Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Defending Finn

Warning: This will contain spoilers.

So I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens three days ago. Prior to seeing it, I have to admit, I spoiled myself a little on one particular character. It should be obvious given the title of this post. Therefore, I decided to write this post defending Finn, his potential to be a Jedi and his character. I’m aware some disagree with me, that’s fine, it’s a movie. I just had a bit a fun writing this, so it’s no big deal if you do.

Before moving forward, I have to admit two things up front. 1) I consider myself a well-informed, well-read, and above nominal Star Wars fan. I don’t consider myself die-hard. I own a funny Storm Troopers break dancing shirt, but I’m not one to dress up in full a Star Wars costume when a new movie hits the theaters. I own Episodes 1-6. As a child, I watched Return of the Jedi in the theaters. Giving away my age, I wasn’t old enough to remember watching the first two.  2) As I already mentioned, I read some spoilers, mostly about Finn’s characters since I had high hopes for him for a variety of reasons. Some of which everyone may not understand, but mostly as an African American man, I found appreciation in the potential of having another character of African descent sharing the lead in a well-known science fiction franchise. Thus, when I read some negative insight into the character, most particularly, regarding his force sensitivity, I was disappointed. Yes, I readily admit my bias upfront, I want Finn to be a force user. Not a rogue, not a Han Solo type…I feel he should be on the road to full-fledged Jedi. For some, this may seem too racial of an admission from me. Again, as someone who writes stories as well and has spent the entirety of his life consistently told what a hero should look like, and more often than not, he doesn’t look like me, it’s refreshing to have one look like me. Those of you who have seen some of the older posts on the site, before it went down and got revived know I’m not necessarily the politically correct type of person. So, at this point, if you don’t understand where I’m coming from on this, I suspect you probably won’t understand if I continue to rant about it. I’ll just end my expectations with this, none of what I said meant Finn has to be a Jedi, I just felt that’s how he was sold to the public and they should’ve delivered.

Thus, this disappointment also led me to begin nurturing a shallow disdain for the producers of the film and their major misdirection in their promotional marketing campaign. In said campaign nearly all photograph work of Finn shows him yielding a blue light saber, specifically Anakin Skywalker’s old light saber. Of course, there are a few with him holding a blaster and with him in his Storm Trooper armor. Then there are the trailers and teasers, most of which would end with or highlight Finn fighting with or holding a light saber. None of Rey, not even any of Rey using the force of any kind. I get it, I got it. They didn’t want to give away the big reveal. Still, it was mass misdirection if Finn didn’t, at least, turn out to hint at being force sensitive as some people were claiming in the blogosphere. So after reading some of the negative hype on Finn, I felt a little sour with what I felt was blatant misdirection. This almost led me to refrain from seeing The Force Awakens. However, after speaking with Ed about it, who had already seen the movie, he reassured me that he had no problems with Finn’s characterization in the movie. Therefore, I resolved myself to see the movie in order to see if these naysayers were being accurate in their rants and reviews about Finn.

First let’s start with the overall view of the movie. The Force Awakens, in my opinion, delivers what you expect from a Star Wars story. You have the well-known philosophical element of the good versus evil theme with the First Order and the Resistance/Republic. The actors all play their characters well and let’s face it, people, Star Wars has never been in the area of high-end dramatic, philosophically thought-provoking, story-telling. The good versus evil trope is good enough and basic enough. Also, in my opinion from living in a society where plenty of people fallaciously think the truth is relative, the good versus evil trope is needed because it explores of moral absolutes. As I alluded to earlier, the promotional misdirection both works and doesn’t. In other words, The Force Awakens was an enjoyable, fun, fantastical science fiction story. I enjoyed the adventure Rey and Finn went on and while I know there are some grouches out there in on the interwebs crying “foul, foul, they borrowed too much from Episodes 4-6,” I didn’t feel this way entirely. I admit, the Star Killer thing is pretty much a giant Death Star, but beyond that the rest of the similarities seem superficial.  Even if one wants to call foul on the Death Star, erhmm…Star Killer, this wasn’t the crux of the storyline…it was pretty much a side element. The main story revolved around Rey and Finn’s attempt to rescue her which evolved back later into destroying the Oscillator, which evolved later into confronting Kylo Ren.

Defending Finn

For some reason, there seems to be a campaign on the interwebs to deny any possibility that Finn will become, at the very least, a decent force using warrior of some sort. Since teasers revealed him in a Storm Trooper outfit then ones appeared revealing him wielding a lightsaber, there has been controversy over Finn. John Boyega addressed some of this hatred in his own words, but even after the movie hit the market, there has been something of a mass denial in blog reviews, blog comments, forums, etc. regarding Finn’s potential as a future Jedi. Of course, there are those who get it, who actually paid attention to the movie, who actually saw the evidence of what Finn has the potential to become. Still, there are those like me, who at least probably went into the movie wanting Finn to be Quinlin Vos 2.0, Jr. Mace Windu or potentially a new version of a super Jedi of some sort. However, unlike me, their disappointment, and the obvious hatred of some seems to be fueling this denial of certain on-screen facts. This had me leaving the theater the other night wondering if these people saw the same movie I did.

At this point, I want to offer another spoiler warning. If you made it this far, you may have gotten through without realizing, at least, one major spoiler I revealed, so beware again.

