Perhaps the most consistently disliked sequence in the Last Jedi within the fan community was the Canto Bight sequence. Was it really that bad?
I do think that it was structured a bit poorly and feels like quite a departure from the rest of the story. But it also seems like the Star Wars thing to happen. What would Poe Dameron, Finn, and Rose do if they’re on a dying ship, First Order could track them through light speed, and they couldn’t fight? They would hatch some cockamamy plan sneak on board the First Order’s ship to take out the First Order’s ability to track them at light speed… and then jump to light speed. So how do they take out the First Order ship? Well… they need to get help…
Or they could have done nothing. They don’t really know that’s an option – neither is the audience. Canto Bight feels like a waste because we know how it will turn out in the end. But history isn’t written with 20/20 hindsight.
For me, Canto Bight served several other meaningful purposes:
This was the teaching moment for Poe. He came up with this half-baked plan to get them out of their current situation without taking into account what mattered most – surviving. This reckless action ultimately didn’t work and led to a lot of deaths. This situation – brought on by Admiral Haldo’s edict – was Poe’s test of leadership. And he failed.
Canto Bight is really where we learn the most about Rose. She’s actually pretty worldly – more than Finn who lived only within the First Order. We see a political perspective – those who enrich themselves through financing the galaxy’s conflict – through her eyes. Though she didn’t really *do* anything through all of this – a bit of a shame – we did get the tell-tall political message that is part and parcel of all of the Star Wars films.
We also got to see a small characterization of the galaxy at-large. Though the opening scene says “The First Order Reigns”, we don’t see *any* First Order presence on Canto Bight. There’s no Star Destroyers in orbit. There are no storm troopers on the ground. There were no spies as there were in Maz Kanata’s castle. This was an enclave of the wealthy who were isolated from the galaxy’s conflicts. This shouldn’t be overlooked either.
What I really loved about this sequence – and this film – is that is just went awry. It was a standard-issue ridiculous plan that is common in Star Wars. Sometimes it works out like in rescuing Han from Jabba’s palace. And sometimes it fails and you nearly get beheaded. And instead of Lando double-crossing the Empire after he double-crossed his friends… or Han taking the money and then coming back and attacking the fighters trained on Luke… DJ just double crosses our heroes and leaves with his money. This can happen too, especially if you do things the wrong way like Poe, Finn, and Rey did.
We got perhaps the most unique cantina scene in a Star Wars film. There were dozens of unique creatures in fantastic costumes. The drunk guy who thought BB-8 was a slot machine (rumored to be voiced by Mark Hamill) was hilarious.
Look Canto Bight isn’t the best structured sequence, but c’mon … it’s a movie. It has real lessons and offers real insights into our characters. And it serves as, at least allegorically if not literally, the place where a new set of rebels and Force users can emerge.