anghraine: leia c. esb; text: you'll never know how tough it is to be the one who isn't chosen (leia [not chosen])
[personal profile] anghraine
When I received this (17 February 2016), I had just reblogged a Leia post and grumped in the tags about what I considered JJ Abrams' "cop-out" in respect to Leia's potential as a Jedi. (When asked about it, he didn't defend his marginalization of her abilities, but pinned the choice on Leia herself.)

An anon asked:

You know, I always wanted Leia to become a Jedi ever since I watched the original trilogy. I don't see it as a cop out that she isn't one, however. Mainly because I can see her not wanting anything to do with her father to contrast the 'I am a Jedi like my father before me.' And once her son started to fall down a similar path, I'd guess she actively wanted nothing to do with that. If it was a choice she made to contrast all of that, I think that makes sense too. So I'm OK either way

My response:

I don’t think it’s inherently a cop-out to write her that way. It is, however, a cop-out to write her that way and justify it as “her choice.” She’s fictional. The only choices she makes are the one her writers have her make. That essentially comes down to “I wrote her the way I did because I wrote her the way I did.”

I can very easily see Leia choosing a different path, though I’m extremely doubtful about the whole concept that Leia could never be a Jedi, or if she did, would be so much more hardcore than Luke blahblahblah. But tbh I can’t see Leia handicapping her own abilities to distance herself from Vader.

And that’s really where it sticks in the craw–Leia is Force-sensitive whether she chooses to be a Jedi or not. Enormously Force-sensitive. And she’s just shunted aside from everything that means from the get-go. Obi-Wan forgets her Force-sensitivity altogether. She can learn how to use her awesome superpowers, at least to some extent, without becoming a monk. ROTJ all but promises that she will learn to use her superpowers, and at the end, she takes her first step in actively trying. So it’s very difficult to accept that Leia would go from there to “nah, I don’t want to stop lasers with my mind.”

Now, TFA doesn’t go that far, since we see so little of Leia. While she’s not a Jedi, that’s not proof she’s throwing the superpowers out with the bathwater, and she does sense Han’s death (though that’s nothing she couldn’t already do instinctively in ROTJ). But we don’t see her in any situation where she’d have a reason to use her powers, so that’s up in the air to some extent.

The novelization does have hints that she’s doing at least some Force-related things. When she tells Han that Snoke was “always” manipulating Ben towards the Dark Side, before even she realized, that she thought she could shield him, and kept it from Han–setting Ben aside for the moment, that does tell us a bit about Leia. It sounds like she picked up on the fuckery signal relatively early. She was overconfident about her mental shielding abilities: while I’m not thrilled with getting evidence of skill through failure, it does suggest it’s one she possesses and uses successfully in general.

She also feels extremely isolated on the Skywalker front without Luke, that nobody else can really understand or help them deal with their legacy. So if the films go with that, we’re looking less at trying to sever herself from her heritage than working to wrangle with it, alongside Luke. And Luke is really going to be the most prominent Jedi figure for her, and a beloved, unambiguously positive one, so her own Force-sensitivity isn’t entirely caught up with Vader.

tl;dr - I can definitely see Leia choosing not to be a Jedi, though I’d want a reason beyond “we wrote her that way,” but I find it very, very difficult to see Leia ignoring her powers. And since Leia’s powers have been ignored by other characters and by the narrative in a nasty way for her entire run, it’s something I’m never going to be really happy about. Not my biggest concern, but–one of them, yeah.
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