A Disturbance in The Force (Awakens): Part 3 – Finding Fault with Finn

Posted: January 5, 2016 by patricksponaugle in Movie Review, Opinion, Star Wars
Tags: , , ,

This post will be talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In particular, plot points surrounding John Boyega’s character, Finn. Should you not want to be spoiled, stop reading.

As the title suggests, this post is the third of a series of posts, dealing with a specific source of criticism of the movie. The full explanation can be found here.

Finn

FN-2187! Aren’t you a little too kind to be a Stormtrooper?

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.)

Six of his 40 unforgivable plot holes dealt mostly with Finn, 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 First Order defector.

8. It’s okay that Poe survived a Tie Fighter crash; after all, so did Finn. But has any film ever cared less about (a) giving the false impression a character has died, and then (b) having that character show up later with no one being surprised by it? Even Finn doesn’t seem to care very much what the explanation is.

Errr, not sure how to answer this as a plot hole rebuttal. Has any list of plot holes ever cared less about (a) presenting something as a plot hole and (b) not really addressing it as such? Even Abramson says it’s okay.

Alright, I guess the gist of his statement is that he wanted to see how Poe survived, or maybe have Poe die, or make us believe he was really dead? Is that what he’s saying?

I don’t know. I knew Oscar Isaac’s character would return, so I never gave it a second thought. If this is to be considered lazy writing or whatever, I’d rather it be called out as such (and then I’d just call it lazy criticism) but I just don’t think this is a worthwhile point to debate.

13. Really? Was there no previous order Finn had ever refused to execute? Was the slaughter on Jakku actually the first naughty thing the First Order had ever required of him?

Apparently so. FN-2187 stated that this was his first combat mission. His only other duty mentioned was working sanitation on the Starkiller base. He probably wanted to refuse orders before, but those orders most likely involved cleaning toilets and he was smart enough not to refuse.

Burning

On Jakku, we see one of the senior officers (with the red epaulets) position FN-2187 while they were rounding up villagers. The officer tells FN-2187 to “stand here.” That’s kind of what you’d expect from a veteran shepherding a newb on his first combat mission. So that’s consistent.

Is it logically inconsistent that Finn (I’ll dispense with the FN-2187 from now on) was on his first combat mission? Life is filled with firsts. Since the Starkiller Base had never been used before, it’s quite possible that Finn’s most recent years (when he was otherwise combat-ready) was spent on the base, working sanitation while the weapon was being built. I don’t know what in the movie implies otherwise.

Not a plot hole.

14. Finn is an ex-janitor who goes AWOL from a Stormtrooper force numbering in the tens of thousands. Yet he is absolutely convinced, despite being someone of no importance whatsoever to the First Order, that he will be chased across the galaxy for having defected. Apparently, there’s a premium on janitors in this quadrant of the Galaxy. Sure, Finn killed some people during his escape, but doesn’t the First Order emphasize with every tactical decision it makes that it considers its soldiers thoroughly expendable, and don’t they quite obviously have much bigger fish to fry during the events of The Force Awakens than to worry about Finn? Why wouldn’t this be obvious to him?

My question is why isn’t it obvious to Professor Abramson that Finn has legitimate concerns.

Finn is considered a traitor to the First Order after freeing a high value Resistance pilot, one with connections to the Resistance’s goal in finding Luke Skywalker. And Finn was involved in keeping Poe’s droid that was carrying the Skywalker information away from the First Order. The Skywalker goal is something that seems priority #1 to Supreme Leader Snoke. I think it’s fair that Finn would not want to be recaptured.

The riot control trooper on Takadana (Maz’s planet) recognized Finn by his face (as presumably did Kylo Ren when he yelled out “Traitor”) so Finn’s likeness had probably been distributed among First Order units in some kind of evil All Points Bulletin.

Finn’s correct to want to get as far away as possible from the First Order.

Not a plot hole.

28. How does Finn find Rey’s settlement, given that the film makes clear that all Finn can see, after his Tie Fighter crashes, is endless dunes in every direction?

It would be a lame rebuttal of me to ask as counterpoint why the same Jawas who abducted C-3PO also managed to snag R2-D2, and then drive them to Uncle Owen’s farm, to find the one guy who would be interested in hooking R2 up with Ben Kenobi? That type of stuff happens in movies. But like I said, it would be lame of me to bring that up, so let’s forget I did.

