Amilyn Holdo and Leia Organa Were Dating in “The Last Jedi” and You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise

Warning: This post includes some spoilers for the film The Last Jedi and the book Leia, Princess Of Alderaan

Let’s get one thing straight (ha): Everyone in space is queer. I know it, and you probably know it, too, dear reader. Unfortunately, the heteronormative bozos that control the Star Wars movies apparently have not been let in on this not-so-secret, universal truth. Little do they know that they’ve created a universe of space queers. R2-D2 and C-3PO? Nonbinary droids that have been in a poly relationship for decades—if not centuries. BB-8? More like BB-GAY! Finn and Poe? Boyfriends. Phasma? Lesbian icon. Rey rhymes with gay, which is all the evidence I need. Han Solo? More like Han so bisexual! (He definitely dated Lando Calrissian, and if you don’t believe me, go rewatch Empire Strikes Back.) General Leia Organa and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo? 100% dating in The Last Jedi.

And that brings me to the real reason I have gathered you all here today: We need to talk about Leia and Holdo.

Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is introduced in The Last Jedi after Leia is incapacitated by her near-death in the aftermath of the First Order’s attack on the Resistance’s main ship. In Leia’s temporary absence, Holdo (played by Laura Dern) takes command, making quite the entrance with her bright purple hair, matching gown, piercing blue eyes, and lanky stature. Trigger-happy flyboy Poe Dameron, who is lovable but often a dumdum, doesn’t take her seriously at first, undermining her leadership and refusing to believe that she has a plan. She quite literally looks down on him (Dern is taller than Oscar Isaac) as she puts him in his place. Occasionally flirty and always to-the-point, Holdo is an instantly magnetic but mysterious character.

Later in the movie, she and Leia share a wrenching goodbye that is, in technical terms, EXTREMELY GAY. You see, Holdo did have a plan all along—and a good one at that. And part of her plan was to stay behind on the main vessel while the rest of the Resistance flies to safety on Crait (her plan then takes another twist that results in one of the most intense and visually stunning sequences in all of Star Wars history that is strikingly silent). So she and Leia say a final farewell, which Leia is reluctant to do at first because she has already lost so many people and can’t bear to lose another. Then, they trip over their words as they try to say “may the Force be with you” at the same time, a moment that Carrie Fisher apparently scripted herself. Leia tells Holdo to go ahead since she has said it enough, and Holdo adds in an “always” at the end, which makes the powerful statement all the more touching. Then they hold hands! More specifically, Holdo clasps one of Leia’s hands in both of hers, as if she’s hanging on, as if she doesn’t quite want to let go! Then they make deliberate, unwavering eye contact as they part ways, and we all know deliberate, unwavering eye contact is one of the gal pal love languages. You could argue that their goodbye is a parting of ways for two long-time friends, but I see something much more in their body language, in the sadness that passes through Leia’s eyes, in the urgency of that hand-holding.

http://dontbesodroopy.tumblr.com/post/169192792116/you-go-ive-said-it-enough

Oh and by the way, I should probably mention that Holdo is canonically pansexual. That’s not quite the word used, but in Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess Of Alderaan, one of the official books released by Disney-Lucasfilm Press tied to The Last Jedi, Holdo’s queerness is pretty clearly alluded to.

Leia, Princess Of Alderaan is a young adult novel about Leia when she was 16-years-old, three years prior to the events of A New Hope. It’s a great read for a lot of reasons, so I recommend it to any and all Star Wars fans, especially if you, like me, enjoyed The Last Jedi or are just a general fan of General Leia Organa. It delves into the moral complexities of war and uprising, filtered specifically through young Leia’s perspective. It’s smart and thrilling and adds new meaning and context to a lot of aspects of the series—not just the events of The Last Jedi even though it’s intended to be a companion to the latest movie. I even felt like the book helped me better understand why Leia falls so fast and hard for Han? And the book is strikingly real when it comes to the horrors of tyranny and also about what it’s like for a young person like Leia to essentially inherit a decades-spanning war.

Leia, Princess Of Alderaan also introduces us to young Amilyn Holdo, a girl who everyone thinks is weird and who wears rainbow-colored clothes and who is obsessed with astrology?!?!? Um, all three of those traits are Queer Culture. When Leia first meets Holdo, she’s stopped cold. I’m not just saying that. Those are the exact words used in the book. They meet during a “pathfinding class,” which is essentially a high-stakes survival skills and rock-climbing class in space, and Holdo is straight-up wearing rainbow gear instead of the standard white like everyone else. Throughout the book, every time Holdo appears, she has dramatically changed her hair color, and dramatically changing your hairstyle is, yup, A QUEER MOVE. And as I’ve already said, young Holdo likes to ramble about astrology, something that eventually ends up saving her and Leia’s lives.

