This post will be talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In particular, plot points surrounding Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey. Should you not want to be spoiled, stop reading.
As the title suggests, this post is the second of a series of posts, dealing with a specific source of criticism of the movie. The full explanation can be found here.
Don’t Rain on my Rey Parade
As I explained previously, I’m planning on talking about various elements of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by examining the 40 allegedly unforgivable plot holes that Professor Seth Abramson recently published on the Huffington Post. Although it might seem as if I’m just a fanboy defending a movie I like (which is partly true) I’m also hoping to explain some insights into the characters/elements that seem to have been wildly misunderstood by some. (By some, I mean Professor Seth Abramson.)
Five of his 40 unforgivable plot holes dealt mostly with Rey, so I’ll list them here and examine their validity. If this doesn’t interest you, skip down a ways to where I give my thoughts on the young forceful scavenger.
4. Rey becomes nearly as effective a Force-user in a few hours as Luke Skywalker did in a few years
Hell yes, she does. Or so it seems.
Rey, with her natural Force talent, is a mystery. Kylo Ren claims she’s strong with the Force, but untrained. But her expertise in using the Jedi mind-influencing power implies some kind of former knowledge or training.
I feel this is more of a question to explore before it can be considered an unforgivable plot hole. But I get what Abramson is putting forth. I just think I might be more on the patient, forgiving side.
7. Rey, who has never left her home planet since she was a child, can speak Wookie. Nobody can speak Wookie — it’s a running joke in the Star Wars universe. But Rey being able to speak Wookie surprises neither her, Han Solo, nor Chewbacca himself.
Rey does tell Finn that while she’s piloted craft, she’s not been off-planet, if that’s what Abramson means by ‘home planet’.
Although I don’t know what that has to do with her speaking Wookiee or not.
I don’t recall Rey ever speaking Wookiee in the movie. Speaking is a far different thing than comprehending. For example, I’ve never heard Han Solo speak Wookiee. But he understands it.
Assuming that Abramson actually means understand when he says speak, I don’t know where it’s established in the original trilogy or the prequels that nobody can understand Wookiee (again, if that what’s he’s getting at.)
In the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi apparently has a conversation in the background of the Mos Eisley cantina with Chewbacca before Old Ben has to chop up some unruly buttheads.
In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda and a force of Clone Troopers are on the Wookiee homeworld fighting the Separatists.
I find it hard to believe that the Republic forces could just casually be fighting a war alongside Wookiee auxiliaries if they couldn’t communicate.
And, unless I was hallucinating, Chewbacca was having a delightful conversation with a Resistance nurse in The Force Awakens who certainly appeared to be understanding him.
As a plot hole, this doesn’t hold water. Or rather, doesn’t let water leak out? Because it’s not a hole?
The only time I can recall Rey interpreting Chewbacca was when this happened. (I’m paraphasing from memory, so feel free to correct me…)
Rey: You came back for me!
Chewie: Raaaaarrrr… (nods head towards Finn.)
Finn: What did he say?
Rey: He said it was your idea.
I’m not even sure Rey would have to literally understand what Chewie was saying to get that gist. It seemed clear in context (maybe just not to Finn. That adorable lunk-head.)
But even if Rey and Chewie started having long conversations with hard core technological gobbledygook, would that be a plot hole? People have conversations like that in the Star Wars movies All The Time. I just seems like Abramson has some unsupported assumption about the Star Wars universe that is at play here. And therefore isn’t valid.
25. Why does Plutt offer Rey 250 times her usual pay for BB-8 and then, when she says “no,” simply tell some of his heavies to just steal it? If Plutt is enough of a baddie to order it stolen at all, why not just steal it from the outset instead of first offering some random urchin the biggest financial windfall she’s ever seen?
Well, for starters he didn’t have his goons at hand when the initial deal was going down, he had to use a communicator to call them. Also, it’s a bad idea to crap where you eat, if you know what I mean. His business relies on being the go-to-guy for scavengers to bring stuff, and there are probably lines he’s not willing to publicly cross.
I don’t know why we have to assume that a shady character automatically goes to the extreme. Buying the droid is worth the investment of 60 portions. (Which is actually 240 times her usual pay, not 250 times. Professor Abramson is an Associate Professor of English at UNH, not Math.)