I’m not a fan of the assumption that Abramson makes. We never get a panoramic view from Finn’s location so we don’t see endless dunes in every direction.

swdestroyer

Endless dunes. And that huge structure sticking up, near Rey’s settlement.

We know that there are huge landmarks on the horizon near Rey’s settlement, in the form of downed Star Destroyers. Anything like that could have been a reason for Finn to head off towards the settlement.

I don’t think it’s a question that needs to be answered, really.

30. If Finn is such a good guy that he would try to save Rey the moment he saw she was in distress, doesn’t it further call into question just how in the world the order to kill civilians on Jakku was the first time he’d ever had qualms about doing something the First Order had asked him to do?

No, not really. Wasn’t this already covered in plot hole #13 above?

31. Given that all Poe knows about Finn is that he’s a First Order defector, why does he seem happy to see Finn just seconds after (and perhaps as) BB-8 tells him Finn is alive? There’s no real reason for Poe to trust Finn — or care about his well-being — at all. Rather, he would assume, as anyone would, that whatever Finn did or did not do on Jakku, he surely had committed other atrocities for the First Order (and killed many a Resistance fighter) before then.

Look, the professor should really just drop all the atrocities stuff. Unless he has some proof that Finn is a bloody handed monster, I’m going to stick with Finn’s claim that Jakku was his first combat mission. One where he didn’t shoot anybody.

Star-Wars-7-BB-8-with-Poe-Dameron

BB-8! What? You were found by the guy that saved me from the First Order, and he brought you to the Resistance? I guess I’d better shoot him, or it’ll be a plot hole.

As for Poe Dameron clicking with Finn, I think it speaks highly of Poe. Finn broke him out of a Star Destroyer, and completed his mission of getting the key to Luke Skywalker, which is a big freaking deal, to the Resistance. Poe is a decent guy, and he had a good read on Finn. Who also happens to be a decent guy.

The Star Wars movies are heavy with themes of friendship. They’re also not super-realistic. They’re aren’t Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, where I might expect that level of suspicion, wariness, and cynicism.

Not a plot hole.


My thoughts on Finn

Finn is not just a new character, he’s a new type of character to the Star Wars universe. Someone who had been part of the Imperial war machine apparatus, and rejected it.

That’s extremely interesting, since normally we see people going the other direction, towards the Dark Side and the Empire. (Or First Order, I don’t want to get bogged down in semantics.)

John Boyega was charming as the defecting, terrified FN-2187, who was desperate to get away from the First Order but in classic Star Wars tradition, was willing to head into danger to save his friend.

Like Han Solo riding out at sunset on frozen Hoth, to find his friend Luke.

I enjoyed his attempts to pass himself off as a Resistance fighter (successfully to Rey, and probably unsuccessfully to Han Solo), and his role as the guy who keeps trying to help the girl who really doesn’t need to be helped.

He was defeated twice while trying to wield Luke’s lightsaber, but I don’t think it spoke poorly of him for trying. Sometimes, the attempt is what matters.

He did con Han into thinking he’d be instrumental in bringing down the shield on the Starkiller Base.

Finn: We’ll use the Force!
Han: THAT’S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS!

Which turned out not to quite be a con, since he was instrumental in capturing Captain Phasma who could be forced to drop the shields.

For me, Finn was extremely important in putting a human face on the otherwiseanonymous-by-design Stormtroopers. It brings a certain level of maturity and sadness to the movies now, considering that although the First Order soldiers are the bad guys, they’re also basically child soldiers. My hope, since Finn could reject the First Order, is that he can be instrumental in inspiring other Stormtroopers to defect.

star-wars-force-awakens-finn-rey

Wait a minute. If BB-8 is the new R2-D2, and you’re the new Luke, Leia, and Han… don’t tell me I’m the new C3PO. I’m Finn.

Anyway, I applaud the movie-makers for casting John Boyega as Finn. My daughter wants to be adopted by Boyega and Ridley. (They can’t have her.)

Next post, I’ll talk about another member of the First Order: Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo. And see if Professor Abramson got anything wrong about him.


Comments are welcome. Super welcome!

Images from The Force Awakens, obviously.

