By Brandon Scott on February 7th, 2022
(Two years or so ago, I ragged on this movie’s ill-thought-out scene and wished for a bolder storytelling decision. My opinion on this has not changed—and I’m still a little annoyed about it.)
Originally Published: February 17th, 2020
(If it wasn’t clear from that title, this article contains basically nothing but spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker, The Last Jedi, and The Force Awakens.)
Chewbacca needed to die.
Leia needed to not save herself with Force flying in The Last Jedi.
They needed to be ended.
And, trust me, I like these characters; I’m also not trying to be a dark, edgy fan here. By what I said, I mean letting Chewbacca die was pivotal to the characters involved who would have survived. Rey using her Force powers to stop a ship is a really cool idea—and then her accidentally unleashing Force lightning (a traditionally Sith power) was brilliant. It’s a dramatic, visual moment…
And they ruined it.
Because her killing Chewbacca would have shown real consequences to her choices, it would have made her temptation to the Dark Side palpable, and her fear of her own dark reflection resonate stronger emotionally.
And it would have opened so many storytelling avenues.
They could have had her use Dark Side powers in self-defense. Have her solve problems the wrong way. Finn’s force sensitive, right? Have him notice the darkness growing in her. When she’s fighting Kylo, have her Force Choke him when he seems about to kill her. Just…there’s so much there that would work.
Make her mistake matter for more than five seconds.
Sure, Chewbacca is a fan favorite, but it’s not like they didn’t kill Han Solo. A death that makes a story deeply more interesting is a good choice.
And, as I alluded to earlier, it’s not even the first time this was an issue in the new trilogy. Kylo decided not to kill Leia, not to shoot her out of the ship—but she was sucked into space anyway. That’s a great idea, it does so much for Kylo’s character. It adds to his guilt. It removes any chance of coming home. He made the right choice to not pull the trigger, but his mother dies all the same. Perfect. And, since Carrie Fisher had passed away, it would have been a way to write her out of the story in a way that makes sense and would add to the new story.
But they didn’t.
They saved Leia.
The first movie in the new trilogy, love it or hate it, had the wherewithal to kill off an old character in a way that’s impactful for the rest of the series. Han dying meant something. His Force ghost showing up, his echoing of lines, is poignant and earned.
I don’t get why the rest of the movies don’t have the guts to do similar. I didn’t hate The Rise of Skywalker, but I do hate this scene, this decision, and how they went with such a “safe” storytelling choice that it became dangerous anyway off its own shoddiness.
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