But the most convincing part comes when Leia and Holdo are discussing desire and attraction, and Holdo makes a comment speculating what species Leia might be into, listing a few. Leia interjects and said “it’s just humanoid males for me,” to which Holdo replies: “Really? That feels so limiting.” Holdo suggests she’s attracted to much more than humanoid males. If only the movies could textually acknowledge sexualities beyond the scope of straightness in the same way this book does.

The book also introduces the Chalhuddans, a species that have five different genders that they move between throughout their lives. The language that they use for gender in their native tongue has no English equivalent, as their pronoun cases indicate not only their current gender but also some of their previous genders and sometimes even the gender they anticipate shifting to next, so C-3PO advises Leia to use “they” when addressing the Chalhuddans, which is their preferred English pronoun. This Star Wars YA book is out here talking about fluid sexuality and fluid gender identity?! FINALLY SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS THAT SPACE IS QUEER.

Okay, so you might be thinking that Leia asserting that she’s only into humanoid males throws a wrench in my whole “Leia and Holdo were dating in The Last Jedi” thesis, but hello, I too thought I was only into humanoid males when I was 16-years-old, and oh how I was wrong on so many levels! Honestly, there’s a bit of a subtextual love triangle going on between Leia, Holdo, and Kier, the boy in the pathfinding class that Leia ends up dating, throughout the book. Leia is fascinated by Holdo in a very Young Queer Crush way. She goes around saying things along the lines of “that’s so Amilyn” and “I think I’m becoming fluent in Amilyn.” And so much of the book is about Leia trying to figure out who she is and realizing that so much of her life has been laid out for her by outside forces. There’s also something tingly between her and Dalné, the young Queen of Naboo…they hold hands not once, not twice, but three times over the course of their brief but powerful “friendship.”

In what feels like a strong foreshadowing of their eventual farewell scene in The Last Jedi, young Holdo says “Everything is written in the stars” and then takes Leia’s hand, described in the book as a gesture that seals them together as “friends for a lifetime.”

For more specifics about the Leia/Holdo interactions in the book, you’ll just have to read and see for yourself! I don’t want to give it all away! But I will say that I highlighted every passage that pinged as gay to me and…ended up with a whole lot of highlighted passages.

http://rachaelstott.tumblr.com/post/168867592778

Flash-forward many years to The Last Jedi. Han is dead. Leia is lonely and still fighting the war she once hoped would never come. Amilyn Holdo walks right back into her life, ready to fight by her side. YOU’RE TELLING ME THEY WEREN’T SNEAKING AROUND THE SHIP KISSING ON THE REG? Leia chose Kier all those years ago, and this is her chance to choose Amilyn, the gangly girl who everyone else thought was weird and Leia eventually realized was just different.

Can I also just take a moment to reiterate how great The Last Jedi is? There are…so many women?! And it feels dumb to hand out cookies to movies for just including women, and yet I grew up watching and loving the original trilogy in which Leia is pretty much the only woman (Carrie Fisher has written about how she was essentially the only woman on set during the making of the first film), and seeing all these women piloting ships and blowing up evil empires and forcing men to confront their failures just makes me feel so seen.

If, like me, you saw the movie and then immediately wanted more Leia/Holdo, in addition to reading the book, there’s also, of course, fanfiction. Here are the ones I’ve read and liked: a high school AU where a nervous and bisexual Leia works up the courage to talk to the odd, alluring girl in her physics class; a short and sweet one that gives Holdo a happier ending than her Last Jedi fate (written by a YA librarian who is now my hero); this super tender one; this one about an unrequited crush that RUINED ME; and last but certainly not least, a modern AU that literally rewrites the plot of Grace And Frankie to be about Holdo and Leia, and Finn and Poe are Coyote and Bud, and it’s as wonderful as it sounds! If you find others, please let me know, because Holdo and Leia are all I can think about for the foreseeable future.


