A while back a friend of mine was expressing his disappointment with some of the seeming incongruities between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. One of these incongruities he brought up was that Leia has memories of her mother, despite that Padme died immediately after giving birth to her and Luke. While we could just call it a plot hole and leave it at that, I prefer the Cantina Cast approach – which means searching for a logical explanation.
The scene in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi where Leia recalls her mother unfolds as follows:
Luke: “Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?”
Leia: “Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.”
Luke: “What do you remember?”
Leia: “Just images, really. Feelings.”
Luke: “Tell me.”
Leia: “She was very beautiful. Kind, but…sad.”
So the question is, if Leia was a newborn, how could she have possibly remembered that her mother was beautiful, kind, and sad?
Well, the over-simplified answer is: the Force. But of course we can’t just leave it at that, so let’s jump in.
Leia, as we know, is Force sensitive. She has the potential to be a Jedi, and though she chooses to pursue politics instead, it’s clear the Force is strong in her family. The key words that clue us into the means of her memories are the words “images” and “feelings.” We know well that Force users sense, access, and utilize the Force through their feelings.
We also know, that while she is untrained, Leia can still sense her relationship with Luke. As Force sensitive twins, Luke and Leia have a strong bond through the Force. Because of their separation at birth, it takes time for them to recognize that bond for what it truly is. But Luke is able to identify Leia as his sister without Obi-Wan or Yoda revealing her name, and then later, we get this exchange between Luke and Leia when he broaches the subject with her:
Luke: “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it, I have it, and…my sister has it. Yes, it’s you, Leia.”
Leia: “I know. Somehow… I’ve always known.”
If Leia developed such a bond with her twin brother while in the womb (one that she could sense well into her adulthood despite being separated at birth) could it not also stand to reason that she would have developed a connection with Padme while in the womb? Much the way a mother’s diet, exercise, and medicinal intake can affect the physical development of an unborn child, I find it likely that a mother’s emotions and experiences could affect a Force-sensitive fetus on a completely different level. To that end, I feel it’s logical to say that Leia’s Force sensitivity could have and would have picked up on feelings and even images from her mother.
Now, I’m guessing some of you might still be skeptical. ‘But Kat,’ you say, ‘she was an infant! Force sensitive or not, she would not remember that!’ Well, in that case, I ask you to consider this: Leia knew at some point during her childhood that she was adopted. A child who is adopted would undoubtedly speculate about her birth parents. She would have certainly asked Bail and Breha about her biological parents. We know Bail did not tell her who her birth parents were (at least, not until after Return of the Jedi ), and I sincerely doubt he would have breathed a word about her father. But I imagine, as he looked down into the face of a young, innocent, and curious Leia, his precious daughter whom he loved dearly, he very well may have told her something about Padme. Even the smallest or simplest of details, such as “She was kind and beautiful” would have been of monumental importance to a young Leia. And any detail Bail let slip about Padme could have influenced her memories and/or served to help Leia access her subconscious memories – those images and feelings – gleaned with her Force sensitivity during her nine months in the womb.
Another way for her to access those “images” and “feelings” could have been through dreams. Let’s not forget that Anakin Skywalker had dreams influenced by the Force, even dreaming of his own mother when she was in distress. Couldn’t it be possible, then, that Leia dreamt of Padme? She would not have recognized them for being Force dreams, but that doesn’t mean that these dreams could have helped create these images and feelings, or helped her remember the subconscious memories she already had. In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says:
“Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future, the past. Old friends long gone.”
With this in mind, I find it entirely plausible that through the Force, Leia could have sensed/felt/seen, perhaps even dreamt of, her mother.
So if that is all well and good, you might be asking then ‘If Leia can recall these “images” and “feelings,” why doesn’t Luke have even the smallest recollection of their mother?’ Answer: we know that Force users possess different strengths and abilities. (Look no further than the different skills indicated by the color of their lightsabers!) I surmise that Leia was more receptive to these images and feelings than Luke. It’s also possible that the Force was keener to show Leia her mother, perhaps because Leia was trying harder than Luke to remember her mother or possibly because the Force was trying to help Leia grow up to be the woman she was meant to be. Either way, I find it reasonable that Leia can “remember” her mother even though Luke cannot.
So. Did I convince you? Am I way off base here? Is there a piece of canon information I missed that would help shed some light on the subject? Feel free to comment below, hit me up on Twitter @ErrantVenturer, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also thanks to my friend Andrew for indirectly suggesting this topic! Until next time, Mata Ne!
also check out http://www.retrozap.com/padme-didnt-die-of-a-broken-heart/ for a great theory on how Padme actually died