Thursday, May 21, 2020

Finn-ishing Up

Ok so just like The Last Jedi, the Resistance fighter Rose Tico is a rather polarizing character. For whatever reasons, she has her fair share of detractors. I have absolutely no problem with her, she may not be my favorite character but I do like her. And more importantly, I appreciate the unique element she brings into Episode 8 and the important role she plays in rounding out Finn’s character development.

One reason I like the Rose character and her inclusion to the story is because she plays a similar role in the Resistance as Finn did to the First Order. She gives us the point of view of an ordinary maintenance worker and how the war affects people like her. In Rose’s case, it’s really on the nose. She loses her sister Paige in an earlier battle led by Poe Dameron, a victory for the Resistance for sure, but ultimately one that wasn’t completely necessary given that the more important objective at the time was to escape from the First Order.

Anyway, an often brought up reason why many fans don’t like Rose is because she is associated with the much maligned casino side story in Canto Bight. Now i don't want to start up another discussion here, so i'll just say this about the Canto Bight adventure: Was it too long? Yes. Could it have been done better? Definitely. Given all that, I still believe that this subplot serves TLJ well and is necessary for a number of reasons.

The main one is that I believe that it is the main catalyst for Poe’s character arc in the film. In terms of the story, it was MEANT to fail. It was a lame brained (find the “master codebreaker”???) idea to show just how desperate Poe was at trying to be “the hero” and prove himself to be more capable and an overall better leader than Vice Admiral Holdo. I’ll just expound more on this when I inevitably write about Poe Dameron. But for this post let's stick to Finn and why the Canto Bight plot serves his character as well.

First of all it opens up the world of Star Wars and introduces another element to the whole intergalactic conflict. Those who are not directly involved but still benefit from the war through the manufacturing and selling of weapons and ships to anyone willing to pay them, be it First Order or Resistance. While this is nothing new to us viewers, it is definitely an eye-opener for Finn who was raised within the skewed black and white view of the First Order.

In line with this, I agree that the whole “animal cruelty” thing with the fathiers was preachy, heavy handed and ultimately unnecessary. Given that, I do see the intent and purpose of showing to Finn that evils & injustices do come in many forms. Plus the whole “running of the bulls”- like chase is something we haven’t seen in Star Wars before so that was cool.

Secondly it introduces us to the slicer DJ, another controversial character. Just like Canto Bight, I am not completely sold on the character's execution (I could do without the stutter) but I recognize his importance to the overall story and more importantly to the character of Finn. Dj presents a viable life path open to Finn, very similar to his initial choice in Episode 7, to just not pick a side, “don't join” and walk away. Seeing DJ ultimately sell out the Resistance in order to preserve his own life and a monetary reward finally convinces Finn to take a side. And this is firmly established when he defiantly and proudly proclaims himself as Rebel scum to his ex leader, Captain Phasma, the final obstacle of his former life as a Stormtrooper.

By the time we get to the last stand on Crait, Finn is completely committed to the Resistance cause and like any good and loyal soldier is ready to die for it. And he definitely tries when he attempts a kamikaze attack on the First Order battering ram cannon. While he may have finally switched to the Resistance, he still has his skewed view in absolutes, the enemy must be destroyed, at all costs. And this is where Rose swoops in to giving him his final character lesson.

“That's how we're gonna win. Not by fighting what we hate. But saving what we love.”

Look I get it, this line can be viewed as cheesy and too on the point, but it speaks the truth and spelled the essential difference between the First Order and the Resistance. And it struck me big time.

Now the two main points people who hate this scene (and Rose) bring up are first, Rose selfishly allowed the base door to be destroyed (and ensured the doom of the rest of the Resistance inside) in order to save Finn. The reason this doesn’t bother me is that In my opinion the whole point was that Finn’s “sacrifice” was meaningless. There was no way his ski speeder was going to reach the cannon before being completely disintegrated. And even if it managed to reach, there was no way it was going to affect it at all or change the ultimate outcome. So Rose did the only thing she could do in her power, which was to save the one she “loved”. A less cheesy way of interpreting Rose’s line is in order to win, you have to fight smarter. And a part of that IS prioritizing protection over destruction. Finn’s death would only result in one thing, the needless loss of yet another Resistance fighter.

And that brings us to “the kiss”. Sure you can say that there was no chemistry between Rose and Finn and that it was forced…..but I’d argue this not to be the case...from a certain point of view :) being that of Rose. From the moment she was introduced at the start of the film, Rose already had a huge “schoolgirl” crush on THE Finn, the Stormtrooper who switched sides. Sure she probably didn’t truly LOVE him but she was definitely infatuated by the idea. And you could argue that this infatuation only grew to admiration and more during their adventuring together. So yeah, from her point of view, this was the end, she probably thought she was why NOT steal a quick kiss from someone you admire or at the very least have a crush on? He obviously didn’t reciprocate and looked just as confused with her actions. This was no different than Leia giving Luke a quick kiss “for luck” before they swung across to the other platform in A New Hope.

But it’s this scene that finally fully develops Finn’s character from a former Stormtrooper into a fully fledged Resistance fighter, committed to the cause for the right reasons. He finally realizes that his life can have more purpose, which is to defend and protect those whom he loves…..just perfect.

Anyway I wasn’t really a fan of the next movie The Rise of Skywalker (another post for another day) for many reasons, one of them being the direction they took Finn’s story. Granted, the most important elements of his character development were already done in the previous movie, they chose to expand his world some more by introducing the (rather forgettable) character Jannah who leads a group of riders on the planet Kef Bir. And it turns out that Jannah and her men happen to be former First Order Storm Troopers as well….defectors who share a similar story to Finn. Now I kinda understand the reasoning behind this choice, to show that Finn is not alone, that there are many more like him...intrinsically good people within the First Order ranks...which is ok I guess? For me personally though I felt the exact opposite, I felt that it kinda cheapened Finn’s character and what he eventually accomplished in his life. Look I know it’s virtually impossible and unrealistic for Finn to be the ONLY ex stormtrooper in the entire universe but at least for this trilogy, it should’ve been all about HIS story.

I much rather wish they went the supposed route of the scrapped script of Colin Treverow for his version of Episode 9, “ The Duel of the Fates”. While it was more of just an undeveloped idea, in DOTF, Finn leads Resistance uprising in the First Order Coruscant and has  to come to grips with having to fight (and ultimately kill) other First Order troopers, his former comrades. This would’ve been a more interesting and natural story progression for his character to go through in my opinion. Oh well.

Well that’s all I really have to say about the Sequel trilogy’s ex Stormtrooper. I guess you can call this post...Finn-ished?