The Case for Force Sensitive Finn: Symbolism

written by HanSpinel, Conn8d, The Mandalorian Wolf, HypersonicHarpist, robotical712

In this article, we highlight symbolism used throughout the Sequel Trilogy that supports the narrative and thematic arguments for a Force sensitive Finn reveal in The Rise of Skywalker. Finn’s trooper number, mask, call to the hero’s journey, and his symbolic use of the Skywalker saber, all appear to be rooted in elements of both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Further, Finn as portrayed in The Rise of Skywalker marketing material is consistent with several other protagonists wielding special powers throughout mythology and storytelling….

The Mask of FN-2187

A major theme and piece of symbolism that was introduced in The Force Awakens revolves around masks and identities. Strictly unique to the characters Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren – each begins the Sequel Trilogy hidden behind a mask, later revealing themselves to the audience. Their masks are symbolic on several levels; the first of which likely symbolizes that each character is introduced with secretive and currently hidden backstories. It is also quite possible that these masks symbolize the braided nature in which each hidden backstory is weaved. Will all three mystery boxes be unlocked in cascading fashion by a single key in The Rise of Skywalker?

Unmasked

The masks are also symbolic of consequences and choice. This is akin to Anakin Skywalker, who rejected the Jedi, was forced to wear a mask as a consequence of his choice to turn dark, and became Darth Vader. He is later redeemed, takes off the mask, and returns to Anakin.  

Now, before establishing the symbolism of Finn’s mask, let’s briefly review Rey and Kylo – two obvious Force users. Rey’s mask is a consequence of her dark and mysterious past that has left her abandoned; she has been forced to live a life not of her choosing. Rey’s mask literally protects her from the harsh environment and lifestyle as a scavenger. However, in the context of her losing love and family as a child, the mask may symbolize the fact that she’s now closed off emotionally and guarding herself from this distant and traumatic past. Ben Solo’s mask is of course symbolic of his choice to reject his family despite the consequences, and it also symbolizes his new identity in darkness, Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren’s mask literally hides his former self, and also symbolizes the transformation or replacement of identity. Both are mysteriously connected through the Force.

But what about Finn? If the symbolism of masks is reserved specifically to Rey, Kylo Ren, and Finn, is he, too, mysteriously connected through the Force?

FN-2187’s mask is a metaphorical prison, a consequence of being kidnapped from a family he’ll never know. Exactly like Rey, he too is forced to live a life not of his choosing. His true identity, background, character, all are held captive and confined behind his First Order mask and detained by his military conditioning.

The trooper number “FN-2187” is, of course, a call-back to Princess Leia’s literal prison cell number on the Death Star in A New Hope – Cell 2187. In that film, Leia too is held prisoner until being rescued by Luke Skywalker, the Force sensitive protagonist that has just accepted his call to the Hero’s Journey (though it can be strongly argued Leia did most of the rescuing after the door was opened 😉 ). It isn’t until the third act of the Original Trilogy that Leia fully realizes her place and strength in the Force. She discovers a long lost sibling, and her character arc unravels to reveal an interwoven and intimate connection to both Luke and Vader.

The specific symbolism of FN-2187’s mask and his potential as a Force sensitive character may go deeper still….

Related image

21-87 is an abstract short film by Arthur Lipsett, which is well-documented as having a heavy influence on George Lucas’ early career (e.g., Princess Leia’s cell number is a reference back to Lipsett’s short). In 21-87, Lipsett samples a conversation taking place between artificial intelligence pioneer, Warren S. McCulloch, and Imax developer, Roman Kroitor. During this conversation, McCulloch argues that living beings are nothing but highly complex machines, but Kroitor rebuttals that there is something more: “Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God.”

“…they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask…” – 21-87

It stands to reason that if both Rey and Kylo Ren’s masks each symbolize their hidden backstories, joined by a mysterious connection through the Force, Finn is likely no different.

Regardless, FN-2187 arguably makes the most important choice in the Sequel Trilogy by choosing to reject the First Order, and take off his mask (discussed further below). FN-2187 narratively accepts his call to the hero’s journey, and also symbolically accepts the call to his inner-self when he escapes his prison and begins discovering the identity stolen from him. Though we know not his birth name or family history, we see that something inside of FN-2187 was always there to prevent the First Order conditioning from taking root. “Finn” is awakened, and thus far, the only First Order trooper that we are aware of to do so.

And yet, there is even more symbolism associated with Finn’s mask and his choice to the hero’s journey….

Three Bloodlines, One Choice

In The Force Awakens script, FN-2187 is referred to as “OUR TROOPER.” He kneels to help a fallen First Order soldier, Slip. Slip ultimately dies, and as he falls back, he marks the helmet of FN-2187 with his bloody hand.

Specifically, three [3] paralleled and streaking bloodlines run down the mask of FN-2187.

Slip's death

It’s worth noting that this was intentionally directed to specifically show three clean and well-defined lines run down Finn’s mask. The actor playing Slip is directed to not grab the mask with their whole hand, and perfectly touches the mask with their pointer, middle, and ring fingers. This strongly suggests that it was both a well-thought out, artistic, and narrative decision.