Abramson defines plot holes as logical inconsistencies. I’m not exactly sure what he thinks is logically inconsistent in Plutt trying to purchase the droid peaceably, with the option to resort to stealing rather than let the droid go. If it had been established that Plutt was the type of criminal that by default takes what he wants then maybe it would be a plot hole. That hypothetical side of Plutt wasn’t demonstrated at all in the movie, and so would only be a matter of speculation.
Not a plot hole in any way.
29. Who trained Rey to fight with a staff as effectively as she does, given that (a) she is an orphan with no friends or family, and (b) she has never been in a battle, but is, rather, merely a scrap-metal scavenger?
a) Orphans with no friends or family usually have to fight to survive.
b) Why assume that scavenging is a pacifistic activity? It seems to be a profession where knowing how to fight, to protect one’s loot from other scavengers, is a required skill.
Who trained Rey how to fight? (Assuming anyone did, explicitly.) We don’t know who trained Poe to fly his X-Wing. Why is it required to know who taught Rey how to fight with her staff? Does it need to be justified?
Is it because she’s a girl or something, that this question is being asked? (Okay, maybe I shouldn’t accuse the professor of a double standard. It just something that popped into my mind.)
Abramson accepts that Rey was taught to fly a spacecraft (or at least he doesn’t question it), but has an issue with Rey using a staff? I don’t quite get that. Not a plot hole.
37. If basically everyone in the Galaxy knows the Force is not a myth — for instance, every single Stormtrooper in the First Order, who has seen Kylo Ren use it or heard tell of him using it; every single person in the Resistance, who knows the Resistance is looking for Luke Skywalker; every single person in the Republic, which was first established in part by the heroism of the Jedis — how is the existence of the Force a total shock to Rey? Jakku is sheltered, but as we know from the film (cf. Lor San Tekka) there are many people on Jakku who either have seen the Force first-hand or heard first-hand accounts of it from visitors to the planet.
Abramson is asserting that there’s a point in the movie where Rey is shocked that the Force exists. I’m pretty sure that the three times I saw the movie, I did not notice any point where Rey was totally shocked that the Force existed. Or shocked even a little bit.
So I’m trying to understand what he’s talking about. Any ideas?
Rey does say she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth. That doesn’t seem enough to justify what Abramson is saying. Was it when Han told Rey and Finn that everything that they’ve heard about the Force was real? At no point did Rey go “WHAAAAT???”
Was it when Finn asked Rey how she escaped? Rey tells Finn that she can’t really explain it, but that still doesn’t really justify Abramson’s claim.
So, not a plot hole.
My thoughts on Rey
So, Rey’s actually been trained in the Force, right? That would explain her Jedi mind trick, her ability to pull the lightsaber to her, her overthrow of Kylo Ren in the duel during the finale. That knowledge seems to be inside her, but pushed back into her subconscious for some reason, until confronted by Kylo Ren.
She either imagines the location where Luke Skywalker is to be found or she remembers it. Kylo Ren sees it in her mind. The question is, was she one of the Jedi acolytes that Luke was training before the apprentice-gone-bad turned on Luke? (The assumption is that Ben Solo was the apprentice-gone-bad. That has to be confirmed, but it seems likely.)
We need to eventually discover why she was left alone on Jakku (apparently with Unkar Plutt), who it was who left her, what happened to her parents (Maz Kanata implies that they’re not coming back, which usually means they’re dead.)
And why she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth, when they appear to have a strong connection.
Is Luke Skywalker her father? I’m not willing to go that far. I’d prefer otherwise, but that’s just my preference.
I love a mystery, and I love the character of Rey.
She’s a little bit Luke, and a little bit Han Solo. She’s a little bit like Princess Leia, if Leia had gotten herself out of the detention block of the Death Star on her own.
My daughter has strongly connected with Rey as a character, which I think is wonderful.
I felt that the movie did a masterful job highlighting Rey’s lonely existence on Jakku, scrounging for junk, dealing with Plutt, waiting for someone to come and welcome her as their own. There’s a lot going on.
It’s hard not to talk about Rey and also leave out the other characters, like Finn and Han Solo, but I’ll be getting to them soon enough. (And I’ll talk more about Rey later. Particularly when we get to Kylo Ren.)
Next post, I’ll examine Seth Abramson’s alleged plot holes and my thoughts on the outstanding Stormtrooper FN-2187.
Comments are welcome. Super welcome!
Images from The Force Awakens, obviously. (And Revenge of the Sith, for the Wookiee image.)
I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there. Except for the plot hole quotes that Seth Abramson had in his HuffPo article. Obviously I make no claims to that text, and encourage you to read his entire work there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved