What Happens To Leia In 'The Force Awakens'? Her Future Is Secure — At Least For Now

By this point, you may have heard that somebody essential dies by the end of the new Star Wars installment. I'm here to tell you it's not Leia. And it should go without saying that from here on out, there will be spoilers. Many of them. The Force Awakens circles around the adorable whirring droid BB8, who looks and sounds a lot like a sleeker, updated R2D2 (in one scene, they're shown side-by-side and the parallels — and upgrades — are readily apparent). The evil First Order, led by Adam Driver's Kylo Ren under orders from a massive being called the "Supreme Leader," and the Resistance led by General Leia Organa and a few other old favorites like Admiral Ackbar, both chase down BB8, who contains key intelligence obtained by ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). The good guys pull ahead in the race, only to find that Ren's First Order has tracked them back to their base planet, a lush green globe where Leia finally shows up — so here's what happens to General Leia in The Force Awakens .

Kylo Ren kidnaps our new heroine Rey from Maz Kanata's (Lupita Nyong'o) thousand-year-old bar, where Maz stores Luke's light saber in her basement. (Rey feels a mysterious pull from the weapon, but more on that later.) The First Order decimates the bar — which actually more resembles an ancient temple over which the wizened little alien presides — but the Resistance swoops in to fend off the attackers. And when their mothership lands, you know she's coming. Han knows it, too — that's why he's waiting at the foot of the ship's landing. Out steps the ever-regal General Leia, and gone are the flowing robes and cinnamon-bun braids. She and Han sort of eye each other, equal parts suspicious and loving, before embracing at last. (He comments on her new hair, of course.)

Oh! And by the way, at this point, the big reveal has been made — Kylo Ren is actually Han and Leia's son. So there's that. Turns out, Luke fled the galaxy when Ren, pulled towards the dark side, screwed up Luke's plans to train a new generation of Jedi. As Han says, "There's too much Vader in him." Both sides want BB-8 because he holds a partial map to Luke's location, and as the last Jedi remaining in the galaxy, he has the power to take down the First Order. So the Order wants to destroy him, while the Resistance wants him back on their side.

So back to the plot. Han tells Leia during that first encounter (presumably in a long time, given how awkward they are around each other) that he saw their son. So it's not a mystery to either party that Kylo Ren is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Leia's father Darth Vader. Leia relentlessly believes that there's some good left in her son, and she laments her decision to send him off to training. "That's when I lost him," she says. There's more than a little maternal guilt, and the movie is clearly building towards some kind of nature-versus-nurture conclusion, though it'll probably take future Star Wars installments to get there.

Leia remains at the Resistance base throughout The Force Awakens. Though no longer on the ground, she still plays an integral role in the Resistance's success against the First Order. And Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford still have the best chemistry — their relationship is still occasionally tense, but less bickery than in the original trilogy. Their connection clearly transcends the physical, and when (major spoiler even by this post's standards) Kylo Ren kills his father Han Solo, running him through with his homemade light saber, the scene cuts to Leia's pale expression. She already knows what happened. So when Rey returns home, having witnessed the whole thing play out, Leia quietly embraces her and sends Rey off, armed with Luke's light saber, to track down Leia's missing brother in a(nother) galaxy far, far away.

"May the Force be with you," Leia says.

Images: Walt Disney Studios (3)