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

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Comments
  1. Brook Monroe says:

    Speaking of Starkiller Base, am I the only one that remembers that in the early drafts of the original “Star Wars” (before it was “A New Hope”), Luke’s last name was “Starkiller?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brook Monroe says:

    Can’t wait to see your comments on Kylo Ren. Many people are already characterizing him as Disney’s next princess.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jennnanigans says:

    14. – Has this guy ever MET a kid? Someone who is still young and forming their worldview usually starts out with that worldview being small and self-centered. I’m not calling Finn selfish, I’m calling him young and learning that there is a bigger world out there. He’s been under the thumb of the First Order most of his life, so he has a very narrow worldview starting out. He knows that nobody escapes from the FO and they ALWAYS get their man (or so their propaganda would have their members believe). So of course he thinks they’re out to get him – and they clearly ARE. Phasma and Ren both knew exactly which unit went haywire on their foray.

    31. – Having worked with veterans in the real world, I can absolutely verify that if they see someone they’ve worked with before after they’ve survived a combat situation they get happy, assuming the previously known person wasn’t a giant d*ck. Especially since they work in very dangerous conditions and never know when or who they won’t see again. Also, Poe was just a genuinely nice person – you can see on Finn’s face after that reunion that he finally is among friends, is getting that human, kind interaction he never had before. AND IT’S THE BEST.

    Seriously, I think Abramson was going more for quantity than quality with this list. Some of his points are easily explained by even casual filmgoers and not rabid fans (like us).

    CAPITAL post, man! This is the good stuff!

    Are you going to do a big ‘HERE ARE THE THEORIES’ post?

    Like

    • Wow, thank you so much for talking about your experience with veterans. It mirrors exactly what I was thinking about when Poe sees Finn.

      When Poe realizes that FN-2187 needed him to escape himself, it was a great moment of “This is a rescue. You’re here to rescue me, and I’m going to rescue you.”

      When I wrap all of this up, I’ll work out some theories, but it’ll be mostly just my thoughts. Please feel free to contribute theories that you’ve heard of or came up with. You’re pretty wise in these things.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. On # 28, I play the “You Have to Allow Coincidences in Movies or They’re Not Interesting” card.

    Set aside the point of Finn finding the right settlement. Given an entire planet on which to crash, why did he land anywhere near it at all? Because otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie.

    How is it that BB-8 ended up with Rey, and not somebody else? Because otherwise we wouldn’t etc. etc. etc.

    It’s a movie. Coincidences drive movies.

    Like

  5. Denise says:

    I agree that these Finn related plot holes are particularly weak. And it’s also a good point that he is a new type of character – looking for the character types that I’ve already enjoyed watching, I didn’t think so much about the new stuff.

    Like

  6. “That kind of thing happens in movies” – oh yeah, like, the first time the Falcon gets off Jakku in years, and it happens to run right into Han’s boat.Instead of running into the FO elements that are raiding Jakku right then. Double miracle 😉 (Basically, the thundering ineptitude of the FO – from inability to intercept a crashing Tie fighter and grab the pilot – EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW WHERE IT WILL LAND — to their inability to intercept any odd ship coming off same planet, to – well, the list goes on. They don’t deserve to be considered a military organization!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tying Finn to the atrocities that the First Order committed – when he was a janitor – ties back to the whole idea of the Empire as the Nazis. And that same question – to what level was everyone who was a Nazi complicit for everything they ever did? The whole country of Germany? Etc etc. Somewhere the line must be drawn, and probably somewhere above the paygrade of the janitor-handed-a-gun-and-told-to-shoot. Especially a janitor conscripted as a child.

    Although there’s an internet rule that by bringing up the Nazis my argument is invald, and the discussion thread is over, so sorry about that 😉

    Nonetheless I want to add one other point: I super want to know more of Finn’s backstory! He finds himself to be really good at some skills (like turret shooting), and is not the worst with a lightsaber. In other words, he reminds me of some untrained Force-adepts in past movies. And, he seems to be kind of unique in standing up to the First Order, so there’s something a little extra and special about him. So what is his background, rightfully unknown to him? I hope this is later explored, and perhaps as a foil to Rey similarly learning about her background, and us learning more about Ben’s background.

    In other words, the next movie is probably going to fill in lots of gaps between movies, through the lens of these characters…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] A Disturbance in The Force (Awakens): Part 3 – Finding Fault with Finn […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sue Archer says:

    Finn was my absolute favorite character – he made being the everyman so compelling, which is darn hard to do! Agree that none of those picked on points make any sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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