that Rey is going dark, the truth is either that Kylo is reaching for the Light or the two of them, disenfranchised by their individual mentor’s inability to guide them, are trusting in each other to find a new way together.
Why TF Aren’t People Talking About This?
The biggest thing about this trailer that people really aren’t talking about enough is Luke and Snoke’s big reveal about the core of Rey and Kylo’s relationship: they share something, something ancient and potentially very dangerous that was destined to bring them together in some manner from the get-go. The “raw power” their mentors make reference to is what fascinated Kylo about Rey in TFA and probably what encouraged his offer to help her. This reveal is without a doubt the biggest spoiler in the trailer because it outlines a dynamic that has been debated with tooth and claw for two years. The truth? They’re equals that are both harborers of “raw power” and “strength” that Kylo was either unable to control or embraced in the past, while it just awoke in Rey, and like Kylo said, “you need a teacher”.
So at the end of the day ya’ll who are focusing on the edits and calling misdirect at everything are missing the point: the surface-read of the trailer is just that, a surface-read, the same surface-read that led people to cry “Jedi Finn” just because Finn used a lightsaber. The trailer absolutely establishes the feeling of what the movie is going to be (and what the major character struggles will be), so don’t get caught up in the irrelevant details. Yes, Kylo is going to struggle and continue to be torn apart. Yes, Luke is going to be scared of Rey. Yes, Rey is going to beg the heavens for help because she won’t be able to control that shit. Yes, Finn is going to infiltrate the FO and fight Phasma. YES, Kylo is going to offer his hand to Rey a second time. We just haven’t seen the results of these character struggles yet.