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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

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72 Comments

  1. Leia did protest her heterosexuality just a little too much in that novel I think. The novels/comics have a lot of queer rep if you go looking, including a potentially bi Ahsoka Tano. I highly recommend the current Doctor Aphra comic which has a sort-of-evil Asian lesbian trying to make her fortune through other people’s hard work. She has a potential Imperial girlfriend who who keeps getting demoted every time she runs into Aphra and there are evil murder droids and a Wookie bounty hunter.

  2. Yes, yes, yes. I’ve been waiting for Autostraddle to address this, and this was soooo perfect. They are in looooove and the film is wonderful. I mean what is everyone else in the internet even talking about??

  3. This is really well written and I love that you brought in Leia, Princess of Alderaan but… am I the only one who couldn’t get behind Holdo in the film? (And I love Laura Dern.) Movie Holdo refuses to share her plan with the people who could help her enact it, risking their lives all for what? Securing her place in the hierarchy and creating an opportunity to completely change Poe’s characterization from The Force Awakens and the Poe Dameron comics into a Latino stereotype? It just doesn’t feel like feminism to me. It feels like white feminism.

    But I agree that space! is! queer! and I’d be all for Leia/Holdo outside of The Last Jedi canon.

    • Not just you, I came here to say the exact same thing. There were aspects of Last Jedi I really liked, but both Rose and Holdo’s characters reeked of white feminism/easily-marketable faux feminism, and I wasn’t here at all for the complete 180 on Poe and Finn’s characterizations from all other canon development for the sake of what felt like moralizing to men of color for not subordinating to heavy-handed lessons they never showed indication prior to this they needed to learn. This article does a great job of explaining why the Poe-Holdo and Rose-Finn plots are equally as sh*tty to Holdo and Rose as they are to Poe and Finn: http://scavengersholocron.com/category/home/why-the-last-jedi-isnt-just-bad-its-toxic/ Having a woman exist as a supporting character in a man’s plot to serve as a foil/conflict agent to Teach Him A Lesson isn’t feminism – it’s still making that woman exist solely as a plot service to that man, and in both instances in this movie, it’s taking a woman of a higher minority/class status and having her exist to “fix” a man of color.

      Also, am I the only person who finds it in really poor taste to talk about Leia and shipping in a Last-Jedi-centric context in this way when within the past week of the story, Leia’s husband and brother were murdered at the hands of her son, and between the destruction of the New Republic planets and the losses the Resistance has suffered, basically every other person Leia’s ever cared about in the galaxy has become a war casualty? Aside from the connotation that maybe Leia should get over Han’s murder and Ben’s awful life choices and all by jumping on the nearest warm body, it also just strikes me as excessively sad to think of Leia senselessly losing yet another person she loved that much in reading her relationship with Holdo with romantic overtones.

      • The article articulates SO many of my thoughts and feelings about the film perfectly. Thank you for sharing. I think it should be required Post-Last-Jedi reading.

        Also, I hadn’t thought about shipping and Leia in that light before. That’s a really good point.

        • Yeah, it really articulates well a lot of the concerns I had with the film, especially the Finn and Poe plots. The Poe plot is also just… weird… to me given that he has a very similar plot in the Before the Awakening novel with his superior in the New Republic military, which is not only presented as heroically anti-bureaucratic but as the very reason he gets on Leia’s radar and she invites him to join the Resistance. It feels like they wanted to translate that novel plot onto the screen for viewers who don’t read the supplemental material, but either just completely missed the point of it (portraying the NR as overly bureaucratic and bogged down in chain-of-command to the point of failing the galaxy at times and portraying Poe as someone with trusted leadership capabilities among his peers who was willing to go for a risky move if it meant greater gain and more lives saved in the end) or deliberately wanted to rehash it to combine it with feminist overtones. And in doing so, it arrived at white feminism on two counts: Holdo’s behavior toward Poe (no matter where you come down on her strategy versus his and what information anyone in the chain of command was owed, she went out of her way to talk down to him throughout the plot, often in sexualized ways, because of stereotypical preconceived notions of him) and what becomes deeply hypocritical behavior by Leia (even if you think his Before the Awakening plot is just glorifying more trigger-happy flyboy behavior, apparently Leia approves of it and rewards it when it’s used against other forces and only disapproves when she can’t control it).

