News Ticker

[SPOILERS!] Questions, Plot Holes and Weirdness in THE FORCE AWAKENS

I’ve just seen Star Wars The Force Awakens for the second time, adding my $15 to the $1 Billion the movie has made so far (as of this writing). I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, and as you read through this post, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t. First time, I went with my family, who also enjoyed the movie. But they’re not as invested in it as I am, or, I assume, as you are. My second viewing was with another fan. She has been into Star Wars for the long haul, too. Her immediate impression was interesting, and over burgers, we continued to discuss the movie which prompted me to write this post today.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven’t seen the movie yet, but plan to, please bookmark this post for later

Got it?

Good.

Here we go.


StarWarsTFA-01

“It was Star Wars (A New Hope), scene for scene, but everything was just easier. Every character was a ‘Mary Sue’.”

Yes and no. The similarities are, in my opinion, undeniable, but I don’t think they did a scene for scene reboot. The movie did remind me of Star Trek Into Darkness (imagine that) in that it had the flavor of familiar territory, a story we already knew. The trailers kept calling it ‘Star Wars for a new generation’, and I think that’s apt.

Yes, there’s a lot of the same stuff/plot points. Seeking out an ‘old friend and ally’ on a desert planet (Max Von Sydow – and who was he supposed to be?). Orphan on a desert planet (seems like there’s a lot of desert planets out there?) who just happens to be strong (or stronger? Strongest?) with the Force and doesn’t know it (yet) and who just happens to have been hidden/left on the desert planet. A Resistance (funded by the legitimate government (The Republic)? Or, is the First Order the legitimate government?) fighting against… Um… Unsure on this part? I think, maybe, the galaxy is split? Some of it is under the Republic, some the First Order? It’s not really made clear, and that’s an issue. Also, why is it ‘The First Order’ and not just The Empire? Why the name change?  A lot of questions and plot holes there that aren’t ever really answered. You have ‘the stolen data’ – in the original, it’s the plans for the Death Star, in this one, a map to Luke Skywalker. Both are placed in a droid for safe-keeping, both movies feature that droid moving through the desert and ultimately captured by scavengers. Jakku’s settlement is sparse compared to Mos Eisley, but you have the same escape of the Falcon during a Stormtrooper attack as seen in the first movie. Include sneaking around inside the Imperial (okay, First Order) base, the exploitable flaw/weakness in the super weapon’s design, and the snub-fighter attack, and I can see where someone might think it was a scene for scene reboot of the original movie.

As for everything being easier for every character, well, yeah – it felt like it was a lot easier. Rey speaks droid and Wookie and a host of other languages. Who taught her? The flashback shows her being left with someone (Plutt, by the sound of the voice?) and then later is on her own, so, who raised her? Taught her to fight, to survive?  Finn breaks his conditioning (mind control?) the first time he is sent into battle? Begging the question, how much conditioning is done? The suggestion is, quite a bit, so how does he break it so suddenly? Poe ejects Finn from the Tie Fighter but rides the ship down as it crashes and escapes without leaving any sign of his escape on the desert floor where every step Finn takes leaves a deep foot print? Han and Chewie locate and capture the Falcon minutes after Rey and Finn escape Jakku and start repairs?

Yeah – a lot of easy there, and that’s just the first part of the film.

StarWarsTFA-03

“It was the Harrison Ford movie.”

Yeah… I kinda think that was totally on purpose. Of the three original stars, Harrison Ford became ‘the star’ thanks to Raiders of the Lost Ark and a slew of other films throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Fisher and Hamill never really saw the same on-screen success he did, though they both had successful careers in other ways. So it doesn’t surprise me that Ford would have such a large role in this film.

Having attempted to avoid as many spoilers as I could prior to seeing the movie, I’ve no idea if Han’s fate in the movie was a pre-condition to Ford’s involvement. His desire to have Han Solo die in The Empire Strike’s Back has been exhaustively documented, though. With that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he had Han’s death written into his contract.

“Starkiller Base made no sense.”

On several points, I agree. Starkiller Base sucks down the power of a star to charge it’s weapon. Ok. How many charges does a single star provide? We see Starkiller Base in orbit around a star (hence the light, the atmosphere, plant life). Based on what we see of the planet itself, it’s a cold, snowy world (so, we have several desert planets (Tatooine and Jakku) and ice planets (Hoth and Starkiller Base) in this galaxy?). At this point in the movie, it’s already fully charged? Is that why it’s so cold? Have they already pulled half the star’s mass/energy to power the weapon? If so, that could mean the world was once lush and green, but the reduction in the mass of the local star has made it much, much colder.

