****This article contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker****
The Rise of Skywalker recently released, and the late Carrie Fisher reprised her role as General Leia Organa one last time, thanks to previously unused footage and the wonders of ILM.
J.J. Abrams has previously called Leia “the heart of this story”, and in many ways he’s absolutely right. The film managed to give an emotional and touching send-off to our beloved General that actually felt really fitting. Here’s all of the scenes that Leia appeared in:
When we first see Leia in the film, she is on Ajan Kloss training Rey. After meditating, Rey confides in Leia that she doesn’t think it’s possible to hear from the Jedi who came before, and Leia gives Rey the Skywalker lightsaber as Rey goes through a training course. After this, Rey speaks with Leia again, saying that she’s just tired. She hands Leia back the lightsaber, saying that one day she will earn Leia’s brother’s lightsaber. BB-8 asks if he can do it for her, to which Rey replies no – and Leia tells Rey to never underestimate a droid. As Leia walks off with the lightsaber, Rey replies, “Yes master.” That line should leave no doubt about what these scenes intended to show us: Leia is the one training Rey. She is Rey’s Master in the ways of the Force and the ways of the Jedi, picking up where Luke left off.
The Falcon hasn’t returned
As the Resistance waits for the Millennium Falcon to return with the key intel from an alleged First Order spy, Kaydel Ko Connix informs Leia that the ship has yet to return and asks what to do. This scene is not huge in the grand scheme of the film, but it’s significant in real life, because it gives Billie Lourd the chance to appear in a scene with her mother one last time.
As Poe informs the Resistance about the information from the First Order spy, Leia is there listening intently. Poe informs them that Palpatine has, somehow, returned, and Leia stares at Rey intently for a long period of time before looking away. Later, Leia explains to Poe that Palpatine has been behind everything this whole time, operating in the shadows.
After Rey hears of Palpatine’s location – a hidden world called Exegol – she retrieves one of the Jedi texts and asks to speak with Leia. When the two are alone, Rey tells Leia that she knows how to get to Exegol, as Luke had searched for it previously and gotten close. Rey asks for permission to go, and Leia refuses. Rey responds, “I don’t want to go without your blessing, but I will. I will. It’s what you would do.”
As Rey and the heroes head off to Pasaana to pick up Luke’s trail in the search for Exegol, she says goodbye to Leia. An emotional Rey tells Leia that there’s so much she wants to tell her, and Leia responds, “Tell me when you get back.” It’s an emotional moment between the two as Leia hands Rey the lightsaber once more and they embrace in a hug. Leia tells Rey to never be afraid of who she is, which proves to be the last time Master and Apprentice speak.
Snap’s bad news about the Falcon
After the heroes fall into the sinking sand on Pasaana, Snap Wexley delivers the bad news to Leia that there was a fight at the festival and that the Falcon isn’t responding. Rose, standing with Leia, asks why Snap has to be so negative, and Leia asks him to try being positive. Snap obviously overdoes it in response, leading to a frustrated Rose walking away.
As Rey and Kylo Ren begin to fight on the ruins of the second Death Star, we cut back to the Resistance base on Ajan Kloss, where Leia suddenly puts down her headset and looks shaken. The rest of the Resistance members all stop what they’re doing and look at the General, who is helped away by someone. Maz Kanata explains that Leia knows that to reach her son will require all the strength she has left.
Right before Kylo can strike a blow against Rey, he stops and turns, sensing something. Leia, back on Ajan Kloss, whispers “Ben”, which Kylo can hear. He drops his lightsaber… but it’s picked up by Rey, who stabs him in the gut. As Kylo collapses, Leia dies in her bed, with R2-D2 standing nearby. Rey senses this too and is devastated.
In later dialogue, Palpatine (talking with Allegiant General Pryde) says that the Princess of Alderaan disrupted his plans, making it clear that Leia got through to Ben Solo and exerted the last of her strength to saving her son. In other words, Leia gave her life to save her son.
Training with Luke
On Ahch-To, Luke gifts Rey Leia’s lightsaber, which he had kept hidden in his hut. We then get a flashback to many years earlier, not too long after Return of the Jedi. We see Luke and Leia training at night on Ajan Kloss, wearing training helmets, and Leia uses the Force to call her blue lightsaber to herself and engage in a duel with Luke. Leia gets the upper hand and Luke winds up on the ground. They remove the mask in front of their faces, and we see Luke and Leia, looking exactly like they did in ROTJ. Luke explains that Leia stopped her Jedi training because she sensed the death of her son if she were to continue. She gave her lightsaber to Luke, knowing that someone would pick up where she left off one day.
This isn’t a scene in which we actually see Leia, but I’ll include it here briefly anyway. Leia’s body is covered with a sheet by Maz Kanata, and we see it a couple of times. First, we see it when the Resistance members gather around to somberly pay their respects to the beloved General. Secondly, after Poe is put in command (as per Leia’s will), he sits by the bed and confesses that he doesn’t know how to do what she did and that he isn’t ready – at which point Lando appears from the shadows and says that neither were they, but they had each other.
At the very end of the film, two significant moments happen with Leia. First, when Ben Solo dies, his body disappears as he becomes one with the Force. When that happens, Leia’s body also disappears as she too becomes one with the Force. This is picked up on in the second significant moment. As Rey goes to Tatooine to the Lars Homestead to bury the Skywalker lightsabers, she is asked by a stranger what her name is. She looks into the distance and sees the Force Ghosts of Luke and Leia, smiling at her, and she says her name is Rey Skywalker, proceeding to stare out at the binary sunset as the film closes.
There you have it – that’s the description of all of Leia’s scenes in The Rise of Skywalker. It might not have been how everything happened if Carrie Fisher were still alive, but I think J.J. Abrams and company did an absolutely incredible job of incorporating her in this film in a way that felt genuine and meaningful. In fact, it seemed to fit perfectly – and Leia still played a major role in her son’s return to the light, as we expected all along.
Plus, we also got some great moments of Leia the Jedi, as she was training Rey, as we got a flashback of her training with Luke, and as her lightsaber played a pivotal role late in the film. And it was incredibly touching to see that Leia had become one with the Force and appear as a Force Ghost at the end of the film, as it’s a reminder that, “no one’s ever really gone.”
I think this film truly honored our beloved Princess-turned-General, and it gave her a fitting farewell. I loved everything with and about Leia in this one.