Finn is Important: Part 1
Finn’s Moral Dilemma: Unrealistic?
Many have compared The Force Awakens to A New Hope, and stated that the former is a complete copy of the latter. If so, where does Finn fit in? Who is Finn’s counterpart in A New Hope? Simple: there isn’t. Finn’s character arc is unique, and arguably, is what makes this trilogy unique.
One of the many criticisms of Finn’s character is that his defection is unrealistic. That it’s impossible a stormtrooper, after being ingrained with first order propaganda and brainwashed, should ever think of leaving. But … isn’t that the point? Isn’t the fact that against all odds, against his upbringing, against the evil that has been spoonfed to him, Finn understands right and wrong? He has a moral crisis. He cannot kill innocents. And everyone wonders why.
Did the stormtrooper program fail? Is FN-2187 an outlier? Was he exposed to outside sources? Phasma remarks that it’s his first offence. The book shows us that Finn, despite his empathy, was the perfect stormtrooper and fiercely talented. So, why does Finn have empathy and others, apparently, don’t? How did this trait override his determination to be the best? He was on track to become a commander. He scored in the top 1% for everything. He should’ve been eager to please his superiors at the village. So, why does he hesitate? Why couldn’t he do it? These are the questions you should be asking.
A large chunk of the fandom is insistent in pigeonholing him into the “sidekick” box, which does not allow for complex psyches or extensive character arcs. That’s why they all scream “!!unrealistic!”. Finn’s arc, his character, simply does not function when it’s kicked to the side as a, well, a sidekick. You cannot see him as a supporting character if you are to analyse him. You cannot see him as the sidekick to Rey, or the conscience to Ren, or the everyman of SW universe; he is a main character in his own rights. Think of Finn as a Luke character, or a Han character, and you’ll realise that Finn’s plot isn’t actually unrealistic, but just the beginning of a classic hero’s journey.