Finn’s Character Traits

First, I feel an honest analysis of Finn’s character is needed. Most of the deniers seem to stop at their bias and in doing so overlook a few important facts about Finn’s character. Facts such as:

  • In the prequel novel, Star Wars: Before the Awakening, Finn is Storm Trooper cadet who received top marks in combat training. However, he was constantly in trouble for helping others whereas Captain Phasma wanted him to be cruel. The novel also reveals that Jakku was Finn’s first real combat mission. He is not a seasoned Storm Trooper. However, Jakku was also his second mission. His first mission seemed like it was a test. It involved some miners who were on strike. In it, a similar scene to the Massacre at Jakku occurred where Finn was among his fire team squad and ordered by Phasma to shoot innocents. Finn did not do it. The point here is all Finn has known up to the point of Jakku is the cruelty and evil of the First Order, his Storm Trooper combat training, First Order propaganda, education, lies about the Republic and the Resistance, etc. Another thing about the prequel novel. In it, Finn and the cadets had a few days of quick melee training in preparation for dealing with Jedi. He thought they were a myth, but that’s beside the point. From the way the story was told, he was the best one in his class when it came to melee fighting. He only got defeated when his emotions got the best of him. Think about that for a minute now, think long on that for a minute now. Who or what type of person in the Star Wars universe usually ends up on the losing end of a fight when they’re emotions get out of whack? In Finn’s case, it was when he was spending too much time worried about his squad mate’s injuries. Of course, one could argue he just wasn’t focused. That could be true too, but the takeaway here is Finn was a trainee up until a mission prior to Jakku and while, in training, nobody could explain, really, why Finn was better than anyone at everything other than when it came to showing compassion for innocents and friends.Even without the novel, it’s clearly evident in the movie that the outside world is new to Finn. Since everything he’s every learned has come from the First Order and he believes them to be the epitome of evil as a result. This explains all his doubt and fear. Later, it’s revealed he is aware of some of the heroes of the rebellion. This is evident when he shows respect and admiration for Han Solo and Luke Skywalker after hearing the latter’s name. Still in all this there is one key point I feel people overlook, down play or throw salt on, for all of Finn’s declarations that he wanted to run away…he never did. He attempted to, but the Force and his own character traits, wouldn’t let him.
  • This is very important and you will see why later, but Finn is someone who believes in helping people he cares about. This may come off as a weakness to some as it did to the First Order, but it’s considered to be one of Finn’s greatest strengths. For all his perceived or self-delusion of cowardice, Finn is actually brave and strong, he exhibits signs of leadership and he’s protective of the defenseless when you think about it. In Before the Awakening, he goes out of his way to try to be a good leader to prevent potential injuries or death in his squad. It’s only when he’s confronted by Phasma that he starts to leave the weakest link in the squad, Slip, behind and let him fend for himself. In Finn’s defense, at this point in his life, he was trying to figure out what was wrong with himself, he couldn’t understand why, after being with the First Order since he was a child, he wasn’t like everyone else.
  • Before getting overpowered, Finn held his own against Kylo Ren without tapping into the Force to do so like someone else. Again, going back to the idea most people wanted Finn to be Mace Windu Jr. or some other second coming of a well-known powerful Jedi, this achievement makes a bias led resentment for Finn regarding his achievements or lack thereof seems unfounded.
  • Finn is force sensitive. Period. There are subtle hints and, at least, one powerful reveal in the movie that Finn is force sensitive. First let’s start with the subtle, controversial hints.

Finn’s Force Sensitivity

What seems to be one of the most controversial things I’ve seen revolving around SW: TFA

