Leia and the Force

What could have been…

One story Canon has taken a very different approach with from Legends is Leia’s Force sensitivity. In the Legends, she trained on and off for years, eventually becoming a full fledged Jedi Knight. In Canon, she seems to have avoided developing her potential entirely. The recent trailer may give some insight as to why.

The obvious question is, why didn’t she? She need not have become a full-fledged Jedi, but the Force is incredibly useful no matter what you do. Further, it would have been invaluable to provide guidance to her incredibly Force sensitive son, yet she didn’t. In fact, she’s point blank asked about it in Bloodline:  

“Did you never consider following in your brother’s path and becoming a Jedi?” Leia found herself caught short. “Why do you ask?” “They say on my world that the Force sometimes runs strong in certain families.”

Gray, Claudia. Bloodline (Star Wars) (pp. 128-129). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Leia’s reply is that she chose a different path:

Her safe, sensible, and, as far as it went, honest reply: “My duty has always been here, in the work of creating a new and better government.”

Gray, Claudia. Bloodline (Star Wars) (p. 129). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

However, the preceding paragraph suggests there is far more to it:

Leia inclined her head in gratitude for the compliment, but she could not answer right away, because she could not tell the full truth. The Force was too important a subject to be shared lightly, even with Tai-Lin, her ally and friend.

Gray, Claudia. Bloodline (Star Wars) (p. 129). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This paragraph strongly suggests it wasn’t simply a matter of duty that led her to ignore it, but something else dissuaded her altogether. Her hesitancy regarding the subject is in stark contrast to how her early exploration is depicted in Life Debt:

And then she tries to feel the tree.

She does this at least once a day.

Leia has never felt the tree.

Not for lack of trying! She sits here. She empties herself of breath, and then she tries to free herself of thought. Just like Luke taught her to. That part works fine most of the time. But he said it was possible to feel the lifeforce of things with the Force.

Wendig, Chuck. Life Debt: Aftermath (Star Wars) (Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy) (Kindle Locations 3173-3176). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In the above passage she is curious and actively trying to explore it (and she does connect Ben for the first time a few paragraphs later). What, then, caused this stark change in attitude? I’ve long suspected she was sabotaged and discouraged by Snoke in order isolate Ben, but the trailer provides additional inspiration:

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. Which didn’t scare me enough then. IT DOES NOW”

-TLJ Trailer

Word of god is Leia has the same potential as Luke who has the same potential as Anakin:

“And when he finds out Luke is his son, his first impulse is to figure out a way of getting him to join him to kill the Emperor. That’s what Siths do! He tries it with anybody he thinks might be more powerful, which is what the Emperor was looking for in the first place: somebody who would be more powerful than he was and could help him rule the universe. But Obi-Wan screwed that up by cutting off his arms and legs and burning him up. From then on, he wasn’t as strong as the Emperor — he was like Darth Maul or Count Dooku. He wasn’t what he was supposed to become. But the son could become that.”

–George Lucas, Rolling Stones Interview, 2005.

“At the center of the movie is a lot of exposition, it’s a lot of explaining what has happened, and why things are the way they are. In this particular case, there is a whole issue of Luke’s sister, and you know, the fact that they were twins. Which is an element that has to be revealed, which comes in later, in terms of who is the ‘other’ that was talked about in Empire Strikes Back. And how could that person become as powerful as Luke? Well obviously if they were twins, then if she were trained, then, she has the same abilities as Luke has. That becomes an important issue, especially in terms of resolving all the love triangles.”

–George Lucas, ROTJ DVD Commentary.

Extrapolating this out, let’s assume this extends to Rey and Kylo as well. The strength spoken of in the trailer, coupled with Leia’s distinct fear of becoming like her father suggests a way Leia could have been scared off from using the Force entirely. At some point, she may very well have had an emotional outburst and unleashed that strength (while Luke wasn’t around). Such a loss of control and display of raw power would have easily been enough to trigger Leia’s fears of following her father’s path.  From there, one can easily see how she would have abandoned consciously using the Force entirely.

Note: It’s further possible Snoke played up her fears and prodded her into the outburst over an extended period of time.

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