We are once again back with another closer look at one of the characters in the latest instalment of the Star Wars franchise; The Last Jedi. We have been looking at lots of the characters throughout the weeks and I have to say that I personally have found this one the hardest. Today we are looking at one of the newbies to the franchise; Rose Tico. This review will contain spoilers so be warned! On our main page you can find links to previous character studies and to both a spoiler and non spoiler review of the full film!
With all of our previous character studies we have been looking at the path the characters had already taken before TLJ in The Force Awakens (or for Luke even at the original trilogy). However with Rose we can’t, she has been newly introduced to us and so all we can work with is what we have been given so far. (More about that later on at the end of the post though since there have been some new developments on Rose’s storyline outside of TLJ!) I have to say that I was hesitant to write about her. I wasn’t sure that really there had been enough of development in her storyline and that I really knew enough about her but let’s give it a crack anyway and have a look.
When we meet Rose she has been through a great ordeal, the loss of her sister. Having a sister myself that I am very close with I can start to imagine how she must be feeling. I think something that becomes clear throughout the film as well is that at this first moment she feels conflicted about the sacrifice of her sister for the Resistance. Rose has been passionate about the cause for the majority of her life it seems clear, but now something has happened that puts this faith of the greater good in jeopardy. Even though she can resonate with her sister’s reasoning as to why she would sacrifice herself, now that is has happened she’s not so sure how to feel about it. However while in a way it has caused her faith to wobble it has also reaffirmed it. How is that possible? It is now more than just a group of people resisting, it is her sister’s legacy. Her sister gave everything someone could give to the cause and with that took a lot away from Rose, it now better bloody work! I’m sure we can all relate to that feeling that there’s a fine line as to how much you can give to something and that once that line has been crossed you are all in, the death of her sister was that one step over the line. This is why she reacts so harshly to Finn when she notices he wants to leave. Here is someone that she, and most probably her sister too, looked up to and strived to be like and he is planning to leave? This completely shatters the meaning of her sister’s death and most probably memories that she has of the two of them sitting together talking about their heroes, Finn being one of them. So even though so little is being said in these first few moments, in her movements and her actions it is clear how much of an impact her sister’s death had on her which is why it was so important to open the film with her sacrifice. It shows that people like her are the real heroes of this cause and not always the ones in the spotlight, which coincidentally is something that Poe also has to learn throughout this film and what shapes his character arc.
It is clear from the get go that Rose’s and Finn’s storylines are connected throughout the entire film. I do have to say that I personally felt like Rose contributed more to Finn’s development throughout the film than he did to hers and was sad not to see her grow more, however that doesn’t take away from her character! It was lovely to see a female engineer taking charge and showing that a good plan can come from anyone, not just the leaders. I don’t want to get too much into the debate about how many female characters a film should have etc. but I do want to give props to the Star Wars franchise for always providing women with a strong female character to look up to, and Rose is no exception. It might not seem like it to everyone but she is just as determined as someone like Vice Admiral Holdo and has the same spunk that we saw in Leia in the originals. An example of this is when her and Finn go to explain the plan to Poe and Finn tries to lead the conversation when really it was Rose’s idea. Rose continues to explain how the plan works and Poe listens to her just as much as he does to Finn which again reinforces this idea that being in a certain position does not always reflect who you are. To some people a female engineer should have absolutely no opportunity to have a say in the decision making and stay in their position but not try to join the fight as much, Rose is different. She is feisty, determined and knows that she has the skillset to take charge and lead, just like her sister did. She wants to shine light on the people that aren’t always immediately thought of and that they make just as much of an impact as the leaders, the way her sister’s sacrifice led to the destruction of the dreadnought.
Wanting to shine a light on ‘plain’ people and their stories is something that is again seen when her and Finn have found their way to Canto Bight. It is here where we get a bit more of an idea of what her childhood must have been like and how wronged her family has been by the First Order. It is visible that she is much more able to communicate with the planets’ citizens and the children in the stable as she has a connection with them and shares that childhood fantasy of joining the Resistance or seeing a Resistance Fighter with them. It is the same fantasy that Rey has when her and Finn meet and afterwards when they both meet ‘Resistance Hero’ Han Solo.
We see Rose for the final time when she saves Finn on Crait by putting an end to his ‘well intended but wrongly considered’ self sacrifice. The first time I saw this I wasn’t too happy about it, I felt like it belittled her character especially once she kissed Finn to just being a love interest in the end. However I chose to try and see it another way, yes I could have stayed annoyed at her storyline but I tried to delve in deeper. Really her character makes all the difference to Finns’ upcoming story line, doesn’t that really make her the Hero? She has done something that even Rey couldn’t do on Takodana, convince him to join the Resistance and show him it is worth fighting for. She also speaks some of the most important words in her final moments;
“That’s how we will win this war. Not by fighting what we hate but saving what we love.”
This is so crucial to the entire storyline and is something that so many of the characters learn throughout their arcs; Poe learns not to blow things up, Finn learns not to blow himself up and Rey learns that she does not have to fight her heritage or lack thereof.
So in the end I think it is pretty clear that actually Rose is a very complex character in the film, it might not be the most obvious (and yes there is the question do we have to analyse everything to really enjoy a storyline) but it shows how much thought and work has gone into these characters and the whole film. Now quickly going back to what I mentioned at the beginning about the development of her character outside of this film. It has been announced that there will be a short comic featuring Rose and her sister Paige which is set just before the Last Jedi. This should give us some more insight into her backstory and for those of us who really enjoyed all of her moments some more reading material!
Want to read more? See our other The Last Jedi Character Studies for example: