I just love Princess Leia. I just love her so much.
Her story. Her character. I LOVE her.
She’s this little baby born right as the Republic falls and the Jedi Order is decimated and a Sith lord is taking control of the galaxy. And she doesn’t know that her mother died giving her life or that her father was the Chosen One, the man everyone thought would be their greatest champion and instead through his own warped, tragic love and desperate fears and stark ambitions he became the vehicle of their downfall. And this little baby born under these dire and extraordinary circumstances is whisked away, separated from the twin brother she doesn’t even know she has, and hidden and protected
And this man who saw the darkness and despair and tragedy of her origins doesn’t just vow to take her in but to love her, and this little baby who’s literally only hours old but who already has this incredible destiny baring down upon her becomes the crown princess of Alderaan???????
And she grows up and she’s only a teenager but she’s already representing her people on the galactic stage as an imperial senator and this girl has such fire in her that she’s going toe to toe with the most corrupt men in the galaxy and taking up the mantles of justice and righteousness and hope and you’d think that’d be enough, but no, because that same man who promised to love her, who became her father, was also the father of the rebellion, and so at the tender age of nineteen this girl is a traitor to the empire and a rebel spy???? Like, no mere informant but a freaking imperial senator working from within the government to feed information to the rebellion I just??????? This girl that was born in secrecy and whisked into hiding is hiding IN PLAIN SIGHT right there under the Emperor’s nose, and she’s not even HIDING she’s a thorn in his side and she’s WORKING FOR THE ENEMY RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS FACE!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then they build the Death Star and they’re killing billions of people and a brave group of rebels manage to infiltrate an imperial database and steal its plans in a desperate final stand while rebel troops are falling left and right and the rebel fleet is being taken out and Darth Vader himself is killing everyone in his path and who ends up with the transmission????? Who ends up with the stolen plans and literally and physically is holding the fate of the galaxy in her hands?????? Who jumps to light speed just in time to make her escape?????
The Princess of Alderaan, the Imperial Senator, the rebel spy, the daughter of the rebellion, Leia Organa. And she rushes across the galaxy on a top secret mission of utter importance to not only save those plans but to beg for the aid of the one man who might be able to help them–it is their most desperate hour, and it’s Leia there–Leia in the middle of it all–Leia with the plans and Leia sent to get Obi-Wan Kenobi.
And when Darth Vader boards the Tantive IV and the crew are dying left and right and Leia herself is taken prisoner, she smuggles the plans out of the empire’s hands AGAIN and then has the nerve to look Darth Vader in the eyes and LIE THROUGH HER BALLSY TEETH and tell him that she has no idea what he’s talking about. He KNOWS she’s a spy, he KNOWS she’s a traitor, HE JUST WATCHED HER ZOOM OFF WITH THE PLANS.
And this nineteen-year-old princess is at the mercy of a Sith Lord, the Chosen One, the most powerful Force user the galaxy has known, and he probes her mind and tortures her and HE CAN’T BREAK HER. And this Princess can’t know for sure that the little droid she sent off with the most important information in the galaxy will succeed, but she doesn’t talk when they schedule her for execution or when they destroy her planet before her eyes or even after that.
And this fierce political spy princess suddenly becomes the last princess, and it turns out that the mission bestowed upon her by her father–on her alone, because he trusted her with his life–is the last request he’ll ever make of her, and it seems like everything is lost and she’ll just have to keep her silence as her last act of defiance and her last act of honor and her last pledge to her father and her mother and her people.
And then????? AND THEN
This bright-eyed idealistic farm boy and this jaded cynical smuggler and his hairy partner burst in and they have no idea what the fuck they’re doing and they have no idea that they have just kicked down the door and entered Leia’s life at its absolute darkest moment, at the lowest point of her existence when it seemed that there would be no hope and no light and no chance, and they don’t know and she doesn’t know that they’ve all just found their destiny. She has no idea that this over-exuberant farm boy is her long-lost twin brother, that the little droid she sent off with the plans found its way to her TWIN of all people, that he was hidden away on the very planet she had raced to, and she has no idea that this cocky insufferable mercenary is her true love, and it’s just, it’s JUST.
Then despite and because of her TREMENDOUS LOSS, this princess gets those plans to the rebellion–the rebellion that is still standing because of her strength of will and of mind and of heart, and it turns out that the galaxy works in mysterious ways, because that naive but pure of heart farm boy is a HERO and that cynical mercenary smuggler can’t help it now, either, because he’s been pulled in, too, because he doesn’t know it but fate has taken hold of him and now he can’t turn away, he can’t, and he goes back on everything he’s said and claimed to stand for just in the nick of time and they do it????? Leia gets those plans where they needed to be and she got her father’s message to the person who needed to hear it–the call had been raised, the time had come–and EVERYTHING WAS SET IN MOTION AND THEY TRIUMPHED AGAINST THE EMPIRE, YES, THEY SAVED TRILLIONS OF LIVES, BUT MORE THAN THAT, SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT, TOO
And then whether it was ever her plan or not, that young princess has no planet any longer, and that imperial senator has no more senate, and the rebel spy is exposed, and Leia’s there just, floating in the dust, standing in the ashes, a symbol of hope for the galaxy but grieving and orphaned and alone (she’s not alone, but she doesn’t know it yet) and it would be so easy to give in to despair, but what does she do? SHE JUMPS INTO THE TRENCHES and she FIGHTS not just with her knowledge, anymore, not just with political daring and aiding and abetting, no, but with her flesh and blood she becomes a soldier.
