One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers discuss the iconic character’s greatest moment on screen.
It’s Leia’s perseverance after the Battle of Crait, says Kristin.
It is arguably one of the darkest days for Leia Organa as an individual and a leader.
Her son — or rather the persona he inhabits in Kylo Ren — and the First Order have just annihilated the Resistance fleet and its base on D’Qar, chased the last survivors across the galaxy, and bombarded the freedom fighters even as they ran for cover in an abandoned Rebel Alliance fortress. In rapid succession, Leia sees the Resistance numbers cut down to a handful of fighters aboard a lone ship, the Millennium Falcon, and her brother gone, passing on to become one with the Force after a heroic last stand to save her life and keep the movement alive.
It would be understandable if, in this moment, Leia simply gave up. No one could fault her for it after spending her life fighting against first the Empire and then the First Order, enduring the losses of her adoptive parents, her planet, her husband, and now her brother among so many other friends, allies, and individuals. Surely, she must be exhausted. How much can one person take before they crack?
Yet Leia doesn’t breakdown.
She may have lost the battle, but she still intends to win the war. And despite the fact that no one answered her distress call from Crait, seeming to signal that hope is running out in the galaxy at large, Leia does not crumble. She surveys the damages like the war-time general she is, the wounded and the exhausted pilots and fighters in her care. At the center is Rey, mourning the loss of her Jedi Master, Luke, and holding the broken pieces of the lightsaber that was once owned by his father, Anakin.
Even though Leia has begun to hand off command to the next generation, allowing Poe Dameron to lead the way to their escape, she’s still the highest ranking Resistance fighter among them and the defacto leader. Rey’s question is simple: “How do we build a rebellion from this?”
Instead of hopelessness, what Leia sees around her are the ingredients for a new Rebellion, in much the same way that her parents before her built the Rebel Alliance from the seeds of a few senators and diplomats who opposed the Empire’s rule. Leia knows better than anyone what can be accomplished through hard work, willpower, and the willingness to keep believing. To someone on the outside looking in, the Resistance may appear to be defeated, reduced to a handful of rebels on a single ship. Among them, a singular Jedi with no lightsaber and incomplete training. And that’s enough.
“We have everything we need,” Leia says confidently. And that ability to soldier on, the face of the Resistance refusing to show weakness or sadness or defeat, rallying the few individuals that remain so that they might continue to fight, is what makes this Leia’s greatest moment.
Leia forging an alliance with the Ewoks of Endor is her greatest moment, says Dan.
Strength and integrity come in many different forms, and no one exhibits both more frequently than Leia Organa. With a vast array of examples to choose from, it’s somewhat daunting to decide what Leia’s greatest moment may be, but there is one example from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that uniquely blends her ability to disarm an opponent with a blaster or with a kind word.
On the forest moon of Endor, Leia finds herself in a precarious position face to face with one of the denizens of the planet. The inhabitant, an Ewok named Wicket, initially believes her to be an enemy, quickly holding his spear up in defense of the perceived threat. However, Leia instantly taps into perhaps her most poignant skill: diplomacy. Her empathetic nature and kind heart is more than enough to convince the diminutive creature that not only is Leia not dangerous, but she is willing to share her food with him. This symbolic act of breaking bread with the forest native establishes them as equals, regardless of their physiological differences.
Almost immediately following this initial encounter, Leia is confronted by a scout trooper, who holds a blaster to her, demanding she surrender. However, her newfound friend Wicket is not impressed, attacking the Imperial, allowing Leia to defeat her potential captor with minimal fuss. This sequence of events is an excellent example of the wondrous paradox that is Leia Organa. Leia is able to balance compassion with fighting prowess and an uncanny ability to exhibit grace under pressure. She is unflappable in combat, and unwavering in her belief that all species have value, merit, and dignity. She will not settle for anything less than peace and justice for the galaxy, and is almost tireless in her pursuit of these ideals.
This brief yet important sequence in Return of the Jedi is paramount to understanding Leia as a character. Not only does her friendship with Wicket form a powerful alliance that helps to defeat the Galactic Empire, but it’s also a showcase for her benevolent nature and understanding of how we are more alike than we are different. It’s an important event in the mythology of Star Wars and arguably Leia’s greatest moment.
What do you think? Do you agree with Kristin or Dan? Maybe they’re both wrong! Let us know on social using #FromACertainPOV!
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars and The Star Wars Show Book Club, and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.
Dan Zehr is the Host and Brand Director of Coffee With Kenobi, a podcast that examines the mythology of Star Wars from a place of intelligence and humor. He is the co-author of The Star Wars Book, along with Pablo Hidalgo and Cole Horton, and is also a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning.
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