/Answers: Our Favorite ‘Star Wars’ Moments

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Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. In this week’s edition, we’re celebrating the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by fondly recalling our favorite Star Wars movie moments, the individual beats or reveals or lines of dialogue that stand out above all else for us.

Lindsey Romain: Leia Senses Luke is in Danger

I can’t really put my finger on why this moment, of any Star Wars moment, comes to mind when I try to nail down a favorite. But when I close my eyes and think of a quintessential piece of the saga, this is always where I land. Perhaps because it’s heavy on the unknowable mysticism stuff that I love in Star Wars, and probably because it’s centered on Leia, my favorite character. Leia’s Force connection is something I’ve always wanted more of, and though this is arguably more a show of Luke’s powers than her own, their sibling revelation in Return of the Jedi means I can decontextualize this as hers too. There’s something so very Star Wars about Force mind-melds like this, something that makes me feel giddy and delighted the way I’m sure some people do when they see a lightsaber ignite. The music does a lot of the work as well, leaning heavy into the Force theme, pulling all the right strings. Chewbacca’s protective roar after Leia demands they turn around is another little thing I’ve always loved.

Chris Evangelista: Rey Reclaims the Lightsaber

The marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was so effectively deceptive that I’m almost certain everyone thought it would be John Boyega’s Finn who ended up being a lightsaber-swinging user of the Force. There was even a banner released featuring Boyega’s character posing with a lightsaber. And while Finn does get a brief moment to use the most famous Star Wars weapon in the final film, he’s quickly defeated by the far-more-skilled Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). During a big climactic battle in a snowy forest, Finn and new Star Wars heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) face-off against Kylo Ren as everything is literally falling apart. After Finn gets knocked out, the lightsaber flies from his hand and lands in the snow. And it’s not just any old lightsaber: it’s the lightsaber that used to belong to the missing Luke Skywalker.

Director J.J. Abrams cuts to a close-up of the saber, and then cuts to Kylo Ren stretching out his hand, attempting to use his Force-powers to make the laser sword fly to him. We see the lightsaber begin to shake; then it rises; then it flies – not into Ren’s hand, but past him. When I first saw the film, there was a split second where I assumed the saber would then land in the hands of Luke Skywalker. Remember, at this point, Mark Hamill’s master Jedi character had yet to appear in the film, so I figured that since the movie was close to ending, he would have to show up soon. “Ah, this must be Luke’s big arrival,” I thought. I was wrong: instead, the lightsaber flies into the hands of Rey, who promptly fires the weapon up, its eerie blue light reflecting off her determined face.

I practically leapt out of my seat. This moment is incredible. It’s incredible for many reasons, including editing, pacing and expectation. Also, because even though we know Rey can use the Force at this point, this still seems unexpected. On top of all that, here, at last, was a major female heroine in a Star Wars film finally having an iconic moment where she wields the most famous weapon in the entire Star Wars galaxy. Much has been written about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” which seems to be shorthand for people online complaining that a female character is strong and competent and can handle herself; I don’t want to go into that, because honestly it’s a really, really, really stupid opinion that just doesn’t hold water. Instead, I’ll say I bought Rey’s journey through The Force Awakens every step of the way, which made this big triumphant moment where she ignites that lightsaber all the more satisfying. And the battle that follows that moment isn’t too shabby, either.

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