I will preface this by saying that there will be #nospoilers in this post about Carrie Fisher and #TheLastJedi.
Watching The Last Jedi was a surprisingly emotional experience in some respects. I've always enjoyed watching Carrie Fisher as everyone's favorite galactic princess; she was feisty and tough and every bit the fearless female that I hope my girls grow into being. Certainly, as my family and I were lined up for the 9:30 pm showing of The Last Jedi, I was not particularly thinking that this would be Carrie Fisher's last cinematic ride, but the moment she stepped on screen, it hit me.
I was by no means an emotional mess or anything of that sort, but there was something incredibly poignant about every time she was on screen. Knowing that Episode IX was intended to have a huge storyline for Leia— and how could it not, given her son has become the biggest bad guy in the galaxy—it seems even sadder that there is no longer that opportunity to see such a powerful force as Carrie Fisher in action.
I realize I am not the only one to have felt this way about Fisher. To be sure, the family and friends who have been left devastated by her untimely passing almost exactly a year ago are no doubt still mourning, and they will miss her forever. But with the release of The Last Jedi coming so close to the anniversary of Fisher's death, I was reminded yet again of how big a hole is now left in the Star Wars universe.
The lovely dedication to "our favorite princess" in the end credits was heartwarming, though I do wish it had been at the beginning, somehow. I realize that the way the Star Wars films open do not lend themselves well to special dedications that would show up at the start of a film, but there would have been something sweet about seeing that as The Last Jedi began. It allowed the film to end on a terribly bittersweet note, which is probably in keeping with how some of us feel about seeing Fisher rock it out as General Leia Organa.
Certainly, Carrie Fisher was by all accounts not one to embrace the maudlin—the funny, yes, but never maudlin, so she may well be on whatever existential plane she finds herself, looking at her final Leia performance, and yelling at us to stop being sad, or something. That being said, I certainly hope she realizes the impact she continues to have on all of us who are fans of the Star Wars universe, and fans of her in general. Her Leia transformed from a young, haughty princess who had no problem putting her two rescuers in their respective places to a world-weary general who was now trying to save the galaxy from her son and (maybe? Hopefully?) somehow reconcile with her estranged partner, that scoundrel Han Solo.
The growth of the character that is Leia set the standard for so many other strong female leads of the 20th century since Star Wars bowed 40 years ago. Trying to find her parallel simply will not happen; there is simply no comparison between Leia and any other female character we have encountered in cinematic history. So where does that leave us after The Last Jedi, knowing that Leia and Carrie Fisher's respective stories have effectively come to an end?
We have to honor Leia's growth and humanity as Carrie Fisher's own humanity resonates even today. We need to embrace the gift that Carrie Fisher was and honor the gifts she gave us while she lived among us for the too-short 60 years we had her.