TheStareDown

  • The first hint/proof is divisive. Still, I agree with those who see this as a possible nod to Finn’s force sensitivity leading to his awakening in the force. This indication revolves around Finn’s uncanny ability to shake off Storm Trooper brainwashing. Basically, it’s never happened before, well…uh…depends on how you look at it and who we’re talking about and how far we want to expand this argument. For instance, one could bring in Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor. Although, I’d fire back they were clones, NOT Storm Troopers and definitely NOT Storm Troopers stolen from families and indoctrinated with First Order propaganda from an early age. Still, Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor were genetically created and implanted with controlling chips in their heads and still managed to defy Order 66. Essentially breaking their genetically induced and cybernetic mind control. But Rex and his team had to surgically remove their control chips as part of making their choice. Though in like manner in Before the Awakening, and as I alluded to earlier, Finn is seen empathizing with his fire team squad mates, most particularly one named Slip. This results in the watchful eye of Captain Phasma as she notices Finn’s sympathetic nature influencing his actions towards others. She wants him to be cruel and the epitome of a First Order Storm Trooper. It’s also indicated several times she feels he’s special, also as I pointed out earlier. His story in Before the Awakening culminates with him trying to figure out what’s wrong with himself since he found himself unable to gun down the leaders of a miner’s strike as ordered by Phasma. Especially, when the one squad mate that his squad thought was holding them back, Slip, is the first to shoot the innocent miners and the one to shoot the miner Finn fails to shoot. He recedes to a training simulator alone and starts to rack up scores shooting simulated republic enemies, making him feel as if anything isn’t wrong, but once the innocent civilian scenarios start running in which he’s forced to take cruel shots just to get to the enemy, Finn finds himself unable to shoot. This cause him to fail the scenario. Captain Phasma’s watching this entire time, hoping that her special trooper works it out within himself to become the First Order recruit she knows he could be. Still, I’m guessing she doesn’t consider his failure to shoot the miners a direct infraction or she simply doesn’t report it since he was her favorite cadet, because in the movie, when Finn escapes and Phasma is giving a report on him, she specifically says, “This was his first infraction.” Most people who feel Finn is force sensitive pose this question in regards to how he was able to shake off years of indoctrination, especially from birth. Finn admits he was stolen from his family and will probably never know them which also indicates he has been under the propaganda of the First Order for some time. Of course, it’s not entirely unbelievable that somebody surrounded by mind controlling propaganda and fear-based indoctrination couldn’t come away from it thinking for themselves, but if we just go from the movie’s initial scenes of Finn, there appears to be something more going on here. When everything is put in its proper context of the film you get the impression the force is behind more than just Rey. Although, I sympathize with those who argue that using the force as one of the explanations for Finn’s personality sort of tarnishes what we are led to perceive as his innate nature. My response to this is that the force may have enhanced it. This was probably always Finn’s temperament, but without the force, it may have easily gotten overridden by Finn’s desire to fit in with those around him. He would have easily been tainted. For instance, we see this in Slip, who seemed to harbor similar feelings about the First Order as Finn. Since it’s a short story, you only get to see Slip’s plausible doubt once, just before he helps murder the innocent miners. Yet, that’s the point. Slip was never really Storm Trooper material physically, but mentally he wiped out his doubts in order to find a way to fit in. Finn tried hard to wipe out his doubts because he already fit in physically, he was a prime physical candidate and nobody could really explain why he was better than everyone else in combat. Granted, I know those who don’t see this as a nod to his potential as a Jedi will argue against this based on examples in fiction and real life of characters who aren’t force sensitive and are just good at stuff. However, in almost every incarnation of early Jedi, they were “special” in certain areas. From Anakin to Luke, to Rey, we see that. I find it funny when this potential explanation arises for Finn, people easily want to hand wave it away as some other sort of coincidence. I consider this the first double standard of the deniers.
  • The second hint/proof is also debatable, but still, I agree with those who see it as a potential implication about Finn’s force sensitivity. In the beginning, when the troopers are told to gun down the villagers after Kylo Ren kills the old man, Lor San Tekka, Finn, of course, follows his nature and doesn’t do it. After these events, Kylo Ren is about to walk away as if he didn’t notice what happened and nothing matters, however, Ren suddenly stops and holds a gaze with Finn. The scene is devoid of dialogue so it leaves one to interpret it how they will. Within context, it’s perfectly viable to interpret the scene as one where Kylo Ren is sensing odd emotions from Finn, from a Storm Trooper. Ren could have theoretically sensed emotions of fear, confusion, doubt and empathy for the villagers. However, also, when connected to the larger context of the movie, it’s also entirely plausible to interpret this scene as the first indication of someone more powerful in the force sensing a hint of the force in Finn. Also, along the lines of Kylo Ren singling out Finn, when Hux tells Ren that Poe escaped and one of their own helped him. Ren specifically calls out Finn’s Storm Trooper identification number “FN-2187.” Almost out of nowhere he comes up with Finn. Ren also connects this moment back to the village giving it larger contextual power within the story as well. However, with this latter one, I will concede to the argument this is not necessarily a Finn is a force sensitive character proof. Ren could have simply sensed through the force the identity of Finn. However, my contention with that is born from the other hints about Finn, most specifically the stern proof/hint I cover at the end of all these proofs/hints. Then I’m inclined to believe we weren’t supposed to interpretively stop at the idea that this is just Ren identifying Finn through deductive reasoning and such. However, I do agree, as I said, that this latter Ren sensing isn’t that strong of an argument. It’s the first one where they have the stare down that is.
  • This hint/proof also works with the first one regarding Finn’s innate ability to overcome Storm Trooper mind control indoctrination. This hint invokes all of Finn’s “luck.” Throughout the course of the movie Finn either seems to be at the right place at the right time such as when he and Poe crash the TIE fighter on Jakku and Finn is close enough to Rey and BB-8’s location to meet them. Let’s not overlook the very fact he was on the Jakku deployment to begin with. Imagine how many First Order Storm Trooper regiments there are and if you read Before the Awakening, you learn Phasma hand-picked Finn’s fire team in an attempt to utilize a live fire combat situation to provide, “One last chance for FN-2187 to decide his fate.” Although, one could conclude Phasma was the facilitator of this “coincidental” placement of Finn within the same area as Poe, Rey and BB-8, I could imagine a seasoned Jedi on the scene attributing it to the Force. Granted, one does not necessarily have to be force sensitive to be led by the force if we look at the entirety of the Star Wars universe in context, but Finn’s “luck” doesn’t stop there. He also manages to get out of situations conveniently. Again, I know deniers lean on the “lucky rogue” trope of the force, but again, and I know I’m getting repetitive here when put in the context of the entirety of the movie everything fits together like a puzzle for Finn’s character.
