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Trying to understand Finn's motivations.

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Episode IX' started by Sparafucile, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. Sparafucile

    Sparafucile Rebel General

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    In TFA, Finn is initially motivated to just get away from the FO. This impulse and deep desire spans most of the movie. Along the way he develops an attachment to Poe and Rey. With Rey I believe there's a hint of something more emotionally, quite possibly it's mere biology, but there seems to at least be some romantic thought on Finn's side of things. When Rey gets captured, he puts aside his desire to survive to go on a near suicide mission to save her.

    In TLJ he asks about Rey, meets up with Poe and finds out what kind of trouble they are in soon after waking from a horrendous injury that nearly took his life. Rey seems unreachable, and Poe is fully committed to the cause, so Finn seems to revert back to his initial impulse, to survive and escape the FO. To me this means that Finn realizes that Rey is beyond him, not only physically, but a part of him realizes her destiny is greater than his. In this way, she's out of his league. I didn't get any resentment, but maybe some resignation in that when he comes to that conclusion, he decides to leave the Resistance.

    I can't help but wonder what Finn would have done had he managed to escape. He knows nobody outside of the few Resistance people. It's even quite possible the escape pod would have been captured or destroyed by the pursuing FO. However, assuming he gets past them, what do you think Finn would have done had he gotten away? Would he have been in much a different situation in IX had he disappeared for most of TLJ except for maybe a quick peek at him as an after credit realizing he needed to help the only friends he has in the galaxy?

    Now I realize his plot was supposed to make him dedicated to the Resistance. By the end, I say it succeeded. But we never saw that need in Han. I always felt Han was there primarily for Leia and Luke, not so much the cause. It's not that either Finn or Han disagree with the cause, it's that their primary reason for being there is for their friends. I always found this trait in Han to make Han more grounded and relatable. The people he cared about superseded the cause. Better to survive and fight another day. While Leia and Luke were all in, ready to martyr themselves for their beliefs. Much like Poe and Rey.

    Now I find this one of the tough parts to accept in the ST. I'm not saying people with deep convictions like Leia and Luke or Poe and Rey are not worthy of admiration. I do however find the loss of a Han like perspective to something more radical, presented as something that is needed as a loss to the series. It's like the ST is pushing an idea of extremism, that the radical thinking is needed. I liked how Finn's thinking was about his and his friends survival first. Having that contrast in motivations in the OT is kind of what made it so relatable to so many folks, because we can more easily identify ourselves in their motivations.

    Anyways, half of this is me musing these ideas and puking it out on here lol. I guess the point of the thread is two fold. Do you think a story could have been just as great had Finn escaped at the beginning of TLJ and come back in IX, and more true to his TFA self, motivated more with saving his friends rather than fighting for the cause? Second would be, do you think the message is more extreme in the ST than in the OT? That it's preferable to be more radical and willing to die for the cause, or that this is needed to be part of the Resistance rather than an individual with a willingness to fight for the cause but not at the expense of ones own life or those of his friends?
     
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  2. Jedi MD

    Jedi MD Force Sensitive

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    While I have to take some time to formulate my thoughts on this before I give my opinion, I do want to commend @Sparafucile for a very well thought out post.
     
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  3. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Rebel Official

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    Meh I think Finn probably would have found a way back to Maz and asked for help again.

    Interesting thought! In a way, maybe we can view the Canto Bight scenes as this? Finn does start out admiring the wealth and grandeur of the place, as well as its seemingly non-association with the FO. But then he comes back for the cause, so...hm...

    I think the message is what Rose says. It's about protecting/saving what you love, not fighting what you hate (or however the quote goes). Poe learns that when Leia and Holdo FINALLY explain their plan. Fin learns that through Rose sacrificing her necklace and her saving him. Rey...didn't need that lesson...?

    I think the problem with the messages comes down to the directors and their views. JJ said that there are fights worth fighting, that there is evil in the world, and that doing nothing is just as bad. RJ says that sometimes the lines aren't as black and white as that, but there is a way to get down to the bottom of it.

    Not sure if any of these answered your questions, but thanks for giving me questions to think about! FWIW I agree that Finn should go back to being about the people around him and not the whole "big idea."
     
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  4. techsteveo

    techsteveo Force Sensitive

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    You missed the entire point of him trying to steal the escape pod and leave the Resistance after he woke up. He took the tracking beacon so Rey wouldn't come back and be killed or captured. He felt the fleet was doomed and the only way to save Rey was to get as far away from the FO as he could, with the tracker. It wasn't until he met with Rose that he felt there was some hope for the Resistance in the form of knocking out the Hyperspace tracker. He never felt Rey was out of his league.
     
