The final thing Obi-Wan sees before he dies is Luke and Leia reunited after 19 years, after witnessing their birth.
I love that people are still discovering new things about Star Wars after all this time.
So after the John Boyega interview where he rightly complained about Finn being sidelined, I wondered, there must have been a way to write him into the Rise of Skywalker finale and de-sideline him, surely?
So what I would have done is this:
Finn goes with Rey to Exegol. (From here on, Finn’s original role in the movie is taken by Rose.) He has a lightsaber with him, Luke’s lightsaber, which counts as his now. Rey has Leia’s. He’s completely untrained but willing to fight to defend the galaxy anyway. Even if he’s not necessarily Force-sensitive, he’s still willing.
There, Palpatine immediately captures Finn, realising right away that he must mean something to his granddaughter. He torments Rey by telling her this wouldn’t be the first time he’d turned someone into a Sith by using their love for another.
Palpatine shocks Finn once with Force lightening and this is enough to make Rey crumble. She tells Palpatine that he can do whatever he wants, just spare Finn. There you go, almost the exact same way Anakin fell…
…except Finn isn’t having it. From behind whatever Force-field Palpatine has him in he tells Rey that he would rather die than see her become a Sith and the galaxy in darkness. He tells her he’s spent all his life trying to find agency and he’s damn well not about to let it go now, even in the face of death. Hey turns out Rey and Finn were the Anakin and Padme of their generation, not the Han and Leia, except they’re not about to make the same mistakes.
Palpatine just laughs evilly at this, as he usually does, and is about to deliver the killing blow to Finn but THEN Ben Solo enters the picture! He strikes Palpatine from behind, causing enough damage to free Finn from his clutches. Now the game has changed! Rey, Finn and Ben go 3-1 against Palpatine (albeit probably with some confusion on Finn’s part as to why Kylo Ren is there.) They’re doing pretty well for the first few minutes! Then Palpatine aims some lightening at Rey. Finn somehow deflects it away from her but instead it hits him full-on.
Rey thinks he’s dead and is horrified and grief-stricken, but she can hear the voice of Anakin Skywalker in her head telling her not to give into her rage. She listens, and Ben can not only feel her emotions but suddenly hear the voice of his grandfather as well. This distracts him so much Palpatine is able to shove him into the pit and remove him from the fight.
NOW Rey, all alone and thinking her true love (Finn, not Ben) is dead, finds herself able to do what it took Anakin a lifetime to understand. With all the ghosts of all the Jedi working through her, she calls on the Light Side and defeats Palpatine once and for all. Only then does she run to Finn and allow her emotions to take over. He definitely appears to be dead and she sobs while holding him.
Then Ben comes climbing up out of the pit. He looks at the scene before him and realises what he has to do. Without a single word said, he kneels down and he Force-heals Finn. Rey watches in bewilderment. Finn sits up with a gasp, instantly falling into Rey’s arms. Rey exchanges a look of intense gratitude with Ben and then realises he’s given all of his lifeforce over to Finn. He’s dying. She takes his hand, but does not kiss him, as he dies and disappears.
At the end of the movie both Rey and Finn (and BB8) return to Tatooine. Finn wonders how he was able to deflect the lightening away from Rey back on Exegol, and Rey ponders that maybe it’s a person’s willingness to sacrifice, rather than any training or even any Force sensitivity, that makes them a true Jedi. She names herself “Skywalker” and Finn says he would like that name as well, which sounds an awful lot like a proposal.
The sun sets as Luke, Leia AND HAN watch the new generation from the afterlife. All is finally well in the galaxy.
Yes! She mostly trained with Luke, but occasionally she heard the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi and, every once in awhile, Yoda’s voice as well:
Now, this doesn’t say that she never heard from Anakin (as Luke says in Secrets of the Jedi that he heard from Anakin’s Force Ghost), but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, given that she still hasn’t really settled her feelings on him.
Via this novelization, it feels like Leia never really quite settled her feelings on Anakin until she’s about to die–as part of a bigger pattern of the things she held onto to keep herself going:
“She’d had it backward. Letting go wasn’t giving up. It was the ultimate act of hope.”
It felt to me that, until this moment, Leia wasn’t really ready to let go–of the things she’d worked for, of the people she loved, but I think also the things that she used to prop herself up, her anger at Vader, her unwillingness to accept him as having become Anakin again.