          I’m all here for reading Leia or any other Star Wars character as queer and personally read most of them as somewhere along the bi/pan spectrum myself, but yeah, I just have hesitation with reading Holdo and Leia as (actively, desiring or hinting at romantic feelings between them during film time) queer within the context of Last Jedi given the events of these past two films. Reading R2 and 3PO as probably-droid-married or Han and Lando as blatantly bisexual is one thing, and reading teenage Leia and Holdo as eyebrow-raising in the novelization is another, and those are all cool, but for me, in this movie, Leia’s just lost everyone and everything she cares about in the galaxy at the hands of her son and that kinda trumps everything. Not only do I have a hard time thinking she’d be out of trauma enough to be much thinking about if she found Holdo hot or not, even if I liked Holdo a lot better as a character, I’d kind of hope for Leia’s own sake she DIDN’T have feelings for her beyond longtime trusted casual colleague, all things copious tragic death considered.

          (Which, on that note… why is no one talking about the fact that killing Holdo is a Bury Your Gays move? The first queer character in the modern Star Wars universe… was introduced as a character to die for a plot point, basically. :/ )

      • i’m interested in reading criticisms of this movie, but that linked article was kind of terrible. it seemed like everything they criticised the movie about was something where they missed the point (like how this movie actually killed the reylo pairing, like how audiences were meant to believe rey would redeem ben but he was just a whiny privileged pissbaby). the author of this is the one who comes across as misogynist. they actually conclude that rey is not important to the film or the resistance because kylo ren says she isn’t, undermining rey’s significance to the whole franchise because a man pronounced her powerless. and they argue that finn is relatable because he was enslaved by nazis?? if you think you relate to someone who was enslaved as a child by nazis, you might have an inflated sense of your own imagination (and no damn respect for someone who might take some time to come into his own). i personally enjoyed the ongoing characterisation of finn, where in the first movie he became a hero for rey and in this movie he actually bought in to the cause. and yes i will be annoyed if the rose/finn/rey thing becomes a triangle, but that hasn’t actually happened yet. so much of the criticism here is for stuff that did not happen. i get not trusting abrams to make good on anything, but their criticism for this film didn’t land.

        as for the poe stuff, the article (or anyone here) has not said what the “stereotypical latin man” behaviour is. the author just kept saying over and over again that he was fulfilling “the stereotype” but what is the stereotype? it’s important to be vigilant against accepting stereotypical depictions, but the only thing i could level any criticism at re: poe is that an individual white lady knows better than an individual latino guy–and yeah, we should be side-eyeing that to make sure they don’t make that a pattern. but as for his behaviour, i thought he was a stereotypical white dude mansplainer who was learning the hard way that this did not automatically qualify him to be the leader when leia was out. he could have been played by a non-latino white dude and nothing would be different. i do think it’s interesting what was said in the comments in this thread about how it doesn’t matter what they intended in terms of poe’s ethnicity–he can still be read as latino because the actor is–but i can’t locate in my mind a stand-out latino character in a similar position acting the same way as poe. i really don’t see the stereotype.

        because there are so many minorities in this movie, we can read a lot of damaging tropes into basically anything that happens between them (the white lady knows better than the man of colour, the lady dies to further the man’s story) so unless they cast every character with a white dude we are going to have these dynamics. it’s good to be critical of what they’ve done, but it’s also good to check ourselves and make sure we’re not just trying to make a case against something we don’t like by assigning it as racist/misogynist/etc. as that waters down actually valid discourse about these very prevalent things in pop culture. the critiques in the article came across like the author couldn’t help but pidgeonhole everyone into a damaging stereotype that wasn’t actually there in the source material. like they were looking at all of poe’s bad traits and saying “it’s because he’s latino.” that’s my hot take. i’d be interested in reading other criticisms of this movie because it wasn’t perfect, but this article annoyed me many paragraphs’ worth of ranting!

        linked article aside, leia and han were separated for a very long time prior to his death, and luke didn’t die until after holdo, long after leia may have reunited with her for some gal pal times. they may have at some point been together for years for all we know 😉

        • Don’t want to keep derailing this thread too much further from the original article topic, but I do think some of the discrepancy here is a lost-in-translation kind of deal – the linked article is definitely addressing/is sort of a giant conglomeration of a lot of individual points that are being heavily discussed in fan responses to Last Jedi. I brought it up in responding to Hannah, who had mentioned being unhappy with Poe’s plot because of how it went against his comics characterization – I assumed she was familiar with larger discussions and larger storyline contexts than the two and a half hours of this film. For someone who saw the movie once or twice as a casual fan, there’s probably a ton of context being missed, including how the supplemental material is influencing all of this. Which is a large reason why a lot of people are upset about aspects of Last Jedi, especially the Poe and Finn plots – their plots in Last Jedi go directly counter to characterization and plot points that have been established in supplemental novels and comics. Poe has A LOT of characterization in novels and comics released between Force Awakens and Last Jedi that… this film completely ignores and goes against for no reason, seemingly. And so a lot of casual viewers are walking away from Last Jedi going, “ugh, that Poe guy’s a stereotypical white/-passing toxic masculinity mansplaining misogynist dude,” and a lot of the people defending Poe are going back to that, “1) he’s not white/-passing, Oscar Isaac is Latino, and that does actually affect a lot of things, and 2) RIGHT, FRIEND, WE’RE WITH YOU, we also have NO IDEA why Poe was given a plot in this film that went against his already-established characterization and opened up a million doors for casual viewers to dismiss him as a stereotypical white/-passing toxic masculinity dude.” And when coupled with a lot of things Rian Johnson and Claudia Gray have said and done that highly and uncritically praise characters like Kylo Ren and Holdo while significantly flattening the characterization of in a racially-stereotypical way/sidelining/being borderline derogatory in discussing Finn, Poe, and to a lesser extent other characters of color and Rey, that’s why people are bringing up issues of white supremacy and white feminism.

          As to the Latino male stereotype stuff, here’s an article directly from the voices of Latino men: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stereotypes-about-latino-men-dispelled_us_56003629e4b00310edf7db88 About half of those points bring up something to do with machismo, hotheadedness, toxic masculinity, etc. From Wikipedia: “Machismo is depicted as the cult of male strength, which implies being fearless, self-confident, capable of making decisions … In the United States, Hollywood movies, along with some scholars and others in general, tend to regard machismo as unique to Latin America.”

          Again, a huge point in this discussion is that, in addition to his screentime in Force Awakens, there are several novels and an entire comic series where Poe displays none of that characterization and often displays the exact opposite of it or dislikes it when displayed by other characters. That, imo, is why most people are upset. People either had no preconceived character expectations related to Poe going into this movie because they only saw Force Awakens and he had 20 pretty generic lines in two scenes, so Last Jedi entirely shapes Poe as a character for them – or they had a strong sense of preconceived character expectation based on the other supplemental material he features heavily in, and all of that being thrown out in order to center a plot around him being a hotheaded disrespectful trigger-happy flyboy does, when combined with everything else in Last Jedi that backtracks on characterization toward racial/gender stereotypes, feel like pandering to those Latino male stereotypes.

          I’m with you on not being nearly as keen on the author’s points about Rey and Kylo Ren, but “this movie actually killed the Reylo pairing” would require that much of the press response to the film wasn’t praising and emphasizing the supposed “sizzling chemistry” of Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, that Johnson and Gray hadn’t made a lot of pro-Reylo and pro-Kylo Ren comments in the past, that basically everything Johnson had said about Kylo Ren in this film wasn’t some variant of “I wrote a sensitive coming-of-age narrative for this poor (cough32yearoldcough) confused boy,” and that vocal pro-Reylo fans (who are by far and away the dominant group of shipping fans) weren’t louder and more emboldened than ever after the film. Personally, my concern with the Rey-Kylo storyline is that I loved it and thought it made a lot of great subtle and complex points about whiny privileged pissbaby Reddit dudebro/alt-right types and women and others rejecting their ideology… and I’m afraid, looking at the broader response, that my reading it as such is showing how much I live in a thinktank bubble of hivemind ideology and commentary, because to call it a “subtle” point “dangerously missed” by a lot of casual viewers is even giving too much credit.

          The “Rey’s place in the narrative is degraded/Rey is powerless because Kylo said she is” stuff, 100% agree with you on, but while I have no idea if this particular author was coming from that place or not, a LOT of that discussion is heavily influenced by people who are upset Rey wasn’t revealed to be a Skywalker/Solo/etc. And if I delved further into that discussion, we’d be here all day and really derailing this thread for miles. Tl;dr, a lot of people are really really upset that Rey not being a Skywalker or Solo or someone else’s kid/grandkid is offensive to the greater legacy of Star Wars/degrading to Rey’s character that she wasn’t a chosen one descended from an important lineage, and that’s really coloring interpretations of that line’s significance in the film otherwise.

