Laura Dern's Holdo In 'The Last Jedi' Defies A Sexist Trope To Become A Badass Hero
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Now that The Last Jedi's premiere weekend has passed, the person on everyone's mind is Laura Dern's character, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Next to Luke Skywalker and Rey, Holdo plays the greatest role in saving the Resistance in The Last Jedi, and she's pretty much the unsung hero of the film. But Vice Admiral Holdo deserves everyone's praise, as not only does she sacrifice herself to save the Resistance, she imparts some valuable lessons during her short Star Wars run. And before her suicide mission, she sticks to her plan even when it clashes with Poe Dameron's style of doing things, creating a high-pressure and hugely admirable dynamic inside the Resistance.
When Holdo first argues with Poe, it makes the new leader seem like a threat to the Resistance, especially considering what a fan-favorite Oscar Isaac's character is. But that turns out not to be the case. Holdo and the expert pilot's dispute instead illuminates a sexist trope that many action movies portray, where men are seen as the risk-taking heroes while women are the ones who tell them "no" or stick to a safer plan. And it's not just with Holdo; towards the beginning of the film, Poe goes against General Leia's orders by continuing a risky attack on the First Order after Leia tells him not to. He's also brought down to earth when he returns to the Resistance and, rather than get congratulated on his bold act of defiance, Poe finds himself demoted by Leia for acting immaturely.
Leia's actions are respected because of how much fans love and admire her, but for Holdo, a newcomer, audiences could've viewed her criticism of Poe unfavorably. She could've been portrayed as a "No woman," a character who acts as a scapegoat on which to blame a team's lack of growth or ambition. And it's true that Holdo seems at first like she could impede the Resistance by saying "no" to Poe's plan to hijack the First Order's ship. But as it turns out, she has her own badass, risky plan to save everyone, and it ends up paying off hugely.
Once Leia awakens from her coma, the Resistance carries out an escape mission that forces everyone to leave the main ship to get onto smaller transports. Everyone except Holdo, that is, as the admiral stays behind, initially with the potential of survival depending on how things go. Once the First Order begins attacking the Resistance's transports, though, Holdo does one of the bravest things ever included in a Star Wars film: she powers up the giant ship's hyperdrive and — at light speed — tears the First Order's Star Destroyer in half, killing herself. The end of The Last Jedi shows Holdo sacrificing herself for the entire Resistance, and with such humility that now everyone wants to see an Admiral Holdo standalone movie.
The Last Jedi includes many memorable moments by women, like at the very beginning when Rose's sister Paige sacrifices herself to bomb the First Order, or at the end when Rose sacrifices herself to save Finn. Perhaps the most unforgettable moment, though, is the look on Admiral Holdo's face when the Resistance's ship moves in slow motion on its final mission in order to save Leia and her army. It's incredible, and of all the amazing Star Wars moments to go crazy over, anyone with any sense will list Holdo's bold, silent act of bravery as one of the best.
In so many ways, The Last Jedi allows women to take the spotlight, both as fighters, like Paige Tico, and as leaders, like both Leia and Admiral Holdo. There's also a certain someone named Rey, who the film sets up as the person who will likely become a Jedi master and maybe even restore balance to the galaxy. You could probably call her The Chosen One, or you could call her "The girl," as the First Order so frequently does. The one word that you should use to describe her and all of the women in The Last Jedi, though, but especially Admiral Holdo, is "hero," as these ladies prove how gallantly brave women can be.