Warning: This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. You should not read it if you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to go in completely unsoiled. You should read it if you want to figure out how and why Admiral Ackbar was wronged, or, in the case that you’ve alreadyseen the movie, if you want to read somebody who agrees with you that Admiral Ackbar was wronged.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, can talk about how it was totally ridiculous that Han Solo’s Force-ghost came back and inhabited Admiral Ackbar’s body? First of all, that’s not how the Force works at all. And that kissing scene — what were they thinking?
Just kidding! That was a trick to keep people from accidentally spoiling themselves. You might also say it was a ploy, a ruse, or a deception. Or, I don’t know, maybe some other word.
But what really happens to Admiral Ackbar in The Last Jedi is almost as disrespectful. He’s there on the bridge of the Resistance’s capital ship in the beginning, which means that the first and only thing he does in this movie is get blown up. And then … that’s it. No funeral, no mourning, no nothing. Just an offscreen death, handled in one sentence of exposition, for one of the greatest starship commanders the Galaxy has ever known.
This is unfathomably rude. Sure, I could see killing off Lobot like that, or maybe even Crix Madine, but this is Admiral Ackbar we’re talking about. The hero of the Battle of Endor! The character who spoke the second-most-famous line in Star Wars history! The guy who wore the cleanest pair of naval whites in the entire Rebellion! (When you live on an aquatic planet, you get really good at doing laundry.) I get that new director Rian Johnson is trying to clear the decks of all the old stuff in the franchise — and even some of the not-so-old stuff, like Kylo Ren’s helmet — before he starts his new trilogy, but there’s a difference between moving on from the past, and actively obliterating it.
Listen, I’m not saying Ackbar needed a death like Han got in The Force Awakens, where everyone in the galaxy seemingly dropped whatever they were doing to scream out into the void. And I’m not saying he needs a death like that of another major character in Last Jedi, becoming so awesome that he ascends into the astral plane. And I’m certainly not saying that Admiral Ackbar should not ever die. (Erik Bauersfield, who voiced him in both Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens, died in 2016, so perhaps the time was right.) I’m just saying, he deserved better than to go out in a throwaway moment: “The bridge exploded and everybody died, including Admiral Ackbar.” Please. He’s Admiral Gial Ackbar. Put some respect on his name.
If you’re curious, in the old Expanded Universe canon (now called “Legends”), Admiral Ackbar’s death occurs in in James Luceno’s 2003 novelThe Unifying Force. It’s nothing violent; he simply dies of old age 29 years after the Battle of Yavin, which is coincidentally around the same point in the timeline he dies in Last Jedi. As Wookiepedia reveals, “A grand memorial service was held on both the newly reclaimed Coruscant and his homeworld, attended by countless Mon Calamari and numerous dignitaries from across the Galactic Alliance.” That’s more like it.