I can buy that.

However, I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV – but, if that’s the case, what does losing 50% of it’s mass (based on how the ‘next’ charge of the weapon effectively sucks down the entire star) do to a star? Would it begin to collapse?

Which brings me to – all the Republic planets (or the government planets? or…um…?) are close enough to each other, and to Starkiller Base, and Maz Kanata’s world, to be seen by the naked eye through the atmosphere of each planet.

Wut.

So – the First Order built Starkiller Base in plain sight of the Republic and the Resistance?

And, no one did anything about it?

This implies they’re all within the same star system, or their star systems are dangerously close to one another.

Again, not a scientist here, but, I can’t look up into the sky and see planets in other star systems. I can see stars. This feels wrong to me.

Should we just let it go because, Star Wars?

StarWarsTFA-02

“Poe trusted Finn way to quickly.”

Poe’s trust of Finn implies the Resistance (and by extension, the Republic) has no knowledge of the conditioning/brain washing used by the First Order on their Stormtroopers. Why else trust one so blindly?

Finn says something at one point along the lines of, “Like so many others, I was taken from my home as a child.” and then trained to be a soldier. He makes it sound like a known thing, a given – this is how the First Order operates – conscription.

Why trust someone in that situation? Especially given Flinn’s comments and fears later about ‘First Order spies and sympathizers’?

In addition, once Poe escapes – he doesn’t search for BB-8? He runs home to the Resistance. Given how easy it was for Finn to both find the (lone?) settlement in the desert, and BB-8, I’m surprised Poe didn’t as well.

Which begs the question – where did Poe go after the crash? Another settlement? Another spaceport? He had to get off the planet and back to the Resistance somehow. Given how Finn found the very settlement/spaceport where Rey and BB-8 were, it makes me think that was the closest place, suggesting Poe got there first and left without even looking for his droid or completing his mission?

Weird.

Another Death Star?”

Yeah. About that. Reminds me of Heroes. Every season had the same threat – the end of the world. Even the reboot.

“We’re going to build a Death Star, this massive space station capable of destroying an entire planet. It’ll have this massive power source and be completely mobile.”

“Ok!”

* * *

“Um. They blew up the Death Star.”

“Are you shitting me? How?”

“Chain reaction via an exhaust port.”

“Shit.”

“…and the Emperor wants another one.”

“Oh, FFS! Fine. We’ll build another one. But we’re shielding that exhaust port!”

* * *

“They blew up the new Death Star.”

“Are you freaking kidding me? How?”

“Flew into the superstructure and took out the power regulator and the main reactor.”

*facedesk*

“Gets worse. The Emperor was ON it at the time. He’s toast.”

“Oh, boy. Great. Just great.”

* * *

“Hey! Let’s build another one! But this time, no internal power. We’re gonna suck down a star!”

“…”

StarWarsTFA-banner

“How did every First Order Stormtrooper recognize Finn?”

Interesting question. Phasma (a complete throwaway character, which is sad for the actress, imho) indicates that Stormtroopers must have permission to remove their helmets. Goes to the conditioning/brain washing aspect of the First Order. If no one takes off their helmets, everyone is the same, anonymous. Yet Finn is recognized without his.

Not sure what that’s about, and it’s certainly not explained within the film.

“Safety is not a concern with Imperial construction and design.”

Or, in my own words, there’s no such thing as OSHA in space. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is (in America) the folks responsible for making sure we have safe working conditions in the workplace. Some of it is silly, some is common sense stuff – but whatever, they try to make things safe.

The Empire, and now the First Order, build things like walkways over seemingly bottomless chasms without hand or guard rails. I know this is a silly thing to notice or be bothered by, I do.

But it seems that whoever built these things took notes from the mines of Moria…

“Rey is Han Solo’s daughter.”

Why?

“Isn’t it obvious? She has to be the daughter of Han and Leia.”

Why?

“She flies the Falcon on instinct. She immediately connects with Han as a ‘father-figure’. She has the Skywalker Force-strength.”

Okay, then, why don’t Han or Leia recognize her?

“Maybe she was taken from them at birth and they were told she died. Maybe she and Ren are twins like Luke and Leia.”

