This article contains major The Rise of Skywalker spoilers. You can read a spoiler free review here instead.
In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Billie Lourd (Booksmart, Scream Queens) reprised her role as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, a role that director JJ Abrams created specifically for her. While it started as a somewhat minor role in The Force Awakens, Connix has special significance for both Lourd and Star Wars fans, as Billie Lourd is Carrie Fisher’s daughter.
Playing Lieutenant Connix
A member of the Resistance working alongside General Leia Organa, Connix started as a rank and file member but was promoted to Lietenant after the Starkiller battle in The Force Awakens. Connix could often be seen wearing a headset as she’s a communications controller.
About a year after Carrie Fisher died, The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker director JJ Abrams discussed Leia’s onscreen fate with Billie, who had a say in how her mother’s iconic character was portrayed for the final time in Star Wars.
Abrams asked Lourd to return as Connix. She said that even though she knew, “it would be one of the most painful, difficult things I would ever do,” she said yes. “For her–for my mom. For Leia. For everyone Leia means so much to. For everyone Leia gives strength to.”
In The Rise of Skywalker, Lt. Connix is once again a trusted member of General Organa’s command, with that messy business of Poe Dameron’s mutiny against Holdo in The Last Jedi behind them. The Resistance troops may have dwindled, but Connix, alongside others like Rose Tico, Maz Kanata, Snap Wexley, and Commander D’Acy are there to keep things moving.
Connix was part of most important strategic Resistance discussions throughout the movie, and shared multiple scenes with her mother, even physically interact with her, thanks to the use previously unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. While JJ Abrams initially kept the two characters separate as he thought it would be difficult for Billie, it turns out that she asked to be in scenes alongside Leia. Abrams told Vanity Fair that Billie said, “I want to be in scenes with her. I want it for my children when I have kids. I want them to see.”
While Rey, Finn and Poe chased MacGuffins, Connix was among a trusted group that helped hold down Resistance HQ. She seems to have befriended Rose Tico, as the two are seen hugging in celebration after the victory against Palpatine and the Sith. Connix is one of the members of the Resistance who survives the whole movie, so it’s possible Lourd might reprise her role someday.
Tribute to Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher often said, “I am Princess Leia and Princess Leia is me,” so it makes sense that even though, story-wise, Connix isn’t part of the Skywalker family, Star Wars has found little ways to honor their relationship.
Lt. Connix’s standard hairdo of two pigtails done as mini-buns is a tribute to her family legacy, an idea Carrie Fisher herself actually came up with, and Lourd referred to as their “secret-handshake hairstyle.” It’s not the only time Lourd has honored her mother with her hair, either. At the premiere for The Last Jedi, which took place almost a year after her mother passed away, Billie wore her hair in a braided bun like Leia wore at the end of A New Hope.
In The Rise of Skywalker, Lourd continued the tradition of honoring her mother. While she works at the rebel base on Ajan Kloss, Connix wears a brown and green camouflage poncho like Leia wore on Endor. Her hair, while less voluminous than what it took to make Princess Leia’s famous squash blossom buns, was styled in a braided headband, similar to the more practical look Leia had while wearing the same outfit in Return of the Jedi.
Saying Goodbye to General Leia
Since Carrie Fisher died before filming began for The Rise of Skywalker, it’s not altogether surprising that Leia died during the movie. JJ Abrams and his team found many creative ways to include General Leia in the movie that was meant to feature her the same way The Force Awakens featured Han Solo and The Last Jedi featured Luke Skywalker. Still, the iconic character died, like her husband, trying to bring her son back from the dark side of the Force. However, Leia appears to have succeeded where Han failed.
While Leia laid in state (or as close to it as the Resistance could manage while in the midst of a war), a number of characters came to say their goodbyes, including her chosen successor, Poe Dameron. There was also a small moment where Lt. Connix stoped amidst the bustle of the station to silently mourn the general. They worked closely together throughout the new trilogy, so in-story it makes sense to see Resistance members outside of the trio mourn Leia.
But at its heart, it’s just a lovely opportunity for fans to see Billie Lourd say goodbye to the princess who raised her.