  • Continuing with the “luck of the Force” trope as proof for Finn’s force sensitivity. Finn’s seemingly natural talent at being a crack shot even when he had no practice on a particular weapon is the next/hint proof. For instance, again in Before the Awakening, Finn receives tops marks and takes down targets in training with marksman accuracy in the middle of combat training with simulation enemies all around him. Granted, this could be due to years of combat training, but when Finn and Poe escape the First Order, Poe gives Finn a quick rundown of how to work the TIE fighter weapons. Afterward, Finn fires the weapons like a natural taking down enemy fighters and two massive Star Destroyer cannons in the nick of time as Poe flew between them in order to give him the best angle for the shot. Later, after Finn meets up with Rey and BB-8, they steal away in the Millennium Falcon and without any guidance, this time, Finn picks up on how to use the Falcon’s gun to take down enemy TIE fighters chasing them. In this situation, Finn and Rey work almost like a well-oiled machine when the Falcon’s gun is hit causing it to malfunction and Rey has to use her piloting skills, possibly indirectly through the force, to help Finn use the gun now jammed in a certain position to take out the last TIE fighter stalking them. This is apparently the “luck” of the force for both of them. Especially considering when it was all over both Finn and Rey ran up to each other applauding each other and themselves with surprise as to how they both managed to pull off their pro-level, precision, piloting and weapon maneuvers. Let me repeat that for those who only have Rey has force sensitivity goggles on, BOTH REY AND FINN RUN UP TO EACH OTHER AFTER THEIR DOGFIGHT WITH THE TIE FIGHTERS IN THE FALCON AND PRAISE EACH OTHER AND THEMSELVES ABOUT THEIR SURPRISING FEATS AS IF THEY WERE NOT AWARE EITHER OF THEM COULD DO WHAT THEY DID INDIVIDUALLY AND WERE TOTALLY DUMBFOUNDED THAT THEY DID. See? If you allow for Rey to indirectly use the Force at all in this scene you have to allow for Finn as well. You can’t have one and not the other. Also, you can’t easily hand wave this away either. Anakin and Luke were surrounded by descriptions of “luck of the force” type events both in narrative and in action. In fact, the entirety of Episode 1 dealt with Anakin’s indirect tapping into the “luck of the force” to win races, fix machines, etc. Speaking of which, as the two are fleeing TIE bombardment, Rey picks the shiny looking new ship, rejecting the one that looks like “garbage,” the one Finn picks which happen to be the Millennium Falcon. When the TIE fighters destroy the shiny ship, they are forced, no pun intended, on the Falcon which leads them to meet Han and Chewy later. Coincidence? Granted, at this point he was with Rey who everyone believes is “the one” future Jedi of the movie, but I suspect that together both of them were strong in the force to help create their “lucky” set of scenarios. Not to mention Finn picked the right ship. Kylo Ren and Snoke have a conversation after Finn and Rey fulfill their daring escape off of Jakku, meet Han and Chewy and deal with the Rathars. During this conversation, Snoke states there has been an awakening in the Force. Again, if you’re willing to allow that both Finn and Rey indirectly utilized the “luck of the force” throughout their short adventures thus far, then Snoke is talking about both of them. However, of course if you only see this as an act of Rey through your Rey colored Goggles then you only see Snoke talking about Rey. The problem for that perspective is the only other individual potentially force related act you could give Rey is her precision speed reflexes when it came to closing the doors at the right time to sever the Rathar’s tentacles in order to free Finn. If you do that, then I would ask you, well if Rey is allowed to have lucky force sensitive reflexes here and on the Falcon, why not Finn when he was with Rey and when he was with Poe and handled weaponry he never seen before like a pro, making marksman shots and everybody praised him for it? So, I’d go out on a limb and call it a double standard at this point. Of course you’d have the upper hand in the end with Rey clearly using the force against Ren, but I haven’t covered the strongest hint for Finn thus far.
  • Finally, if none of these subtle hints prove anything to you, this last one should wake you up to the reality of Finn’s force sensitivity. To be honest, there is still controversy around it, but when one truly pays attention to the sequence of events around this hint/proof, one cannot deny it is exemplifying Finn’s force sensitivity beyond explanation other than Finn is relatively stronger in the force than normal. This hint can be seen when the Star Killer weapon is fired. After General Hux orders the firing of the weapon the scene dramatically shows the weapon fire. In the sequence scenes, it switches to Finn helping load the ship he is hitching a ride to the outer rim on. It is my opinion based on the shots from this scene that Finn is nowhere near Maz Kanata’s castle. Not close enough to hear any screams, although there aren’t any coming from Maz’s castle. Still, as the beam from the weapon travels through space before it hits and destroys any New Republic planets, Finn is seen stopping, turning around and looking up to the sky as he hears screams and explosions. That last sound is pivotal, although I don’t mean last as in a sequential order of him hearing it, but it’s important because it indicates this is not something Finn is hearing on the planet he’s on. It’s something he’s hearing through the Force. Again, he hears the screams and explosions from the Star Killer Weapon, also, remember he hears it before the weapon hits the planets. After these scenes, the scenes of the weapons destroying the planets is next. However, still in these scenes of Finn sensing the disturbance in the force, these scenes dramatically, slowly, zoom in on Finn revealing that all of this is from his point of view as he turns and focuses on the sky looking at the energy travel through space. After this, the scene switches, as stated before, now showing the beams from the weapon hitting several planets. During this scene, you see and hear the people on a particular planet make the same sounds Finn heard on Maz Kanata’s planet as he looked up at the sky. This very same thing happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope when the Death Star blew up Alderaan:
    If you move beyond the superficial, bad explanations of people attempting to deny Finn’s force sensitivity, then this is the most powerful indication of Finn’s force sensitivity. Of course, there are those counter arguments coming from the people who have some type of problem with Finn becoming a Jedi-like force user and they claim Finn was hearing the people in Maz Kanata’s castle. This is blatant denial because the scene after the weapon hitting the planets is the people in Maz Kanata’s castle coming out of the building and looking up at the sky. In that scene, nobody is screaming and there are no explosions. No explosions, none. You also can’t invoke the claim that it’s sound from the previous scenes bleeding over into this one, because I’ve managed to watch it a few times and when Han and crew come out of Maz’s castle the residual sounds of the destruction on the republic planets has subsided by then. Therefore, you get silence other than the music. You also can’t accuse it of sound effect bleeding into Finn’s scene either, because the scene is specifically shot and edited to indicate this was the intention. Plus, from all the different times I’ve watched it, the sounds of screams and explosions are heard at that exact point Finn is loading up the ship on Maz’s planet. Furthermore, to drive the point home, Finn runs up to Han Solo and says, “It was the Republic!” he continues, “The First Order, they’ve done it.” 1) His running to Han indicates he was not right by the people in Maz’s castle, which also is a ding against using that argument as a denial of his force sense here. 2) Finn was not around when Hux, Kylo Ren and Snoke were discussing switching tactics and Hux came up with the plan to use the weapon, for the first time I might add, as a result of Snoke saying they need to change up.  3) I know we’re dealing with a space fairing group of people who span a pretty large galaxy and whatnot, but still, Finn is on a foreign planet with a foreign sky. How would he know, just from looking at the sky that the First Order attacked the Republic and the republic’s exact location in this planet’s sky? Sure we could invoke deduction, but explain the screaming and explosions he heard utilizing that argument and without invoking the people at Maz’s castle. 4) Right after Finn heard the screams and explosions the scene switches to the actual event with the same sounds Finn heard before it happened. When adding all this up and watching these scenes in sequential storytelling order, I take his hearing the sounds of the peoples’ suffering and death at the hands of Star Killer and his statements to Han as an indication of Finn’s clear, in your face, indirect tapping into the Force. Not to mention this comes right after Rey has her vision. Right after it. Also happens right after both of them have interaction with Maz Kanata who is also privy to the force by her own words. For me, this was the controversy killer. You could take away all the other subtle things, but these sequence of events around the Star Killer weapon indicates Finn’s force sensitivity is beyond a Han Solo type of acceptance of the force existing or simply riding the convenience of the force as he’s surrounded by force sensitive people like Leia and Luke. Nope, to the best of my knowledge I have never seen Han, Lando, Boba, Chewy, nor any rogue or non-force user in the Star Wars universe have a force sense of this magnitude predicting events prior to them happening and from such a distance away. Obviously, this indicates Finn will be something more than Han in the force. Sorry folks who don’t want Finn to be a Jedi, but that’s something you have to deal with. I’ve seen a lot of people try to explain this away as I’ve pointed out, but as I said I’ve managed to find a way to watch this scene over and over again since watching the movie and I’m completely confident in my assessment. Finn will be a force user alongside Rey, if not better than Rey. Why do I say potentially better than Rey? Well, she could be a “peak to sooner.” Either way, check out this obnoxiously sarcastic infographic I threw together to try to drive this point home and express the silliness of the counter argument:

ObnoxiouslySarcasticFinnisForceSensitiveInfoGraphic_Getoverithaters

Addressing other complaints. Just because I want to

Finn is a Janitor – Oh Noooosss

Ok people, really? I’m guessing some of you haven’t done as much as some cursory research into how a military functions, especially cadets in training.  For instance, when I was in the Air Force, I was trained for one duty, but if assigned by leadership, I could be put in charge of a menial task or assist with general facility maintenance. While it wouldn’t be my primary duty, it would’ve been part of my larger duties. Therefore, Finn’s revelation that he worked in sanitation on the Oscillator does not diminish the fact he was a Storm Trooper trained for combat as well. It’s not as if he joined the First Order and was designated the position of janitor. Some people are blowing this out of proportion, especially if in the movie we are first introduced to him on a combat mission. Of course, you could retort, “Well his actions in that scenario indicated he wasn’t really a combat Storm Trooper” and I’d reply, not necessarily so. In real combat, many veterans catch traumatic stress syndrome or doubt as well.  Still, the internal Star Wars: The Force Awakens logic doesn’t pan out with this petty argument. The First Order has thousands of Storm Troopers, as mentioned before, at their disposal so why would they suddenly pull him from his janitorial duties, if that’s all he is, put Storm Trooper armor on him and place him into combat? If you look at it that way then this trivial criticism doesn’t make any type of sense and is evident of some people only wanting to through salt because Finn didn’t start off a superhero, either that or they’re just being hateful. Also, reminding every one of Before the Awakening, Finn was a cadet like two missions prior to this, so in that frame of reference, it’s perfectly understandable that there may have been a time in his training where all he did was general duty task like sanitation control. C’mon people, really?

Finn spent too much time trying to save Rey who didn’t need to be saved.

What? They saved each other. Rey saved Finn and Finn saved Rey. They worked as a team. When Kylo Ren put her down, who turned on the light saber and went to work? When Kylo took Rey to Star Killer base, who deceptively told the Resistance he could shut down the shield generator in order provide them the ability to destroy the Oscillator so the Resistance would get him there in order to save Rey? Had he not done that, regardless of her actions, she probably wouldn’t have made it off the planet. Kylo was stalking her.

Rey also saved Finn when the Rathar grabbed him.  During the fight with Kylo, Rey finished it when Finn got injured. When the two first met, they worked together as a team to save each other from the pursuing TIE fighters.

Was Finn more worried about Rey at times? Yes, it’s in his character nature. He took a liking to her as he said in his own words to her, she was the first person who looked at him as something beyond a number as a Storm Trooper. She obviously took a liking to him when she tried to persuade him to stay when he resolved himself to leave for the outer rim.

Finn’s too old to be a Jedi.

So is Rey. So was Luke. According to the old Jedi Order, so was Anakin. What’s the point with this one? If you disqualify him because of this, you disqualify Rey and Luke. Yet Luke is a Jedi now and the same people attempting to use this weak argument to disqualify Finn, accept Rey wholeheartedly. It makes me wonder if there’s some other reason they grasp at straws to deny Finn any potential at becoming a Jedi. Still, this point is moot so get over it, move on, this is a non-issue regarding Finn’s potential as a future Jedi.

Finn’s unqualified to be a Jedi.

Seriously? So is Rey, so was Luke, so was Anakin. Keep in mind there is no Jedi Order, Luke’s training was unorthodox and the New Order he was establishing fell according to the story. I suspect some people say this because through their eyes Finn showed no sensitivity to the force, but I feel I pointed out that he did. Just not at the caliber of Rey. This argument only seems to have weight if one looks at the movie through rose colored Rey glasses.

Maz Kanata did not sense the Force in Finn.

For one, we don’t know what she sensed beyond what she said and what she said to him was all surface level because it was already what we knew about his character. But Maz is one of those cryptic characters when it comes to giving advice, she can be direct and she can be philosophically poetic at the same time. Therefore, it may be more in what she didn’t say when she looked at Finn that I find important. This could be stretching here, but the key here is I believe a lot of Finn’s story was told through action and body language. When Maz gives her speech about the First Order being the next incarnation of Dark Side evil, she looks directly at Finn when she says all of them need to fight it. It’s as if she already knows what his main problem is before he even voices it. This is evident when he goes on his speech about running and how the First Order will slaughter them all. That’s when she crawls on the table and tells him she can see from his eyes that he’s a man who wants to run. I believe she’s challenging him beyond this surface level issue, knowing he’s meant to be more than someone who sits on the Outer Rim afraid of the First Order finding him and I also believe she knows Finn’s words don’t ever match his actions when it comes to talking about running. Unfortunately, his response tells her he didn’t get it. That’s why she pulls back and says, “hmmm” and tells him how to get off the planet and to the outer rim. I also suspect from her actions after the First Order arrives, like I said, she knew he wasn’t going to leave in the first place. Still, because what she says is already what we know on the surface level, the body language and action portion of the story is left to contextual interpretation.  It’s plausible she may have gleaned from the force that he was a former Storm Trooper, but given the fact she gave him the lightsaber and told him to use it when there were other weapons around, there’s potential there that she saw something more in Finn. Arguably, she could’ve just been using him as a courier of the light saber since she also told him to take it to Rey, but still, she also told him to use it. Updated 1/1/2016 about 10 hours after posting this originally: Thinking more on Maz, and after skimming over the screenplay, she doesn’t really tell him to give it to Rey, she just gave it to him and told him, “Take it! Find your friend!” There’s no, “Find your friend and give it to her” in there, just what people added to her statements. Therefore, she could’ve just been telling him to use it and find Rey to fight together with it.

Plus, as I said cryptic characters like her always say things at first that seem to have basic meaning to characters like Finn who are full of doubt at first. Finn’s development as I will get into is apparently one in which he will have to get over his doubt and face his fear. He did some of that at the tail end of the movie. Still, Maz not sensing the force in him is not a disqualification as she did not immediately sense it in Rey. She only approached Rey after the light saber called to Rey and that’s when she told Rey to embrace the force.