          I didn’t read the article as saying at all that people should relate to Finn because he was a child enslaved by Nazis, but as it saying Finn ought to be a more relatable hero to people than the people who are trying to call Kylo Ren relatable, because Finn came from adversity and chose to do good, whereas Kylo came from a loving family and positive place in life and chose to become a mass-murdering misogynist neo-Nazi f*ckup. And no, most people can’t relate to the specific circumstances of being an enslaved child Nazi – but especially with how supplemental material emphasizes the gaslighting Finn went through in the First Order, I’d bet there are a lot of people in queer and feminist spaces alone who find Finn to be a relatable hero based on their own experiences with child/domestic/sexual abuse. Nearly all of Finn’s storyline setup is centered around him being gaslit by abusers and rising up as a hero to tell those abusers to go f*ck themselves, he’s done with them and he’s going to do good with his life, and to imply that people have an “inflated sense of [their] own imagination” to find that relatable is a statement you might want to rethink. In my experience, the vast majority of people who like and defend Finn as a character are people with their own experiences with abuse or gaslighting or with life/career experience to understand the psychological effects of that, and the vast majority of those people are upset because Finn’s story in Last Jedi showed no signs of letting him do exactly what you say – respecting him and letting him come into his own – but instead relegated him to B-plot comic relief and a new character love interest to teach him, of all people, to care about the effects of child slavery and to be part of a cause not to be a hero or die for it but to save the people he loves (which is exactly what he’s always been doing for Rey up to this point).

          • Wow, thank you for that! I was missing the context of the non-movie canon and all the hype. I see where all those threads are coming from now.

    • I thought Poe Dameron was “without ethnicity”? (According to Oscar Isaac). I’m asking cause I read an article today written by a black man which analyses the privilege of white men in the movie and adressed Poe as a “white man” so I googled some stuff and found this statement from Oscar

      • Just re read my comment and I’m sorry if it looks like I was invalidated your excellent comments. I was just trying to figure out what the context of “colour blind casting” in the case of Poe as played by Oscar Isaac actually produces in the narrative (ie are the writers/director thinking of him as a PoC? Coding him as such with purpose or because of unconscious biases now that they know they’re writing for Oscar Isaac?)

        Anyway sorry if that feels like I’m derailing the conversation you’re trying to have!

      • Chloe, I assume there was supposed to be a link to a quote there that didn’t come through? In googling, the only thing I can find is Isaac calling his character “non-ethnic,” which in the context of the statement seems to mean more along the lines of this: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/12/oscar-isaac-and-the-case-against-colorblind-casting/421668/ than meant to be white/non-racially-specified.

        Brabkeb, I think the central issue a lot of people are having with the Poe-Holdo story is less what a Vice Admiral or Commander or Captain should or shouldn’t do in the situation presented were the situation a real military situation and more that giving Poe and Holdo that plot in the first place went against a lot of pre-established characterization, for whatever reason, and that with all things considered that feels a lot like familiar white feminism storytelling tropes.

        • I think the issue is that while Poe may not have an ethnicity or race familiar to us—as there is no actual Guatemala in the Star Wars universe, for instance—we are still watching the movie from our real-world perspectives. The character can’t be completely separated from the actor, and positive representation still really, really matters.

          Like the creator of Doctor Aphra (which Lilian recommended above) was asked if Aphra is Asian, and his reply was that an Asian actress would certainly be cast to play her. Poe’s Latino-coded since he’s played by Oscar Isaac, and ignoring that can lead to some pretty negative stuff… like his characterization and treatment in The Last Jedi.

          • Thanks for your eloquent reply, Hannah, that makes complete sense!

            It reminds me of analysing text without caring about authorial intent because you believe what matters is how it connects with the readers and how they engage with it…

          • Was going to say this exact thing but you beat me to it, Hannah. My personal two cents on race and ethnicity in the Star Wars universe is that it’s complicated and vastly different from our version of racial politics and not always particularly well thought-out, so trying to talk about, for instance, Finn as a black man in the story alone is really, really complicated when no one has any idea not just who Finn’s parents were and what social class they belonged to on what planet, but we have no indication that very-dark-skinned humanoids are oppressed minorities because of the whole absence-of-a-transatlantic-slave-trade-in-space-history thing. But when people are talking about racism against Finn or Poe in Last Jedi, they’re usually talking from the perspective that Last Jedi was a film made in America in 2017, first and foremost for American/Western audiences in 2017, generally meant to comment or serve as some kind of metaphor for (first and foremost American/Western) society in 2017. And no amount of colorblind casting policies can erase the fact that Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are men of color within the film industry (although I know Boyega frequently talks back to people trying to mislabel him as African-American, which is relevant in discussing Finn as a black character), and so when their characters’ characterization feels like it’s pandering to negative stereotypes about men of color, that’s where the concern arises.