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  5. Apprentice of the Wills

    Apprentice of the Wills Clone Trooper

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    I believe that all of our characters in this saga are driven by "family" or their relationship to something resembling a family. Whether that is a chosen or biological family, each character's decisions, identities, and desires all are linked to a connection to or estrangement from "family".

    Based on Finn's arc in the script that they used for TFA, his actions and decisions are driven by friendship and by his desire to create a family or community because, as a brainwashed child soldier, he doesn't have roots or a family or an identity other than his serial number and his unit. When his friend is killed in the raid at the beginning of the script, it breaks something in him and his flight impulse kicks in. The only thing that was tying him to the FO was gone and he no longer had any connection to the cause.

    When Poe gives him a name and treats him like a person rather than a number/faceless soldier, Poe finds a connection and an identity apart from the FO.

    When he loses Poe, Rey becomes that new connection. Rey, too, suffers from a lack of identity or family and that's why she connects so quickly with BB-8 and Finn. Rey uses the memory of her family and the belief that they will return for her to dictate her actions and relation to other characters. She and Finn are like children with how awkward and naive they are toward each other at first with each wanting to impress the other. Poe's coat allows Finn to have a new identity as the "resistance fighter". He wants to impress her and he wants to embrace this new identity. Once Poe has Rey's friendship, all of his subsequent actions and decisions are based on the need to preserve his new "family" with her. His survival instinct expands to include her and he overrides that survival instinct to rescue her to preserve that family. We even see how brave and selfless he can be in order to preserve that family.

    In TLJ, it seems like Finn is still driven by the need to protect his "family" and to preserve his adopted identity. At the beginning, he tries to do that by running from danger but by the end he decides to fight and to sacrifice his life to protect the people that he loves. He doesn't get to do that, but that seems to be his arc.
     
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  6. Sparafucile

    Sparafucile Rebel General

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    It's certainly abbreviated, but it's in there in the second paragraph. "initial impulse, trying to survive and escape the first order.". You are right that I could have gone into more detail and I did mean to, but I mention at the end, I was mostly puking out some stray ideas and trying to get it down before my mind wanders to something else lol.

    I'll expand on that a little here. Finn wakes up, horrible memory likely his first thought, then immediately thoughts go to Rey. He meets Poe who's fully committed to the Resistance. He gets some info on Rey's whereabouts and the dire circumstances of the "fleet". To Finn, it's a lost cause. He's not even wrong in his assessment when you look at the outcome. Without Luke, a factor that was a long shot to begin with, they were all dead. Even with Luke the fleet is decimated and utterly routed. Finn survives by some movie magic more than anything else after Rose takes down his ship what I would assume is a few dozen feet from the FO fleet and weapon. All that to say that if he can escape the FO in this instance, it's reasonable to assume that it could be written in a way that he escapes the FO in his escape pod.

    So yeah, Finn tries to leave, but he's not a pilot, so the escape pod is his only option (Now Finn not being a pilot doesn't mean he can't drive anything, and in the SW universe, that likely means he can drive hover craft, but it does exclude anything that requires anything beyond the most rudimentary 3 dimensional thinking.). This to me would be the tricky part as he'd have to slip past the FO or get captured. A captured Finn would really change the story, as that would make Poe rebel against Leia/Holdo probably in an effort to save a friend and deserter, putting the fleet at risk. It would make Poe's risk more human, wrong tactically, but right morally at least from a certain point of view. Imagine a Finn re-integrated into the FO with a fresh brainwash? Or Finn dying to raise the stakes of the game moving forward, and where Rose can take his spot. Without the preachy aspect to her, I think the audience would have been more accepting and sympathetic with her and her sacrifice of her sister. Additionally, Finn could have been used as bait for Rey later in the story. I think it could have helped make some things more convincing, or at least more layered.

    However, if Finn slips by the FO in his escape pod, I don't know if there are any planets nearby. I doubt it, so then he would die out in space, which would be very anti-climactic but pretty funny in it's own light to show how Finn had really not thought anything out. Or we get a end credit where Finn gets picked up, unshaven and hungry by a major player for EpIX. Anything from a KoR to a Hutt or Lando, it could have been a great intro to some future players and create some buzz and anticipation for IX. I don't know that anything Finn did in TLJ is more useful than that. With an abbreviated Canto Bight, without anyone for Rose to preach to, we'd have shaved off some run time and condensed a movie that could have used a shave. Rose would have probably been better accepted, but admittedly, that's a guess.

