I Would Trust Her With My Life
There are countless moments in Rogue One that made me want to weep from joy. But chief among them is the scene where Mon Mothma tells Bail that he will need to send someone he trusts to find Obi Wan and he responds, “I would trust her with my life.”
On my first viewing, I loved that line for the mere surface level reference to Princess Leia. My heart did a little jump with glee at the clear tie in to the opening of A New Hope and that was enough to make me supremely happy.
The second time I saw Rogue One, I liked it a little bit more. Because it wasn’t just a throw away reference to Leia. It was also expertly written. It didn’t come at you like a neon sign screaming “I’M GOING TO SEND MY DAUGHTER, PRINCESS LEIA. SHE’S A LEAD IN THE OT. SHE’S ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC CHARACTERS IN CINEMA HISTORY. I’M GOING TO SEND HER ON THIS MISSION. AND SHE’S GOING TO GET CAPTURED AND THAT IS THE INCITING PLOT POINT TO THE ENTIRE STAR WARS UNIVERSE.”
It was subtle. It was clear and obvious who he was talking about, but it was a short and succinct line that was delivered with a lovely and affectionate tone that didn’t manage to distract from the mission at hand.
Now I’ve watched Rogue One for the first time in the comfort of my own home, and upon reflection I’ve realized that that line is far more important and amazing than I had already given it credit for.
Bail’s line “I would trust her with my life,” is not just a wink to the audience about the arrival of Leia. It is a deliberate and genius tie in of the major theme of Rogue One into the Original Trilogy.
For so long, Star Wars has always been Luke’s story. And it still is in many ways. But Leia (and Han) have always been sort of…secondary protagonists. They are extremely important to the plot and hold their own story lines, but their contribution to the trilogy takes a back seat to Luke’s main story. In the end, Luke helps to redeem Vader and destroy the Empire and the story comes to a conclusion through his efforts while his friends help.
But Rogue One and the inclusion of the line “I would trust her with my life,” completely reframes the idea of who was responsible for the end of the Empire.
When we meet Galen Erso in Rogue One, he is a man who has submitted to the idea that he no longer has agency over his own life and actions. In an effort to save his family and himself from the wrath of the Empire he has done terrible things and completely destroyed his name – his life as it were. Jyn is his only hope for redemption. With his dying breath, Galen trusts her implicitly to see that the Death Star is destroyed. But in addition to wanting the Death Star destroyed, his motives are also partially selfish. He also trusts that in destroying the Death Star she will vindicate his entire life and existence. He trusts that she will not let him down in redeeming his name throughout the galaxy. He trusts that she will ensure that his life is not reduced to an Imperial peon, but that his life is remembered as the life of a galactic hero.
And he’s right.
It was interesting to me that the writers chose to frame Bail’s line about Leia in such a way when we as an audience know that he will die upon his return to Alderaan when Leia is captured. But, like Galen, Bail is not trusting his daughter with his literal health and well-being. He is trusting her with his life’s work. His life’s purpose. His legacy.
Bail Organa birthed the rebellion. He sat in the room with the two remaining Jedi of the fallen order when they decided upon their final plan to one day return peace to the galaxy. He raised the very powerful daughter of a Jedi to believe in democracy, justice, and compassion so that when the day came that she learned about her power, she would not let it corrupt her.
Like Galen, Bail trusted his daughter implicitly to ensure that his legacy lived on forever. He trusted that through her continued efforts, he would not be remembered as a traitor to the Empire, but as a galactic hero and a father of democracy. He trusted her to fight for freedom and justice and win. He trusted her to lead with compassion. He trusted her not to fall to the dark side. He trusted her never to give up on a fight that he dedicated his entire life to – even if the fight would never truly be over.
And, like Galen Erso, he was right.
Star Wars has always been about the desire of a son to redeem the sins of his father. And that is a beautiful theme.
But now, with the addition of Rogue One and one throwaway line from Bail Organa, it is just as much about the trust of a father in his daughter. And the desire of a daughter to carry on her father’s legacy so that he will not have lived a life in vain.
And that is beautiful too.