The secret history of Lor San Tekka

Lor San Tekka is quite a mysterious character. Next to Snoke and Maz Kanata, he stands as the most unseen character in The Force Awakens. We know almost nothing about his backstory, but if we put the little bit that we do know together, we get the suggestion that he is much more than a village elder.

EDIT: I’ve just posted a new article about Lor San Tekka here since seeing the movie. Check it out for more insight! Also, I’ve just posted a review of TFA here , and it addresses some of the unanswered questions about Lor San Tekka.

A key plot point and the first live image of Lor San Tekka, played by Max Von Sydow, recently came out of a “Look and Find” book, from which we have the image:


The big news is that Lor has “a message that will help the Resistance against a new threat”. Not only that, we have that the message was placed inside BB-8 (thus mirroring ANH with Leia’s message in R2D2).

We have been told that Tekka is just a Jakku village elder, so why would this particular message be his? It’s possible that the message didn’t originate from Tekka, but rather was already in the lightsaber.

For those of you that may not be aware, Tekka is in possession of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, the one lost on Cloud City in ESB. He gets it from Nakka, who finds it, and it isn’t until Lor San Tekka recognizes it’s importance that it is kept safe. If we connect this to other rumors about BB-8, we have the potentially relevant peices:

From an old post at MakingStarWars, we have the following:

We follow our main hero, Rey as she says goodbye to the important players in the film, Leia, Poe, and so on. Meanwhile BB-8, Artoo-Detoo, and See-Threepio decode a puzzle. Rey makes a special stop to say goodbye to Finn in the medical bay.

So is it possible that the “message” that Lor leaves in BB-8 is the puzzle, or is encoded in the puzzle? We have from other rumors that the puzzle not only encodes Luke Skywalker’s location, but is also too difficult for humans to solve:

The Resistance cannot decipher the puzzle to find Luke Skywalker, everyone overlooks the droids as potential puzzle solvers.

There was a lot of speculation, and a hint at confirmation (thanks to Darth_Zidious for digging that up for me) over this that the puzzle was put inside Luke’s lightsaber, or was some how part of the puzzle. This is because another article, again from MakingStarWars, reports that:

Poe Dameron arrives and retrieves the lightsaber from [Lor San Tekka]. The only problem? They’ve brought the Empire there as well (not sure if the Empire followed Poe or intercepted the initially transmission he received). Poe sees Stormtroopers are coming and he places the laser sword safely in a little droid: BB-8.

The lower right of the “Look and Find” book shows Lor San Tekka talking to Poe, and confirms that his face has no cyborg parts (source: StarWarsPost)

It is believed that  Lor San Tekka has Lukes lightsaber, which he got from Nakka. Therefore, we have to wonder if Lor’s message and the puzzle encoding Luke’s location are one and the same. Under this theory, Luke is the thing that “will help the Resitance against a new threat” (presumably Snoke?) This would certainly simplify everything, but could be more controversial than it first looks.

The reason why Lor San Tekka’s message encoding Luke’s location is questionable is because how would Lor know Luke’s location? The way around this is that Luke encoded the puzzle that contains his location, and it was already in the lightsaber. This would be fine, but it says it’s “Lor’s message” according to the official material. Therefore, we have the other possibility that Lor’s message and the puzzle are two different things. Under this scenario, we have from the quote above that Lor’s message “will help the Resistance defend against a new threat”. So it must be something to do with the StarKiller base and some critical piece of info to take down this weapon. This is equally problematic because it raises the question of how Lor knows about the StarKiller weapon?

Luke’s lightsaber: what mysteries and puzzles are inside? image credit: Lucasfilm

So we have two possibilities:

  1. Lor San Tekka knows Luke’s whereabouts and encodes the location in a “puzzle” hidden in Luke’s lightsaber
  2. Lor San Tekka places a separate message to help the Resistance defend against StarKiller, in addition to the saber, which encodes Luke’s location

The second seems most likely. This is because it is quite possible that everyone and everything on Jakku was formerly part of the Empire, left there after the fall of the Empire following the Battle of Jakku (at least initially; other scavengers later came there). We know that the landscape is full of wreckage of the Empire, and it is quite likely that Lor San Tekka, the Vicar, was once an Imperial officer.

This would be consistent with a rumor posted on Reddit, and covered by FuriousFanboys saying that

Lor San Tekka was an Imperial officer. He and his troops were abandoned on Jakku. The remaining Imps on Jakku are a warring faction with Unkar Plutt and his thugs, who run scavenging operations. Rey is caught somewhere between the two “tribes.”

Therefore, a very likely scenario is that Lor’s message contains key strategic information about the Star Killer base. If so, this would suggest that this weapon was under construction going way back to the times of the Empire. How else would Tekka know about it? It began construction during the times of the Empire before the Battle of Jakku. It would have to be, to give time to construct such a monstrosity. If all this is true, it gives a plausible backstory to the First Order. They could be the remaining officers left after being stationed on Star Killer base, which we recently learned was once Ilum, and were sent by Palpatine before the end of the Empire.

We reported before about Palpatine sending out scientists and brigades to the outer reaches of the galaxy. The Aftermath book has the quote:

“Palpatine felt that the universe beyond the edges of our map was where his power came from. Over the many years he, with our aid, sent men and women beyond known space. They built labs and communication stations on distant moons, asteroids, out there in the wilds. We must follow them. Retreat from the Galaxy. Go out beyond the veil of stars. We must seek the source of the dark side like a man looking for a wellspring of water.”

Perhaps these brigades were part of the group that started setting up base on Ilum, to seek the Force power in it’s kyber crystals, and forming the Star Killer base. The Ithorian character Byph stumbles upon a crystal on Ilum in the Clone Wars episode “The Gathering”, that almost suggests that the planet could also hold some Dark side power. Although the crystal is blue, there seems to be some red dark side energy that is amplified around it:

Image credit: Lucasfilm, The Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 6

What else could do this other than some red Dark side crystals?

These machinations on Ilum were set in play before the Battle of Jakku, and Lor San Tekka was involved with it enough to know the base’s weakness, so that he could convey this in a message through BB-8.

Early concept art depicted Von Sydow as a cyborg character, and possibly former military with the helmets and armor he seems to have. Perhaps it is possible that some original conceptions of him were a damaged former officer with cybernetic replacements for the damage he endured fighting for the Empire.

Early concept art depicted Von Sydow as a cyborg character (source: moviepilot)

In the end, we have two possibilities for Lor San Tekka (based on the two possibilities above). Either

  1. Lor San Tekka has Jedi roots, which is why he recognizes the lightsaber, and he knows Luke’s location, and he puts this in a message inside the lightsaber.
  2. Lor San Tekka is a former Imperial Officer, with knowledge of the StarKiller base and key strategic information of how to defend against it.

Either way, Lor San Tekka has an intriguing backstory.

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