Obi-Wan Kenobi is the latest Star Wars project that gives new depth to legacy characters of the franchise. Ewan McGregor returns to the galaxy of Star Wars as Obi-Wan Kenobi as a broken man living after the fallout with his former Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, with Hayden Christensen also returning to the role. As much as the series is an exploration of a post-Revenge of the Sith version of the title character, it’s also an origin story for Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the life she would come to lead. Played in the series by Vivien Lyra Blairthe daughter of Anakin and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is unwillingly used a ploy to draw out the former general as part of a scheme to enact revenge on Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones. By the end of her journey home to Alderaan, Leia comes back with a holster and a new understanding of the surrounding galaxy, which shapes her into the leader and hero she’s remembered as.
The origin of Leia’s holster starts with its previous owner, Tala Durith (Indira Varma). During her time as an Imperial officer, she watched the Inquisitors slaughter 14 people, including six Force-sensitive children. Though she was just following orders, this woke her up to the horrors of what the Empire was really doing. Using the guise of her position, she began to help lead Jedi and other Force-sensitive individuals in hiding to safety through an underground network known as the Path. Tala was still haunted by the lives lost on that fateful roundup, so to honor their lives, she would mark her holster for every individual she successfully led to safety. She may not have saved those people’s lives that day, but she intended to use the remainder of her life to make things better.
In Episode 5 of Obi-Wan KenobiDarth Vader, Reva (Moses Ingram), and their forces attack the hideout on Jabiim. After she’s shot in the abdomen, Tala uses a thermal detonator to blow up the remaining Stormtroopers, sacrificing herself in the process. Before making their escape off the planet, Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) retrieves the holster and gives it to Obi-Wan. Though he has no use for a holder for something “so uncivilized,” he has someone else in mind who might need it someday.
Obi-Wan is about to face Darth Vader in order for Roken to fix their freighter’s motivator and escape to Tessan. This means failing his mission to Bail (Jimmy Smits) and personally bringing Leia home to her parents on Alderaan. Leia is initially mad at Ben for leaving her with Haja (Kumail Nanjiani), but Haja is able to calm her down. As Obi-Wan tells Leia goodbye, he gifts her with Tala’s holster. He tells her that Tala would’ve wanted her to have it. Though Leia laments that it’s empty, Ben remarks that she does not need a blaster at ten years old, but she won’t always be ten.
Back on Alderaan, Leia sports the holster with pride. Instead of disapproving of the less than dignified appearance, both Bail and Breha (Simone Kessell) embrace it. At 10 years old, Leia declares to her parents that there are many ways to lead and if she’s going to lead one day, she wants to change a few things. She may not fully understand at the moment, but through her journey back to her parents she’s come to realize that she will be involved in a future fight.
Though it’s empty when she receives it, Tala’s holster holds Leia’s future. The holster symbolizes the fight that Leia will spend the rest of her life in. It’s a fight that started on the day she was born; a fight that Tala only recently joined in after becoming disillusioned with a cause she used to care for. It’s a fight that carries on with Leia and later finds its true resolution after she dies in The Rise of Skywalker. The battles that await Leia put her in harm’s way more often than not. Bail was crucial in the formation of the Rebel Alliance, but Leia takes his dream across the finish line with a blaster secured to her hip.
When we meet the younger Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi, she has little interest in dressing in royal robes and greeting different family members visiting Alderaan. Instead, she could be found in the woods observing the different ships entering the atmosphere. She’s an explorer with a rebellious attitude. Over the course of her kidnapping and journey back home, Leia gets a glimpse of life outside Alderaan and the harsh realities of the Galactic Empire. Much like Tala being exposed to the true nature of the Inquisitors and the Empire, Leia, too, is exposed to the evil and oppression that spreading across the galaxy. It’s something that can not solely be solved on the floors of the Senate but out on the battlefield.
Refined (and let’s be honest, fashionable) in its appearance, the holster is defined by its smooth outward appearance and holds a weapon that can be used to inflict pain and protect. Its small size allows it to be covert and portable. Similarly, Leia’s work before A New Hope with the Rebel Alliance was covert– outwardly working in the Senate but behind the scenes offering support and intel. Because of her father’s position, she could move around and act for him when he needed to keep up the guise of his allegiance to the Empire. That’s why she was tasked to find her father’s old friend and her previous savior, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), her only hope. Her fight in the Rebellion often resorted to her using a blaster to get herself, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and her fellow allies out of Imperial attacks. Leia’s partnership with the Rebel Alliance is a balance between Tala and Bail’s. True to her word, Leia is a different type of leader – one who can delegate in royal robes one minute and fight off assailants with a blaster the next.
The holster came to mean something to Tala when those 14 lives were lost. The road this holster will lead Leia on will involve painful loss. Leia loses her family, her people, and her planet in A New Hope because of her loyalty to the Rebellion. It carries the weight of lives lost to keep the hope alive. To honor those lost lives, Tala used to mark the holster with every successful escape. From Leia’s leadership, she will save millions of lives through her acts of heroism and decisiveness.
The holster outlives Tala and the mission she helped serve. Leia receiving this holster from Ben is the spark that lights the fire in Leia that will blaze across the galaxy in bringing balance to the galaxy once more. Though she does eventually train with Luke (Mark Hamill) to fully embrace becoming a Jedi like himself, Leia used her life to lead others without the use of a lightsaber. Though her brother and biological father were famous for their leadership through the Force, she garnered respect through her inherent dignity and strength, leading by example and armed with a common weapon– a blaster.
The in-between from Leia receiving the holster to seeing her aboard the Tantive IV remains to be explored in the Star Wars movies and series. It would be great to see a continuation of this in some way, even seeing the first blaster Leia puts in this holster; however, it is not necessary either because audiences have already seen what she’s able to do with a blaster. There’s room to leave a little mystery in the galaxy far, far away.