Darth Vader after finding out Luke Skywalker is his son, searching for any records the Empire can supply, any information that can be dug up by other means, any old holos anyone may have filmed over the years that show a glimpse of his child. Learning any tiny scrap of fact that he can about Luke. Staring repeatedly at an old, grainy holo that shows a younger Luke, sun bleached hair, the chin of his father and Padme’s smile. Staring in wondrous disbelief that his child survived and had the chance to grow up. That the swell of Padme’s rounded belly could turn into this boy, this man.
In light of that train wreck of a “meta” yesterday part of me wants to write about Finn’s flaws
Because yes Finn has flaws, of course he does, he’s a hero. And in Star Wars as in all epic fantasy stories, the hero must have at least one flaw. It is part of their heroic arc to overcome it. If the hero fails to overcome it, they become a villain or in Star Wars terminology “turn to the Dark Side”.
Both Luke and Anakin had a heroic flaw in their character and so does Finn.
For Luke it was his need for revenge for everything that Vader had taken from him, a flaw he overcame in refusing to kill Vader.
For Anakin it was selfishness. A flaw he failed to overcome when he sacrificed the entire Jedi Order simply so he could have what he wanted. Because even saving Padmé life was about him, about how he couldn’t bear to lose her. He failed once more to overcome it when Padmé asks him to come away with her. In failing to overcome this flaw he falls to the Dark Side and becomes Vader.
For Finn it is fear, fear of the First Order specifically. Just like Luke’s and Anakin’s character flaws it is a flaw that is highly understandable trait. We all get why Luke wanted revenge on Vader, we all get why Anakin wanted something for himself. And Finn being afraid of the First order is equally understandable, with his past and everything they’ve put him through his desire to get as far away from them as possible resonate on an emotional level with the audience.
What is interesting about Finn is that he seems to overcome his flaw in the first movie. In making the decisions not just to go back for Rey, but to stand and fight against Kylo Ren, Finn has essentially overcome his character flaw.
So where does that leave him?
Well for one they can give him a new flaw, we see hints of what that might be at the end of the movie - a whole lot of anger and a need for revenge. Both, like Finn’s fear is fully understandable given the context. This would send him on another heroic arc to overcome this flaw.
Or maybe they plan something else. There is an arc we rarely get to see in western fiction, but that they might choose to use. The master’s arc.
So far we’ve looked at the hero’s arc which involves overcoming their character flaw, the master’s arc is about taking that flaw and making it part of the hero’s character, but instead of weakening them as it originally did this arc leaves them stronger for having it.
We saw some of it in the old EU with Luke’s journey from Jedi Knight to Jedi Master. For if overcoming the flaw is what separates the Padawan from the Knight, then embracing and incorporating the flaw into his character - making him a person who sought justice instead of revenge - is what separates the Knight from the Master.
Maybe that is where they’ll take Finn. His hero’s arc at an end, they may send him in pursuit of mastery instead.