And we are back with another more in depth look into one of the characters in The Last Jedi. Warning this will contain spoilers so if you still haven’t seen TLJ yet, now would be the time to click away and maybe have a look at our non-spoiler review instead!
In our first character study we had a look at Luke, this time we will focus on Finn and try and understand how his character grows during TLJ.
There has been a lot of dissatisfaction with Finn’s storyline in TLJ. Many have written it off as being unimportant and not vital to the overall storyline and therefore apparently not worthy of thinking about anymore. It is true that the mission Finn is on in the end does not change the fate of the Resistance, however the journey brings with it great change for Finn. To really understand it we have to look back to the moment we meet Finn in The Force Awakens.
A lost Stormtrooper
Our first impression of Finn is that he is a young man who is at a crossroads. He has the chance to take his fate into his own hands and decides to do so by deserting the First Order. It is through sheer luck that him and Poe meet which inevitably is what leads Finn to Rey and to the Resistance. Throughout TFA we can clearly see that Finn is unsure about joining the Resistance and feels thrown into the situation without really wanting to be. Throughout the film it is Rey that is the driving force for all their adventures and Finn seems to ‘tag along’. Even by the end of the film he still hasn’t fully committed to the cause and seems mainly concerned with his friendship with Rey. His heroic action in the forest is not because he wants to save the Resistance and a greater cause…he wants to save his friend. This is the exact point at which Finn finds himself in what seems to be a coma at the end of TFA and is where his storyline picks up again in TLJ.
Deserter or Hero?
Finn’s first words in TLJ are “Where is Rey?”. It immediately shows what his priorities are and where his character truly lies. Finn never saw himself as a hero or a person of great ability’s. It is clear during TFA that he only identifies himself as a deserter after leaving the First Order and never truly feels comfortable with claiming to be anything more. When Finn meets Rose during TLJ she almost fawns over him calling him “The Finn” and one of heroes of the resistance. It is clear in his response that this is not how Finn views himself. All he wants to do is keep his friend save, as so many of us would. This to him doesn’t seem like an act of heroism and therefore he feels the title of hero does not belong to him. It is only when he sees someone like him (Rose) who is willing to give up so much for this cause (her sister literally gave up her life for it) that he starts to realize how much this means to people. I personally felt like it was also one of the first times he could identify with someone within the Resistance, someone more like him and of his ‘rank’. Rose identifies him as what he already views himself; a deserter however she is willing to work with him and give him a chance, I think this is the first turning point for Finn.
Throughout his mission with Rose, Finn starts to see what the Resistance and the cause means to other people. It is not just a past-time and a way out of tricky situations for them (as it had more so been for him during TFA) but it is a life’s mission. When him and Rose go to Canto Bight Finn starts to see what the First Order has done to normal civilians. The freeing of the fathiers was another big turning point where he again saw what it really meant to bring peace and be part of the Resistance. Rose showed him it isn’t about revenge and about destruction but about saving the beauty in the Galaxy and preserving the good. Rose’s words “now it was worth it” after freeing the final fathier bring that message home. Later on in TLJ when Rose and Finn are faced with captain Phasma, Finn is faced directly with his previous life, his previous tutor. It is here where he has to make the true decision on where his allegiance lies. Having seen how not choosing a side had affected DJ, Finn knows that this is not a possibility for him. It is not an example of the kind of life he wants to live and so he knows a choice has to be made. He finds himself again at the same crossroads at which he found himself at the beginning of TFA. Where in TFA he didn’t make a choice but just grabbed an opportunity of freedom, he now makes the conscious decision to go against his old mentor and therefore chooses the Resistance. The exchange of words with Captain Phasma are where we as an audience see that Finn has officially chosen his side and path for the future as he proudly states;
Phasma: “You were always scum”.
Finn: “Rebel Scum”
The final lesson
In the final battle on Crait, Finn’s character arc comes full circle. It is here where Finn shows he is willing to die for the Resistance as he almost flies into the canon to save the others. This is a massive change from the Finn who was willing to leave everything behind on Takodana in TFA! It is Rose who saves him from certain death and leaves him with the important final words; “That is how we will win, by saving the things we love”. This is the same message that she tried to bring across on Canto Bight but I believe this is the moment he truly understands what it means. We don’t always have to fight and destroy, there is strength and heroism in conserving what is good and ensuring its survival.
So where does this leave Finn at the end of The Last Jedi? Finn is no longer a deserter, he isn’t known for leaving the First Order, he is also not known for being a hero and a legend. He is known for saving his friends and trying to help the Resistance, he is known as Finn which I think is exactly what he wants. Finn has found his own identity, an identity that was stripped from him as a child. He has found a new kind of family which we can only imagine is something he must have longed for for years after being taken to become a stromtrooper. He is part of the team and has come to not only accept but fully embrace this. Now if that is not a strong storyline, I don’t know what is.
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