Then, why take her and not him, too?

“I don’t know, but the lightsaber reacts to her, to Skywalker blood.”

Don’t get me started on that lightsaber. Wasn’t it lost in Cloud City? When will the new novel about the Ugnaught who finds it (attached to a decomposing hand) and sells it come out? And couldn’t her ‘Skywalker blood’ mean she’s Luke’s daughter?

“I don’t think Luke has sex or is interested in it as a Jedi. I remember reading that Han and Leia had twins, though.”

In the canon that got thrown out and relegated to fan fiction status, yes. It no longer counts.

“..that’s stupid and confusing.”

Tell me about it.

StarWarsTFA-feature

“Where did Snoke come from if he’s Sith?”

This is one of those confusing plot holes consistent with all the movies, imho. Yoda says in the first prequel, “Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” Yet, at that point, you had Palpatine as the Sith Master, Dooku as his former student, and Darth Maul as his current/recently deceased (though not really according to Clone Wars) apprentice, which makes three.

I believe the implication is there are only two Dark Side users who can call themselves Sith at any one point (which is silly, of course). Luke can use the Force in the first couple movies, but he’s not Jedi. Jedi is a title, something that comes through training and dedication. Sith could be something similar in that you could have people using the Dark Side of the Force, who aren’t counted as Sith.

Snoke could be one such being and, when the Emperor and his apprentice, Vader, die, Snoke takes up the mantle of Sith Lord, seeking out an apprentice.

There’s also the mention of the ‘Knights of Ren’ in the movie, of which Kylo is the leader. This implies there are other Dark Side users (and we even get a glimpse of them in Rey’s flashback/vision quest).

“There was a lot of humor in it.”

Yes. And I’m okay with that.

About Patrick Hester (527 Articles)
Patrick Hester is a writer, blogger, podcasting dude, Denver transplant and all around Functional Nerd. Don't hate him cuz he has a cool hat.

16 Comments on [SPOILERS!] Questions, Plot Holes and Weirdness in THE FORCE AWAKENS

  1. Some of that stuff they did try to explain in the novelization and other secondary sources — there was a scene where Poe woke up in the desert and escaped. (Wonder if it’ll be in the outtakes?)

    I _think_ the First Order holds territory kind of out on the rim, while the New Republic is established more in the Core Worlds area. The Republic is funding (under the table) Leia’s Resistance but not taking on the First Order directly.

    The visible red explosion in the sky bothered me more than just about anything else in the movie. I think they’re trying to handwave it away as “weapon fires through hyperspace and the explosion was visible through hyperspace”. Not sure if I’m prepared to concede it to them.

  2. I’m on record as saying Snoke is actually the Grand Inquisitor from the Star Wars: Rebels cartoon. The Inquisitor was trained by Vader and revered him, and appeared to die in the reactor core of an exploding Star Destroyer, but that’s exactly the kind of death that can be retconned as a merely scarring someone and turning them from villain to supervillain.
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Grand_Inquisitor

  3. I saw it yesterday and I was up all night struggling through refrigerator moments. As in, the movie worked for me completely while I watched it, but upon reflection, staring into the refrigerator, I’m like, “Wait, how did that work again?” Yeah, so the Starkiller Base was a planet with life, but then if it moved through space, wouldn’t all the trees die, or is there artificial atmospheres, but if there is artificial atmosphere technology, why have so many desert planets? Or is it really expensive?

    No funeral scene for Han Solo? Then again, Obi-Won Kenobi didn’t get a funeral scene. Padme Amidala did. And Darth Vader. So I guess only Skywalker’s get funeral funeral scenes.

    I’m hoping Snoke is Darth Plegueis.

    My biggest thing, though, is dude, you blew up the Galactic government, and no one, not even Leia, is like, WTF? That’s kind of huge. Someone needed to say, “Hey, Washington DC got nuked. On the plus side, no more senate scenes (prequel trilogy) but then, no more government. Uh oh. Are the Hutts going to take over? Is this going to be space Russia? Dammit!”

    I see it tomorrow for the second time. So, I’ll have more.

    But I liked we were thrown in and didn’t really have much to go on. Like MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, I had enough to go on.

    And yeah, I liked the echoes of A NEW HOPE. It wasn’t a re-make. It paid homage, but felt like it’s own stories. A lot of people don’t like that. I do. Unless it’s Khan, and you don’t reference Khan, at all, ever, because Star Trek II is sacred.