Further Examinations

Rey grew up on Jakku as a scavenger where she learned to tinker with technology and pilot land speeders and possibly other craft. Therefore, I see no real problem with her innate or force-led knowledge of technology and piloting skills. Like Luke and Anakin she piloted and tinkered with technology. All of this is pretty evident in her character. However, she’s also guarded and somewhat socially awkward due to her past. However, when Maz Kanata confronts Rey after she has her vision, Rey seems to be willing to open up to the force. Or at least, she’s more likely forced to do so since almost right after her confrontation with Maz, she’s pursued by Kylo Ren, captured and interrogated through the force. This all makes the force real to her, tangible, and not some mystical thing from the past. Therefore, she begins to use it to protect herself from Kylo’s mind probing and to free herself from entrapment. Later, she uses it to defend herself against the Knight of Ren.

Finn, on the other hand, is snatched from his parents, put in Storm Trooper training as early as possibly a toddler and given consistent mind numbing propaganda indoctrination, combat training and a number as identification, FN-2187. At some point, or potentially always, he found himself questioning the First Order, but it was all he knew. While on Jakku he watches a friend die, this is greatly assumed, but some claim this to be the case based on Expanded Universe sources, still even if it’s nobody Finn knows personally the scene indicates his empathy for others. It also helps explain his fear for the First Order when he escapes. He knows what they’re capable of. He’s spent his entire life up to this point under their rule and education. He doesn’t want any part of that. Yet when he escapes he manages to learn how to use TIE fighter weaponry well enough to help prevent him and Poe from dying, although they are still hit by a missile and crash. When he initially sees Rey in danger he attempts to help her but is surprised she was able to take care of herself. As the two end up under fire by the First Order, he works with her on the Falcon and both show talents neither one of them knew they had. On Maz Kanata’s planet when Finn is about to leave for the Outer Rim, the force clearly calls him back as he hears the death and destruction done by the Star Killer. Afterward, he finds himself facing his worst fear, the First Order as they attack. Then he finds himself going to Star Killer base to save Rey and, by extension, help the Resistance. This results in him facing off against the epitome of his fears in Kylo Ren, but Finn does it without flinching. His words, claiming that he wants to run are always contradicted by his actions when he steps into the thick of danger to assist friends and innocents. He’s a defender, whether unseasoned or not, he’s the type of warrior that goes into combat to prevent evil from reaching innocents. I suspect he will become something akin to a Jedi Knight, potentially a Sentinel due to his upbringing as a Strom Trooper, but possibly a Guardian given his empathetic view of others. Overall, since the First Order will be the main villains of the new trilogy, this will be a fear he has to overcome.

With all that said, Rey and Finn bring their own unique diversity to the table. She’s a tinkerer, mechanic, and pilot. She’s also the one to who opens up to the force first. I believe this is primarily a direct result of her conversation with Maz Kanata. Maz, in my opinion, gives Rey her first Jedi lesson by telling her to “feel the force around her.” Although Rey sought to run from any involvement she apparently took the advice to heart later when she needed to use it. Therefore, as a result of receiving a Jedi lesson, unlike Finn, Rey chose to explore the force. Finn isn’t aware of the force mostly because he probably doesn’t know what it is right now beyond something from the legendary past. Sure, Han told him Jedi and all that was real, but that didn’t give Finn any frame of reference for how to recognize when he was tapping into the force.

Another thing I noticed about their characters and I feel people missed when it came to Finn and Rey. Rey is more hands on, she’s more private, notice how when she first met Finn all of her responses to him were, “It’s none of your business!” or, “why are you grabbing my hand?!” or her actions indicated she felt like she didn’t need assistance. She only knew how to survive for herself. Therefore, when Rey had her first initial force vision, it revolved around her. First she gets an understanding of her connection to the Jedi and Luke. She sees Cloud City, hears Vader’s voice and sees Luke and R2-D2. I submit that this does not necessarily indicate she is a relative to him, although there is nothing to absolutely rule this out. At the moment, it could be an indirect connection to Luke through the force alone. It could just be a revelation that she needs to find him or will be the one to do so.  Some people have given other potential theories revolving around this portion of her vision, but most are contingent upon Rey being part of the Skywalker family. I’m not particularly ready to go that route yet, I’ll wait to see. Either way, this portion of the vision is still about her so it still falls in line with where I’m going. She witnesses the fall of Luke’s new Jedi Academy at the hands of the Knights of Ren. However, some have speculated that this may be Kylo Ren saving her, I’d add potentially kidnapping her as a child as well. Still, again, most theorize this because they believe Rey to be related to Luke somehow, and possibly Kylo Ren’s sister or cousin. However, as stated before I don’t see any direct proof for or against this theory, but others have raised other theories such as she could be a Kenobi. Either way, like I said, the point here is that this portion of the vision was still about her. Next, she sees herself after she seems to be sold and left on Jakku by her parents.  From there she ends up in the vision on Star Killer Base in the forest area where she and Finn face off against Kylo Ren, particularly where she picks up the tail end of that fight after Finn gets injured. Rey’s character, at this point, is focused on herself. Not to make her sound selfish or anything, but that’s where her character development is. She’s trying to discover who she is, therefore, her vision was revealing that information to her.

Finn, on the other hand, is focused on others. All throughout the movie, as stated before, his character trait is about helping people he cares for as well as his compassion for innocent life. This is exemplified in the opening scenes where he does not follow orders  to shoot the defenseless and innocent villagers. It’s overly expressed in Before the Awakening since the entire story is about how he questions his purpose in the First Order since he’s the only Storm Trooper who seems to have any compassion for others. Throughout the movie, he goes out of his way to save Rey, but in doing so, manages to help the Resistance destroy Star Killer which prevents them from harming any more innocent life. Thus, when Finn has his first massive force sense it’s no surprise it’s about the death of other innocent people. This is where his character is now. Despite his doubts about himself, he goes out of his way to help other people. He got pulled back into the fight and didn’t leave for the Outer Rim because he heard the cries of the people as Star Killer destroyed their planets and then witnessed the event.  When Rey got snatched up his only mission was to get her back. Of course, you could cheapen this by saying Finn was nurturing a crush on Rey, but I would fire back at you that you completely ignored the entirety of the movie. Finn’s character is about protecting others. This is also why I felt Maz didn’t say anything to him beyond what she did because she could see Finn was trying to deceive himself into believing he wanted to run when she could probably see deep down inside he didn’t, he knew he needed to stay, but he wasn’t ready yet. I’ve seen some people liken this to the Oracle in The Matrix telling Neo he wasn’t the One when she knew he was the entire time. While I wouldn’t necessarily invoke that comparison, I still believe this is what Maz was doing