    • Holdo actually goes out of her way to engage Poe more than once, knowing he was important to Leia (I’m assuming). Other than that a Vice Admiral is in no way obligated to tell anything to anyone outside her “need to know” group. Her Operational Security was prescient besides, because as soon as Poe knew anything he blabbed it to the galaxy, getting a lot of people killed.

      I can give credence to Poe as a Latin stereotype, but only so much, since it’s also a fighter-pilot stereotype. Still, when white people write without considering the intersectionality, it can cause issues. For another instance, the only characters struck on screen were POC. Heck, I’m annoyed by the optics of having women in charge, and THAT’S when we “get” a mutiny storyline. Not to mention that for all then women in and around the film, it only barely passes the Bechdel test (Leia and Holdo do have their queer AF good-bye scene, but it does start with them talking about Poe).

      TL;DR I really liked this movie despite its imperfections, and Leia and Holdo were in love. I figure they hooked up again at some time in the last decade or so where Han went back to smuggling and Leia the Resistance and they separated, and nature took its course {heart eyes}

      • I mean at least it felt believable that the only time we’d get a mutiny is when women are in charge… they’re generally much more likely to have their abilities to lead/authority questioned than men

      • Holdo definitely didn’t need to tell Poe the plan; but she should have reassured him (and others) that there was *a* plan. Not having done so really sabotages her story, and makes her share responsibility (say, 10%) for a lot of deaths.

        • Agreed. There’s also the issue that a lot of people supporting Holdo and criticizing Poe in this plot are supporting it from a “Holdo responsibly and methodically kept her plans to herself because she had no grand delusions of being a hero and understood wars are won with careful and quiet and well-thought-out sacrifice/hotheaded entitled Poe ran amok like a child blabbing his to the galaxy carelessly, which is why his plan failed” angle, which… just isn’t the plot of the film. The reason the Finn-Rose-Poe plan failed is because DJ overheard Poe’s conversation with Finn and Rose on the intercom and decided to turncoat to the First Order with information – and Poe didn’t know about DJ when he shared that information with Finn and Rose. He thought he was talking on intercom to Finn, Rose, and possibly Maz Kanata’s codebreaker friend, all people who would be safe Resistance allies who were with the plan from the start. Calling that Poe “blabbing carelessly to the galaxy” and setting it in contrast to Holdo, which is what a lot of critics have been doing to support their arguments against Poe in the film, also weakens people’s arguments supporting Holdo.

          • Nat,
            I think that what you derided *is* the intended story (though it’s the mutiny that’s Poe’s big sin; the “blabbing” was just a side-effect). But I think that Holdo’s portrayal undercut that story.

    • I completely agree about Holdo. Her secrecy about her plan and seeming insistence that the they do nothing until they run out of fuel and die had me thinking she way a deep cover traitor most of the movie. Like Darth Lumiya was in Legends. Holdo’s ego got hundreds of people killed which made me really not like her, even with the queer undertones with Leia.

      • If everyone got to mutiny just because the brass don’t share their plans, there’d be no real or fictional navies anywhere.

        “What’s the plan?”

        “Han will get that shield down! We have to give him more time!”

        “Wait, so we’re just going to sit here while the Death Star and Imperial Navy pick us off because the ground team MIGHT succeed when they’re hours overdue?! You’re a traitor!”

        Now imagine if that conversation had happened in Episode VI, with Ackbar and Calrissian being accused of being traitors because they wanted to stay in a suicidal situation. There’s mutinies. The fleet breaks apart. The remains are scattered or destroyed. The Empire wins.

        Anyone who wants the commanding officers to consistently lay out their plans to insecure subordinates hasn’t done their research or spent any time in a military environment. If people don’t follow their orders it jeopardizes the ship and the crew. There isn’t TIME to question things. Poe was a hot-headed fighter jock who felt helpless and let his feelings get the better of him. Leia demoted him for a damn good reason already and he still didn’t learn his lesson.

        • “Han will get that shield down” is a plan, that people knew about it, which if successful offered some chance that not everyone would die.
          “Run away until we run out of fuel and they blow us up”? Not so much.
          “Don’t worry, that won’t happen, we have a plan that’s above your pay grade”? Okay.

