– written by HanSpinel (this article serves as a Prelude to the 3-part series “Renewed Shall be Blood that was Broken”)
Happy Valentine’s Eve, Peanuts!
The Last Jedi script was made available at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library and podcaster Who Talks First managed to transcribe some of the exact lines from the script. The script line describing Rey and Finn’s embrace in the final moments of The Last Jedi caught my attention:
But even as Finn embraces her, we see it in his eyes, this is not the same Rey he knew before.– The Last Jedi Script
This is an honest look into Finn’s perspective at the end of The Last Jedi. But how did Finn and Rey get here? And what exactly has changed about Rey from Finn’s perspective? As we embark on the journey to Episode IX, it’s worth reviewing the Sequel Trilogy through Finn’s Acts of True Love for Rey, along with the chemistry and bond they develop along the way, and yes, perhaps even romance….
Back to Jak….
Two movies into the Sequel Trilogy (ST), Finn and Rey arguably have established the deepest bond among the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens. Their first formal greeting follows a hair-raising escape from Jakku, where they share a playful bit of banter on the Falcon reminiscent of volleys between Han and Leia in the Original Trilogy:
As the Falcon blasts off and away from Jakku, Finn and Rey begin spinning, quite literally, around one another as they relive their adventure together. BB-8 breaks up their moment; the droid is suspicious of Finn. Rey reassures the droid that Finn will help it return home. She pauses for a moment, looks down and then adds,
“We both will.” – Rey– The Force Awakens
Rey’s self-realization that she wants her journey to continue with Finn prompts her to ask for his name. This is, in fact, the first time Finn introduces himself to anyone by his new-found name – the name his now missing friend, Poe Dameron, gave him. Finn looks down; perhaps remembering Poe in this moment, but then makes eye contact as he answers, “Finn. What’s yours?” Rey responds kindly while never breaking eye contact, “I’m Rey,” and a smile sneaks out of her lips before she’s even finished. It’s as if she’s just shared a secret….
Finn attempts to confess that he’s not actually with the Resistance, but his admission is interrupted by a blown motivator on the Falcon. Amongst their struggle to fix the Falcon (one of my personal favorite scenes from The Force Awakens – Rey, Finn, and BB-8 are amazingly hilarious together), Rey suggests she must get back to Jakku. “Back to Jak….,” Finn is perplexed, and in asking Rey why she needs to go back, he steals the opportunity to also inquire about her love life:
Finn: Rey, you’re a pilot. You can fly anywhere. Why go back? You got a family? You got a boyfriend? A cute boyfriend?– The Force Awakens
Finn’s specific exchange with Rey is quite unique in the Skywalker Saga, and it goes well beyond the theme of the Sequel Trilogy in asking who Rey is, and where she’s from. Finn is the only character, thus far, to additionally, and specifically, ask about the potential of Rey’s love life. This direction and writing deliberately identifies to the audience that Rey is a character who is capable of making romantic choices. Further, it deliberately identifies Finn as a character capable of pursuing romantic interests.
Altogether, this scene marks the third time in all of the Skywalker Saga when one primary character specifically asks about the potential, past, present, or future romantic possibilities of another primary character. The other two?
Anakin to Padmé (about Padmé) | Attack of the Clones
Padmé: I don’t know….– Note: Anakin asks Padmé about her previous relationship off-screen, prompting the dialogue on-screen.
Anakin: Sure you do…. You just don’t want to tell me.
Padmé: Are you going to use one of your Jedi mind tricks on me?
Anakin: They only work on the weak-minded.
Padmé: Alright. I was 12. His name was Palo. We were both in the Legislative Youth Program. He was a few years older than I…. very cute…. dark curly hair…. dreamy eyes….
Anakin: Alright, I get the picture. Whatever happened to him?
Padmé: I went on to become a Queen. He went on to become an artist.
Anakin: Maybe he was the smart one.
Padmé: You really don’t like politicians, do you?
Anakin: I like two or three, but I’m not really sure about one of them. (smiling)
Han to Luke (about Leia) | A New Hope
Han Solo: Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.– Note: Luke specifically asks Han what Han thinks of Leia, not about Luke+Leia, whereas Han asks Luke specifically about Han+Leia.