  4. Richie Finn // December 28, 2015 at 2:03 pm //

    I completely agree. Seeing the planets, supposedly in different systems, being blown up with the naked eye, bothered me. It totally reminded me of Into Darkness (Transwarp Teleporter, WTF?). And that crust looked a lot thicker than 25 miles – the thickness of Earth’s crust. Too much thicker and there wouldn’t be things like mountains, though that’s more forgivable than seeing the planets blown up. Also, why not evacuate the Resistance base when they knew they were being aimed at – it’s not like they had a fleet to fight through. Every line uttered by a Resistance fight or pilot also seemed dull, though the rest of the dialogue was great (particularly Han’s). I would still rank it above all the prequels, but below ROTJ.

    I did feel there was a lack of emotion in general from Leia. It felt phoned it a bit. Of course, if you recall, she wasn’t exactly a catatonic slobbering mess when her own homeworld was destroyed. After 9/11 every major tragedy in a movie feels less devastating to the characters than it should be.

  5. I have to agree with almost everything in this article. I know we all waited a long time for this, and we really (really, really) want to like it…but there is a lot that leaves me thinking, “hmmm.”

    As people have noted, it’s basically a knockoff of the original Star Wars, and I wonder why we couldn’t have had both a new plot and a few nods to the original rather than just a rote repeat of every plot device. The extreme similarity sets up inevitable plot comparisons, and the new movie doesn’t come out well on these, at least not in terms of plot.

    The original movie presented us with a clear setting, an evil empire that ruled the galaxy and a rebel movement struggling to overthrow it. Simple, clean. Easy to follow.

    As noted in the original post, this movie has some indecipherable combination of Republic, Resistance, and New Order. WTF? If there is a New Order trying to replace the empire, why is the Republic not facing off against it? Why is it instead funding some kind of “resistance” and sitting by while the New Order builds a superweapon that makes the death star look like a pop gun? Is it just a device so we have ragtag rebels instead of a war between a good regime and an evil one? Whatever it is, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, at least not without a good dose of explanation we don’t get.

    I also have to say, I don’t think the new movie lives up to the original in the way the bad guys are introduced. In the original, we see stormtroopers and Darth Vader and some other imperial baddies, but it unfolds gradually, and there is some gravitas built around each of them. We didn’t even see the emperor in the first movie. When we finally saw him, we knew a lot about him, not the least of which is how he had lured Vader to the dark side. Now, we have this Snoke character, and he feels like he was just pasted in. We have no idea who he is, where he came from, how he came to power, etc. All we know is he is a pretty nice special effect, which is a reasonable proxy for power in movies, but not what we should have. Is there any stake in him for the viewer? The emperor had corrupted Darth Vader, he had destroyed the republic. This guy was just stuck in with little or no explanation. He doesn’t radiate fear, anger, hatred. It’s more like, who is this guy?

    I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the movie, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed too. This isn’t some standalone movie thrown out there in March hoping to make sixty million or so. It is part of the biggest franchise in movie history, a film expecting to gross two billion dollars. Is it too much to ask that it be more than a bigger budget copy of the original, with a half-developed setting and characters?

  6. Han’s death was completely telegraphed the entire movie. It really made the impact of that moment anti-climactic, IMHO. Even if I hadn’t figured out what was coming, seeing him walk out on yet one more bridge over troubled chasm cinched it for me. They are not going to the expense of having father and son on that bridge without someone taking a dive. It wasn’t going to be the hot new star so…

  7. I also loved the movie, so my complaints should be taken in that context. Great original article, by the way, and a fun read.

    I, like Aaron, hope that Snoke is Plagueis. That would be awesome. It would also lend some credence to the villains. Kylo starts out terrifying, but then shows multiple weaknesses. Contrast that with Vader and The Emperor in the first couple movies. Those guys were super villains. If Snoke is Plagueis, I think we have our super villain. I hope it’s true.

