The newest film in the Star Wars saga furthered the story established in The Force Awakens, but it also paid off some moments from the original trilogy that fans have been waiting to see.
Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.
When First Order TIE Fighters destroy the bridge of the Resistance's cargo ship, Leia and other leaders (including Admiral Ackbar, RIP) are sucked out into the cold vacuum of space. Though it seemed like her story would end there, she comes to and uses the Force to pull back to the ship, where she is placed on life support for her wounds.
Johnson revealed at a Q&A with EW's Anthony Breznican that the gestation for this scene's inclusion came from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
“She kept asking, ‘Leia’s a Skywalker, Luke gave her this speech in Jedi and told her basically, ‘You have this potential, too.’ It seemed to me it would be a really emotionally impactful thing to see her use it,” said Johnson.
In the original films, Princess Leia often exhibited a sensitivity and awareness of the Force. She never went on to train as a full-fledged Jedi, though she did learn some techniques from her brother Luke as described in the events of the novel Bloodlines.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she's a full-fledged general of the Resistance with bigger problems to worry about. But when Han Solo is murdered by their own child, she feels his death through her connection with the Force. This instance is the first time we see the character show such strength in her abilities.
“I liked the idea it would be an instinctual thing. This would be more like stories you hear about parents of toddlers who get caught under cars and they get Hulk strength and lift the car up,” Johnson said. “It would be something in these final moments to show that she’s not done with the fight. And like a drowning person pulling herself back, that’s how it manifests itself for the first time in her.”
It remains to be seen how the actor's passing will affect the future of the franchise, but fans can see Carrie Fisher's epic, final performance as Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now.