Immediately following this moment, FN-2187 breaks free of his First Order conditioning, and has an awakening or self-realization of sorts. The musical score and sounds of battle fade into the background and a string of unknown sounds are heard as FN-2187 begins to have what seems to be an anxiety attack amid the chaos. Again, this awakening leads to the single most important choice in all of the Sequel Trilogy thus far: a choice that saves Poe Dameron, introduces us to Rey and leads her directly to the Skywalker legacy, reunites Han with Leia, etc. etc. etc. and continues to ripple through the Sequel Trilogy.

Finn's Awakening


In the context of the central theme of the Skywalker Saga – family – these three streaking bloodlines likely represent much more than a visually striking contrast on Finn’s First Order helmet. They may, in fact, symbolically represent the three stories and families of our heroes (Finn, Rey, and Poe) and/or the braided narrative between Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren and/or all of the above since Rey and Kylo Ren share the Skywalker bloodline. Why is this important?

Consider that the stories of our new primary characters are rescued (Poe and Finn himself), begin (Rey, who is led to her own call to the hero’s journey), and are foiled (Kylo Ren) through Finn accepting his call to the hero’s journey. This all taking place midst his first-hand account of the death and destruction of the Dark Side at the burning Jakku village. Familiar? This is, of course, parallel to A New Hope where Luke Skywalker accepts his call to the hero’s journey midst his first-hand account of the death and destruction of the Dark Side at the burning Lars’ homestead. Just like Finn, Luke’s acceptance of the hero’s journey leads to rescuing (Leia), beginning (Han), and foiling (Darth Vader) the primary character arcs of the Original Trilogy.

LukeLoss

Not only does this firmly establish Finn and his choice to accept the hero’s journey as a central aspect to the Sequel Trilogy, but it also cements his status as a lead protagonist in the overall episodic Skywalker Saga. His actions and decisions directly drive the stories of others in the Sequel Trilogy, which places him on equal narrative footing to Luke Skywalker. In other words, Finn is not just a supporting character to the seemingly central conflict between Rey and Kylo Ren, he is intimately woven into the same story, and he and his choices continue to drive the larger plot.

Adding some speculation to this symbolism, the streaking bloodlines run down the bridge of the nose on Finn’s helmet from left to right. This is, perhaps intentionally and artistically, orthogonal to the single deep wound (1 bloodline) Kylo Ren receives from Rey’s striking blow in the Starkiller forest – the wound runs down the bridge of Kylo’s nose from right to left, and like Finn and Slip, was also perhaps foreshadowed by the dying hand of Han Solo.

If the bloodlines on Finn’s helmet along with Kylo Ren’s wound are both meant to symbolize a narrative foil between the two, it’s possibly a quite a poetic one:

The dying hand of Ben’s father
foreshadows the scar Ben receives for rejecting his pull to the light
\\
The dying hand of Finn’s comrade
foreshadows the three bloodlines healed by Finn accepting his call to the light

 

Finn Carries the Skywalker Legacy When No One Else Would, & Returns it to the Woman it Calls To

We have argued that Finn and Rey have created the most unbreakable bond among characters in the Sequel Trilogy. The Force Awakens script goes so far as to indicate that Rey feels “heartsick” as Finn walks out of Maz’s castle. This indicates that Rey loves and feels deeply for Finn.

It is particularly important to note Rey’s love for Finn because as she loses him in this moment, she loses love for the first time since being abandoned on Jakku. Immediately following Finn’s exit, Rey hears herself crying out to love lost as a young child – in other words, the loss of love at present (Finn) stirs up her buried memory of losing love in the past. The cries of little Rey losing love/family lead her directly to the Skywalker legacy saber – an ancestral weapon that belonged to Luke Skywalker, and his father before him. Only now, it calls to Rey….

FinnLeavesTako

However, Rey initially rejects her calling to the Skywalker legacy. She continues to guard herself from the painful memory and wants nothing to do with the saber’s mysterious connection to her past.

But Finn steps in and sees it through. Narratively, the Skywalker Legacy has now been rejected by all other known Skywalkers – Luke has vanished from it, Leia has tried to bury the past, and Kylo Ren seeks to destroy Rey, Luke, and all of it, and now Rey rejects her place within it. Indeed, when all hope was lost for the Skywalkers, Finn symbolically accepts, literally picks up, and admirably defends the Skywalker legacy by wielding Luke and Anakin’s saber against the forces of evil on Takodana.  

He rushes to catch up to Rey, but it’s too late and he watches as Rey is stolen away from him, just as Leia rushes to catch up to Han, but watches as he is stolen away from her on Cloud City.

FinnLeiaReyHan

Rey is taken to Starkiller Base, where she is irrefutably tortured by Kylo Ren. The Force Awakens’ script indicates that for all Rey’s life, “all she’s ever wanted anyone to do” was to return for her.

Finn steps in and sees it through. Finn returns to Starkiller Base to rescue Rey – An Act of True Love. In doing so, Finn fulfills Rey’s deepest desire in life, but also Finn carries with him the Skywalker saber, returning the ancestral weapon that holds a mysterious connection to Rey’s long lost past/family.

