** ONCE AGAIN I WILL START THIS POST BY POINTING OUT THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW!!! PLEASE ONLY READ IF YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE!! **
In the latest Star Wars movie; The Last Jedi, there is a scene that was probably the most surprising and despite some of the other unexplained elements that we were eagerly awaiting answers on (Who is Snoke and who are Rey’s Parents), is probably the feature that will stay with us the longest.
No, it’s not Kylo killing Snoke and teaming up with Rey to kill Snoke’s elite guard, nor is it the aged Luke Skywalker playing a trick on Kylo Ren while on Crait. The most gripping scene was when Vice Admiral Holdo (played by Laura Dern) sacrificed herself to save the remaining members of the Resistance fleet. This she did by jumping straight into hyperspace on the Raddus through Snoke’s flagship which destroyed the flagship and the First Order fleet.
The scene is sonically, visually and emotionally gripping and the members of the Resistance including General Hux and Commander Dameron hadn’t registered what was happening until they saw that she was going to jump. For a few seconds, total silence engulfs the scene before the Supremacy; Snoke’s ship is sliced in half by the Raddus, a vaporized Resistance cruiser. The blue and red kaleidoscope of ship fragments of the Supremacy, its smaller ships of the First Order fleet and the Raddus cruiser hang there for a moment, giving the audience a chance to grasp the scene in its full glory and entirety.
Will this destabilize all we know about Star Wars space combat?
Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to be a party-pooper here and punch the air out of your sails. Holdo’s stunt is the most breathtaking and coupled with great audio and camerawork, is one that draws you in like a moth to the flame. However, it challenges all we know about hyperdrives, hyperspace and space combat in Star Wars movies. Although there is already a host of irregularities in Star Wars that don’t conform to physics; like all the planets being habitable to humans, massive spaceships jumping to hyperspace and circumventing the wide universe with faster-than-light travel. But we are accustomed to such, provided they stay within reasonable and consistent bounds.
The writer-director, Rian Johnson, is used to changing the narrative and breaks the franchise’s norms while also twisting the characters’ backstories. More powers of the Force have been introduced like Kylo activating Rey’s lightsaber from a distance, Yoda’s lightning rod being used after he dies and Skywalker performing interstellar projection, not to mention Leia’s own superpowers! These, however, do not stretch the narrative and fall within reasonable bounds. Another introduction is the First Order tracking the Resistance Fleet through hyperspace which delivers the final blow to the Resistance fleet.
Hyperspace; why is it that the variables have changed?
First things first, let’s establish what we know about hyperdrive and space travel. This is of course from movies since these phenomena go against the laws of physics. When a hyperdrive is activated, you accelerate in a straight line for a preset distance, and when you arrive at the destination, you exit normal space and enter hyperspace. We have seen how stars elongate and a blue tunnel-like wormhole appears. Also, from what we saw in The Force Awakens and an episode of Star Wars Rebels, a ship going into hyperspace emits radiation and blasts everything that is adjacent or behind it.
The Holdo fiasco is in violation of all we have been seen in previous movies and episodes of the Star Wars franchise. Hyperspace is an alternate dimension and an object entering hyperspace would not collide with something in normal space as we see with the Raddus cruiser and the Supremacy ship. This totally rubbishes the precise calculations that are taken to prevent a ship from colliding with a star of being sucked in by the gravity of a massive object like a star while in hyperdrive. It also tells us that a collision in hyperspace cannot be avoided. Which begs the question, why haven’t ships in hyperspace collided with normal space objects like asteroids before?
Will this change affect the Star Wars universe?
Breaking down the rules in this manner has far-reaching implications on the subsequent films. Will this change the way space combat is done by spaceships? Now that we have seen it is possible for stellar activity to interfere with hyperspace, what will change? We are yet to see which objects will affect a ship’s trajectory in hyperspace. For example, is it collision only or can a ship in hyperspace get shot down? Another consideration is that because we know that hyperspace is not independent of normal space, the combat in Star Wars should change to accommodate this. Failing to do so will leave Star Wars fans even more confused.