In a fair world, Carrie Fisher would be alive and well and sassing her way through the promotional push for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead of Fisher’s trademark blend of self-deprecation and unabashed love for fans, we are left instead with a giant Carrie Fisher-sized hole in the world. It’s a collective wound that’s reopened every time we get a look at General Leia in The Last Jedi and remember it will be the last time Fisher plays the character that defined her life.
If you thought perhaps you’d be able to get through director Rian Johnson’s film without a box of tissues, in an article from Entertainment Weekly should dissuade even the most heartless of that notion. In the piece, Oscar Issac shares on-set memories of waltzing with Fisher between takes while she sang old songs. Just when you think it can’t get any more bittersweet, Issac drops another bomb.
“Poe is in some ways a surrogate son for Leia, but also I think she sees in him the potential for a truly great leader of the Resistance and beyond. Poe’s arc is one of evolving from a heroic soldier to a seasoned leader, to see beyond the single-mindedness of winning the battle to the larger picture of the future of the galaxy. I think Leia knows she won’t be around forever and she, with tough love, wants to push Poe to be more than the badass pilot, to temper his heroic impulses with wisdom and clarity.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying. Okay, we’re all crying.
For fans of the new, canonical Expanded Universe, this information hits even harder. Poe Dameron’s backstory is intrinsically linked to Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. Poe’s mother, Shara Bey, was the A-Wing pilot who helped escort Luke Skywalker back to Endor after he left the Death Star. As part of Green Squadron, Bey was a highly decorated war veteran who didn’t let a little thing like pregnancy slow her down. She was a crucial part of missions conducted both by Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor before dying when Poe was around five years old. Poe Dameron’s earliest memories involve his mother letting him “pilot” her A-Wing and credits her legacy for why he joined the Resistance. As of this writing, it is unknown whether or not Poe Dameron’s father, and Shara’s husband, Kes Dameron is still alive.
Armed with this knowledge, it looks like The Last Jedi will put in the emotional work of a motherless boy and a mother who has lost her son finding support in each other. Barring some sort of redemption arc miracle, Ben Solo is not going to take up Leia’s mantle. If she wants her legacy to survive, and she’s too ambitious and intelligent not to, she’ll have to find another. Poe Dameron, with his long history with Organa-Solo-Skywalker clan, makes a perfect fit. Shara would be proud.