Note: This article contains spoilers for Catastrophe Season 3.
Millions of Star Wars fans can't wait to see The Last Jedi, but it's going to be an emotional viewing experience. Not just because of Luke Skywalker's downbeat story, but because of the real-life tragedy behind the scenes. On December 15 we'll see Carrie Fisher's final appearance as Leia Organa.
Outside of Lucasfilm HQ, it's unknown how big of a role Fisher will have in The Last Jedi; she was reportedly set to have more screen time in 2019's Episode IX. Fans want closure for the character, which The Last Jedi may or may not provide, and the studio has ruled out using Rogue One-style CGI to create a performance for her.
Even if Leia doesn't get a major onscreen sendoff, Fisher herself just did. When the actress died of cardiac arrest on December 27, 2016, she had been traveling back to Los Angeles from London, where she had filmed an episode for Season 3 of the Amazon Prime series Catastrophe. The comedy stars Rob Delaney and Sharon Hogan as a semi-functional couple who get married after a one-night stand leads to pregnancy. Fisher had occasionally cameoed as Rob's exasperating but goodhearted mother Mia.
Fisher appears in the final episode of Catastrophe Season 3 (which is dedicated to her memory), and her performance is the bittersweet goodbye that fans were looking for. The episode follows the family in the aftermath of Sharon's father's sudden death from a mid-flight stroke — and while that sounds like a morbid and unsettling coincidence, Fisher's joyful irreverence shines throughout in the episode.
The Season 3 finale opens at a funeral, where Mia is her typical outrageous self, informing Sharon's newly widowed mother that a male funeral guest is only hugging her for the sake of "getting into your pants — you've still got it!" At a family gathering after the funeral, Mia is equally inappropriate, complaining about how cold the house is — to which Sharon's brother replies, "My dad's dead."
There's another hilarious scene, which Fisher fully improvised, that has Mia describing her favorite show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, My Children Are Schizophrenic, in extreme detail. (Fisher was a vocal mental health advocate for decades, revealing her bipolar disorder back when doing so had far more social stigma than it does today.)
But there's one scene in Catastrophe's Season 3 finale that isn't funny at all, and showcases a powerful Fisher performance.
Rob, a recovering alcoholic (in the show and in real life), admits to Fisher's Mia that the stress of his father-in-law's death is driving him to drink again. "I feel like shit — I need help," Rob admits.
Mia removes her glasses and shouts in his face, “Fucking drinking again? You can't drink!” She reveals to Rob that his father used to get drunk and beat her. "You put a plug in the jug, Mister," Mia says, "because if you ever hit Sharon, I'm going to kill you."
Fisher herself struggled with addiction, and even though she's known for laughing off difficult subjects, the raw intensity of this scene reflects the seriousness underneath — and the acting talent that was perhaps overshadowed in popular culture by a golden bikini.
Because the Catastrophe Season 3 finale revolves around a death in the family, there are many lines that resonate in the wake of Fisher's passing. (Rob tells Sharon, "There's no playbook on how to grieve. ... Don't be sad that you're not sad now — you're gonna unfold; you're gonna spend time on the floor.") Even lines that have nothing to do with death take on extra meaning with Fisher gone:
- Rob says of Mia, "If she's drawing breath, she's ordering stuff online."
- Sharon complains that Mia "gets my mother all juiced up for company and then she up and splits."
- Mia reflects, "I feel like I gave it the good old college try," and promises, "I'm going to take the fastest pee in the world and I'll be right back."
When The Last Jedi arrives in theaters this winter, we'll probably likewise seek a deeper meaning in Leia's every line of dialogue. And that's OK! But even if The Last Jedi doesn't feel quite like the swan song that fans are hoping for from Fisher, that's also OK — because she already delivered it.
Catastrophe is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15.