Princess Leia Organa: You needn’t worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive! [to Luke] Your friend is quite a mercenary. I wonder if he really cares about anything… or anybody. [leaves]
Luke Skywalker: I care. [sits down next to Han] So, what do you think of her, Han?
Han Solo: I’m trying not to, kid.
Luke Skywalker: Good.
Han Solo: Still, she’s got a lot of spirit. I don’t know, what do you think? You think a princess and a guy like me–
Luke Skywalker: No.
It is obviously worth noting that these two examples resulted in romantic relationships, and that each are representative of the primary romantic relationships of their respective trilogies. It’s also worth noting that kisses or touching in and of themselves tend to be extremely unreliable indicators of foreshadowing romance. It appears, at least for the primary characters in Star Wars, romance is reserved for those that ask….
Heartsick for Finn
OK, best to grab a blanket and cuddle up, peanuts, we’re going to let this interaction marinate….
Rey looking at Finn like no one ever had is significant in that it identifies Rey as the most unique and important person in Finn’s life. Remember, he was taken from a family he’ll “never know.” Finn was perceived as the man he wanted to be when he decided to leave the First Order – a man following his convictions and indestructible heart. Finn treasures this look from Rey, and declares that he is “….never going back [to the First Order].” Just as important, Finn’s admission MAKES CLEAR to Rey just how important she is to him.
Second, and hold up, Rey is HEARTSICK as Finn walks out the door?!
The 5-alarm Love Alert should be sounding off for anyone familiar with the singular meaning of this word:
Rey feeling heartsick for Finn unmistakably indicates love for him. Regardless of whether or not this is romantic or more familial, it essentially reciprocates Finn’s feelings, identifying him as the most important person in her life that she can remember (and since the time of loss in the Forcevision). Just as significant (as will be discussed below), and in contrast to Finn’s admission above, Finn DOES NOT know how important he is to Rey since this is a feeling she chooses to hide (for now). Rey does not open herself up to being vulnerable; most likely because the hurt of losing a loved one is too great for her to relive….
The FinnRey Awakens Distant Memories of Love Lost
This moment of Finn walking out the door, and Rey feeling heartsick over it, is immediately, and likely not coincidentally, followed by the sound of her former and younger self crying out to the last loved one or family member she ever knew. In other words, the loss of love (Finn) was an impactful moment for Rey on Takodana, and it appears to have triggered a hauntingly familiar and traumatic memory of losing family/love in the distant past; only later accelerated to a Forcevision by Rey touching the Skywalker Legacy Saber.
Note also, the saber does not call out to Rey in a literal sense; i.e., the saber does not call to her, “Rey…. Rey….Come to me, Rey.” No. Rey first hears herself crying out to family or a loved one as a young child. She follows these cries to the old wooden box containing Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber.
So, was it the saber calling to Rey the entire time, and it just so happened to mysteriously or coincidentally line up perfectly with Rey losing love for the first time since the moment in the Forcevision? I think not. I think this is a clear case of consequence over coincidence. I believe the awakening of Rey’s buried memory and distant screams of losing family/love is a direct consequence of Finn (love) walking out the door. In essence, this present-day trauma opened Rey up to buried feelings of love and family lost from the past. Something inside her had always been there, but now it’s awake, and her heightened self-awareness paired with her innate Force sensitivity allows her to then sense the saber’s presence and follow its call.
Following, is it not curious that the haunting sounds of herself crying for family/love (spurred by the loss of love at present) are directly tied to her sensing the presence and call of Luke Skywalker’s light saber? Put another way, would it make more thematic sense for this entire scene to be one big coincidence, and the loss of love at present spurs the memory of losing filthy junk-trading drunkards? Or, does it make more thematic sense that her repressed memories of cries for family/love are tied to a relic from her family’s past? How else are the two related in a meaningful way or thematic context to the film itself, Sequel Trilogy as a whole, or the entirety of the episodic Skywalker Saga? If you ask ol’ HanSpinel, there is more meaning and thematic context to be found within her awakened buried memory being a consequence of love lost at present. This, of course, would further support the Star Wars Shadow Council’s Case for a delayed Rey Skywalker reveal in Episode IX….
