The Last Jedi is finally in theaters. This weekend will be one spent dodging spoilers until fans can see it. But for those who have seen it, there are several OMG moments throughout the film that require further review. One of them is the early big battle scene, when Kylo Ren personally leads the run on the lead ship of the Resistance, where his mother stands on the bridge. It's a scene that's been hinted at in the trailers, but the final outcome is such that it has fans asking: Is Leia a Jedi? WARNING: Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoilers follow.
The trailer leaves us with a cliffhanger, with Kylo Ren and his mother facing each other down, through time and space. Will he shoot and blast the bridge, killing her the way he did his father? Or will he make a different choice this time?
The answer is the right one and he stands down. Leia relaxes slightly, knowing her son is not going to pull the trigger. It's just too bad that she doesn't have the same connection with his two sidekick ships. Not knowing their leader chose not to fire, one of them takes aim and fires on the bridge in his stead, blowing Admiral Ackbar, Leia, and everyone else in command of the Resistance to smithereens.
Kylo Ren flinches, sensing his mother being flung out to space, but then pulls himself together and flies back to his ship. But then, something remarkable occurs. Leia proves, once again, that she is the ultimate self-rescuing princess.
In the seconds before her body freezes to death from the cold of the vacuum, Leia grabs hold of the Force. She then pulls herself back towards the ship, flinging herself through the debris of the now destroyed bridge and to the door, where Poe Dameron and others are waiting to grab her and pull her back inside.
Yeah. That. Happened.
Now, three things about this scene struck me immediately:
1. If Carrie Fisher were alive, this scene would have been more, "Ahh haaaaa! Of course Leia's not dead, Fisher has another movie to do!"
2. The fact that Fisher has passed away, and the audience knows it, gave her being blasted out into space far greater depth and urgency, because for all we in the audience knew, the script was rewritten and this was Leia getting killed off.
3. Poe and his compatriots are watching out the window for Leia to fling herself back. They are not surprised to see her pull this trick. That suggests she's done it before.
So the question is: Does this mean Leia is a Jedi?
Well, if you consider the Jedi tree, the Jedi texts, the Jedi order, and the Jedi training to all be extraordinarily important, then no, she is not. So by Luke's definition, no. Leia never went off with the Jedi Masters and sat on rocks and felt the force flow through her, or trained with a lightsaber.* She was too busy being a leader to her people, first in the Rebellion, then in the Republic, and now with the Resistance.
(*Actually she *did* do all these things in the Expanded Universe novels, but those are defunct now.)
But, if you're like Yoda and you say this stuff is all nonsense? If you're in camp "burn it all down" because those sacred texts don't matter, and neither does the tree, or the training or any of it? If you believe it's what's inside you, and what you do with it, and that what you learn from your mistakes is what counts?
Then yes, Leia is as much a Jedi as Rey is, or Luke, or her father, or Obi-Wan. When the time comes for the Force ghosts to all stand together in a happy ending in Episode IX, like we saw in Return of the Jedi, Leia should rightly be there, standing side-by-side with Luke.
Because of course she's a Jedi. The woman flung herself through space and a saved her own life. C'mon now. If that's not a Jedi, what is?