And, even if it’s not canon in any of the books or anything, I absolutely think this is when she truly forgave him and, “Her last thought washed through the galaxy like a wave. She was vaguely aware of Han’s medal clattering to the floor, a whir of sadness from R2-D2, and finally a surge of welcome from Luke, who was not alone.”
YOU WILL PRY FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS THAT ANAKIN WAS THERE ALONG WITH LUKE AND OBI-WAN, NOW THAT SHE WAS READY TO LET GO AND ACCEPT HIM AGAIN.
I’m not sure exactly how the junior novelizations fit into canon, but according to the TROS junior novelization by Michael Kogge (which, I must say, is fantastic and every bit as emotionally impactful as the adult version), you’re absolutely right. It’s in this moment, right before her death, that Leia finally forgives Anakin. The entire scene is so beautifully written, it made me bawl. It even compares Shmi’s relationship with Anakin to Leia’s with Ben at one point. I don’t have access to a physical copy at the moment, but here’s a transcription I made as best I could from the audiobook:
“As her surroundings faded, the faces of her family came to her mind; family she had lost. Her adoptive father and mother, Bail and Breha Organa. The brother she’d always known she had, Luke. Her mother, who had died during childbirth, yet whose kindness had left such an impression that Leia had felt close to her throughout her life.
Her father, who had done great evil, and whose face she always associated with his black mask. She saw another face now—a man’s face, lined with shame and remorse. Leia had never reconciled with Darth Vader, yet Luke had said he’d felt the good in him. Leia felt it now, too. This was not the time to erect more walls and cast blame. She accepted her father’s apology and returned his love. The lines in his face lessened, and his eyes lit up. He smiled.
And then there was Han. Dear Han, scruffy-looking as ever, standing next to Chewie in the same grimy jacket he always seemed to wear, arms open for an embrace she’d never part from again.
“I love you,” he said.
As those faces and memories also began to fade, Leia clasped the medal against her chest and thought of the person who had made her so happy since Han had gone. Han’s last gift to her was bringing her a scavenger from Jakku, who had become like an adopted daughter to Leia. Rey had so much spirit that merely imagining her sprinting through the jungle on one of her tests diminished some of Leia’s pain. She would miss the girl; miss not enjoying a future with her. But she was happy to have spent the time with her she had. For all that Leia had endured, the Force had been good to her in the end. It had given her a second opportunity to be a mother. So many parents who lost their children never had that chance.
Last, she thought of the child she had lost, her son. She missed and loved Ben, despite all he had done. She wondered if her grandmother had felt the same about Leia’s father. A mother’s love was unlike anything else in the universe. It was unbreakable, eternal. Not even the Dark Side could rupture its bond. She felt that Ben and Rey were connected the same way she and Luke were connected: twins—not of the womb, but of the Force. And she knew if there was any way she could save Ben, it would be through what she had taught Rey.
With all the energy she had left, she reached out with her love, told her son goodbye, and invited him home.”
“Her father, who had done great evil, and whose face she always associated with his black mask. She saw another face now—a man’s face, lined with shame and remorse. Leia had never reconciled with Darth Vader, yet Luke had said he’d felt the good in him. Leia felt it now, too. This was not the time to erect more walls and cast blame. She accepted her father’s apology and returned his love. The lines in his face lessened, and his eyes lit up. He smiled.”
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Oh gosh, that Leia art, I love it.
The Rise of Skywalker novelization | by Rae Carson
SOBS, I NEED AN ENTIRE NOVEL OF LUKE AND LEIA AS SIBLINGS.
I APPRECIATE THAT THE MOVIES AND NOVELS GAVE US SOME INTERACTION
BUT LIKE I NEED AN ENTIRE NOVEL ABOUT LUKE AND LEIA INTERACTING ONCE THEY KNOW THEY’RE SIBLINGS.
It was obnoxious and completely unhelpful. So Leia reminded him, “You’re being obnoxious and completely unhelpful.”
“I also did it one-handed,” he added.
PEAK SIBLINGS WHILE ALSO DOING IT TO HELP TEACH ABOUT ANGER AND IMPATIENCE, I’M WEEPING AT HOW PERFECT THEY ARE.
“Then he had smiled, with that wide farm-boy grin that had stayed with him all the way up until the night of Ben’s betrayal.“
THANKS, I’M CRYING ABOUT LUKE SKYWALKER AND LEIA ORGANA AGAIN.
Things never happen the same way twice, dear one. – C.S. Lewis
Well, well, well. What exactly is going on here?