Kylo Ren’s journey in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker takes him to some far-off places and brings about some pretty big shifts for his character. At one point, Leia reaches out to her son using the Force, in order to communicate a critical message. Sounds cut and dry, but an intriguing new theory offers a very different take on the scene that may reveal that Leia influenced Kylo much more than we previously thought.
Warning! Major spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Though the late Carrie Fisher’s death in 2016 prevented Leia from having a larger role in The Rise of Skywalker, the general sends Kylo Ren one final message before she dies. Following Kylo’s fight with Rey, Leia uses the Force to communicate with him. Already on her deathbed, Leia whispers “Ben.” Kylo is clearly anguished and strongly feels her presence before it’s gone for good. Leia dies not long afterward, having used the last of her dwindling energy to bring her son back toward the Light side of the Force. Or so we thought.
Han Solo appears to Kylo not long after Leia dies implying a possible connection between the two events. Though Han wasn’t a Force ghost, he still managed to appear to his wayward son as the final step toward Kylo’s redemption (or “Bendemption” as many fans have taken to calling it). Reddit user Golbolco argues that Leia’s final act wasn’t reaching out to Kylo, but conjuring Han Solo.
While Kylo believes he was seeing Han in his head, the theorist suggests Leia used a form of benevolent necromancy and “channeled the spirit of Han” to speak to Ben. That’s what depleted the last of her strength.
The theory also explains that Han’s reappearance is the reason why Leia’s body didn’t immediately disappear after she died, like Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Luke. Perhaps she was waiting around to confirm Kylo’s turn toward the light was secured.
Though it’s an intriguing interpretation of the scene, it’s likely Han wasn’t actually a ghost at all, but a memory. A commenter by the name of She-Dragon takes the theory a step further, suggesting that Leia projected the image of Han Solo as a memory. This sounds far more plausible given what we know from previous Star Wars canon.
In the Episode IX prequel book Rebellion Reborn, Leia asks Rey to tell her the details surrounding Han’s death. In short, how did Ben kill his father? With that in mind, Leia likely conjured an image of Han to mirror the scene of his death in The Force Awakens and it’s the “strain to project his memory is what cost her her life.”
The biggest indicator that Leia projected the memory of Han as she last remembered him is in the way he stands facing Kylo. After all, the final conversation and stance between father and son parallels their final confrontation in Episode VII. It’s possible Leia knew that seeing Han this way again would be enough to sway his convictions. Taking one final chance on her son in the hope that he would change may have been the only way for Leia to truly rest in peace.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently playing in theaters.