Acts of True Love
I’ll take this moment to remind you of three key elements to the story before reviewing the following scene below:
1) Finn declared to himself and to Rey that he was “….never going back [to the First Order],” and he left Rey’s sight not wanting to have anything to do with the fight against the First Order.
2) Finn has NO IDEA how Rey feels about him.
3) Rey’s deepest desire has been spelled out, and made loud and clear in TFA and to the audience, but not necessarily to Finn – she’s been waiting for “whomever” to come back for her, to know that she is loved and not forgotten. Remember, Rey specifically tells Finn that it’s “none of your business, that’s why….” she wants to go back to Jakku.
After running into each other, “All Finn wants to do is hug [Rey] – and she him.” This firmly establishes both characters’ “want” in the story – each other, and the warmth of their respective embrace. This is important to distinguish from their respective “needs” in the story. For the need(s) of both Finn and Rey, it is best to assess after all is said and done (i.e., after IX), and my own speculation goes beyond the scope of this article. For now, it is well-established that the “wants” are clearly defined.
And while we’re on the want/need topic, I’ll take this opportunity to clarify for the record that I don’t believe Finn requires a love interest, nor does Rey. Both of their character arcs are intriguing and meaningful without a romantic relationship. Alas, I just report and analyze what I’m provided….
Finn has come back to the heart of the place he swore never to return. Finn’s choice and actions are motivated only by his sheer personal affection for Rey, and he has no knowledge or expectation of any future reward; i.e., Finn performs the “Act of True Love Trope” for Rey. Most importantly, Finn’s Act of True Love answers Rey’s deepest desire – for someone to return for her, “This is all she’s ever wanted anyone to do.”
It matters not that whomever she’s waiting for on Jakku is never coming back, and whatever tragedy surrounds Rey’s abandonment is remedied by the return of Finn – he is here now to protect, care for, and love Rey. (I do concede that an Act of True Love does not necessarily equate to romance in storytelling, but it does strictly equate to some form of “love”).
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
This is, in fact, the only use of the word “adore” in The Force Awakens script. Again, this does not implicate romance by itself, but it does clearly define the fact that Rey loves Finn, and as presented above, Finn clearly loves Rey.
Moreover, I argue that Finn’s Act of True Love fulfilling Rey’s deepest want in life creates a bond and chemistry between the two that will forever be unbreakable. Call it what you want – I call it love. Even in the midst of Finn and Rey being separated for almost the entirety of The Last Jedi, we are made aware of this unbreakable bond throughout….
After getting knocked unconscious defending Rey against Kylo Ren, Finn suddenly awakens in The Last Jedi, “REY!” In his mind, he is back in the snowy forest of Starkiller Base. Rey is in grave danger with a roaming Kylo Ren…. but no, he is somewhere else, and alone….
Poe: “You must have a thousand questions.”– The Last Jedi
Finn: “Where’s Rey?”
Finn is aboard the Resistance’s Raddus starship. He is still in dire condition, and Finn does not have a thousand questions – he has one question. Finn wants nothing more than to make sure Rey is safe.
After a thunderous attack by Kylo Ren and the First Order, General Leia’s cabin suffers a direct hit and she is blasted into space. Not only does Leia manage to regain consciousness, she musters enough focus to use the Force in pulling herself back to safety. Perhaps most importantly, through it all she hangs on for dear life to the tracker beacon for Rey. This scene demonstrates that at all costs, Leia values, both literally and metaphorically, her connection to Rey, and it appears as valuable as, or more than, her own life.
Left in critical condition, Leia is rushed to medical aid, and in the process of falling completely unconscious, she drops the tracker beacon to Rey. Finn is there to pick it up. Knowing how important this tracker was to Leia, it is significant to note that Finn literally, and metaphorically, picks up the important task of Rey’s safety from Leia.
