Teen Princess

“Hey Alderaan, I got your secret plans right here.”

In re Princess Leia’s character arc in The Empire Strikes Back (see yesterday’s entry), [info]dougo  writes:

“It seems wrong to say Leia’s motivations are all about Han. She wants revenge against Vader for blowing up Alderaan (and, in general, freedom from the empire), and Han is just a distraction.”

Leia never mentions Alderaan during Empire, and while she clearly feels a duty toward the rebellion, she seems to serve only a figurehead function. That Mon Mothma woman is in charge of the rebel forces (her Grand Moff Tarkin being old lobster-face Admiral Ackbar) and Leia seems to be in it for the adventure and intrigue. She’s around to hand out medals and look great in a slave outfit.

I was so sure that Leia doesn’t feel any particular sense of vengeance against Vader that I went back and watched Act II of Star Wars tonight. Sure enough, hours after her home planet is destroyed, Leia is cracking wise, kicking ass and swinging from chandeliers, when most other people would have been, I don’t know, all mopey and stuff.

Part of this, I think, is that Vader, rather pointedly, doesn’t blow up Alderaan. Rather, he seems reluctant to do something so rash. He didn’t seem to feel any pangs about torturing his daughter a scene earlier, but he draws the line at blowing up her home planet. It’s Tarkin who blows it up and he gets paid back in full by the end of the movie. Oh, you Grand Moff Tarkin! Did no one ever love you?

That explains the lack of Leia’s feelings of revenge, but why is she so unaffected? There is only one explanation — she hated that place. Just like her twin brother Luke couldn’t wait to get the hell off of Tatooine, Leia probably blasted off from Alderaan in a huff, tired of her blowhard ex-Jedi uncle Bail and all her tiresome senatorial duties.  I mean, she didn’t undertake her secret “deliver the secret plans” mission because she’s a bureaucrat.  She went off looking for adventure and she found it.  Maybe that’s the reason she affects that weird English accent when she’s brought before Tarkin; she’s trying to get his dander up so maybe he’ll blow up Alderaan faster.  Giventhe fact that Peter Cushing is English, maybe Leia is actually making fun of his accent, playing the Ugly Alderaanian, just to piss him off.  Just like with Han in Empire, she protests too much — “Oh noes!  Not Alderaan!  Anyplace but Alderaan!”  This is exactly the reason why people in the US have to be 35 before they can be elected president.

(One of the most egregious gaffes [not to be confused with gaffe sticks] in the Star Wars universe is the placement of Luke on Tatooine.  Padme Amidala has twins and they are entrusted to the care of somebody or other; one is taken to Alderaan to be with Bail Organa, the other is taken where?  Why Darth Vader’s home town, of course!  He’ll never think to look for him there!  Hey!  And let’s send Vader’s mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi there too!  That will double our chances of the kid never being found!  And let’s not even change the kid’s name!  With minds like this making decisions, perhaps it was best that the Old Republic fell apart after all.)
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25 Responses to “Teen Princess”
  1. greyaenigma says:

    I think the “torture” droid stuck her full of happy juice.

    Wait, Bail is an ex-Jedi?

    And let’s not even change the kid’s name!

    Not only that, let’s stick him with his actual aunt and uncle, who Vader has met in person!

    • Todd says:

      Wait, Bail is an ex-Jedi?

      Apparently not. I apologize to Senator Organa and his adopted daughter for the error.

      • greyaenigma says:

        Also, found this:

        The novel ends with Obi-Wan Kenobi watching the infant Luke Skywalker as Qui-Gon Jinn’s spirit tells Kenobi why Darth Vader will never return to Tatooine; because it is the whole of everything that was Anakin Skywalker, someone Vader wants to forget forever.

        Granted, that’s just a book. And it doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t send troopers to check it out.

        • Todd says:

          Vader wouldn’t have to visit Tatooine, he’d just have to run a check on everyone named “Skywalker” through directory services. Or hell, you can’t tell me that in 20 years not a single dead-end night went by without Darth Vader Googling himself.

  2. dougo says:

    He didn’t seem to feel any pangs about torturing his daughter

    I’m pretty sure he didn’t know she was his daughter at the time (I kind of doubt even Lucas knew it at the time). Not sure if you were implying that. I still think it’s significant that his last words were about her, though.

  3. adam_0oo says:

    Or she could be suffering from a case of post traumatic stress disorder the likes of which really nobody else in the universe had felt (what with her planet blowing up in front of her, and to a large degree BECAUSE of her).

