The Force Awakens came out on DVD this week, which means that most of the people who care about Star Wars ought to have had the chance to see it by now. I know one person who hasn’t yet, but I’ll make sure he sees it before he sees this.
In the meantime, I can finally talk about this fantastic film!
Spoilers ahead, naturally.
I’m probably going to be discussing this for a while, but for today let’s talk about some of the new characters.
Ben Solo/Kylo Ren: A frustrating character. Half creep, half angsty adolescent. Someone with no qualms about barging his way into someone’s mind if it might be convenient, whatever it might do to the mind in question. Considering that, I have no qualms about calling him Ben instead of what he insists on calling himself.
I have a lot of questions about him.
Why did he believe that patricide was the way to end his journey to the Dark Side? He’d killed an unarmed man, ordered a village slaughtered, attacked a peaceful settlement, and tortured people. What’s so special about killing Han Solo?
Besides, you know, the fact that Han has been one of geekdom’s favorite fictional people for the last thirty years.
Why does Ben keep hitting the place where Chewie shot him after he killed Han? Is he struggling to remain conscious and alert? Is he using the pain to strengthen his connection to the Dark Side? Is it some form of subconscious self-punishment?
Why is Ben so angry all the time, anyway?
I might have a theory about that last one. Apparently Ben’s had the Dark Side and the Light Side warring inside of him his entire life. Considering the amount of raw power he demonstrates, that’s not surprising. Both sides have a strong connection to him. It’s the same sort of inner conflict that made Anakin pretty irrational before he took the name Darth Vader.
Can a strong enough connection to the Force drive someone insane if they aren’t solidly on one side or the other? Are Skywalkers cursed because of that connection?
I don’t know.
I’m hoping that Ben doesn’t get some sort of last-second redemption the way Vader did. It seems cheap, even if Han would want his son to go good again. Han’s dead, his opinion won’t have much impact.
They worked pretty hard to make it clear that Han is dead. He gets stabbed through the chest like Qui-Gon Jinn, and falls down a seemingly bottomless pit towards the core of Starkiller Base…which then explodes. And Leia feels his death, just in case we weren’t certain about it. Dead, dead, died, dead. It’s like they thought we would all find excuses for him to stay alive or something.
FN-2187, otherwise known as Finn: The first of our protagonists who we actually see, though we have no idea who he is at that point. The one stormtrooper who somehow broke out of the First Order’s brainwashing.
I like him. He knows everything anyone needs to know about firing a blaster and about the First Order’s equipment and procedures, and is completely clueless about virtually everything else. Any language but Basic has to be translated for him, and he’s pretty inexperienced socially too. He does pick up being gunner on a TIE fighter pretty quickly, with help, so he can learn.
But he isn’t great at improvising. Maz has to remind him he’s holding a lightsaber when he panics about not having a blaster.
Finn spends most of the film being terrified, as most of us would in his circumstances. The fact that in the end he doesn’t give in to the fear, he starts to actively fight for his newfound principles and friends, says a lot about his capacity for courage. He’ll be an interesting one to watch in the future.
Rey, last name and pseudonyms unknown: She gets accused of being a Mary Sue, but I really enjoyed her.
Unlike Finn, Rey does nothing but improvise. She lives in the shell of an AT-AT. She’s cobbled together her knowledge of how ships and other tech work by taking apart long-dead machines from a war that happened before she was born, and her knowledge of the Force from rather garbled explanations from multiple sources. And she is capable of making a mistake–rathtars, anyone?
Her knowledge of combat, besides the self-defense she learned on Jakku, is sorely lacking, and she doesn’t yet know how to recognize who might be an enemy before they attack her. Well, it’s Star Wars, she’ll learn that quickly enough or she’ll die.
There’s something else about Rey that will probably be dangerous in the future: Years of isolation have lead her to bond almost immediately with people who show her a kindness. Getting through mortal peril together does tend to make people rather fond of each other, but not on the scale of Rey. She’ll be vulnerable to betrayal if that keeps up.
Finally, Poe Dameron: My favorite of the new characters, despite his having the least amount of screentime.
Poe is one of those people who tries to replace his emotions with sass during times of stress. I find that endearing.
He’s older than Rey or Finn, since he was born before the fall of the Empire, and he’s fought with both the Republic and the Resistance for years–but he acts like he’s still Rey’s age at heart. Sassy. Impulsive. A tad arrogant. Paints his spaceship black. As enthusiastic about flying and blowing things up as a high schooler about a rollercoaster.
(That said: if I could pilot an X-wing, none of you would ever see me again. I’d be too busy exploring the universe and fighting evil.)
What I like about Poe is that none of his quirks make him childish. He’s still dedicated to a cause he believes in. People still trust him to lead on the battlefield. Or battlespace? Whatever.
Poe Dameron is a fictitiously breathing argument for people being allowed to grow up and still retain the enthusiasm of their childhood.
Apparently they’ve started a comic book for him! That’s fantastic!
Okay, those are the VIPs of the film, in my opinion at any rate, and what I thought of them. What did you all think of them? Have any other theories? Let me know!
If you want to discuss possible ships, though, be warned: It’s Star Wars, we don’t know who’s related to who, and every other romance in this universe has ended tragically.