    Maybe Poe and Rey assume Finn was a captive of the FO, maybe even on Kylo's flag ship and dead. The audience could have even been led to believe that up until the after credits. Thus Rey and Poe's motivations could have been spurred by some bad intel, which I think would have resounded more as a failure on both of them. Poe because he was willing to make a sacrifice based off a hunch and love of a friend. Driven by emotion rather than responsibility to his crew and their goal. Rey because maybe she goes to see Kylo in part to try and get Finn out of a jam that he isn't even in. She may sense him in distress, get a vision or faulty intel from Poe that lead her astray to draw faulty conclusions. In this way, Finn would still be integral to the story of TLJ, but as an idea and driving force behind decisions instead of a plot that leads him to a more radicalized self. Finn could have stayed mostly in tact, learning a valuable lesson at his impulsiveness that could lead to some growth.

    Imagine meeting Finn again in IX, after a time jump, as Leia goes to ask the Hutts for help against the FO, and Finn is standing guard by a Hutt as a mercenary, as only one possible scenario? Or maybe Lando shows up with Finn as his right hand man? Finn believing that his friends are dead, listening to the fake news of the FO. Rey and company believing Finn is dead.

    I guess I just find Finn's usage disappointing in TLJ and I enjoy thinking up different scenarios, thinking "what if?". I miss the more relatable, grounded Finn that would act like most of us would act... run from an overwhelming force with death being a likely consequence. We don't have that character in the ST anymore.
     
  7. techsteveo

    techsteveo Force Sensitive

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    Finn at the end of TLJ is Poe at the beginning of TLJ. All emotion, no brains. Quickly to engage the fight and do suicidal things to win. Only sees what's right in front of him. He's Poe now.

    Poe at the end of TLJ is now more like Leia. See's the bigger picture. Living to fight another day. Being strategic about things.

    In Episode IX, we will see both of them fully matured, almost equals as fighters and leaders. Think Lando and Han in ROTJ. Both committed to the fight. Both seasoned and well respected. Both heroes.
     
    #7 techsteveo, Dec 2, 2018
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  8. ThisIsNoCave

    ThisIsNoCave Clone

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    Finn is an interesting character. He doesn't want to kill for the First Order and has resisted their attempts to brainwash him. He seems to have a sense of wanting to belong. He's astute enough to know that he has to get away from the First Order, and recognizes that he was taken away from his family. So now he seems to be in search of a new family. Is that Rey? There seems to be a strong link between them, but is it friendship or something more? And he seems to have a genuine sense of friendship with Poe. As for his relationship with Rose? She has opened Finns eyes to duty and sacrifice, some of the realities of the world he was sheltered from as a Stormtrooper. But Rose also opened up Finn's eyes to fighting for something instead of throwing his life away. And possibly something romantic as well.

    I suspect that in Episode IX we might see Finn attempt to right some wrongs. Wrongs that were done to him, and wrongs that were done to other children who were stolen from their families to be made into Stormtroopers. I can still remember the scene from TFA where Hux was studying FN-2187's data file, complete with the image of Finn as a child. It's something that struck a nerve with me, especially since the story of child soldiers is something that has been an ongoing atrocity in our real world. Will Finn attempt to free some of the children that the First Order has taken? And will he lead a Stormtrooper revolution? I have to wonder if that might be the case. And it also leaves me wondering if he might be able to find his family in the process.
     
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  9. Apprentice of the Wills

    Apprentice of the Wills Clone Trooper

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    I share a lot of these feelings about Finn. A natural and satisfying evolution of his character would be helping his "family" of child soldiers or disrupting the "recruitment" process of the First Order. I'd imagine that the First Order is supported by vast networks of highly oppressed worlds that may or may not be made up of slave laborers. Finn and Poe could go on a mission to lead a revolt and liberate a world.

    Going back to your discussion of children and families, I find it interesting how each of our characters in this series had their childhoods stolen from them. Finn was a kidnapped child soldier brainwashed to fight for a cause that was not his own without the possibility of seeing his family again. Poe's mother was a Rebellion pilot and he never knew his father. Poe relied on Leia as a mother figure and was raised/mentored by her in an underground militant organization. Rey is still a mystery. She was abandoned on a backwater planet as a child to fight and scrounge to survive in the shadow of the Empire's graveyard. Kylo was a powerful and conflicted child whom his parents didn't understand enough to help so he was sent away to help his warrior/monk uncle pursue his goal of rebuilding a religious order until he was betrayed by his uncle and cast out into the darkness only to be adopted and raised by a gas-lighting abusive mystery-man who promises him purpose and power. Hux was the son of an Imperial Officer whose life work was based around training children into supersoldiers. Hux's whole life has been war and cruelty while living up to and surpassing the identity of his father.

    All of these people are developmentally stunted, which is why they are still very much like children in how they act and how they interact with each other.
     
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  10. SegNerd

    SegNerd Rebel General

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    This is just my opinion and I don't mean any offense to those who disagree - but I think this kind of lack of character development is one of the biggest problems with the ST.

    In the PT, Anakin takes three entire movies building up to making the ultimate wrong choice, and then in the OT, there are three more movies building up to his ultimate right choice. Luke also makes major choices and we see the build up and justification every time.

    In TFA, Finn just makes a choice to turn against the First Order before we have even met his character. The only other major decision in the movie comes equally "out of the blue" - Rey just decides to use the Force, for some reason.

    This is why, for me at least, the big decisions in the PT and OT lead to a feeling of pride for good decisions and even some amount of understanding for the bad decisions - whereas decisions in the ST seem almost random.
     
  11. eeprom

    eeprom Force Sensitive

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    In my observation for Finn, I see his growth as a matter of scope creep. From the moment we meet him in TFA, concerned over the death of a fellow trooper, the Finn character is established as someone who cares about and wants to help others. He comforts FN-2199 as he dies. He refuses to participate in the Jakku firing squad. He attempts to rescue Poe from the downed TIE. He instinctively runs to the aid of a girl he sees getting mugged.

    Finn, at his core, isn’t someone only concerned with his own well-being. Left to his own devices, I expect he’d be a good samaritan as far as he believed it was feasible. But he’s jaded by his experiences. He’s been conditioned to believe that the FO is unbeatable - programmed since birth. If helping others means going against the FO, then he won’t do it. There’d be no point.

    That’s his character arc at work and how TLJ moves him forward. He overcomes this limitation to arrive at a place where he’s helping others despite the odds. Not fighting the FO, but defending those they mean to harm. That’s also the underline goal of the Resistance and, from that perspective, the two motivations intersect neatly.

    I don’t think the character was handled terrifically well in TLJ, but having him absent for its run would have been a pretty big disservice in my opinion. The ST kicked off with him as our eye-line into this rebooted galaxy. His perspective and personal journey are vital to the trajectory of the story. I hope EPIX does him justice.
    I don’t know man. In ANH, when Luke races into the detention center to rescue Leia, he didn’t have much more buildup or justification than “they’re gonna kill her”. Sometimes simply being ‘a good person’ is good enough.
     
    #11 eeprom, Dec 4, 2018 at 11:37 PM
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  12. Unseen

    Unseen Rebel General

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    None of the character motivations make sense- that might be the biggest problem in the ST.

    Rey went from wanting to wait for her family, to "I guess I'll go find this Luke guy" to "Hey, I think I can turn this guy who killed his own father right in front of me good because we are both lonely". Had Rey been a logical/consistent character, she should have returned to Jakkuu at the end of TFA. Which now that I type that, might have been an original way to end the first flick in a trilogy. Then she would need to be convinced to help in the second film.

    That, or she should have been given an in-film reason (TFA) for deciding to go to Luke. But "I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, oh wait I'm captured, oh that was strange I kicked that guy's ass, well okay I'll go to this Luke guy" makes NO SENSE.

    Even if you want to say "she found people she belonged with"....then why leave THEM?? Luke is nothing to her at the end of TFA. Nothing.


    Finn? He has a thing for Rey. It is flimsy, as was his original reason for turning good, but at least it is something. Finn could have been such an interesting, conflicted, complicated character. Instead, we got a clumsy janitor for comic relief.

    Poe? He is completely one dimensional. There's a reason he wasn't supposed to live.

    Kylo? Don't even get me started. Anakin and Luke had tangible, relatable reasons why they were tempted/fell to the dark side. It was poorly executed in the PT, but Anakin fearing loss/death of loved ones makes sense.

    Kylo turned bad cuz "Snoke got to him"- oh and his dad wasn't there I guess?


    I think folks around here try to hard to analyze something that isn't there. They rushed this entire trilogy. Now, you might be entertained by it- but there are no deep character motivations to analyze- at least none that were effectively shown on film.
     
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  13. Jedi MD

    Jedi MD Force Sensitive

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    In TFA, Maz introduces Rey to the force, tells her that her family that is not coming back to Jakku for her and that Luke is in her future. That is why she goes to find Luke.
     
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  14. Aloy of the Nora

    Aloy of the Nora Rebelscum

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    Just because you fail to see something does not mean it isn't there.

    Maz straight tells her that her family is never coming back (so no logical reason to go back to Jakku) and Rey inferences that Maz is saying Luke can help find her what she is looking for. Not much analyzing required.

