Weaving Leia into the plot of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker proved difficult, given Carrie Fisher’s passing, but the filmmakers did their best to give the legendary character a moving and fitting farewell in the movie. In a pivotal moment, Leia is shown to use the last of her strength to reach out to her wayward son Ben Solo/Kylo Ren through the Force before she dies, something which has a huge impact on Ben and is the first step in his path towards redemption.
Much of this scene is displayed visually on screen, rather than through exposition, so some have been wondering exactly how Leia’s death and message to Kylo worked. As with many other confusing moments in the film, the Rise of Skywalker novelization – as written by Rae Carson – is on hand to help clear things up.
In this instance, the narration for this sequence gives us a greater insight into Leia’s mindset, revealing that she’s visited by Luke’s Force ghost prior to her death and is encouraged to show Ben how much she loves him, though she knows it’ll mean her own death.
Here’s the relevant passage:
“She flashed back to holding her tiny son in her arms, his black hair still wet from birth, the way he’d cried all the time in those early months but settled whenever he sensed that she or Han or Chewie was near. His first steps. His first word. The first time he’d sent a toy flying across the room with the power of the Force, calling on his tiny, toddler rage.
I never gave up hope for him, she said.
Tell him, said Luke.
With his words came a rush of knowledge, and a vision-memory of Luke sitting cross-legged atop a cliff of Ahch-To, shaking with effort as he projected himself onto the battlefield at Crait.
The effort to reach Ben would take everything she had.”
So now we know that with her last breath, Leia reached out to Ben and was able to show him how much she cared for him. This makes a lot of sense why it so instantly transformed him, then. Kylo’s turn to the dark side has always been rooted in his fears of abandonment and his incorrect belief that his parents – and uncle – were scared of the darkness within him and didn’t love him. In this moment, Ben finally understands that he’s been wrong all along, and the knowledge of this and the loss of his mother cause him to decide to become a better man.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available on Digital HD now and comes out on Blu-Ray on March 31st.