Spoiler alert: This story reveals some minor plot points of The Last Jedi.
In one throwaway scene in the newest installment of the Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi, Chewbacca kills some time by killing some dinner. The faithful Wookiee, still distraught over the loss of his partner Han, is waiting with the Millenium Falcon on a barren island on the planet Ahch-To while his new friend Rey negotiates with a curmudgeonly Luke Skywalker. Aside from the aging Jedi, the island’s most active residents are the inquisitive, expressive, puffin-like critters called porgs — and to a hungry Wookiee they must look delicious.
It turns out they also look conscious. As Chewie prepares to chow down on a porg that he has roasted on a spit, a crowd of mourning porgs gathers to express their dismay with doe eyes and adorable trilling. Chewbacca reluctantly sets the carcass aside, paving the way for the porgs to provide comic relief as his companions for the rest of the movie. The friendship that blossoms after the Wookiee chickens out is only one of several examples of the movie’s unusual treatment of its non-verbal characters, and many of these scenes revolve around food.
The film’s action unfolds over a short period of time, and during much of it, the Resistance fleet is desperately scrambling to stay just out of range of a First Order flotilla — so, for the most part, no one seems to have time to eat or drink. The most obvious exception would be the revelers at Canto Bight, an opulent casino populated by plutocrats and war profiteers, who are so unconcerned about the slaughter happening elsewhere in the galaxy that seemingly every gambler has a glass of bubbly in hand. (The resort’s racetrack also plays host to another minor triumph for animal welfare, as two Resistance operatives, having largely failed in a total MacGuffin of a mission, liberate a herd of equine creatures called fathiers, who, like the porgs, possess a nearly humanoid talent for communicating through facial expressions.)
The one major character who has plenty of time to eat (yet still surprisingly little to say, in most scenes) is Luke Skywalker, who has been living as a hermit for years — and some of the most bizarre scenes in the film revolve around his diet and other habits on Ahch-To, as Rey follows the aging Jedi in an effort to win his trust. External shots of the Jedi compound show fish drying on racks, which makes sense on an island with seemingly limited animal life, a paucity of arable land, and few if any trees. (The racks must have been imported… and wait, where did Chewie get the wood for his aborted pulled-porg barbecue?)
The recalcitrant Luke goes about the daily business of hermiting, in one scene giving Rey the slip by crossing a chasm by vaulting on a 70-foot pole that doubles as a fishing spear — Skywalker thrusts the lance into the water and in the next scene is shown carrying a giant fish across his shoulders. Actor Mark Hamill has claimed that Luke Skywalker doesn’t eat meat — and has specifically denied having had any meals of roast porg — but that catch sure looks a lot like dinner.
While the Jedi may be pescatarian, we can verify that he’s not vegan, courtesy of one of the film’s oddest scenes. Still giving Rey the cold shoulder, Luke walks to the shore of the island to find a thala-siren, which looks sort of like a long-necked manatee with sea lion flippers, reclining calmly on the rocks. The Jedi master positions himself between the creature’s flippers, squeezes a stream of fluorescent green milk from one of its udders into his bottle, and immediately downs a heavy draught of the liquid as Rey looks on disgustedly. For her part, the thala-siren is completely unperturbed, and serenely turns her head to make eye contact with Rey. No words are exchanged, and the scene is never again discussed.
Some have suggested that the scene calls back to the blue bantha milk Skywalker enjoyed as a boy on his native Tatooine, but director Rian Johnson’s intention in most of the film’s food scenes isn’t entirely clear. Does the thala-siren’s acquiescence indicate an understanding of the unifying Force, or is she simply lazy? Is a 70-foot spear really the most efficient tool for fishing? Is Chewie vegetarian now, or does he only abstain from meat when the meat gives him a hard time about it? Do connoisseurs on Canto Bight prefer méthode champenoise or the Charmat method?
While we may not be sure what any of these scenes mean, it’s definitely time to update our list of out-of-this-world Star Wars food scenes.