    On top of that Rian Johnson was nice enough to give Rey an alterior motive in Last Jedi to find Luke" Rey: Something inside me has always been there...but now it's awake, and I'm afraid. I don't know what it is, or what to do with it, but I need help" Not much analyzing required.

    She wants to bring him back so he can fight the FO and save the people she has found belonging with. As said in the previous post, Maz leads Rey to believe that becoming a Jedi and finding Luke will give her the belonging she seeks. So the possibility of Luke means a great deal to her. Not much analyzing required.

    Good thing Rian Johnson gave him more depth and made him more than just a cool pilot. He is now someone who has learned some hard lessons and is a prime candidate for taking over the Resistance one day. Not much analyzing required.

    Finn has overcome a great deal in this trilogy. Rey and he are good friends but that does not define him as a character. He has gone from a faceless stormtrooper, to a self serving coward, to a friend, to a hero, to a full fledged rebel. Not much analyzing required.

    Ben woke up to see his Jedi Master contemplating killing him (from his point of view) so that was a pretty good reason to turn on the ideology of the Jedi. This sets up a pretty logical fall from grace especially knowing Snoke has been grooming him from an early age. Not much analyzing required.
     
    #14 Aloy of the Nora, Dec 5, 2018 at 9:13 PM
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  15. SegNerd

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    But isn't that basically just a punt? Rey doesn't need any deeper motivations because she got all her motives from Maz. Well OK, then who the heck is Maz is where did she get her motivations?

    There's no question that Finn makes changes, but the question is why. There are thousands of other stormtroopers, and Finn is apparently the only one to go through these transformations. What makes him different from all the others?

    In my opinion, this introduction of "brain hacking" puts the whole saga in jeopardy. Yes, we always had Jedi Mind Tricks that could temporarily confuse the weak-minded, but the ability to permanently rewrite the mind of a Jedi in training really kind of cheapens the story. Why didn't Obi-Wan just reprogram Anakin instead of leaving him to burn? Why didn't Qui-Gon just reprogram Maul instead of fighting him? How would you feel if, instead of drawing a lightsaber, Palpatine pulled out some sort of brain keyboard?

    "POWER! UNLIMITED POWER! SEMICOLON!"
     
  16. RoyleRancor

    RoyleRancor Jedi General

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    It's not really a punt. It's bringing her internal struggles we see throughout the first and most of the second act to the forefront. It's just literally stating what we should have picked up on from the beginning. Rey is important. Her parentage and Jakku, are not. She's constantly struggling with self-identity and self-worth. The scenes with Maz just say it out loud.

    There are billions of people on this planet. What made Gandhi special? Mother Theresa? Bill Gates? George Lucas? Michael Winslow?
    Some people are special and different. Finn was special and different. Perhaps he is just the first. Maybe he is just the first to get away with it and they've killed dozens of others who couldn't be conformed.

    Brain hacking is a moderately misleading framing of what actually happens. It's manipulation. Not brain hacking. Putting bad thoughts in people's heads is not hacking. Snoke was telling Ben things he wanted to hear and stoking the flames of the darkside.
    This happens all the time in politics/news today. It's fear mongering 101, not brain hacking. Snoke tells Ben he's better and more important. Luke is out to get him. His parents are holding him back. It's their fault. Not his. He [Snoke] can make it all better. He can give you what you REALLY deserve.
     
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  17. Aloy of the Nora

    Aloy of the Nora Rebelscum

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    No idea where you pulled brain hacking from. Grooming and manipulating are probably the terms better suited for this situation.
     
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  18. eeprom

    eeprom Force Sensitive

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    We’re blatantly given Rey’s motivation for going to Ach-to instead of Jakku at the beginning of TLJ. I don’t understand this strange stipulation that a plot thread raised in one episode has to be resolved in that same episode. That defeats the whole purpose of serialized storytelling. ‘Long-form’ is the nature of the structure. We’re informed about her decision at the end of Episode 7 - at the beginning of Episode 8. What’s the problem?
    We have no idea how every other stormtrooper thinks and feels. There could be dozens or hundreds of others that recognize what’s happening is wrong, but don’t have the courage to act on it. The ‘why’ of it is irrelevant to the story. Finn’s intrinsic morality is part of the character. He understands right from wrong without having to be told. Some deeper reveal to that end doesn’t plus that aspect. It detracts.
    If by that, you mean: what if it was disclosed that Palpatine was also subtly manipulating Anakin’s emotions through the Force? Like, maybe, he was the one responsible for those visions that sent little orphan Annie off the deep end? Gotta say: wouldn’t be mad.
     
    • Great Post Great Post x 2
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