    • 100% with you Hannah! Poe Dameron was never a cocky flyboy until Rian Johnson needed him to be in order to teach him lessons he has already canonically learned (how to be a leader [General Leia Organa personally promoted this man, because he was an exemplary leader, unwilling to risk his subordinates, only ever reckless on an individual level], how to take orders [he’s a Commander at one point, a Captain at another, so chain of command must not be a mystery], and how to have faith in leadership [which he arguably doesn’t learn, given one superior is shady af and keeps him in the dark while belittling him like bratty child and his mentor, a woman he so respects, slaps him across the face in what is both a super OOC move and a direct violation of the respect military leaders are meant to have for those they lead]).

      Call Holdo a victory for queer rep if you want I guess, but do not be fooled into believing that a bad leader making a bad call whilst mocking a Latino man can be absolved because she’s a purple haired wlw. That’s white feminism all day.

  4. I’m going to have to come back with more feelings, but I feel so validated in my childhood intuition that Han Solo and Lando Calrissian smoldered and really just missed holding hands, etc. That is a special “why can’t I quit you?” kind of shade they throw.

  5. Yes!! Holdo gave me such queer femme vibes. (I spent the middle third of the movie being like “don’t make her evil. don’t you dare make her incompetent. oh thank god!”) Thanks for validating.

    also this line is perfection:
    “I too thought I was only into humanoid males when I was 16-years-old, and oh how I was wrong on so many levels!”

  6. This is exactly the kind of quality content I turn to Autostraddle for!! 😀 Thank you so much Kayla for elevating and queerifying the Star Wars discussion. The Force is strong with you.

  7. Yes! I’ve been waiting to talk to someone about this. But I got more of an “ex-girlfriends but still on very friendly terms” vibe from them. I imagined that after Han left (but before he was murdered), Leia started a relationship with Holdo. Or maybe even before that? I mean, who knows what Han and Leia’s marriage was like?

    But either way, yes, Leia and Holdo definitely dated at some point!

      • This was totally my vibe too, I figured they dated between her and Han and The Force Awakens. Leia’s true love is the rebellion/Republic/resistance and no one can convince me otherwise. That’s probably why they didn’t end up working out, after Ben and Han and everything her and Holdo were good together but at the end of the day Leia is a fighter and her and Holdo had work to do.

        I got super queer vibes off Leia in The Force Awakens and then after reading both Bloodline and Princess of Alderaan they were 100% confirmed. This just put the icing on the cake for me.

        Thank you for quality content ad always.

    • That is totally the vibe I got as well. Good friends who used to date is a very specific kind of closeness, and that’s how it read to me.

      Also, feeling validated by this whole post/discussion because I got very Queer Vibes from that scene but then doubted myself and figured it was just wishful thinking. Clearly not, if so many others had a similar reaction.

  8. I am here for this. Besides Leia/Holdo, I just saw Empire Strikes Back and totally agree about Han/Lando. I also got major Han/Luke vibes, my lord. Luke, with his dykey haircut and butch looks in the swamp, is amazing.

  9. yes, super yes, 100 percent yes. that tender goodbye was gay as hell!
    i really liked admiral holdo and i’m sad that she only got limited screen time/character development; the movie was way too long already, but i wish they had done more than toss her in to manufacture conflict and then kill her off. plus i wanted to spend more minutes looking at purple-haired laura dern, who was almost too beautiful for my brain to process.
    i’m already bored by the han solo movie — can we get a holdo spinoff instead? help us, laura dern, you’re our only hope.

  10. Yes to this, and that Leia novel sounds amazing!

    Somewhat related to this article, does anyone else read Poe as ace? I know I’m probably the only one, and as someone on the asexual spectrum I’m always desperately trying to find ace characters where there are none, and I just couldn’t help but want to read Poe as ace while watching TLJ. He just wants to have fun space adventures with his bff’s BB-8 and Finn! 😉

  11. I read it as close friends, with a possible past relationship, but that Holdo was definitely queer.

    And, in terms of the critiques, it’s flawed like every single Star Wars movie is in some way. If it’s the “best” or “worst” of the franchise is entirely subjective.

  12. I’m really trying not to get any more deeply entrenched in this fandom/ sw discourse, so I’ll be brief.

    Purple haired Holdo having ~vibes~ with our beloved general is super cool, but if this is the extent of the big screen SW queer rep dangled before us by Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson and Disney, I want a refund.

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