The new Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is earnest, silly fun. It’s a festive special, about Star Wars, made in Lego — what else would it be but a joyful, irreverent lampooning of Star Wars’ more serious side? However, its underlying message of friendship and mutual understanding (in the spirit of Life Day, of course) is built around a fascinating premise.
The primary idea of the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is actually “But what if Rey had time travel?” It’s mostly a hilarious excuse for our heroine and BB-8 to, after a visit to an ancient Jedi Temple on the planet Kordoku, trot through various periods of the Skywalker Saga. Also, mayyyyyyybe accidentally briefly give Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader access to time travel. But the reason why she’s doing it?
Because Rey Skywalker has become a Jedi Master and has taken Finn as her young apprentice.
Set just after the events of The Rise of Skywalker, the special opens with Rey and Finn aboard the Falcon (now on Kashyyyk, visiting Chewbacca’s home for Life Day celebrations), training as Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi did nearly 40 years before them. Using Rey’s lightsaber, a frustrated Finn attempts to channel the Force to deflect training remote bolts, to no avail. His frustration isn’t helped by the fact that Rey herself is likewise frustrated — ignoring her friend and new apprentice’s own disappointments at not immediately acing his training to instead impose those perfectionist standards on herself.
Rey has, as she believes all good Jedi should, studied the ancient Jedi texts. She’s followed their every word, made Finn do exactly as he’s told, given all the advice she should, and yet, he’s whiffing bolts and nearly slicing porgs open in a fit of irritated rage. But she’s unwilling to listen to Finn’s disappointment that he’s somehow let her down, or if anything, amplifies those feelings — because all she can think is that she has done something terribly wrong, and is the worst Jedi Master ever.
All that, and another perusal of her cherished Jedi texts, is what leads her to Kordoku, after reading a passage about a special Life Day ritual that would help guide Finn’s path to being a Jedi — and undo Rey’s sense of failure within herself. Yet, in the process, she once again abandons her friends to share this burden and failure alone, dismaying Finn even further and sowing more doubt about his capability to live up to Rey’s teachings.
What Rey eventually learns from her time-travel antics on Kordoku is that the key to the defining relationships between Jedi Master and Padawan apprentice isn’t necessarily adherence to a doctrine or being the Best Jedi Ever according to some preconceived standard held up by a recalcitrant Order. It’s friendship, understanding, and communication: bonds forged that mean frustrations and failures are addressed and overcome together (let’s...ignore the part where Obi-Wan and Anakin didn’t do this and mayyyybe accidentally helped lay the groundwork for over 20 years of an Imperialist coup).
In the end, Rey realises she should’ve listened to Finn’s doubts and expressed understanding of them, instead of immediately diving into a dusty book and burdening his failures — innocent ones, expected of any apprentice just beginning their path — as her own and the end of the Jedi as she knew it. In turn, Rey and Finn’s relationship feels like a surprising parallel to the apprenticeship between Rey and Luke in The Last Jedi. Luke’s own doubts and self-loathing may have been more centered around the trauma of his failure to teach (and be openly communicative with) the struggling Ben Solo. His own adherence to the Jedi texts above all when he’s confronted by Yoda’s ghost mirror Rey’s own faith in them.
Luke’s retreat into solitude also mirrors Rey’s own retreat from her friend circle. Ultimately, her acceptance and acknowledgment of her (and Finn’s) failures — not as the end of their journeys, but steps as on the path — echo Yoda’s fundamental and powerful advice to Luke. Strength and mastery are important to pass from Master to learner, but weakness, folly, and indeed failure most of all are also vital things to be reckoned with as part of the process.
Rey just needed to learn that lesson from Yoda’s spirit too, it seems, and when she returns having ingested it, she’s ready not just to celebrate Life Day with her found family, but truly aid Finn on his path to understanding the power within himself.
Given its gleefully metatextual humour, even in this age of “everything matters” canonicity, it’s unlikely that the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special will ever dramatically have an impact on future Star Wars storytelling that takes place after Episode IX. If anything, it’s “confirmation” that Finn really does have the strength in the Force to be a Jedi like his friend before him, something that gets endlessly, tirelessly litigated by fans until a more “serious” text comes along to state the same facts.
But that doesn’t stop The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special’s evocation of the things that really matter most to the ideals of Jedi partnerships. What makes it so compelling beyond its comedic acumen isn’t some rules in ancient texts or the Order’s diatribes, but a mutual understanding, the acceptance of failure and imperfection, and shared connection beyond the metaphysical ties of the Force itself.
Perhaps it is the most Star Wars thing of all that something so irreverent truly understands the heart of the galaxy far, far away after all.