Star Wars Meets Star Trek – Holdo’s Last Jedi Sacrifice is the Picard Maneuver

star trek picard maneuver
Star Wars director Rian Johnson was clearly a fan of Star Trek.

The coolest move in The Last Jedi depicted Admiral Holdo’s Resistance flagship making a super short hyperspace jump to destroy the First Order’s dreadnought. It’s a great tactic, if suicidal. And it worked.

But if you’re a science fiction nut, you’ve seen this move before.

Star Trek

Remember the Picard Maneuver in Star Trek: The Next Generation? Basically, the jist is to travel something like a Planck Second in warp drive, and then appear back in real space. Planck Units are the shortest measure of time known to man, so I’m going with this.

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Jean-Luc Picard was Captain of the Federation Vessel Stargazer at the time. He tricked the attacking Ferengi vessel into thinking there were two Starfleet ships they faced. The Ferengi saw the original ship, and then the Stargazer jumped 30 light seconds right beside them to seem like a second ship, firing as it came out of warp. Very clever. It took a generation for anyone to foil this creative strategy. (Actually, it took Data to come up with a workable defense.)

Star Wars

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Admiral Holdo travels for a light-second between her ship and the First Order’s Dreadnought. She appears out of hyperspace in the middle of the Dreadnought’s location, bisecting the First Order’s flagship in an impressive montage. While only a handful of Resistance members made it out alive from the Salt Planet of Crait, it was still an impressive trick.

The thing is, it seems like an obvious move in both Star Wars and Star Trek universes. No one even has to die: just set your ship on autopilot to hyperjump into the area your enemy occupies. I don’t see how anyone could defend themselves against this move. And it’s odd to think no one’s done this before, in-universe, no matter how cool it looked in action. (And really, it did look super bombad amazing.)

Do you remember the Sovereign’s drone battle against the Guardians of the Galaxy in Volume 2? That was really the way to go. None of her people were in any danger — they basically played a video-game version of seek and destroy. It’s like using drones to wage war, which probably isn’t too far off. So why did Holdo even need to be on the bridge for her attack? The answer: to create an emotional moment in the film.

And that’s just not good enough.

Savvy Viewers

The big problem with Star Wars is that the target audience is pretty smart, and notices every plot hole. With the advent of the internet, sci-fi aficionados can reach out and publicly nit pick every dodgy moment in every Star Wars film.

This means the writers have to improve their game. Special effects have improved over the decades since 1977, when A New Hope premiered, and now the writing needs to step up too. It’s not like we aren’t going to notice these things. We’re savvy. And we’re less forgiving.

The Rise of Skywalker comes out in two weeks, and we, the fans, are holding our collective breath, hoping that it simply won’t suck. Some even hope it will be good. After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Endgame did wonderfully, concluding a 20+ movie series in spectacular fashion. Is it asking too much to want Star Wars to end on a good note? Are we allowed to have nice things?

I’m not complaining about the Holdo/Picard Maneuver. It was a great visual, and made us understand that sometimes you should trust your leaders. Or to trust the leader your leader trusted. While I think everything would have gone better if Holdo simply told Poe what was going on, it was still a sweet, sweet visual.

But now we’re stuck with a couple dozen resistance followers adrift in a cold, indifferent universe. The moral here is probably to tell your subordinates you have a plan; a good plan even. But I don’t hold Poe’s failures against him. Star Trek shows a skilled set of trained StarFleet officers on their starships, with a firm chain of command. Star Wars shows a ragtag bunch of rebels fighting in whatever they could cobble together, doing whatever they could to survive against the First Order.

It should have been the Ackbar Maneuver

One thing I don’t understand is why they needed to bring in Laura Dern for an extended cameo. Admiral Ackbar was right there in the movie. We knew him; we trusted him, and his sacrifice would have been much more deeply felt to Star Wars fans. If I could ask Rian Johnson one thing, it would be why he didn’t use Ackbar in this scene.

Someone made a fan edit that easily replaces Ackbar in the sacrificial seat:

Lastly, I’ll note that I enjoyed the use of silence in space during the ensuing explosion. You can’t hear anything in space, so this was an appreciative nod to that. What’s more interesting is how audiences reacted to the silence…movie theaters actually had to post signs up that the silence was intentional. It does seem random (nothing else in Star Wars is soundless), but it really underlined the gravity of the moment.

Back to Picard

There’s another Picard Maneuver, and I’d be remiss not mentioning it — the infamous shirt tug. Here’s an impressive collection of these moments, reminding me why the internet is so awesome:

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One Reply to “Star Wars Meets Star Trek – Holdo’s Last Jedi Sacrifice is the Picard Maneuver”

  1. Cool. JJ Abrams sort of filled in the plot hole about WHY Holdo needed to be on the ship, and why they couldn’t just do this again in Rise of Skywalker. Did you notice that? I’m happy it was at least addressed, fanwanking and all.

    Also LOL, they called it “The Holdo Maneuver.” I laughed at that. It was the PICARD Maneuver, folks. hehehe. [Tugs shirt]

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