As suggested by the junior novel Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy, and confirmed in the Visual Dictionary, General Hux is the son of Commandant Brendol Hux. During the time of the Empire, Brendol, unimpressed by the Imperial recruitment system, conceived the idea of raising stormtroopers from birth in order to emulate the loyalty and prowess of Republic clone troopers. This new system was then implemented by the First Order.
Brendol Hux was among the Imperials who fled to the Unknown Regions after the defeat of the Empire, taking with him his young son. General Hux grew up believing that the galaxy was doomed to inevitable chaos without the strong rule of the Empire. He also believes he is destined to rule the galaxy, which presents an interesting conflict between Hux and Kylo Ren. Kylo does not respect Hux as a warrior, since Hux has only theoretical knowledge of battle. And Hux has little patience with the mystical ways of Kylo Ren, believing he has his own agenda apart from the First Order.
Some fans believe that Hux was cast too young. However, that is the point of the character. He is young and inexperienced, yet he is fanatical in his beliefs and willing to destroy entire systems to secure the rule of the First Order. The First Order specifically uses young officers, like General Hux, who do not remember the reality of the Empire, but receive a warped version of Imperial history, as revealed in the Visual Dictionary. Continue reading →
Snoke is a very mysterious and intriguing figure who, according to the novelization, witnessed the rise and fall of the Empire. Where was Snoke during this time? Was he someone Palpatine was aware of, or was he lurking in the shadows, waiting for his time to rise to power?
His disfigured visage shows that he received massive damage at some point. This has led many to believe that he could be Darth Plagueis, the master of Palpatine who experimented with cheating death and creating life (it is hinted by Palpatine that Plagueis was the one who created Anakin). Palpatine revealed to Anakin that he killed his master in his sleep, but it is possible that Plagueis somehow survived using secret knowledge to preserve his life, then waited for Palpatine to make a mistake so he could once again seize power for himself. Continue reading →
While Rey is in many ways an obvious reflection of Luke and Anakin, she also has a unique twist to her starting point. Unlike Luke, and even Anakin, Rey has no family to support her in her struggle to survive in the harsh environment of Jakku. There is no wasting time with friends or picking up power converters in her future. Rey also seems more self-sufficient and capable at survival than Luke. I doubt Rey would lose in a fight against a single Tusken Raider. Her skills at using her staff for self-defense are also a necessary setup to explain her ability to fight against Kylo Ren in single combat, something Luke never had to face in his first adventure.
While Rey is very capable and self-reliant, she is also lonely and longs for adventure, as seen in the adorable and poignant moment where she wears an old Rebel pilot helmet, and in her excited reaction to Finn’s claim to be a Resistance fighter. However, she is also trapped on Jakku by the fear that her family won’t be able to find her when they return. While she tries to maintain an unshakable belief that her family will come back, Rey also has moments of realization that she may be stuck on Jakku her entire life, beautifully shown through her melancholy gaze at the old woman at the cleaning stations of Niima Outpost.
Though she is isolated and without family, Rey still shows compassion, as seen in her immediate reaction to BB-8’s distress. Rey treats BB-8 as if he is a person, telling him that his would-be captor “has no respect for anyone.” This connection to droids is another link to Anakin and Luke, who treated their droid companions with similar respect. Continue reading →
Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of General Leia was a wonderful surprise. The lack of her presence in the trailers beyond a few brief shots made me worry that we would either see very little of her in the film, or that Carrie’s acting wouldn’t be on par with the other actors. But her scenes with Ford immediately recaptured their chemistry, and helped start the process of filling in the gaps of Han and Leia’s relationship between Episodes 6 and 7.
Han and Leia love each other, but could not face their grief. Han believed Leia saw him as a failure who reminded her of her lost son, and Leia immersed herself in politics and the building of the Resistance, finding herself labeled a warmonger and alarmist by the majority of the Republic.
We learn in the novelization that Leia kept Han in the dark about Snoke’s involvement with their son, believing Han’s reaction would drive Ben further towards the dark side. In The Force Awakens, she has come to believe that by sending her son away to Luke, she actually lost her hold on him, and that Han, as his father, is now the only one who can save Ben. It remains to be seen what real effect Han had on his son, though the novelization suggests that Kylo did not find what he was seeking from killing his father. Continue reading →
Like Rey, Finn is on his own hero’s journey. It starts with the death of fellow trooper FN-2003, aka “Slip.” This trooper’s identity was established in the anthology novel Before the Awakening and confirmed in the Visual Dictionary. Slip was the weakest link in Finn’s unit and Finn was reprimanded by Captain Phasma for helping Slip during training simulations, where Finn otherwise received top marks.
It has also been revealed that the trooper Finn fights on Takodana is another of his former teammates, FN-2199, aka “Nines.” I think that information would have added to that fight, needing only a simple line from Finn using Nines’s name, though I also think that character should have been Phasma. I found her character to be completely disappointing and underused. Having her defeat and almost kill Finn would have made her far more interesting and worth all the marketing hype.
While Slip’s death was the start of Finn’s turn in the film, it is cemented by the slaughter of the captured Jakku villagers. However, Finn is not yet a hero and spends most of the film running from the First Order. Finn does have moments of bravery and enjoys the feeling he gets from Rey believing him to be a Resistance fighter. But this is little more than a childish game when he reveals to Rey that he has been lying to her. He wants nothing to do with being a real hero, though he sincerely desires the safety of Rey. It isn’t until the attack on Maz’s castle and the capture of Rey that he becomes a true hero, willing to risk his life for others, and for a greater cause. Continue reading →