We’ll have to wait until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits Disney+ to verify this (or we could buy another ticket, but look, it’s the holidays), but Reddit thinks someone pulled a Holdo maneuver near Endor at the end of Episode IX. Despite the move being “one in a million,” it might be more common in the universe of Star Wars than it seems.
Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ahead.
On Reddit, in the subreddit r/StarWarsLeaks, user u/BFSmileGun posted a screenshot from the climactic battle in The Rise of Skywalker. When the Final Order is defeated, a quick montage of the victory is played out across the different planets, including Endor, Cloud City, and Jakku. It’s reminiscent of the edits George Lucas made to Return of the Jedi, where the defeat of the Empire is celebrated on the planets visited in both the original trilogy and the prequels.
But on Endor, the planet of the Ewoks, the lil’ guys see a very familiar scene: A Star Destroyer torn clean in half by a zooming object.
Now, where have we seen that before? Oh right. In 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where Vice Admiral Holdo (played by Laura Dern) sacrificed herself tearing through the First Order at lightspeed, allowing the Resistance time to escape to Crait. The move was coined by fans as “The Holdo Maneuver,” and was made canon through some expository lines in The Rise of Skywalker.
Dominic Monaghan’s character, a resistance fighter, explains why the Resistance can’t just do the Holdo Maneuver over and over again to destroy the First/Final Order. In short, it’s a “one in a million” thing. Holdo was able to pull it off under tight conditions, conditions that no one could replicate easily.
In other words: Admiral Holdo got lucky.
So that’s why there are no other Holdo Maneuvers in The Rise of Skywalker. But then, there’s this moment on Endor. We don’t know the pilots of the ship performing the maneuver over Endor. We don’t even know if it actually is a Holdo Maneuver or something else. All we do know is that it’s a very familiar image in a major moment of a highly-anticipated finale. It isn’t a Holdo Maneuver, but a J.J. Abrams Maneuver, in which a fun reference to something in the canon is made at the expense of internal logic.
This is as good a moment as any to say: Two years after The Last Jedi, the Holdo Maneuver still totally owns. Fans like to argue that, well, wouldn’t Holdo Maneuvers render all warfare useless?, meaning that Holdo Maneuvers could mean the end of warfare.
Um, are y’all okay? Are fans forgetting Holdo Maneuvers means pilots literally have to die in order to make it happen? It’s made abundantly clear that the Resistance are dwindling in numbers, while the First Order has to personally train every one of its troopers from birth instead of breeding them in bulk like the Clone Troopers. Holdo Maneuvers means expending time, money, and resources when there aren’t that many!
Still, I will give it to fans: If it’s established that Holdo Maneuvers are super rare, then it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to see it on Endor, when the battle is clearly in the Resistance’s favor. What’s the point of such a drastic move?
In a couple months I’m sure someone will corner J.J. Abrams and ask about this scene, and when that happens we’ll share here on Inverse what he says and what it means. But for now, just revel in the sights. It’s a beautiful thing.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.