The Force Awakens Could potentially mean more Jedi at the end

I want to end with this because I thought it was an interesting theory.  I saw it on a comment to some article or blog I was reading in preparation for this write-up. I’ve since tried to hunt it down again but failed. Still, the theory suggests that The Force Awakens as the first title of the trilogy may indicate there are potentially more than one or two force-sensitive people, in other words, future Jedi. This person believed Poe also exhibited force sensitivity in his piloting skills.  With this, I’ll simply remind everyone that in the beginning of the movie Lor San Tekka opens up the story narrative by saying to Poe, “Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force.” This could be indicative of more than one Jedi appearing during this trilogy. Especially since the Knights of Ren, the dark siders, are more than one, definitely more than two. Just saying, I thought this theory was interesting given those small things.

In Closing

Hopefully now that you’ve read through my long analysis of Finn and Rey, you can see that I’m not reaching just to satisfy a bias I went into the movie with. Especially on the scene where the Star Killer fires on the Republic. I believe the storytelling element of Finn’s side of the story was not meant to be constantly directly in your face about it like Rey. In fact, I think the point was for you to look at Rey when it came to someone opening up to the force faster in order to distract from Finn. I believe that’s exactly what happened and what everyone did. Mainly because the majority went into the movie already suspecting Rey to be directly connected to Luke by blood and if not Luke, then some other famous Jedi family while Finn has always been the controversial character since his reveal. In fact, I believe this reverse style misdirection has led the majority to misinterpret the entire movie, believing it to be all about Rey as the heroine, when in fact, it was about both of them awakening to the Force. Most just didn’t notice it in Finn, but it was there. Also, given that both of them had the final fight with Kylo Ren, just so happened one started it and one finished it, it’s an indication that the movie nor the trilogy is only about Rey’s journey to Jediness. Just so happened, as I feel I’ve pointed out, she woke up to the force at a faster pace and more visually direct to the audience while Finn did it more subtlety, and probably in the next installment may not start off fully aware of his force sensitivity either.

However, at the end of the day, should all this amount to nothing and Finn comes out as a Rogue type, I’d be fine with it because I never saw Han Solo pick up a light saber and go toe to toe with Vader and get a strike in. Nope, never saw that. So Finn would have my respect and I would expect far more out of him in the next two episodes regardless.

Roy

Author: Leroy "BrotherRoy" Whitaker

I'm the founder of this site. I enjoy ranting, raving, analyzing and thinking deeper into the memes, tropes, and such in movies, television, comic books, etc. As a Christian, I will often bring that frame of reference to the table, but I also enjoy discussing these topics just for the fun of it. I'm an artist by nature, but I'm also an aspiring fiction writer myself.

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6 Comments

  1. This is easily, one of the BEST (if not the best) write up I’ve read about Finn’s force sensitivity. You said everything I have been saying, and making almost all the same observations I have been making with a few exceptions. One of the themes I have been fending off is the “the story is so much better and Finn’s character is so much more interesting as a non Force Sensitive User” canard or the, “Han was the one everyone wanted to be, not Luke Skywalker” or the “Force Sensitivity would destroy his human aspect” obfuscations. It would be so much easier to just say, you didn’t want Finn in the story to start with, but since he is, the next best thing is to keep him away from supernatural status (because really, we are somehow unable to explore the human aspects of Jedi? Haven’t we been doing that like… the entire franchise? But with Finn we somehow can’t?). Some of the contortionist logic has reached a point where they’ve exceeded their tensile strength. I mean, many folks seriously attempted to argue, “he’s special because he’s not special”.

    Yeah, no, thanks I’ll pass on that. If Force usage (or lack thereof) is the means by which you plan to sub-ordinate his character as just an aid or squire for Rey, I’m not interested. As you pointed out (and I did too in my many postings) he doesn’t have to play the same role as Rey in rebuilding a New Jedi Order, nor does his ascension require her descent… I’m not quite sure people don’t see that. I also some many people saying, if he turns out to be force sensitive I hope he doesn’t become a Jedi or that he’s of lesser power. I think those types of comments are really and truly telling. I think you and I both agree, Finn and Rey take turns alternately saving each other. It’s difficult to imagine how this tandem effort would continue effectively going forward if she is a powerful Jedi and Finn is relegated to Han Lite/ Lando 2.0

    But seriously this is one of the best and well analyzed write ups I have seen. You are saying everything that i have been saying and I’m glad it’s not just me that hopes/feels Finn will and should be a Jedi and sees something really peculiar about the commentary and byzantine logic being erected to argue against a Force Using Finn. Like how are folks arguing that too many Jedi will ruin the human aspect? Especially given that episodes 1-3 requires that there be a plethora of Jedi, and by Snokes own admission, if Luke Skywalker is found, the new Jedi (plural) will arise. It is a prescribed element in future episodes, how is this problematic? There can be all sorts of alien Jedi… but not Finn? Finn needs to remain human in order to “ground” the storyline? They really believe that anyone believes this?

    One thing I pointed out from Episodes 1-3, one the bravest and strongest characters is Padame… and in the lore of Star Wars, she largely forgettable, in part (I submit) because she is not a force user. She is a leader, she is humble, she is courageous, she is a fighter… as a matter of fact she fights alongside the jedi in the coliseum risking life and limb and delivers what is arguably, the strongest message-statements in the pre-quel trilogy (i.e. so this is how liberty dies with thunderous applause) and yet she is merely a participant in the Jedi and Sith’s larger conflict and struggle. She is a participant in the story, and not a driver. That is what they would like to do to Finn. Sideline him while pretending they’re making him greater by making him lesser. I actually had someone argue that it is now canon that Finn isn’t Force Sensitive because it wasn’t in Episode 7… as though there is no Episode 8 and 9 and pending. How can one declare it canon, when the canon is still (literally) being written? Again I’ll pass on all of that. For there to be a New Jedi Order, there have to be new Jedi… absolutely NO reason why logically or from a cinematic standpoint that Finn can’t and shouldn’t be one of them, and one of the stronger ones that is pivotal to it’s success.

