Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week’s bae is General Finn!
Who Is Finn?
Finn is one of the protagonists of the Star Wars sequel trilogy (who still lacks a surname, unlike Rey Skywalker, though I’m partial to the fan-created “Stormbreaker”). When we first met him, he was known as FN-2187, a stormtrooper for the diabolical First Order. FN-2187 was taken from his family as a baby and raised in the stormtrooper corps to be a perfectly loyal soldier. He tested highly and had a bright future ahead of him – serving the galaxy’s biggest evil. However, something happened at his first battle on Jakku – he made the choice not to shoot innocents. He would not be a pawn of the First Order.
Unfortunately, his defiance is noticed by Kylo Ren, the First Order’s vicious leader. When his superior orders him to be reconditioned – brainwashed – FN-2187 makes a choice. He breaks free Poe Dameron, who had been captured by Ren. Poe was a pilot for the Resistance who had been on a secret mission to find an important map. When FN-2187 breaks him out, he gets a second chance to complete his mission. They steal a TIE-fighter and flee the ship. Poe refuses to call FN-2187 by an anonymous soldier’s number and gives him a name: Finn.
Although Finn insists that they have to flee before they are recaptured, Poe steers them back to Jakku to pick up his droid, who is carrying the map he was after. Unfortunately, they are shot and crash on the planet. When Finn wakes up, Poe is lost, and he is in the middle of a desert. He stumbles his way into a settlement and finds Poe’s droid, BB-8, along with a new friend in Rey, a scrappy scavenger. When the First Order finds them, they have to run, and set off on a new adventure.
Rey and Finn find themselves on the Millennium Falcon. When the ship is captured by her rightful owner, Han Solo, they enlist his help to get BB-8 and his map to the Resistance. They head to Takodana to seek transportation to the Resistance base, but Finn insists that they have to run instead. The First Order is too big to fight, and they would be best suited to saving themselves. After failing to convince Rey to come with him, he sets out to a life in the Outer Rim. However, before he can leave, the First Order shows up. Determined to save Rey, he enters the battle, but she is captured.
Finn heads to the base with Han, and learns that Poe survived the crash and is back with the Resistance. The First Order has discovered the base, and is going to destroy it. Using his firsthand knowledge, Finn volunteers to go with Han to destroy the First Order’s weapon. However, he really only agrees so that he can save Rey. Once there, he and Han find Rey, who has already escaped on her own. They all set out to destroy the weapon, only for tragedy to strike as Kylo Ren kills Han.
Amidst a great battle between Resistance and First Order forces, Rey and Finn try to escape. Kylo Ren hunts them down and attacks, knocking Rey unconscious. Finn takes up her lightsaber and fights Ren one-on-one, holding his own against a Force-trained warrior. Eventually, Ren gets the upper hand, though Rey stops him before he can kill Finn. She defeats Ren, and she and Finn manage to escape right before the First Order base is destroyed. While Finn lingers in a coma, Rey goes off to start her Jedi training to save the Resistance.
When Finn awakes and Rey is gone, he immediately tries to follow her. However, he is stopped from abandoning ship by Rose Tico, whose admiration for the “great hero” is quickly overshadowed by disappointment at his abandonment. They agreed to work together when given a chance to save the Resistance. They travel to the casino world Canto Bight, and Finn sees the darker underside of a galaxy at war. Eventually, the two ends up on the First Order flagship, and Finn defiantly stands up to his former superior. Desperate to end the evil that had shaped his life, Finn nearly sacrifices himself but is saved by Rose.
As the Resistance tries to recover from their near-extinction and topple the First Order, Finn goes on many missions with Poe and BB-8. They discover that a superweapon is set to destroy them all, and go off on one last mission with Rey to save the galaxy. As Rey struggles with darkness and her conflict with Kylo Ren, Finn tries to be a supportive friend. He also has to juggle resentment from Poe and his own feelings regarding the First Order.
On this mission, Finn meets Jannah, another stormtrooper who defected. In the final battle, Finn and Jannah take on a fleet of starships, fully taking back the personhood that was stolen from them as infants. They nearly die in the process but are saved just as the Resistance wins the battle. They have finally achieved victory, though it’s tainted when Finn feels Rey die in the Force. Luckily, she comes back, and they are reunited at the Resistance base. Finn, who was once so afraid of the First Order that he ran away, was instrumental in their defeat, and can finally live a free life with his chosen family.
Why Is Finn Bae?
