(Warning! “The Last Jedi” spoilers!)
If you were going into “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” expecting some great Admiral Ackbar scenes, sorry to break it to you: It’s a trap!
Ackbar didn’t get a ton of screen time in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, showing up for a limited amount of scenes in “Return of the Jedi.” But the hero of the Battle of Endor went on to become one of the most-memed, quoted and parodied characters of the franchise, even reaching No. 14 on HuffPost’s own ranking of “Star Wars” characters (which was last updated after “Rogue One”).
With all this fanfare, and even an appearance in “The Force Awakens,” it was a shock in “The Last Jedi” when (spoiler alert!) Ackbar was killed off-screen during a Kylo Ren-led attack on the rebels.
In the scene, Ren holds off on firing at a rebel ship containing Leia, but his squadron doesn’t. They blow up the bridge of her command ship, seemingly killing all the leaders within ― save for Leia, of course.
Though viewers don’t see his actual final moments, Gial Ackbar’s death is confirmed in a line of dialogue following the incident, which explains that nearly all of the rebel leadership, including Ackbar, were killed. Then, just like that, everyone moves on. And we were all like, “Ack-cuse me?”
Many fans felt the same.
After the movie’s release in December, we asked “Last Jedi” editor Bob Ducsay about Ackbar’s death.
“That was how it was designed,” he said, confirming the off-screen moment went down as originally planned. However, Ducsay also admitted to some second thoughts about the unceremonious send-off.
“It’s interesting that you mentioned it,” he said, “because I watched the film last night and I thought, hmmm, maybe that’s too incidental. It’s a very funny thing about that because what happens ... I don’t typically watch movies that I work on much afterwards, because you’re so familiar with it. But this movie I’ve seen now a couple times with an audience. And it occurred to me last night that what does happen when I watch movies ... is I generally find things that are like, hmmm, I wonder if I should do that differently. Which is some really horrible form of personal criticism because there’s really nothing to be done.”
“That’s how it was designed,” he concluded. “That’s how it was intended. But it is slightly incidental, isn’t it?”
You can say that again, Bob.
As Vulture pointed out, Ackbar was at least given a grand memorial service after he died of old age in The Unifying Force, a book from the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe. He’s not just, you know, killed off-screen and forgotten about.
As abrupt as Ackbar’s departure seemed, it should be noted that actor Erik Bauersfeld, the voice of Ackbar, died in April 2016, reportedly only a couple of months into filming of “The Last Jedi.” So, regardless of how it happened, the latest film does seem like an appropriate time to say goodbye to the admiral.
At ease, you beautiful fish-eyed, salmon-colored, squid-man, you.