Audiences have been thinking about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker since it debuted in theaters last weekend and made a major impact on the franchise in the process. In addition to wrapping up the narrative of the "sequel trilogy", the film included quite a lot of references to the canon that had been established in the decades prior. One of the film's most surprising moments was no exception, as it ended one character's on-screen appearance in the saga with a reference to one of the most iconic scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker below! Only look if you want to know!
One of the many plotlines the film juggles is the ongoing story of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who is questioning his alliance to either the Light or the Dark sides. This culminates in a fight with Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the crashed ruins of the Death Star II, which leads to Rey nearly killing Kylo (before Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) uses the Force to intervene shortly before her death) and then bringing him back to life. Rey then remarks that she'd be willing to follow him as Ben Solo as opposed to Kylo Ren, and leaves in his TIE Whisper.
Conflicted, Ben stands on the ruins of the Death Star, only to be greeted by a familiar face -- his father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Han explains that he's just a vision in Ben's mind, but one who is here to help him in his internal crisis. Han then tells Ben that he can still fight for the Light Side and what Leia stood for, even though Ben remarks that he doesn't think he has the strength to do so (a nod to the scene when he kills Han in The Force Awakens). The scene ends with Ben calling Han "Dad", to which Han responds with "I know."
While it's definitely an impactful moment on its own, the scene serves as a heartwrenching callback to Empire Strikes Back -- particularly, when Han is about to be encased in Carbonite by Darth Vade. Just before that happens, Leia tells Han that she loves him, and he responds with "I know."
The homage is certainly an emotional one, which summarizes both the journey of Han and Leia's relationship and legacy and the iconic nature of that original scene.
Star Wars; The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.