The Last Jedi, One Not Many
This is our companion piece explaining our reasoning on why we believe "The Last Jedi" is singular and what that means for the series.
One, Not Many
Jedi can be either singular or plural. Yet, the history of the phrase the “last Jedi” gives us some clues as to its usage. The term has been used in two major instances before and both times the usage was singular.
First, “when gone am I, last of the Jedi will you be” was the first time we heard this phrase in Return of the Jedi when Yoda speaks to Luke. It was clearly singular and he was speaking of Luke.
Second, Luke Skywalker is referred to as “the last Jedi” in the opening crawl of The Force Awakens and later by Snoke as he speaks with Kylo Ren. In each instance, they are referring to a singular Jedi.
Throughout Star Wars, ‘last of the Jedi’ has been singular in its usage. Yet, it was never used to refer to force sensitive beings or those who have left the Jedi order for either good or evil. In the extended universe, the world is much bigger and there are "Jedi" scattered throughout the galaxy though Yoda is speaking of those who are actually a part of the Jedi order.
Leia is clearly force sensitive as early on as in Empire Strikes Back when Yoda says, “No, there is another.” Yet, Yoda does not refer to her as a Jedi. Rey currently falls into this category. She is powerful in the Force, able to wield it like no other without training, but does not yet know how to do so as a Jedi.
There have also been force sensitive beings and warriors spread throughout the galaxy even as there is clearly a “last Jedi.” Characters like Chirrut Imwe or Maz Kanata will continue to pop up in Star Wars lore as may warriors like Quinlan Vos - yet they may not be “Jedi.”
Our final reason for sticking with the singular usage is our breakdown of the narrative. Changing the “last Jedi” to be plural accomplishes little more than destroy the narrative weight of being “the last.” Sure, it could be plural but you have to think about what they gain from a narrative standpoint by making it so. Passing the title to many Jedi, even a few robs the narrative weight of losing the Jedi order to the conflict of the film. If we don’t believe that Snoke and Ren can snuff out the last of the Jedi then we aren’t as interested as an audience. By the “last Jedi” remaining singular, it puts narrative focus on this last Jedi and how he/she can be changed by the conflict of the story. It also creates suspense in WHO that Jedi could be. We know who it is currently but the suspense of the title is in how that may change. If it goes to a group, that is a whole lot more hum drum than if you are looking for an individual. Neo in Matrix was most effective narratively when we were following along with his journey to become "the one." That is why we believe it is clearly singular and will build our theories from that perspective.