And maybe the grief is overwhelming, and maybe she pushes too hard and maybe the fight consumes her because it’s suddenly all she has and maybe she’s terrified of feeling again or losing again or hurting again so she builds a wall around her heart, and maybe she seems just a little too cold, but that farm boy-turned hero and that giant walking carpet of a being and that infuriating scoundrel of a man are chipping away at her, and of all the things, of all the damn things that could happen, of all the cursed things that fate has in store, against her will and despite her best efforts, Princess Leia is falling in love
And it’s just. It’s THAT man. The man who only saved her for a cash reward, but saved her nonetheless (and maybe they both know, deep down, that it wasn’t for the cash reward). The man who claimed to oppose every belief she’d ever held, the man who infuriated her, that man is breaking down her walls, that man is making her feel, and she could’ve resisted him if he actually was the selfish mercenary he pretended to be, but he’s NOT, he’s not, at the end of the day he’s stayed with them and with their cause and he’s risking his life to help them and it turns out he’s LOYAL and he’s BRAVE and he’s CUNNING and GOOD and he’s not afraid to call her out, not afraid to challenge her, not afraid to treat her like a woman instead of a princess or a leader
But she can’t do it, she can’t, not only because she should be devoting herself to the rebellion or because sometimes she’s so consumed by guilt that she doesn’t think she deserves it, no not only because of that but because he’s leaving. Leaving them. Leaving her.
She’d thought that maybe it wouldn’t hurt as much if she kept him at arm’s length, but she was wrong, because it aches. But she’s still strong, isn’t she? Isn’t she supposed to be forged from steal? The survivor, the warrior, the avenging princess??? She can’t let herself fall apart over a man that was never even hers to begin with (she doesn’t know that he was hers from the moment they met, and maybe even before).
So she keeps up the fight, and when the Empire is at their doorstep and Vader himself is storming their base, she stays at her post even while it’s crumbling around her, even when she should have cleared out long before–but then, hadn’t she always figured she’d die for the cause?
She doesn’t die though, because he’s there. He’s come back for her. He hadn’t left, and he won’t let her resign herself to the end. Somehow, on that dilapidated piece-of-junk ship that had been her salvation on that fateful day that they met (that day he’d claimed not to care if she lived or died, and here he is running into the danger to save her), they make it out, and Darth Vader watches her make her escape (their paths keep crossing, she doesn’t yet know why), and that scoundrel pilots them through asteroid fields with the enemy on their tail and scrapes them through by the skin of his teeth, but he does it. He keeps her safe, and so that’s the second time he’s rescued her. The tensions are so high though, so high, because damn it all to hell, he’s still probably leaving after it’s over, but he just risked his own life for hers AGAIN and it’s so hard to resist. It’s probably even appropriate that their first kiss is in the blackness of space, caught between a rock and an imperial cruiser, following immediately after a run for their lives and several harsh insults that they both know are just for show. And when he kisses her it’s the sweetest reprieve, it’s everything they both knew it would be, and more, and yet tainted, too–a glimpse of what could have been, because he has a debt to pay and a reason to go, and she can’t give him her heart when she knows he’d have to break it.
Still, she’s stuck with him, our fierce princess, that strong, passionate, lonely girl who’d lost her entire world, trapped on his ship. And when they limp to Bespin, her feelings are brimming over, too true to keep at bay. The safe haven they think they’ve found is all a trap, their escape gone all wrong, and it’s all built up and built up and built up, so powerful that it was inevitable, so powerful that she was doomed from the start, and when they hurt him and torture him and hand him over at last and he spends his final moment before they turn him into a living statue–to die or be sent to his death–on one last desperate kiss, she can’t keep it in. This girl who resisted tooth and nail confesses it at last, when they’re at their most vulnerable, at the mercy of their greatest enemies, set to be parted forever. That’s when she tells Han Solo that she loves him, because she couldn’t bear it if she never told him–couldn’t bear it if he never knew.
Perhaps she doesn’t realize the implications then–that it’s the strength of their love and pain and fear for each other that has been used to lure Luke Skywalker–that farm boy who’d become the closest thing she had to family, that pilot striving to become a jedi that had his own precious place in her heart. She does know that she’ll do whatever it takes to warn him and to save Han, and although she does get free it’s still not in time, because Han is gone and she almost loses Luke, too–almost, and would have, if she hadn’t so suddenly known where he was. She doesn’t harp on how she knew. She doesn’t have it in her to be troubled over anything but the man she’d loved and lost. She’d lost EVERYTHING–literally everything–and she KNEW it would be a bad idea and she didn’t want to give in to her feelings–tried not to let him in, and in the end she STILL loved him and the universe was so cruel that it had to take him, too.
