Luke and Leia: What's at stake for the long-lost twins in The Last Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi
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They were separated almost from the moment of birth.
Luke and Leia, the children of Darth Vader, had to be hidden from their father. But they were also hidden from each other.
Fate brought them back together again, but they only discovered this family tie at the end of Return of the Jedi. Fans of Star Wars have never witnessed the dynamics of their relationship as brother and sister.
Although they are pictured together on EW’s cover, one of the questions of The Last Jedi is whether Luke and Leia will find each other again within the story.
“Luke longs to have that extended family that he established in the original trilogy, but now he’s at a place in his life and in his history where he’s shunned all of that,” Mark Hamill says. “The big question is why didn’t he respond to Leia during [The Force Awakens]? There’s a lot of things you can’t answer until you see this movie.”
Carrie Fisher’s unexpected death last year makes The Last Jedi even more poignant, since her performance inevitably marks the last of Leia — at least on screen. Lucasfilm has said they will not be recreating her to resolve the princess-turned-general’s storyline.
In this movie, she finds herself no longer leading the Resistance, with power shifting to Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo, who has been an ally of Leia’s since they were girls in the early days of the Rebellion. Oscar Isaac says Leia is also positioning his X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron for a role as a decision-maker beyond the front lines of battle.
We don’t know the full circumstances of her leadership hand-off, but Leia could be turning her attention toward a more personal mission. She has seen her only son turn cruel and murderous, and although she primarily blames the influence of Supreme Leader Snoke, she also partly blames herself.
Kylo Ren does too, with Adam Driver saying the character of Ben Solo was driven to darkness because he already felt he was in the shadows. The Cause was always at the top of Leia’s priorities, and although it may have been the right choice, that devotion came at a cost.
After all these years in service to the wider galaxy, it may be time for the Skywalkers to bring balance to themselves. In The Force Awakens, Leia needed Luke’s help, and she couldn’t fathom why he exiled himself. But now he needs her as much as she needs him.
It would be an appropriate bookend if she turns up to rescue him this time.
She was always the stronger one.
Brother in Arms
In The Last Jedi, one reason Luke Skywalker rejects Daisy Ridley’s Rey when she finally locates him on the Porg-infested island of Ahch-To is because he feels he has lost his own sense of direction. How could he provide guidance to another?
This is a Luke far, far away from the collected and confidant hero we last saw in Return of the Jedi. Decades later, he is a man broken by disappointment, who believes his decisions only led to death and suffering. He doesn’t think he can help Rey. He needs some guidance himself.
“He’s not the happy-to-lucky farm boy any more,” Hamill says. “He’s sort of bellicose and has the weight of the world on his shoulders.”
But there is a lodestar out there for him, a powerful force beyond the Force. In many ways, she has always been there, leading him where he needs to be long before they knew they were twins.
The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson says their shared history is an even stronger connection than shared DNA. They are family, but even before learning that, these characters had become a found-family.
“It was only at the end of Jedi that they became of aware of this bond,” he says. “The real bond is that they’re Luke and Leia. They’ve gone through this adventure together. They’ve been through some rough stuff together.”
Sister of Mercy
Whether they actually get that reunion in The Last Jedi isn’t a given, though. “It’s nice seeing them on the cover though. Even if all we have is that,” Johnson says.
If these star-crossed twins find each other again, it’ll be bittersweet. If they don’t, it will be tragic. But heartbreak is a part of life, even in fantasy.
After the death of Han, the erosion of his faith in the Jedi, and the loss of everything and everyone he once knew, Leia is the last connection Luke has to his old life. He has pushed her away, pushed the Cause away, but fans will learn his reasons for that.
It doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to find a way back.
“It’s very important for Luke to feel grounded and feel like he has a family. I think he loves her dearly,” Hamill says. “I mean, I can’t separate Leia from Carrie and Mark from Luke in that regard because we were like real siblings. We had these huge rows and we blew hot and cold, but months even years would go by and then you’d see them again and it’s like…”
He doesn’t finish the sentence. But you know what he means.
Tomorrow, Star Wars week on EW.com continues …
- Snoke steps from the shadows
- Don’t trust Porgs