Star Wars: The Last Jedi introduced a litany of new things to the canon mythology, a majority of which have fans looking back at previous films.
One of the moments in the sequel that stuck with moviegoers is Vice Admiral Holdo’s (Laura Dern) last-ditch move to help the Resistance escape as the First Order closed in on them, ready to decimate what’s left of the group.
She sacrificed herself by ramming in hyperspace the Raddus, the Resistance flagship, into General Hux’s (Domhnall Gleeson) fleet, causing destruction big enough to buy time for General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and company to flee to Crait. This Star Wars: The Last Jedi moment made for a visual stunner and a surefire shocker.
It also happens to mark the first time such move was made in any Star Wars film, and it makes some fans think that if this was possible all along, the technique should have been used by the Rebellion when they were faced with the Empire’s dreaded Death Star or the First Order’s Starkiller Base from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
However, such maneuver is not as simple as it looked, as per the official novelization for Star Wars: The Last Jedi written by Jason Fry. As the trusted Star Wars watcher and YouTuber Star Wars Explained detailed, a lot went into that technique even though it was not shown explicitly in the film.
In the novel, Holdo ends up using the same hyperspace coordinates that Poe (Oscar Isaac) put in as he prepared for Finn (John Boyega) and Rose’s (Kelly Marie Tran) arrival from their secret mission in Canto Bight to disable the hyperspace tracker in the First Order’s ship, the Supremacy.
Of course, that plan ultimately failed, but the coordinates remained and came in handy for Holdo’s last-minute plan. Before she successfully launched the ship to hyperspace, the novel reveals that she had to override several fail-safes first as the Raddus deemed it unsafe to do so with ships in close proximity.
The Star Wars: The Last Jedi novelization goes on to detail that much of the damage that resulted from the maneuver was actually caused by the ship’s experimental deflector shields, which, as per the official visual dictionary for the movie, are deemed the key strength and secret weapon of the Raddus.
The moment the ship hit the Supremacy, the explosion of the Raddus alone would not have done much if it wasn’t for the energy caused by the experimental deflector shields, which produced plasma described in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi novel as hotter than the sun. This was enough to deal massive damage to the entire First Order fleet.
Star Wars Explained believes that despite the possibilities it introduces, this move cannot be considered the solution for every space battle. Ships from the past films likely did not have the new experimental technology found on the Raddus so it may have been impossible for them to generate the same level of destruction that Holdo managed to do in Star Wars: The Last Jedi anyway.
At the moment, the experimental deflector shields are credited as the main source of the hyperspace devastation. There is no available information in the Star Wars canon with regards to the availability of this new tech–whether or not it is hard to come by.
Star Wars Explained adds that a lot of things have to go right for this maneuver to work since in the Star Wars: The Jedi novelization, Holdo was unsure of how it will impact the First Order fleet. She just hoped that at the least, it would distract the enemies from the transports carrying what’s left of the Resistance to safety. So hyperspace ramming is more of a last resort rather than a primary solution.
Star Wars Explained concludes that there is more to discover about how hyperspace really works in such situations and there is no official explanation as to why it was out of the equation in the previous films. If anything, the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi open up exciting storytelling possibilities out of a piece of the lore that has been around since the inception of the space opera franchise.