While Star Wars has always had fantastic characters, the sequel trilogy really delivers, particularly with the so-called “sequel trio” of Finn, Poe, and Rey. All three characters are interesting and captivating. It doesn’t hurt that Finn is wonderfully brought to life by John Boyega (we stan one king).
There have been some ill-conceived notions that Finn was not, in fact, the leading male character (a role that many claims belongs to Kylo Ren). This is patently false. Although Finn doesn’t get as much screen time in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker as he did in The Force Awakens, Finn is undoubtedly a hero throughout the entire trilogy – not a villain with a half-baked last-minute “redemption.”
One of the things that makes Finn such a captivating character is the growth we see, even just in The Force Awakens. At the beginning of the film, he was just a nameless soldier – just FN-2187. He was just one small cog in a very large, evil machine. But he decided that he would not do what was expected of him. He broke free, becoming Finn, his own person. Even then, the First Order still controls Finn’s life, to an extent. His fear of his former organization and desperate need to be free pushes him to run away from the battle to save the galaxy, at least at first.
However, we see Finn make the choice to actually do something. He goes to the Resistance, volunteers to go back to his base and take on the massive First Order that has haunted his whole life. He even duels Kylo Ren. It’s a far cry from the man who proclaimed that there was no hope. To be fair, this was all due to Rey. When Rey accepted Finn as a person, not a trooper, she changed him. He became devoted to her, rather than the Resistance. We see this when he tries to run off after her in The Last Jedi.
But this all changes. When he goes to Canto Bight with Rose, Finn becomes convinced of the need to resist the First Order and restore freedom to the galaxy. He’s even willing to sacrifice his life to achieve this goal. He devotes himself to the Resistance, going on numerous dangerous missions. When Poe is named leader of the Resistance, he asks Finn to be his co-general, so they can save the galaxy together. In the end, Finn is key to destroying the First Order, for good.
One of the most prominent theories in the sequel trilogy was that Finn was going to turn out to be Force-sensitive. This was sparked by promotional materials that prominently featured him holding a lightsaber and preparing to duel Kylo Ren, the villain. Unfortunately, this mostly turned out to be a smokescreen to cover the reveal that Rey was going to be the new Jedi, and it seemed like Force-sensitive Finn was not going to be. Still, Finn fans held out hope.
In The Rise of Skywalker, this hope pays off. Although it is not verbally confirmed, we can see that Finn is indeed Force-sensitive, though he is untrained. He mentions to Jannah that he had a “feeling” that prompted him to defect, a feeling that turned out to be the Force influencing him. We also later see that he feels Rey’s “death” the same way Leia had felt Han’s death in The Force Awakens. We don’t get to see how this all plays out in the movie since it ends after the battle, but we can guess that Finn will go on to train as a Jedi with Rey (hopefully we get supplementary materials that confirm this!).
But for the devoted fans, there were hints all along, even from the very start. In the opening battle on Jakku, Finn feels his comrade dying. At the moment when he chooses to defect – what some are claiming is the Force awakening in him – Kylo Ren senses his power. The Rise of Skywalker’s confirmation just affirms what fans already knew – Finn is something special. There’s a reason that he, of all the stormtroopers, broke rank. This also backs up the idea that anyone can be a Jedi, even a former stormtrooper. The confirmation opens up so many possibilities for the future.
What’s Not To Love About Finn?
Finn ushered us into a new generation of Star Wars. In the first trailer for The Force Awakens, it’s Finn who brings us into the action, as we see him on Jakku after his crash. From that moment, I was hooked. Throughout The Force Awakens, we get to really know and love this character. He escaped the abusive regime that stole his childhood and his identity. Although he was understandably afraid of confronting them, he put aside his fear to rescue the person he cared about most, showing considerable loyalty and bravery.
Many fans are upset at the treatment Finn received in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, justifiably so. The male lead we had been promised and teased with was pushed to the side in favor of whiny, obnoxious Ren, and the connections we saw Finn build in the first movie were left to languish on the sidelines. However, while we were considerably let down in Finn’s characterization, there are still so many great moments to cherish.
Finn manages to overcome so much in his past, and we see his triumphs throughout the trilogy. We see him stand up to Captain Phasma, his abusive superior who controlled his every move and defiantly proclaim himself a rebel. We see him devote his life to resisting and learning that he can live, rather than just die, for a cause. And, we see Finn find a family, something that was denied to him all his life. With Rey and Poe and their friends, Finn gets a new start. From FN-2187, stormtrooper, to General Finn of the Resistance, we see so much growth in this character. He’s an inspiration to us all, and I can’t wait to see him develop even further moving forward.