We had an opportunity to attend Jessica Henwick and Finn Jones‘ panel on Iron Fist and learned a sad fact, straight from Henwick herself. Henwick’s character, Jessika “Testor” Pava from Star Wars: The Force Awakens will not be returning for The Last Jedi. Although she was only on screen for a few moments–memorably flying an X-Wing–Pava quickly became a fan favorite and has gotten some expanded roles in the Star Wars: Poe Dameron comic and in the Weapon of a Jedi novel. As a female Resistance pilot, Pava gives fans, male and female alike, a female character they can enjoy for her heroism.
We acknowledge that Pava’s absence may be driven by Henwick’s busy schedule, including her role of Colleen Wing on Iron Fist and The Defenders, or it may be that the producers simply couldn’t find a part for her in what’s sure to be a busy movie. Still, the news is sure to disappoint fans who’ve enjoyed another needed female character in the Star Wars franchise.
Also, the Star Wars universe has a remarkable penchant for fan-driven development of minor characters on screen. The films are essentially about Luke, Leia, Han, and a few others, but the Expanded Universe and new canon are notorious for brining the secondary and tertiary characters to life in a way that’s not visible in the relatively short films. Characters like Wedge Antilles or Mace Windu have been much less developed in film, but the stories beyond the movies have made these characters fan favorites. Look no further than Boba Fett, an interesting but minor villain in the films, who practically took over the Expanded Universe as fandom’s favorite bounty hunter. Or look at the reverse case of Aayla Secura–an Expanded Universe character who caught George Lucas’ eye to the point where she ended up in the prequels.
Point is, even if Henwick is done with Jessika Pava for now, hopefully there’s room for more stories with her in the future. During the panel at Baltimore Comic-Con, one little girl (this writer’s daughter) asked if Pava would be friends with Rey. Excitedly, Henwick said yes: they’re both strong female characters who would probably become close pals. Hopefully there’s room for that story in the future, whether on screen or in the books.
Update: The recently-published Visual Dictionary for The Last Jedi reveals that the other pilots from The Force Awakens dispersed to different evacuation points. It’s possible that Jessika Pava is still out there, and maybe we’ll see her again.