In deciding that he must relinquish his desire to find and track down Rey, Finn entrusts his best friend, Poe, with the beacon. It is my own interpretation that this is perhaps, the most significant, and yet (intentionally?) underplayed, moment for Finn. No words are spoken during this exchange, and the impact relies strictly on the silence, body language, and facial expressions directed in the scene:
Finn extends his arm, holding the beacon in front of Poe. Poe makes no motion, but looks intently at the beacon, then back up at Finn. The camera cuts to Finn’s face, he continues to hold out the beacon to Poe – he is pleading in silence. The camera cuts to a wide-angle shot of the both of them. Finn’s hand and arm still outstretched…. waiting. The camera zooms in and focuses specifically on the tracker beacon to Rey – Rey’s theme is playing subtly in the background. Poe’s hand reaches up and takes it from Finn. Immediate cut-scene to the sunrise on Ahch-To. Daylight breaks through a small crevice in one of the ancient huts, and shines onto Rey’s face. She awakens….– scene description from The Last Jedi by yours truly, HanSpinel
Again, my own interpretation, but this scene speaks to me as Poe knowing exactly how much this beacon means to Finn; he knows that by accepting the beacon from Finn he is making a promise to find Rey, and make sure she is brought home safe and sound. Poe is also under the impression that Finn’s chances of making it back from his mission to infiltrate the Supremacy itself are grim. Poe’s best friend, Finn, is sacrificing himself for the Resistance. Finn loves Rey; and Poe knows it.
(Personal note and an aside re Rey and Poe’s interaction at the end of The Last Jedi –
Poe: I’m Poe.
Poe: I know.
Poe already “knowing” who Rey is, in my read, means that he essentially wanted to introduce himself to the most important person in his best friend’s life. i.e., yeah, I know who you are, my friend literally talks about you all the time).
Unknown to both Finn and Poe, Rey constantly wonders about Finn and is continually thinking about him during her struggles throughout the film:
Rey: Still can’t reach the Resistance?
Rey: Keep at it. If you get through, check their status…. and ask about Finn….
Rey: As soon as I launch, you jump back out of range. Stay there until you get my signal to where to rendezvous.– The Last Jedi
Rey: If you see Finn before I do…. tell him…. [she contemplates just what to say]
Chewbacca: [Growls a suggestion].
Rey: (smiling) Yeah, perfect. Tell him that.
Chewbacca: [Nods OK, and growls in agreement].
This is actually quite comical in hindsight. Rey is coy with Chewbacca at first when inquiring about Finn, attempting to slip this part in with the other important tasks. But by the second time on-screen, Chewbacca is FINNishing Rey’s thought for her…. 😉
At Long Last, a New Rey of Light
Before their embrace on Crait, note that the very last moment Finn shared with Rey was when she was forcefully thrown into a tree on Starkiller base by Kylo Ren. Rey drops to the forest floor, body limp in the snow – she is unconscious or worse. Finn immediately rushes to her aid, and he cradles her head in his hands, “REY! Rey!? Rey! Rey! Oh no, no, no. Rey!” Kylo Ren spins his saber readying himself for combat, cutting through Finn’s attention, but not Finn’s undying desire to protect Rey.
Finn takes up the Skywalker saber, and admirably defends Rey against the Master of the Knights of Ren. It’s all he knows to do – another Act of True Love:
When your beloved is in dire need of your help, or in great danger, and you do something, at great expense to yourself, for the sake of their safety, their welfare, or their happiness, thus proving beyond any doubt that you put their interest ahead of yours.– Act of True Love Trope
Ultimately, Finn is maimed up the length of his back by Kylo Ren’s blade during their duel, rendering him unconscious or worse. What are Finn’s last and new first looks of Rey?
Indeed, she is not the same Rey he knew before their embrace on Crait. Rey is a Jedi.
And what about Rey’s last and new first looks of Finn?
Oh come on, can someone just cue Etta James already?!
Truly, both Finn and Rey do not need a romantic relationship for their ultimate arcs to provide meaningful resolve in Episode IX. With that being said, the stage is definitely set for one, and all that’s left is for someone to make a romantic move or gesture (see: Anakin initiating the kiss with Padmé; Han initiating the kiss with Leia).
I’ll conclude here by posing a question to the readers: which one, if either, makes the first move in Episode IX?