    I watched the movie for foreshadowing and symbolism in addition to the items you list above, there are tons of parallels between Finn and Rey, right down to our first introduction to each character, in each case their face is obscured with a mask that belied their actual destinies (i.e. stormtrooper and scavenger). I love the symbolism of the sun going out and Kylo completing his transition to dark side adherent, but people never seem to remember when Kylo looks up from the bridge after wounded by Chewie, he sees his adversaries, Rey and Finn, standing shoulder to shoulder, together above him… actually I think they’re even back lit a little bit. Not one lesser than the other, but together, which as you correctly point out, is how they’ve been operating the whole movie. I have no desire to see Rey be a weak character or any less powerful or ferocious a Jedi. Since she uses a staff now I hope she masters the double sided blade and is the light side equivalent of Darth Maul (and doesn’t get much more bad a$$ than that) but if she doesn’t I’ll settle for mastery of just a regular light saber. but I want mastery. And I don’t want Finn to be a stretcher bearer in the conflict, who merely exists in her storyline as a back drop for her emotions and feelings.

    And I will own the fact that I am a black man, and was elated about this character’s potential, and want him to be a Jedi and so I have bias as well. But at least I am articulating mine and duly admit when context clues for Finn’s sensitivity are ambiguous.

    Last I will leave you with this one last piece. It doesn’t have to do with the story it has to do with the perceived misdirection. The popular assertion was that the misdirection was that Finn was a Jedi, I believe the true misdirection is that people believe that he’s not. While Finn is obviously brave, his two incursions with the light saber are more valiant than they are effective. He doesn’t appear to show any force sensitivity while using the light saber. He actually only dispatches one storm trooper with it. Arguably, Finn using the light saber in this episode doesn’t drive the movie, it’s not entirely critical to the plot at all. You could edit it out of the movie and all the rest of it stays intact. So why put that much emphasis on it during the marketing campaign? Does it really stand to reason that they marketed Finn that heavily as a force user only to pull the rug out from underneath us so that they could distract us from Rey’s usage? I say no. But if you say yes, what are you distracted from when you are focusing on Rey’s Force Sensitivity? Finn’s.

    Finally, in reviewing all of the official movie posters I could find, I couldn’t find an instance where someone wielding a light saber on the poster wasn’t at the time or at a later date a Force User (Sith or Jedi). There are some instances where there are known Force Users not wielding a light saber, but none where someone holding a light saber wasn’t a force user (eventually). I take heart in that among other things. Thanks for your write up. It was excellent and well grounded. Looking forward to Episode 8 already.

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    • Ray, first, thanks for commenting. Second, man, I have to say your poke holes in the arguments of those against a force sensitive Finn so well that I was nodding and laughing at the same time.

      …That is what they would like to do to Finn. Sideline him while pretending they’re making him greater by making him lesser…

      This is so true. I read it all over the place. “He will be better off a rogue, a gunslinger, etc., anything but a force using Jedi and his storyline will be more interesting.” It’s also especially interesting when most of the ideas people come up with can work well with him being force sensitive and a Jedi.

      Also this is a great observation and over the course of time arguing my case in forums and such, I’ve come to agree with this potential theory about the misdirection:

      Last I will leave you with this one last piece. It doesn’t have to do with the story it has to do with the perceived misdirection. The popular assertion was that the misdirection was that Finn was a Jedi, I believe the true misdirection is that people believe that he’s not. While Finn is obviously brave, his two incursions with the light saber are more valiant than they are effective. He doesn’t appear to show any force sensitivity while using the light saber. He actually only dispatches one storm trooper with it. Arguably, Finn using the light saber in this episode doesn’t drive the movie, it’s not entirely critical to the plot at all. You could edit it out of the movie and all the rest of it stays intact. So why put that much emphasis on it during the marketing campaign? Does it really stand to reason that they marketed Finn that heavily as a force user only to pull the rug out from underneath us so that they could distract us from Rey’s usage? I say no. But if you say yes, what are you distracted from when you are focusing on Rey’s Force Sensitivity? Finn’s.

      I can’t do any thing but say at this point, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I believe the misdirection has worked so well on everyone that many find themselves clawing tooth and nail to come up with a viable reason Finn cannot be force sensitive in this movie let alone the next two or more episodes.

      Good analysis of the promotional posters. I’ve never paid attention to it. I would wonder if in the Clone Wars series if any of the non-force users who did fight with lightsabers once or twice but did not use the force were seen holding a saber on a poster? Just a passing thought, but I think it was a good analysis anyway.

      Again, thanks for commenting.
      Roy

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      • The first character I thought of was General Grievous actually. There is definitely promotional material of him with a light saber (which makes sense given how he used them in Episode 3) and other merch, but no actual movie posters (that I could find). I honestly am coming up with a blank as to the other non-force users who wielded light sabers.

        In any event, I don’t know that we’ll see a Jedi Finn by Episode 8, but I think we’ll see force usage/sensitivity. By Episode 9 should be Rey and Finn wrecking shop side by side.

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        • Yeah, I think Grievous is the only one that would immediately come to mind.

          Fyi, tho, I’m of the mindset to do a part two to this article after spending some time on forums and hearing some other particular arguments about the character.

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          • I’ll be here to read it if you do. I have to branch out and find some forums to see where others are talking about it. My google search consistently pulls up the same links to editorials where I can comment, but that’s a little different than going to a dedicated forum where the conversation is usually more fluid and fast paced.

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            • Cool, you may or may not like it tho. I came into contact with some holding a view that everything about Finn made them feel cheated as black fans and therefore “racism!” So it will more than likely invoke some heavy social commentary regarding double standards and victimhood in our community. Still, there are some other more lighthearted points to cover as well.

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