    I believe that Rey is Luke’s daughter. I think there’s more that points to that. Obviously, she has mechanical skills, but so did Anakin. She’s a great pilot, which is more a Luke thing (and an Anakin thing). And, she has a connection to his saber that speaks more to me of Luke than Leia. Just my thought. This also sets up something that I believe JJ will include. I believe that Jedi will now be more balanced. I think Luke fell in love (maybe Mara Jade?) and had a daughter, Rey. Also, could it be that the rock Luke is standing next to is actually a gravestone? Maybe…

    Loved the movie, thought it was a total homage to Star Wars, and thought that was fantastic. It’s not just a New Hope. When they fly the MF into the star destroyer on Jakku, it’s just like the MF entering the second Death Star. In my mind, it was an homage to the entire original trilogy. Plus, the bottom line is that this was about the characters, so I think it was derivative on purpose so they didn’t have to explain everything. Just throw another Death Star at the audience, they understand those. LOL.

    My biggest complaint is this: Why doesn’t R2-D2 wake up BEFORE the final battle? He can’t wake up, say, “Hey guys, you found the missing piece? Awesome! Let’s go get Luke before we have to fight these guys!”

  8. Dooku was not Palpatine’s former student, and he didn’t become his apprentice until after Maul’s “death”. So no breaking of the Rule of Two there.

    It’s also clear that there are dark side users who are not Sith, like Asaij Ventress or the Inquisitors from Clone Wars and Rebels, respectively. If Snoke is a Sith or not remains to be seen.

    • Dooku was a human male Sith Lord and the political leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Dooku was once a Jedi Master of the Jedi Order, but he left the Jedi and the Galactic Republic after growing disillusioned with the corruption in the government. He turned to the dark side and became the apprentice of Darth Sidious, taking on the name Darth Tyranus and reclaiming his title as the Count of Serenno. With his master, who was secretly Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Dooku helped form the Separatist Alliance and engineer the Clone Wars. He was also involved in the creation of the clone troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic, having supplied the Kaminoans with the chip containing Clone Protocol 66.

      http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dooku

      • Are Sith required to take malevolent sounding names? What if someone wanted to be Darth Awesome or Darth Sunshine or Darth Cupcake? Not allowed?

  9. Have to agree with you on the unsafe and impractical design approach of the First Order for the Starkiller base. I made the same observation to my brother after we saw the movie. Rey was able to hide by climbing down the “cliff face” of the hangar/ corridor where there were no railings, barriers, or at least a lip before the edge to prevent men or equipment from accidentally falling off.

    It’s not just the baddies who suffer from this industrial architecture oversight. In Ep. 1 in Naboo when the two Jedi confront Darth Maul, there were egregious safety violations all over the place.

  10. Finally saw it, great movie. Patrick talks about the prequel movies. What prequel movies? They made prequel movies?

    😉

  11. Great post and discussion – thank you author and commenters; it really got me thinking about the movie. Here are some thoughts:

    -About Poe Dameron’s story after the crash: apparently this is detailed in the novelization of the movie.

    -About OSHA violations and unsafe base design: I wonder if this space-faring civilization has abandoned litigiousness and maternalistic regulation. The span we novels and TV series shows how carelessness is not suffered where there is no air and water around. Maybe this civilization takes a “Darwin Awards” view of this kind of thing.

    -Regarding the seemingly convoluted backstory: it is hard to say that we had any significant backstory when A New Hope came out. We didn’t know anything about the Republic (maybe one line from Obi-Wan). It’s just that now we have 6 movies and thousands of pages of novels and comics to make sense of the whole series of story arcs.

  12. I think they recognized Finn because he was a wanted man PLUS a traitor, so they would have pasted his unhelmeted face everywhere.

  13. Just came home from the movie, and was scratching my head nearly the entire drive home.

    I guess it was a good star wars movie, if you’ve never seen a star wars movie before? Like, maybe if you’re 8 years old and not old enough to really think things through? Like Patrick and some of the other commenters mentioned,this felt very JJ Trek. It felt like fan fiction. Lots of plot holes, lots of things that made no sense.

    but, at least now I’ve seen it,and can participate in some of these spoiler threads.

  14. Timothy Newman // January 8, 2016 at 4:57 am //

    My ‘head-canon’ concerning Starkiller Base and ‘draining a star’s energy’ is that it only affects the corona of the star rather than the core. Thus, the dimming effect when the 1+ million Kelvin of the corona gets sucked away exposing the much cooler c.6 thousand K chromosphere/photosphere. Since the corona is only a tiny proportion of a stellar mass, it’s subsequently repleinshed quite easily making the base reusable after a time. Even that tiny proportion of a stellar mass might be plenty of energy to operate a weapon.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: