Warning! SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has received some surprising backlash for the ways in which it evolves our understanding of The Force and what those sensitive to it are capable of doing. And while Rey and Kylo are calling each other like smitten teens and Luke is astral projecting across the galaxy, it's Leia's use of the Force to save herself from the vacuum of space that is causing the most uproar.
The Last Jedi marks Carrie Fisher's final appearance as General Leia Organa and her performance in the film is bittersweet. In some ways, Episode VIII is a fitting goodbye to the actress and the princess she so fiercely brought to life. Writer/director Rian Johnson chose not to let Fisher's untimely death affect how Leia is portrayed in The Last Jedi, deciding that fans deserved to see the whole of Fisher's final performance. While that's respectful, it has led to its own problems.
Leia Using The Force Makes Sense
Leia In Spaaace
The scene in question has become a divisive moment among fans. It occurs roughly a quarter of the way through the movie while the Resistance's cruiser, the Raddus, is coming under fire from the pursuing First Order fighters. The bridge is blown open - after some prevarication from Kylo Ren - and everyone on the Raddus' bridge is sucked out into space - including Leia.
And here is where things get interesting. Instead of succumbing to a frozen death in the vacuum of space - which is, sadly, the fate of Admiral Ackbar - Leia's latent Force abilities kick in, allowing her to miraculously survive. She comes to as she floats above the Raddus and by tapping into her connection with the Force, pulls herself back towards the ship and through the destroyed bridge as an astonished Poe, Finn, and Lieutenant Connix (Billie Lourd, Fisher's daughter) look on. The scene is breathtaking, demonstrating how no one should ever underestimate Leia or what she's capable of.
Once back on the ship, it's made clear what a heavy toll the experience has had on her, and Leia is immediately placed on a gurney and sent to receive medical attention. For much of The Last Jedi, she remains in a coma as she recovers from her injuries, but in that one moment, Leia proves herself to be every bit a Skywalker.
Leia's Use Of The Force Is Well Established in Star Wars
The argument being made against this scene and why many find it laughable is that no Star Wars movie has ever shown Leia doing anything like this before, and therefore, the scene is dumb. The refute to that is easy: we never saw Luke reach out with the Force and pull his lightsaber to his hand until he did so in the Wampa's cave at the start of The Empire Strikes Back; yet we believe that it can happen in that scene because we know Luke is Force-sensitive. How is the scene of Leia in The Last Jedi any different?
The Force is strong with Leia, who obviously shares in that Skywalker blood (it is from her, after all, that Ben Solo/Kylo Ren can lay claim his powerful heritage). In past films, she's shown an almost preternatural ability to read situations, and in certain moments has been able to clearly sense people's emotions or whereabouts through the Force - as she does with Luke as he hangs underneath Cloud City, or when she senses his conflict over Vader, or feels Han's death at the hands of her son. Despite no training whatsoever, Leia's strong connection with the Force has long been a part of her character. "In time, you'll learn to use it as I have," Luke tells her in Return of the Jedi, implying her power in the Force will only grow in the years to come.
Looking beyond the movies, there's even more evidence of Leia's untapped potential as a Force-user. In the novel From a Certain Point of View, Yoda expresses interest in training Leia over Luke, believing her better-suited to become a Jedi; in Life Debt, Leia communicates with her unborn son through the Force and uses it to guide her while piloting the Millenium Falcon; in The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, it's mentioned that Luke believes Leia's strong will is a manifestation of her power in The Force, and The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary reveals that Luke wished to make Leia his first student, but she chose a life of politics instead.
With so much build-up, it was only a matter of time until Leia would come to exhibit more of her Force-abilities in the films. This scene from The Last Jedi gets to be that moment, finally allowing Leia to display some of the power she was promised decades ago. And it was so worth it.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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