I am well aware that each of us has our individual list of favorite characters from the Star Wars Galaxy. We might like the same character for the same reasons – or even for vastly different reasons. Some of the reasons might revolve around major themes a character embodies, maybe traits we see in ourselves [or wish we’d see].
While no Star Wars character ever will knock Luke Skywalker from the Number 1 spot on my list [or in my heart 🙂 ], I do have other favorites, and with the introduction of the post-ROTJ trilogy, I have added a few new names to that list. Coming in at a firm #3 from the “The Force Awakens” cast is that former-stormtrooper-turned-close-comrade-of-Rey – Finn [or, in other circles, FN 2187].
Here is a young man at a crossroad in his life when we meet him. Have we been conditioned to believe that stormtroopers are “robot-like”, intent only on carrying out their orders [that oftentimes result in destroying all inhabitants in a village, on a planet without any notion that some of those inhabitants might be innocents], no matter what those orders entail? We witness an inkling of that in “A New Hope” with the destruction of Alderaan, and in TFA when an entire village on the backwater world of Jakku is obliterated. However, we most definitely get the impression that stormtroopers are not mere “robots” when we witness [the then unnamed] FN 2187 who most definitely is shaken by a comrade’s death. Here’s a young man who works in sanitation, and probably never thought he’d be thrust into battle, let alone be a member of an entourage tasked with slaughtering an entire village on a little backwater world known as Jakku. [As a veteran of the USMC, I can tell you that while each of us has our own MOS (military occupational specialty), each Marine knew/knows her/his primary job is that of a rifleperson – although many probably choose to ignore that ‘minor’ point.] Here is a young man who sees something wrong with the picture, and no amount of brainwashing [I wonder just what that indoctrination of which Captain Phasma spoke consists] is going to change FN 2187’s core ideology.
I like a person who can think for himself. 🙂
It is Finn who undergoes the most easily identifiable symbolic transformation of the entire Saga – that being his shedding of his former identity [when he discards his stormtrooper armor – piece by piece], and dons his new identity when he picks up Poe Dameron’s flight jacket. It might double as a fair shade protector from Jakku’s unrelenting sun, but it isn’t long before Finn is wearing the jacket … taking on his new persona. While Finn most definitely does not take up the mantle of “freedom fighter” just yet [he never does throughout TFA. He is motivated more by the desire to help his new friends – specifically Rey – than fighting for some cause that, in his eyes, is doomed], it is interesting to note that he is drawn in just that direction the longer he stays in the company of his freedom-fighting friends. In a manner of speaking, Finn’s closeness to his friends – some of whom have a direct connection to the Resistance – gives credence to guilty by association. In fact, that is exactly what one of Finn’s former allies-in-white-armor thinks when he spits “traitor!” at Finn. Examine the look on Finn’s face when he is falsely accused [in Finn’s own eyes]. Can one be a traitor when one stands up for something/someone – when one believes in that something/someone?
[To be fair, the confrontation between the stormtrooper wielding the electrified staff and Finn, armed with Luke’s lightsaber, sit on opposite sides of the same coin. From a certain point of view, the stormtrooper clearly sees Finn as a traitor – someone who has abandoned his comrades and the “just” fight (to return the First Order’s take on order to the galaxy) – yet Finn, armed with not only Luke’s lightsaber but with new knowledge, most definitely sees the situation from a different point of view – the First Order is a system of tyranny, unjust practices and wants nothing more than to subjugate everyone to the will of the few. Yes, at this point in the story, Finn is not ready to throw in with the Resistance completely, but he definitely sees the situation in a new light.]
One of the reasons why I am so drawn to Finn is that he has a little bit of Luke in him, and a little bit of Han in him. [How can one go wrong with that combination? 😉 ] At this point, may I head off on a tangent? I hope you don’t mind this detour. I just would like to inform you that I am a member of the cadre of fans who loved the fact that TFA paid homage to the Original Trilogy. (A) It was like being welcomed into the home of a friend I hadn’t seen in a very, very long time; (B) I did not think it detracted from the overall story; (C) Anyone who is a student of history knows that the more one thinks things change, they don’t. From a military standpoint, the only thing that changes is the weapons get bigger and more destructive. (D) Throughout history, the oppressed have fought for freedom, and it stands to reason that the same would be true in the Star Wars Galaxy. Back to our regularly-scheduled program… as I said – in part, I am a fan of Finn because he has a touch of Luke in him as well as a bit of Han. What a winning combination! 🙂
As far as comparing Finn to Han is concerned, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to equate the two … rather reluctant … heroes who eventually join forces with endeavors that quite clearly are bigger than themselves. They are very much alike. Each of them is going about his business – and before either of them knows it, he is thrust into a fight that neither one of them could have foreseen when waking their respective mornings. When the situation appears to be getting just a bit too intense for each soon-to-be freedom fighter, he decides he must turn away: Han on Yavin IV [despite Luke’s plea] and Finn on Takodana when he plans to hightail it as far away from the fight as possible [despite Rey’s plea]. It isn’t even difficult to see a touch of Luke in both men’s desire to flee. In ANH, Luke seems to be gung-ho to go off on adventure – until that old hermit implores Luke to follow him [Obi-Wan Kenobi] to Alderaan. “I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do!” Luke refutes. “It’s not that I like the Empire. I hate it! But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. It’s such a long way from here.” Sound familiar? Finn mirrors that sentiment – just in different words – while sitting with Han, Rey and Maz Kanata in Maz’s cantina on Takodana. However, events thrust both Finn and Luke down a new path. While it’s true that of the three, only Luke truly is driven by a connection to something larger than himself, all three characters are driven to get involved because of their growing connections to the people in their lives. Isn’t that what drives many of us, at least in part?
One of Finn’s less than stellar moments in TFA occurs shortly after he, Han, Rey and BB-8 visit Maz’s cantina. It is here he decides to abandon his newfound friends – to get as far away from the First Order as he can. Sure, the First Order cuts a pretty formidable figure. No one relishes the thought of sacrificing one’s self when the odds are so stacked against what amount to a rag-tag group of rebels. But just as John Stuart Mill stated so succinctly in 1867: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good *people* should look on and do nothing.” He was right on then. Those words ring true today. They ring loudly in that galaxy far, far away. Should the odds matter? Finn could do well to take a page from Han Solo’s book. I can hear Han bellow: “Don’t tell me the odds!” – and then accomplish the “impossible”. In the end, Finn did take a page from the veteran smuggler’s handbook. Like Han, Finn’s loyalty to his friends [specifically Rey] brings him back into the fold, and it isn’t long before he plays a pivotal part in the Resistance’s endeavor to thwart the First Order. Finn may have joined the fray first and foremost for Rey, and even because of his kinship to Poe, yet it wasn’t long before he could see the writing on the wall – that evil will triumph if good people sit back and do nothing.
What’s in store for Finn? I can’t wait to find out! When he wakes from his coma, he will have to decide his next steps – for Rey will not be present. Or will she? It’s not a given that she’ll start training with Luke. I have my own suspicions – and I am keeping them to myself … for the time being. Finn has gotten his first taste of what it is like to be part of something bigger than himself. I hope he becomes a full-fledged member of the not-so-fledgling Resistance. They can use a good man like Finn.
Until next time,
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