Spoilers ahead for The Force Awakens!
A movie as big as The Force Awakens was always going to draw a certain amount of ire. As much as a majority of fans loved the latest from the Star Wars saga, a collective corner of the internet has broken down and analyzed what they view as “plot holes” in an otherwise solid story. What this mode of thought seems to be getting wrong though is the distinction between “an unexplained facet of the story that was lazily left open-ended,” and “a mystery that hasn’t been revealed yet because there are still two more movies left in the trilogy.”
To reconcile the “plot holes” versus “plot mysteries” camps, we took the five most controversial points from The Force Awakens, and provided as many answers as we could possibly find. Are there elements of this movie that seem a little too convenient? Sure there are, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a satisfying resolution somewhere out in the far reaches of the internet.
1. What the hell is going on with the Resistance, First Order, and New Republic?
One of the biggest questions fans had from The Force Awakens concerned the balance of power following the destruction of the Empire in Return of the Jedi. A fair amount of confusion surrounded the necessity of a Resistance when there was a peaceful, established government with the New Republic. If you dig around in some of the accompanying literature for The Force Awakens though, you start to see some answers. Here’s how things are divided up:
- The New Republic: The governing body of the galaxy, the New Republic signed a treaty with the remaining members of the Empire known as “The Galactic Concordance,” demilitarizing the Empire’s forces and establishing a rotating seat of power for the Senate among a handful of star systems.
- The First Order: A splinter group from a small sect of the fallen Empire that secretly reformed its military might in the “Unknown Regions” of the galaxy. The New Republic was largely unaware (or in denial) of the First Order’s military strength, and believed them to be of little threat.
- The Resistance: A group led by General Leia, the Resistance is described by The Force Awakens: Visual Dictionary as “a small private force” existing behind First Order lines. They don’t officially have the support of the New Republic, and as such operate autonomously of any governing body.
2. Why did the First Order not learn from the Empire’s mistakes in pouring all their resources into yet another massive super-weapon?
You couldn’t blame someone for thinking the latest death-sphere in the Star Wars saga was a tad derivative, especially after the Empire’s two past failures in that department. But what you need to realize about the First Order is that they’re arrogant, power-hungry, and see themselves as a perfected version of the Empire. Part of that arrogance was building their super-weapon into an entire planet this time, with a well-fortified base making it far more difficult to destroy. Now if the next two movies give us another Starkiller or two, then you can start accusing the franchise of borrowing too heavily.
3. How did Rey, an untrained junk scavenger, master her Force abilities so quickly?
Many critics of TFA are pointing to Rey’s quick mastery of her newfound Force abilities as evidence of her being too competent to be believable. To understand, let’s rewind back to the original trilogy. Before all the expanded canon of the novels, the time window for Luke’s mastery of the Force was similarly narrow. In just two movies taking place over what seemed to be about a year or so, Luke essentially trained himself enough to take down a decidedly more experienced Darth Vader (save for a few weeks spent with Yoda on Dagobah in Empire).
Not knowing Rey’s actual origins, her quick learning curve is something that will likely be explained further on down the road. The prevailing theories so far say she’s either the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker himself, the daughter of Luke, or the granddaughter of Obi Wan Kenobi. Whomever she ends up being, her yet-to-be-revealed origin story plays in heavily to her mastery of the Force.
4. How did a highly-trained Kylo Ren lose a lightsaber duel to the likes of Finn and Rey?
The answer to this one is actually far more simple than you may think. Remember the various times when Han borrowed Chewie’s bowcaster rifle and sent enemies flying? That was all to establish the weapon’s considerable power for a payoff in the climactic lightsaber duel. Directly following the death of Han Solo, Chewie shot Kylo Ren with that very same bowcaster. Ren, while bleeding out through a gaping wound in his gut, then went toe-to-toe with the likes of Finn and Rey.
And for anyone wondering how Finn managed to hold his own with a lightsaber, it’s worth noting that it didn’t take more than a minute for Ren to almost mortally wound the former Stormtrooper. As for Rey, she was very clearly tapping into some latent Force abilities that will likely be established further on down the road.
5. Why did R2-D2 wait until the last possible second to tell everyone he had the map to Luke?
The answer to this one came directly from screenwriter Michael Arndt, explaining the relative convenience of R2-D2’s own awakening with the following: R2 had downloaded the map to the first Jedi temple when he plugged into the first Death Star in A New Hope, and had spent the better part of the movie sifting through thousands of lines of data before he found the map. Given that it took place directly in the final moments of the film, it still seemed a tad convenient, but the story had to move along somehow.
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