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Warning: major spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi! Read ahead at your own risk!
Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi has officially debuted in theaters, and the film has already made an enormous impression at the box office and with critics. Beyond that, it also raises quite a few questions about how J.J. Abrams will move the franchise forward in Episode IX and cap off Luke Skywalker's arc in an emotional way. However, the fact that Leia survives the film -- even after Carrie Fisher's death earlier this year -- creates a significant discussion of what Lucasfilm will do with her character. On that note, we think The Last Jedi missed a tremendous opportunity to send Leia off on a high-note by giving her Amilyn Holdo's heroic death.
Let's get ourselves up-to-speed. As those of you who have seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi already know, the third act break comes when Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo orders her remaining forces (including Poe Dameron and Leia Organa) to evacuate to Crait, and then turns the last Resistance cruiser towards the pursuing First Order ships. Going full kamikaze, she makes a jump to lightspeed and quite literally blows a hole right through the middle of the First Order fleet. Then move not only slows down General Hux's forces and allows our heroes to make it to Crait, but it also results in one of the most heroic and visually spectacular moments in the history of the entire Star Wars franchise.
That's why the moment was actually perfect for General Leia's last stand. In the same way that Han Solo's death at the hands of Kylo Ren as a private, intimate death that shows Han's willingness to give himself up for someone he loves in The Force Awakens, so too would Leia's decision to jump to lightspeed epitomize her status as the Star Wars franchise's beloved military leader and symbol of authority in the Rebellion/Resistance.
Couple that with the fact that Leia Organa's first appearance in the Star Wars universe was onboard a ship fleeing The Empire after coming out of lightspeed in A New Hope, and it could've provided a perfect bookend for her arc. We wouldn't even need to see Leia actually go into the bridge of the ship; just some reshoots to have Amilyn Holdo with Poe on the fleeing lifeboats, while the massive Resistance cruiser jumps to lightspeed and saves the day -- with Leia's absence implying her decision to slink away and make the ultimate sacrifice.
The moment would've also worked because it could've allowed the Star Wars franchise to retire Leia while also handing off her specific role to a fascinating new character. Amilyn Holdo's arc works in Star Wars: The Last Jedi because we slowly but surely learn how trustworthy and capable she is, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the character could've been given more to do in future Star Wars movies -- particularly considering her great chemistry with Poe Dameron. Now we will never know.
Of course, we naturally recognize the fact that nobody involved in Star Wars: The Last Jedi could've anticipated the passing of Carrie Fisher. Her death came out of nowhere for fans, and it's entirely possible that there was no way to give her a proper sendoff in The Last Jedi that would efficiently cap off her arc. Having said that, if Episode VIII had used this effective way to retire Leia, it could've gone down as the most iconic, epic, and all-around badass death in the history of the entire Star Wars universe.