from I Am a Stormtrooper
(aka Star Wars books for kids continue to be the best)
Like you can place Finn and Kylo Ren side-by-side and show them both the exact same tableau and they will each get something completely different out of it
For god’s sake, this happened in canon
Kylo and Finn were BOTH ON JAKKU at the EXACT SAME TIME and were looking in the EXACT SAME DIRECTION
Kylo Ren saw a destroyed village burning to the ground and didn’t think anything of it
Finn saw a destroyed village burning to the ground and saw it as abject, like actually fundamentally Wrong, like Offensive To All Senses, even more than being simply cruel and evil (bc remember, he has no reason to believe that this is anything other than normal; expected even)
Like Finn has been conditioned for this, spent his whole life being trained for it, never considering that it was wrong, and it still looked wrong: wrong to the touch, wrong to the eye, wrong in concept and thought and feeling
It was wrong enough to make him flee
Like even beyond the common Nature vs Nurture questions, Finn 100% embodies the concept of justice and goodness sprouting from places where it had no right to live (and conversely, Kylo embodies the concept of having all the required ingredients for greatness [growing up in peacetime, having heroes for relatives, increased access to ideas etc] , and ends up bad anyway)
Finn is the perfect foil for KR and their dynamic yields more than any other, is what I’m saying
Truthfully, my problem with Finn is his decision to leave the First Order makes no sense to me. It was established that he grew up with no family but his fellow Stormtroopers. He is functionally a child soldier. He knows no other morality.
He should not have seen the massacre as wrong. The villagers had just shot several of his friends. Psychologically, he should be fine with massacring them. He should see it as justice.
The fact that he decides to be good for no reason strikes me as frankly lazy writing.
Finn didn’t “decide to be good for no reason”. In the film, he sees his “friend” die and his peers slaughter largely unarmed innocents on behalf of the First Order.
And then in the books (Before the Awakening and Finn’s Story) you get confirmation of the fact that Finn has BEEN a good person. He’s been questioning the validity of the First Order from before he first is exposed to what they’re really like (trying to help Slip is a major sign):
I suggest re-watching The Force Awakens and reading the supplementary material with a stronger focus on Finn because your opinion on him isn’t supported by either of them and, because of the lack of empathy/understanding you show Finn, smacks of the typical racism he’s faced with in this fandom.
You call it lazy writing but your analysis is… beyond flawed and super frustrating as it doesn’t actually mesh with the Finn in canon.
And on top of that: Finn didn’t decide “to be good for no reason”.
He was always good.
That’s kind of the point…
A lot of the complaints about Kylo Ren as a villain is that he lacks Vader’s larger than life evil, he’s too common, too human to be evil. Traits that are used by his stans to argue why he will/must be redeemed.
I would like to point out that both camps, those who hate Kylo Ren for his humaness and those who use it for his defense, has missed the point JJ and Lawrence were trying to make.
Before the events of Before the Awakening, stormtrooper FN-2187 is assigned creche duty. The experience is… illuminating.
The parallels between Finn and Kylo Ren are the most direct (and stark) in terms of toxic masculinity. Finn seems to reject this toxicity, whereas Kylo Ren is constantly hung up on performing and proving himself strong enough. They are opposites: especially evidenced by the way they treat Rey – how they define themselves against the chief female presence of the movie.
Like Finn, Kylo Ren is also interested in and impressed by Rey. (And he also first meets her when she attacks him.) But instead of treating Rey like a person, Kylo acts out of aggression, objectification, and self-centeredness. He immediately immobilizes her, Force-faints her, and then carries her, bridal-style, to his ship: old-fashioned, exploitative, and gross. His language towards her is incredibly patronizing: “So this is the girl I’ve heard so much about…” He proceeds to insult her friends and threaten and torture her: violating her mind, using her as a tool but also relishing the show of his own power and the taking of something personal by force. “I can take what I want” is simultaneously a threat, a statement of power/entitlement, and a declaration of how Kylo fundamentally views Rey: an object, something controllable to serve his purposes. When the tables turn and Rey reads him, he is incredibly shaken by the subversion of his own authority and control, and when she escapes, he storms around looking for her in a blind rage, pursuing her with a weapon. Even as she’s beating him in the ensuing lightsaber battle, he has the gall to mansplain her own power to her: “YOU NEED A TEACHER!”
Unlike Kylo Ren, Finn uses Rey’s name throughout the movie. Kylo never calls her anything but “the girl” or “the scavenger,” even when addressing her. While Finn helps others without question, is vulnerable, and demonstrates affection, humor, feelings, and honesty, Kylo Ren is the opposite – all about projecting his own power and lashing out. He takes himself and his image incredibly seriously, valuing himself over others and their goals, treating underlings callously and with violence. Meanwhile, Finn accepts BB-8 as something deserving of his respect and speaks to the droid like a person.
While Finn easily cooperates with those around him, Kylo competes and chokes and throws tantrums, exchanging insults with Hux and belittling him at every opportunity, locked in a power struggle even with his allies. As Finn resists hurting the innocent and then straight-up defects over this, Kylo Ren is the one who orders their murders and then tortures his captives. Where Finn removes, and then ditches, his helmet at the first opportunity, Kylo Ren clings to his completely unnecessary, fabricated mask — a face that is not his own, versus Finn’s sincerity. It’s a powerful metaphor, putting on another face to become something else, to assume power. To disguise one’s true nature. The dark side, like gender, is performative — and the mask, in this case, is literal.
Beep, beep, boop, boop, beep.
ok imagine finn going on a mission, he has to go to a bar or some place and they’ll only allow him in if he gives his full name, and so when asked to give his last name he falters for a bit and just says, “dameron… the name is finn dameron”
pls also imagine finn confiding in rey that be did that, all super nervous like “what if poe finds out was that a good idea am i okay” because of course rey who has lived in the desert with no family would Know These Things, and rey immediately being like “that’s a GREAT idea!!!” and doing it too
and then at some point someone runs into all three of them like “ah yes, the damerons” and poes like “….. OKAY!!!” bc tbh he’d be So Happy
Rey swung her feet absently while sitting on a small pile of crates. Poe stood by her, arms folded, both of them waiting patiently for the doors to open and for Finn to emerge. Their friend was being debriefed after returning from a month-long mission–and somehow waiting these last few minutes to see him felt longer than waiting for the last four weeks.
“You don’t think he’s hurt? Or done something stupid and got himself in trouble?” Rey asked, kicking her heels against the crate. “It’s taking too long.”
“He’s fine,” Poe said, completely self-assured. “I’ve had debriefs last hours before.”
“It’s already been hours,” Rey whined.
“It’s only been twenty mi–” Poe caught Rey’s rueful grin and rolled his eyes. “He’s fine,” he repeated. But Rey noticed how tightly his arms were folded. Poe was just as impatient as she was.
When the doors finally swung open, Poe was the first to throw out his arms and exclaim,
“Finn! Good to fee you buddy!”
as he stepped forward to embrace him. Finn more collided with Poe than hugged him. He was stiff-armed and slow to react and almost jerked away from the pilot’s warm embrace.
“P-oh! Uh, hey!” Finn stammered, clapping Poe awkwardly on the back. Rey watched the excruciating exchange with raised eyebrows and a half grin.
“Mr. Dameron!” the summons came from within the room and drew the attention of both Poe and Finn. “We’d like to consult with you as well please.” Poe slapped Finn’s shoulder as he broke the hug and stepped toward the threshold.
“Need the advice of an expert, obviously,” he said with a grin. “Catch you two afterward for drinks? Don’t wait up.” Finn gave a distracted ‘mmhm’, and visibly relaxed once the door shut after Poe.
“Wow. What was that?” Rey asked, almost laughing.
“What was what?”
“That! That hug, that was awkward to watch–let alone experience. What’s–is something wrong? Did something happen during the mission?” she asked, grin suddenly dropping.
“No!” Finn assured quickly, “No everything went fine. Everything is great.”
“Y’know,” Rey said, hopping off of her crates so she could hug Finn, “You’re a terrible liar.” Finn sighed and pulled away.
“The mission went fine–I just… gave them my name.”
“Were you not supposed to introduce yours–”
“Not my name!” Finn said suddenly, rubbing his face as he realized his mistake. “I mean, on the mission they asked for my name. My last name.” Finn said, hands still pressed to his face.
“Okay, you don’t have a last name.”
“Right? I didn’t want to explain why I don’t have a last name. But they kept asking. And I just… gave them Poe’s.” Finn peered out from between his fingers. Rey was grinning at him open-mouthed with her hands clasped together at her chest. Finn groaned loudly, spinning sharply away from her expression to walk briskly down the hall. “I need a drink!”
Despite saying he needed a drink, Finn only worriedly thumbed at the glass and switched it from hand to hand.
“I don’t understand what you’re so worried about,” Rey said through a mouthful of food.
“It’s not weird? It’s weird, it’s so weird. Why would I say my last name is Dameron?” Finn asked, pressing the cool glass against his forehead.
“It’s not weird,” Rey insisted, leaning over the table to pick the fruit off of his plate.
“How is it not weird?!” Finn asked with hushed vehemence. Rey retreated, leaning back with raised hands before re-settling and popping a pilfered grape in to her mouth.
“I mean, he named you Finn right? Makes sense that he’d give you your last name too.”
“Give what to who?” Poe asked, sliding in to an empty chair at the table so suddenly that Finn jolted and spilled some of his drink. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Poe said with a grin. “You gonna eat this?” he asked, pulling Finn’s plate across the table with his little finger.
“Mr. Dameron,” Rey said, imitating the officers who had summoned Poe, while side-eyeing Finn. “How was your debrief?”
“I’m running some recon in a few days,” Poe answered with a shrug, “Nothing serious. Did Finn give you any juicy details about his mission?” Rey grinned,
“I got an overview. But it was all very succinct and official,” Poe said. Finn breathed an almost imperceptible sigh of relief at that. Possibly the ‘Finn Dameron’ portion of the mission had been omitted. Poe gestured toward Finn, “Why don’t you regale us with your heroics. Don’t be afraid to embellish.”
“Rey, I don’t understand why–”
“Just a second!” Rey insisted, cutting Finn off as she fumbled with something. Finn huffed a sigh and kept his eyes closed. He gave a slight start when Rey took his hand and then pressed something in to it. “Alright, look!” she said excitedly.
Finn blinked his eyes open and looked down at the object in his hands. It was a leather binder, tri-folded around some papers. Finn undid the cord around the bundle and opened it up, smoothing the paper within so he could read the contents.
“I’m a pilot!” Rey interrupted gleefully, pushing herself shoulder to shoulder with Finn so she could tap the paper excitedly. “I mean officially. I’ve always been a pilot, but now I have paperwork.”
“Oh!” Finn said, a smile splitting across his face. “Congratulations!” Rey pushed against him and poked at the paper some more.
“You’ve not even seen the best part though!” Finn’s brow furrowed and he followed Rey’s pointing finger. He read a line or two become coming up on the words.
…Official permit registering the Pilot Rey Dameron for all vehicles…
“You did not,” Finn said.
“I mean. I’ve never been officially anything. And I needed a last name in order to be registered, so I just thought… Dameron!” Rey explained.
“You thought what about me?” Poe asked, appearing behind them.
“I’m a pilot!” Rey said without missing a beat, pulling her papers out of Finn’s hands and shoving them toward Poe before he could do anything about it.
“You mean you finally learned to fly? Thank goodness. Riding with you in the Falcon is like actively seeking a heart attack.” Poe said, looking over the papers. Rey punched him playfully in the shoulder.
“I mean officially now. I have papers.”
“I can see that. You’re…” Poe trailed off. Finn pinched the bridge of his nose, bracing for Poe’s reaction. He gave a short, sharp laugh, surprised, but delighted. “Rey you’re…” he said, and his voice wavered a little bit. The pilot threw his arm over Rey’s shoulders and hugged her close. “You’re definitely a pilot worthy of the namesake,” he said, a broad grin on his face.
“Thank you!” Rey said, laughing a little, cheeks pink.
“Our Rey is a pilot now, Finn!” Poe said, and pulled Finn under his other arm. “And a Dameron too!” Finn rolled his eyes and grinned, relieved that the pilot was being so good-natured. “Now there’s three of us!” Poe said, turning his dazzling grin toward Finn.
“Wait.” He said. “What?”