It looks like the Jedi Master is sporting a new mechanical hand at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
What happened to Luke’s mechanical hand? Now that fans have had a few weeks to debate Rey’s parentage ad nauseum (my money is on Luke Skywalker) we can finally focus on the other question brought on by Luke’s appearance in The Force Awakens. When the reclusive Jedi Master finally shows up at the end of the movie it’s with a prosthetic hand that looks much more robotic than the one we left him with. Some fans have just written it off as thirty years of wear and tear causing the synthetic flesh on Luke’s mechanical hand to rot away leaving the naked metal limb pictured above. I have a different theory though: what if it’s a new hand all-together? It makes sense when you think about it because…
We Have Seen the Inner Workings of Luke’s Mechanical Hand and It Doesn’t Look Like That
In the pictures above you can see the how much of the mechanical parts of Luke’s hand we are exposed to in the original trilogy. It may not look like much to go on but it’s enough when you compare what’s visible to a close-up of Luke’s hand in The Force Awakens.
If you look closely at the wrist area on both pictures you can see that they are most likely not the same hand. The bottom hand is lacking the strip with the little red lights just below the palm for one thing.
Interestingly enough there is a mechanical hand that the new one looks like, and that is Anakin Skywalker’s from Revenge of the Sith. When pictured together the resemblance between the two hands is uncanny. It’s a good bet that that is intentional.
Another thing to consider is how meticulously J.J. Abrams recreated certain vehicles and sets from the original films in The Force Awakens. After all the care put into making sure that the inside of the Millennium Falcon looks the same as it did in 1977 right down to having the Dejarik (Holographic Chess) game pick up right where it left off forty years earlier it would be weird to just throw a random robot hand onto Mark Hamill and call it a day. It’s more likely that it was a deliberate move on J.J.’s part to give yet another hint that something really bad happened to cause Luke to go into exile for so long.
So what was that bad thing? My guess is that someone – a disgruntled former pupil perhaps? – relieved Luke of his hand by way of a lightsaber. But what are the odds that Luke had the same exact hand cut off again? Pretty high when you consider that…
Dismemberment Is A Common Occurrence In The Star Wars Universe
So many themes and events reoccur or “rhyme” throughout all of the Star Wars films that the series has been compared to poetry; nowhere is this “rhyming” more evident than in the amount of limbs that get chopped off throughout the saga.
Luke Skywalker getting his hand cut off by Darth Vader is the most famous instance (not to mention the genesis of this very article) but there’s also this guy:
and this girl:
And let’s not forget Anakin Skywalker who gets the same exact arm cut off not once …
With Luke Skywalker’s story already mirroring Anakin’s in so many ways it’s not hard to imagine that he, too, lost the same limb on two separate occasions. The second time Anakin’s hand was cut off it was done by Luke himself, and even though Luke doesn’t have a son (that we know of) he does have a nephew, a nephew that would be more than happy to maim his uncle in pursuit of total dark side mastery.
Kylo Ren is Most Likely What Happened To Luke’s Mechanical Hand
We know that Kylo Ren went bad and slaughtered all of the other Jedi in Luke’s new Jedi Order sometime prior to The Force Awakens. It would only stand to reason that Luke tried to stand up to his nephew either at the time of the slaughter or maybe at some point afterwards. Given Luke’s decision to run away and become a hermit we can safely assume that the fight didn’t go well for Luke. What could have happened short of death that would incapacitate Luke and take him out of the fight? Getting his hand cut off would sure do the trick. Would a young, brash Kylo Ren be able to get the jump on Luke, the seasoned veteran who faced Darth Vader twice and lived to tell about, even with his band of “knights” backing him up? He would if Luke was having some of his attention diverted by some other task, like protecting a small child.
If Rey is having flashbacks when she touches Luke’s old lightsaber and not some random visions than it means that she was present for Kylo Ren’s attack on the Jedi as evidenced by the above image of Kylo and crew standing amidst a slew of bodies. Luke would have had to fight to keep Rey from getting hurt at the same time that he was fighting back Kylo Ren. It’s even plausible that maybe something did hurt Rey, maybe she got knocked out or something and that distracted Luke even further allowing Kylo Ren to deal the maiming blow. There’s a theory I’ve seen on Reddit that it was Kylo Ren who left Rey on Jakku and it lines up perfectly with a scenario where Luke is incapacitated in some way allowing Ren to take her.
Heres how I think it went down: Kylo Ren mounts an assault on Luke’s Jedi temple killing most of the unsuspecting Jedi before they even knows what’s going on. Luke Skywalker hides Rey or orders her to stay back as he goes to face his nephew and possibly kill him. Kylo Ren insists on fighting Luke one on one and they duel with Luke quickly gaining the upper hand. Rey being a curious child disobeyes her father and comes out to see the carnage before Ren or someone else lifts her up with the force and tosses her aside. Luke turns in anguish away from Ren – most likely while screaming either “Noooooo!” or “Reeeeeeeeeey!” – and towards his daughter allowing Kylo Ren to rally and literally disarm the distracted Jedi Master.
You might be asking at this point “Why wouldn’t Kylo Ren finish the job?” We know from The Force Awakens that Kylo Ren is still conflicted and that killing his father is the ultimate proof to himself and Snoke that he really is committed to the dark side. Perhaps this is because when given the opportunity to kill his uncle he wasn’t able to bring himself to do it. That’s one idea. Another is that maybe he appeared badly damaged enough for Kylo Ren and the others to leave him for dead. It would be like when Obi-Wan Kenobi leaves Anakin dying on Mustafar yet again proving that Luke’s life is destined to mirror his father’s. Whatever the case, Kylo Ren leaves with Rey and Luke Skywalker goes into exile under the guise of searching for the first ever Jedi Temple. Luke then constructs a new cruder looking mechanical hand from whatever parts he can scavenge on his secret planet.
That still leaves the question of what happened to Luke’s original hand and how Maz Kanata got the lightsaber it was clutching when Vader lopped it off, but to paraphrase Maz herself, that’s a story for another time.