  4. I see Leia as the Young Single Mother of the Rebel Alliance when Star Wars finds her. She’s got to do it all–be a princess, a tactician, a spy–with never a moment’s peace or time for herself. Sure, she leaves the Rebellion in the care of a Mon Mothma (grandma) or Admiral Ackbar (wacky grandpa) from time to time. But they’re her kids, dammit, and it’s hard to be a working, single mother. Hence the tough love. And the “diplomatic missions” (stripping for extra cash). The faux-English accent is what I like to call her “PTA voice.” But I’m getting away from my point…

    So then this Han guy enters the picture. He’s exciting, he’s brash, and though she claims to have dated “nice men” in the past, she’s undoubtedly been hurt before. He doesn’t seem like a suitable candidate for a father figure at first, but the kids love him and he eventually proves his resourcefulness and reliability and maybe it’s time he settled down. You can see where this is going.

    Anyway, I see Leia as closer to Sarah Conner from The Terminator series, or perhaps Cher’s character from Mask (Han being, of course, Sam Elliot’s “Gar”), and I suggest you give her a second viewing in this light.

    • Todd says:

      I do agree that Leia carries a heavy burden, needing to be a diplomat, spy and warrior all-in-one. So it makes sense that she would end up spending a whole movie finding time to fall in love.

      One could chart Leia’s progress thus:

      1. Shit, I have to deliver secret plans, get captured, get tortured, watch my planet get blown up, get rescued by a couple of morons with no plan of escape, and I have to dangle my sexuality in front of every man who comes my way just to get them motivated! But that’s okay because those are the burdens of a great Princess.

      2. I’ve fallen tragically in love with a man I can’t stand. I’m going to devote an entire movie to thinking about that.

      3. You know? Someone else can lead the rebel army. I can help blow up the Death Star and spend quality time with my boyfriend and (it turns out) family! I can do everything, and still have time to discover some new hairstyles! Do I get to keep the metal bikini? Because, you know, it’s a good reminder of how I never want to be enslaved by a giant slug again. I’m just going to put it in the bottom drawer of my nightstand, is that okay?

  5. mr_noy says:

    Of course, all of the character inconsistencies and inexplicable behavior could simply be due to bad writing.

    Looks about nervously to see if any hardcore fanboys might have overheard.

    • Ha!

      *looks around for the lynch mob*

      I have long wondered what the point was to putting Luke on Tattooine.

      It also would have made more sense for Yoda, Kenobi and the twins to be on Dagobah training hard…

      • Todd says:

        Or who knows? Maybe it was just a mixup. Obi-Wan made a wrong left somewhere and ended up on Tatooine. And, being not nearly as clever as he pretends to be, had no way to get off.

  6. medox says:

    All I know is that the prequels have made me feel infinitely bummed out for Obi-Wan: Stuck in the ass end of the universe for 20 years , wearing thick robes in the desert heat, living in a cave listening to the babblings of his dead mentor(the one that got him involved with this damn kid to begin with), and to top it off — when he dies and returns in ghostly form, he doesn’t even get to be all young, handsome, and Ewan-McGregor-y.*

    *Many sincere and true apologies to Alec Guinness. I do particularly love his Ealing Studios films. But I don’t think he can be described as “scruffy” in any of them.

    • Todd says:

      Watching it again last night, I suddenly was struck all over again by Guiness’s presence. Here he is, one of the greatest actors of his generation, talking to a beeping garbage can, sword-fighting with a glowstick and helping a robot out of the sand. He must have thought this was the biggest waste of his time ever — and now it’s the role he’s most remembered for.

      • urbaniak says:

        To say nothing of playing a scene with Mark Hamill.

        • Todd says:

          Now, now — watch one of the Joker episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and your opinion of Hamill will change forever.

          • laminator_x says:


            (Even if Mark was in large part channeling the Big Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine. Great artists steal.)

          • medox says:

            Oh yes, I have to agree with this as well. Hamill’s portrayal has a great combo of giggling insanity with a thin ribbon of menace laced throughout.

          • urbaniak says:

            Don’t get me wrong. The most starstruck I have ever been was once seeing Mark Hamill at a voiceover audition.

      • popebuck1 says:

        My favorite Obi-Wan line in the first movie is that the laser shots must have come from Imperial stormtroopers, because “only stormtroopers are so precise.” This, when the stormtroopers don’t make a single successful hit with their laser guns in the entire six-film series.

        • Todd says:

          Apparently sand people couldn’t hit the broad side of a Bantha. Hell, they can’t hit Luke with a gaffe stick when they’re a foot away and have got the drop on them.

  7. mikeyed says:

    Between Mos Esiley and the Dune Sea people get lost easily; and maybe the last name of Skywalker’s a common one? Urgh… I hate when rediculous prequels are written.

  8. mikeyed says:

    So I was watching Empire Strikes Back today and realized something…

    why are the projectiles shot at the speeders exploding like flak ammunition? Well, it is advantageous that they do this, but how does one accomplish this? How do you program pure light and energy to explode when in proximity to your target? I was very perplexed by this and had to bring it to your attention, as I thought this might be an interesting point of interest.