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I Have Complicated Feelings About Leia Organa in The Rise of Skywalker

Rey and Leia hug in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer.

**Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Leia’s storyline**

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J.J Abrams and company were left with little options when it came to telling the story of Leia Organa. Because of the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, many of us were worried about what would happen to Leia in the final installment of this new trilogy and, to be honest, I had a lot of problems with what they chose to do with her story. I almost wish she had died offscreen on a mission and that the movie had honored her in a different way. On December 27th, the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death, I think it is important for us to look not only at Carrie’s legacy but also what Leia Organa meant to so many fans throughout the years.

While I can’t completely fault him for it, I do feel as if Abrams fridged Leia in a way in The Rise of Skywalker. When her son Kylo Ren/Ben Solo needed to be brought to the Light, she uses the last bit of life left in her to reach out to Ben which, actually, results in Rey “killing” him. The act of reaching out to him brought on Leia’s death and she held on until Palpatine was defeated and then faded into the Force as her son did.

Now, again, Carrie Fisher was taken from us much too soon. So I can’t be too mad about this cinematic choice and what the production did with the footage they had of Carrie as Leia. Especially because Leia did end up being a Jedi Master to Rey (even if we barely got to see it and they had two previous movies to show Leia as a Jedi to us). But I can be mad that the choice was to have Leia die to save her son rather than being in a battle or something that resulted in her dying for the rebellion.

For me, Carrie Fisher stands as a larger than life being. Whenever I write, I think of the stories that Carrie could tell with both her fictional writing as well as her autobiographies. So much of her is ingrained in our cultural zeitgeist because that’s just how important she was to so many of us. And now, thinking about the conclusion of Leia’s story, I feel torn because as I said, I love that she is a Jedi, but we barely got to see that side of Leia and there were two movies where we could have explored that before her death. Neither Abrams nor Rian Johnson did.

I think some of my frustration comes from the fact that earlier this year, J.J. Abrams and his son, Henry Abrams, wrote a Spider-Man comic together where they “fridged” Mary Jane Watson as well. So it is an upsetting trend in his work in 2019 and there could have been a better way for Leia’s ending to be told.

There’s a part of me that’s so happy that Leia was shown as a Jedi but then she gave it up, again, for Ben Solo. I’m sorry but Leia Organa is not her mother. Padme died of a broken heart because of Anakin Skywalker. Leia Organa never gave up anything for a man. In the novel Bloodline, she was upset about the men in her life but still remained a badass politician. Because that’s who Leia always has been.

So, for me, Leia’s last act almost felt out of character for someone I have loved for so long. Yes, I’m aware that this story came from what footage they did have of Carrie Fisher—but what if they had just had her training Rey in the beginning, had her afraid of the failing mission, and then let Leia go off to try and help and died in battle to save the rebellion? What if she sacrificed herself for the entire resistance and not just to bring Ben Solo to the light?

Sure, I guess by default, she sacrificed herself for her son so he could help stop Palpatine, but it still feels entirely too much like she died for a man to succeed. I will say that the moment that got me the most was when Carrie’s real-life daughter Billie Lourd shared a moment with her mother in the movie.

Lourd has a small role among the rebels, but she speaks to the general and that significance hit me in a beautiful way. I just wish I didn’t feel like Leia’s storyline was shoved in there because Carrie died. Leia deserved a lot more than that.

December 27th is always a hard day for me. Thinking about what both Leia and Carrie meant to me always makes me think about what we could have had. Carrie often would rewrite pieces of Leia’s dialogue, starting back with Return of the Jedi. So I can’t help but wonder what brilliant things she would have done to Leia’s storyline if she had the chance.

(image: LucasFilm)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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