Monday Musings: Poe vs. Holdo

Oscar Isaac & Laura Dern - Star Wars TLJ
Hands off the Vice Admiral, mister.

In The Last Jedi, after Leia is injured, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo takes command of the Raddus, the command ship of the Resistance fleet (if you can call it that) fleeing the First Oder.

And Poe immediately dislikes her and causes trouble.

Despite knowing that Holdo is Leia’s good and trusted friend (and Poe nearly worships Leia), he immediately distrusts her and whips up a mutiny on the ship. Why?

Because she won’t tell him–or anyone–her plan for escape.

He proceeds to have a hissy fit about it and demands–demands!–to be told what she plans.

Now, at first viewing, I shared Poe’s frustration. Why doesn’t she just tell him and get him out of her hair? But on reflection, Poe’s antics on the Raddus just shows how much growing up he needs to do.

Holdo knows this about him, and maybe this was a test for him. A test he failed miserably. It can be argued that this probably wasn’t the best moment to teach Poe a lesson.

But think about it. Holdo is a Vice Admiral-she even outranks Leia–and Poe has just been demoted to Captain, for his reckless, foolhardy ignoring of orders, a recklessness that caused them to lose their bombers. And she has to explain herself to him? Or to anyone for that matter? I don’t know much about the military, but I’m pretty sure questioning orders from your superiors is frowned upon.

Holdo speaks to what’s left of the Resistance

So why does Poe feel he can get away with it? I get it–the situation is critical, they’re up against a wall–but to me, it seems that maintaining the chain of command is essential in these situations.

Is it the purple hair? And I hate to even go here, but it has to be said: is it because she’s a woman? Would he have done the same if Holdo were a man?

Star Wars has been pretty good at getting women equal footing in the Galaxy, especially in the prequels and sequels. They’re everywhere, doing everything and anything, and that’s all to the good.

Still, with this Poe/Holdo standoff, I can’t help but think, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions. If I think about Poe’s character–Holdo herself called him a “trigger-happy fly-boy”–he probably would have been that way to anyone. He has no patience; he can’t sit still. It’s a mark of extraordinary arrogance to believe that your superiors don’t know what they’re doing or that you deserve to be in the know in all things. He lacks trust in anyone but himself. He even disobeyed Leia, which caused them to lose their bombers, leading to the death of Rose’s sister, Paige. I wonder if Rose knows this?

oscar isaac trash — Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Last...
Trigger-happy Fly-boy

I also know this is the Resistance, not the First Order. The First Order is a well-oiled machine, with clear hierarchies and chains of command. There’s a lot of order to the First Order, and Poe’s insubordination would not have been tolerated.

But the Resistance isn’t a fighting military machine. It’s a group of people coming together to fight for freedom. Like the Rebellion before it, they’re a rag-tag bunch, and though they try to maintain an orderly chain of command out of necessity, they’re a bit more forgiving. They understand Poe’s value as a pilot. And they just like him. In the Resistance, people are individuals, not cogs in a machine.

Even after Poe’s shenanigans are stopped by Leia, Holdo says, “That one’s a troublemaker. I like him.”

“Me, too,” Leia replies with a smile.

I don’t know if I would have been that forgiving. But in essence, these older women are regarding him like some wayward child who misbehaves. Oopsie! That little rascal almost derailed our entire escape plan. Oh well! He’ll grow up someday, right?

And I’m glad to see that he does in TROS, after some further tests. Even in The Last Jedi, he’s sobered by Holdo’s sacrifice.

Naturally, this showdown between Holdo and Poe was a kind of forced conflict in the movie, as some tension was required in that part of the story. I found it a little over the top on Poe’s part, and Holdo seemed unreasonably stubborn on keeping her plan a secret. Oh well. It seemed to work, I guess.

But the whole thing left me feeling baffled.

"Hope is like the sun. If you only believe in it when you see it, you'll never make it through the night."  - Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I wouldn’t look happy, either.

What was your take on the Poe-Holdo showdown? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

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