So then for the second time that poor princess is left to cope with profound loss and overwhelming heartache–but it’s different this time, because he’s not dead–not yet–and for once she’ll set aside duty and leadership and rebellion and leave the fight–leave the cause–to go and get him, because she has to, because he only got caught because he was keeping her alive, because he’d rescued her again and again and she couldn’t abandon him–because she loved him and she’d finally accepted that fact.
And so it’s suddenly all come full circle–back to that fateful planet of years past, where she’d sent a little droid to find Obi-Wan Kenobi, where the farm boy had been toiling in the sand, where her scoundrel had gotten caught up in it all. Back there on that barren planet she’ll walk into the monster’s den for him, degraded and chained (she’ll kill the beast that chained her, too) but it’s worth it, it’s so worth it, because by some miracle her new family is enough, and at the end of it all he’s back in her arms and everyone is safe and whole and together.
And there’s a new threat–her worst nightmare, perhaps–because the Death Star just wouldn’t stay dead. And our rebel leader could easily have relied on the rank and file to take it down, but no, she’s on the ground with her love and her friends–her mercenary man is a commissioned general, now–and she’s still fighting with all her tenacity to save lives and end oppression. She probably has a feeling that it’s a fateful mission–everything’s riding on it, after all: their lives, the fleet, the rebellion, everything–but she has no idea just how true that is–has no idea what she’s about to learn.
And then high up in the trees on the night before their attack, Luke Skywalker finally tells her the truth of her past. He’s her brother. She’s his sister. And that evil man who had haunted her in both dreams and in reality is father to them both. So much suddenly makes sense. So much. The immediate love she’d felt for that naive, over-exuberant farm boy. That power and intuition that she just couldn’t explain. And she realizes that it’s not a revelation, because she’d known.
And it’s not only that she knows her origins. It’s not only that she has the Force. It’s not only that she’s the last hope for the galaxy if Luke should fail–it’s her entire story at its climax, her destiny laid at her feet at last, her legacy finally fully revealed, her part in it all finally understood. That day on the Death Star was fate. The daughter of the Chosen One, face-to-face with him, the future of the galaxy resting on her young shoulders, her own twin brother arriving to save her. And we know, watching, that she is so deeply embedded in this story we love–at its heart, there from the beginning, destined to see it through to its end, the power of the Force in her very flesh and bones and the power of her convictions in her every word and every act, the unbelievable and undeniable truth of it all. There was no accident, no coincidence–it’s LEIA.
It’s so much–both wonderful and terrible–to find her brother, to know the horror. To understand that the blood of the man who’s tortured them all runs hot and fierce through her own veins. And even worse, Luke has gone to him–gone to his death. She can’t tell Han when he asks her–she can’t, how could she? What if it ruins everything? What if she…?
But she keeps going, again. She keeps fighting AGAIN. Princess Leia didn’t come so far and do so much and fight so hard to let grief and fear overwhelm her when it matters most. So she’s there on the ground in the action fighting side-by-side with Han and Chewie and their brothers-in-arms all the while the battle rages in space and Luke faces the Emperor and their father.
Maybe he tells her after that it’s her in the middle of it all. That it’s fear for her that almost drives him to the Dark Side, his love for her used against him. Maybe he tells her that when it was all over, and their father was redeemed, that his last thoughts were of her, of the daughter he’d met and hurt but never known–of ensuring she knew the truth.
And it’s just. If anyone in the galaxy had cause to give in to pain–it’s Leia who lost and lost and lost. She had every reason to give up, to succumb to grief, to give in to hate or despair or fear, but she didn’t. She kept going through it all. Kept fighting for what was right. She never let the heartache and the horrors she faced defeat her. She was so incredibly strong, but that strength was never at the cost of her humanity. Princess Leia is strong AND human–a character who feels and hurts, a character that’s vulnerable without it being held against her. A damsel in distress who takes control of her own rescue. A princess turned spy turned soldier. A female character who loves but who is not reduced to a love story. Leia who emerges at the end bruised but unbroken, Leia who learns to open her heart, Leia who finds her family, Leia who is brave, Leia who saved the galaxy, Leia the hero, Leia the VERY LAST HOPE FOR THEM ALL, Leia who hurts, Leia who feels, Leia who shouts and fights and takes no shit, Leia who’s complex and so REAL, Leia who TRIUMPHS AND COMES OUT THE OTHER SIDE WITH HER BROTHER AND HER LOVER AND ALL HER FRIENDS, LEIA WITH THE FORCE, LEIA WHO RESISTS TORTURE AND KILLS JABBA THE HUTT AND RIDES DOWN IMPERIALS ON STOLEN SPEEDERS, LEIA WHO INSPIRES AND LEIA WHO’S TRUE AND LEIA VICTORIOUS AT THE END.
I just really love Princess Leia.