It's just under a year to go until the release of the ninth entry in the Star Wars saga and the concluding chapter of the sequel trilogy. But even as that Christmas 2019 release date creeps closer, aside from rumors of a time skip between Episode VIII and IX, we're still none the wiser when it comes to even the smallest plot details, or even what the film's title is. We can, however, make some educated guesses by piecing together the scraps of information mercifully thrown our way so far.
Amid speculation about what director J.J. Abrams has in store for newcomers Rey, Finn, Poe and the self-appointed Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren, the role of the last surviving "legacy player" has also been subject to fervent discussion. In the wake of Carrie Fisher's sudden passing at the end of 2016, The Last Jedi was expected to bid a fond farewell to the princess-turned-general.
And yet, Leia made a miraculous Force-powered leap from the jaws of certain death in the film. The last we saw of her, she was reunited with Rey and fleeing the Resistance stronghold on Crait; left to mourn another heroic sacrifice with Luke's last pupil as they had previously done at the end of The Force Awakens (because after three Death Stars in eight films we can assuredly say that Star Wars very much subscribes to the idea that history is cyclical.)
While many have been predicting a quiet, off-screen ending for the character in Episode IX, Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher, dispelled this assumption somewhat when he appeared on Good Morning America last December to reveal that the leftover footage that'll be recycled from The Force Awakens for the film is actually quite significant. "There's a lot of minutes of footage. I don't just mean outtakes [...] This is unused, new content that could be woven into the storyline."
If this is the case, what will Leia's concluding storyline be, then? Could it be possible that she will become the final mentor to Rey? This idea was touched upon by u/Sin_Stalker on Reddit several months ago, but Todd Fisher's recent comments lend it renewed weight. "Showing that Leia has Force powers [in The Last Jedi] may have been a way of letting us know she was trained by Luke," the user posted to the the r/FanTheories subreddit. "We could have learned about this more in Episode IX. So, the 'last Jedi' would have been seen as Leia, not Luke or Rey. Then in Episode IX, Rey is trained by Leia."