FinnReyHugTFA

Rey is later viciously knocked unconscious by Kylo Ren during their confrontation in the snowy forest of Starkiller Base.

Finn steps in and sees it through yet again by taking up the Skywalker mantle once more to defend Rey from Kylo Ren. Rey awakens to witness Finn’s braveness, and selflessness – he risks his life for hers without hesitation and without want of reward – another Act of True Love. Finn is nearly killed in battle and he himself is viciously knocked unconscious by Kylo Ren. Through Finn’s bravery and own selfless choice to accept his call to the hero’s journey, Rey sees that she, too, must accept her call, pulling the Skywalker saber from the snow and reclaiming her place in the Skywalker family.

Together, their choices lead to the healing of the Skywalker legacy; another reason why their bond is so important and integral to the resolution of the conflicts presented in the Sequel Trilogy. It should come as no surprise then that Finn and Rey defending one another in life or death is the climax of The Force Awakens.

FinnReyParallelForest_swsc

Following, Finn and Rey reuniting and their loving embrace occurs at the climax of The Last Jedi, and brings a peaceful sigh of relief to a teary eyed and emotional Luke Skywalker.

FinnRey-ReySky.gif

Finn’s and Rey’s heroic journeys appear to be more than just paralleled, they appear to be forever intertwined and strengthened by one another; fortified by the other, and each character remains “safely anonymous”…. for now….

White Steeds in Mythology and Storytelling

With the release of the Vanity Fair shoot for The Rise of Skywalker, Finn and Jannah were featured riding new horse-like creatures, “orbacks.” The shot depicts both riding into battle with Jannah’s arrow pulled back at the ready and taking aim.

FinnAndJannah

John Boyega even commented that because of what Finn and Jannah are facing, Finn will keep his finger on the trigger (special guest appearance from the Fandom Menace)….

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 5.16.04 PM.png

If mythology and storytelling have taught us anything, it’s that the white orback Finn is riding is undoubtedly and symbolically significant. White horses within mythologies around the world typically carry riders with special powers such as gods, warrior-heroes, and end-of-time saviors. Perhaps the most popular of these is the white and winged horse, Pegasus. In Greek mythology, Perseus (the son of god Zeus and the mortal Danae) beheads Medusa and flies Pegasus to save Andromeda from the giant sea creature Cetus. In Disney’s adaptation of Hercules (1997), Pegasus serves as Hercules’ (the son of gods Zeus and Hera) best friend and noble steed, helping Hercules and Meg defeat Hades and the Titans.

More recently, Norse mythology in Thor: Ragnarok depicts the Valkyrie flying in on winged-white horses to face the evil daughter of Odin, Hela.

Valkyrie.gif

The mythological symbolism of white horses is of course often used as a trope in literature and film. Again, main characters that ride a white horse in a given story often have special powers or unique qualities that allow them to do wondrous acts or combat the greatest forces of evil standing in the way of our heroes.

Some notable examples include….

Prince Phillip riding Samson to take on the Evil Queen Maleficent who has just transformed into a giant fire-breathing dragon:

EvilDieGoodEndure.gif

Gandalf the White riding Shadowfax, the king of horses, to rescue his friends and lead the victory at the Battle of the Hornburg (see also: driving off attacking Nazgul at Minas Tirith, and confronting the Witch King face-to-face):

FirstLightFifthDay.gif

And also from Lord of the Rings, Arwen out-riding all of the Ringwraiths on her white steed, Asfoloth, while protecting Frodo by casting her magic against the Fallen Kings at the Fords of Bruinen:

ComeAndClaimHim.gif

In particular, this last sequence of Arwen vs. the Fallen Kings at the Fords of Bruinen shares the same thematic beats with The Force Awakens when Finn protects Rey from the Fallen Jedi, Kylo Ren:

ComeGetIt.gif

Summary

Finn accepting his call to the hero’s journey rescues (himself and Poe), begins (Rey), and foils (Kylo Ren) the major players of the Sequel Trilogy, just like Luke Skywalker’s choice leads to rescuing (Leia), beginning (Han), and foiling (Vader) the major characters of the Original Trilogy. His specific trooper number in relation to Princess Leia’s prison cell and the short film 21-87 may also be hinting at his eventuality of finding family once thought lost in Jannah, and also a delayed reveal to his Force sensitivity. Additionally, the symbolism of Finn riding a white steed in The Rise of Skywalker strongly suggests that Finn may have special powers, or at minimum will be leading the charge against a seemingly insurmountable evil.

Perhaps most importantly, Finn picks up and carries the Skywalker Legacy when no one else would, and symbolically reunites Rey with her call to the Skywalker family. It is abundantly clear that Finn’s symbolic association with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia marks him as a central protagonist to not only the Sequel Trilogy, but also the Skywalker Saga. By both accepting their respective calls to the hero’s journey, Finn’s and Rey’s choices and paths are more than just interwoven and paralleled; together they appear to be the bond that will ultimately heal the broken Skywalker Legacy.

Continue reading more in this series here!


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