Newsflash: I love Star Wars. A lot.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that I listen to a Star Wars podcast. Rebel Force Radio is one of the most polished, most entertaining shows I’ve ever listened to, and the only one I stick with consistently. And since the awesome awesome awesome Force Awakens has blessed the big screen, co-hosts Jimmy Mac and Jason Swank have dissected the film. In fact, they were one of the first people discussing the now infamous “Chewie/Leia Snub” from the end of the film.
Oh by the way, SPOILERS AHEAD. Probably.
If you’re still reading this, you’ve probably seen Force Awakens at least once. And you should know how it ends. You should know who lives, who dies, and who killed them. You should also know that, in one of the last scenes, two very famous characters who should be very sad pass by each other without barely a glance. Leia and Chewie, the loves of Han Solo’s life, can’t even be bothered to make eye contact. Instead, Chewbacca carts away an injured Finn and Leia shares some warm Force-fuzzies with a girl she’s never met. Why?
Jason, Jimmy, and the rest of the fans have tried and tried again over the weeks and months to retcon this “snub.” Was it speaking to the potency of Finn’s wounds? The strength of Rey’s newfound Force abilities? Or was it just an old-fashioned gaffe?
If you’re JJ Abrams, you’ve chalked it up to the latter. This week, the Snub Heard ‘Round the Galaxy, got addressed by the man himself.
That was probably one of the mistakes I made in that. My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of. So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey of course would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss.
In the latest episode of RFR, Jimmy Mac notes that this admission of fault is more troubling than the snub itself. Whereas before we fans could postulate our own conclusions about why it went down the way it did, now we just have to deal with the creative force behind the future of our beloved franchise giving us the proverbial “oopsies.”
Well, not only am I going to retcon the scene, I’m going to retcon Abrams claim as well.
While I agree with Jimmy that TFA’s director and co-writer shouldn’t have admitted to a mistake, I also think he was forced into it. I believe what we’re witnessing is another classic JJ misdirection to preserve the plot (and the fun) of future Star Wars films. I think that gaze, that hug, between Leia and Rey is going to become one of the most important scenes in saga once we know the truth. We’re going to look back at that scene and say Holy Sh**! And JJ Abrams will just smirk and shrug because he’s too good for I-Told-You-So’s. But that’s just the way our society is now. You have to press and press and press for answers, to the point where a filmmaker has to admit that he’s human. In our world of instant gratification, cliffhangers have moved from thrilling to infuriating.
Even before all this snub business, I remember thinking at that moment This is big. I don’t know why, but this is the key to everything. In fact, Chewie walking past Leia instead of sweeping her up into a big, wet Wookie hug didn’t even blip on my radar. Maybe that’s what really bothers me about all this. We’re criticizing how someone mourns.
A few weeks ago, my uncle passed away. The funeral was truly a ‘celebration of life.’ My uncle, a very jovial man, brought together a group of people that would rather tell stories filled more with laughter than with loss. But for my father, the last family member to see him alive, that solace was lost. Having been through a similar circumstance with my mother’s battle with cancer, he’d had his share of funerals. As we told our stories, my father retreated to the parking lot for a smoke. At first I was angry at him. This was classic Dad. Here we all are, doing our part, and you can’t even get through the service without dipping out for a spell? But then I became mad at myself. Who am I to tell a man who’s devoted the better part of a decade to caring for ailing family members how to deal with their passing? I wasn’t there for all the rides to the hospital, all the medication refills, the paperwork. I was hiding at college, or up north, wrapped up in work. I shied away for years from family matters, preemptively. Certainly my dad can have 2o minutes and a cigarette to grieve in his own way.
Before this gets too deep, let’s bring it back to Star Wars. We don’t know what Chewie was feeling at the loss of his best friend. Maybe his “ancient wookie mourning ritual” (as Jimmy Mac puts it) is to be cold. To pull away from others. Maybe he was mad at Leia. After all, it was her that pushed Han to pursue his fate, sending him on the errand of retrieving their son. Maybe he felt betrayed. Numb. Or maybe he just needed a smoke break.