ben solo

explanation of the finn-ale!

I decided to post this Star Wars fanfic-like thingy on Reddit. It didn’t go down well (sigh) but I did explain in the comments why I had Finn and the others face those particular obstacles. So I thought I’d write that explanation here as well:

*

Here is my thinking: I want Finn and Rey to do more to fix the mistakes of the generations that came before them. They don’t really get that in the movies, even though the whole original Star Wars trilogy is about redeeming the past.

So in this scenario Rey represents Anakin. She’s hotheaded and she’s blinded to the long-term consequences of her actions. But instead of giving in to the dark side because of the desire to keep a loved one alive, she respects the wishes of her loved one while Anakin did not.

Finn represents Padme. He understands what evil is and has a strong sense of justice. Rey turning to the dark side would be a path he could not follow. So he refuses to let her do it, even if it means his own death. We already know he’s a self-sacrificing person (see: the Battle of Crait) and here he gets the agency in death (or not death as it turns out) that Padme did not.

Kylo/Ben represents… well, himself, but also Vader in a sense. But here he’s posed with a choice different to the one Darth Vader had all those years ago. It’s easy to save your own child. It’s less easy to save a person who hates you, who the woman you love would chose over you in a heartbeat. Saving one person isn’t necessarily a redemption, I never thought it was with Darth Vader either. But I think that for Kylo, saving Finn would be more of a redemption than saving Rey was. There is after all absolutely nothing in it for him.

I left it open as to whether Finn is Force-sensitive or not because I feel like it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jedi but it does matter if you’re a good person, and that’s the other thing Finn represents here. That’s the most important thing he represents here – it’s not your lineage that makes you important, or your Force sensitivity, it’s whether or not you’re willing to be heroic.

And to me that was always one of the biggest things of Star Wars, and I feel like the sequel trilogy dropped the ball there a bit. That’s also why Han is there at the end. It always really bugged me, the idea that non-Force users would never become ghosts, might not even have the same afterlife as their Force-using loved ones even.

(I have absolutely no idea if this was covered in the wider Star Wars universe. I pretty much just stick to the movies.)

Now the galaxy is saved and if a new Jedi order does go forward it will be a very different one. Why? Because an ex-stormtrooper decided to stand up and fight even though he had almost no chance of survival.

And that’s what I wanted to happen with Finn.

A Finn-ale

So after the John Boyega interview where he rightly complained about Finn being sidelined, I wondered, there must have been a way to write him into the Rise of Skywalker finale and de-sideline him, surely?

So what I would have done is this:

Finn goes with Rey to Exegol. (From here on, Finn’s original role in the movie is taken by Rose.) He has a lightsaber with him, Luke’s lightsaber, which counts as his now. Rey has Leia’s. He’s completely untrained but willing to fight to defend the galaxy anyway. Even if he’s not necessarily Force-sensitive, he’s still willing.

There, Palpatine immediately captures Finn, realising right away that he must mean something to his granddaughter. He torments Rey by telling her this wouldn’t be the first time he’d turned someone into a Sith by using their love for another.

Palpatine shocks Finn once with Force lightening and this is enough to make Rey crumble. She tells Palpatine that he can do whatever he wants, just spare Finn. There you go, almost the exact same way Anakin fell…

…except Finn isn’t having it. From behind whatever Force-field Palpatine has him in he tells Rey that he would rather die than see her become a Sith and the galaxy in darkness. He tells her he’s spent all his life trying to find agency and he’s damn well not about to let it go now, even in the face of death. Hey turns out Rey and Finn were the Anakin and Padme of their generation, not the Han and Leia, except they’re not about to make the same mistakes.

Palpatine just laughs evilly at this, as he usually does, and is about to deliver the killing blow to Finn but THEN Ben Solo enters the picture! He strikes Palpatine from behind, causing enough damage to free Finn from his clutches. Now the game has changed! Rey, Finn and Ben go 3-1 against Palpatine (albeit probably with some confusion on Finn’s part as to why Kylo Ren is there.) They’re doing pretty well for the first few minutes! Then Palpatine aims some lightening at Rey. Finn somehow deflects it away from her but instead it hits him full-on.

Rey thinks he’s dead and is horrified and grief-stricken, but she can hear the voice of Anakin Skywalker in her head telling her not to give into her rage. She listens, and Ben can not only feel her emotions but suddenly hear the voice of his grandfather as well. This distracts him so much Palpatine is able to shove him into the pit and remove him from the fight.

NOW Rey, all alone and thinking her true love (Finn, not Ben) is dead, finds herself able to do what it took Anakin a lifetime to understand. With all the ghosts of all the Jedi working through her, she calls on the Light Side and defeats Palpatine once and for all. Only then does she run to Finn and allow her emotions to take over. He definitely appears to be dead and she sobs while holding him.

Then Ben comes climbing up out of the pit. He looks at the scene before him and realises what he has to do. Without a single word said, he kneels down and he Force-heals Finn. Rey watches in bewilderment. Finn sits up with a gasp, instantly falling into Rey’s arms. Rey exchanges a look of intense gratitude with Ben and then realises he’s given all of his lifeforce over to Finn. He’s dying. She takes his hand, but does not kiss him, as he dies and disappears.

At the end of the movie both Rey and Finn (and BB8) return to Tatooine. Finn wonders how he was able to deflect the lightening away from Rey back on Exegol, and Rey ponders that maybe it’s a person’s willingness to sacrifice, rather than any training or even any Force sensitivity, that makes them a true Jedi. She names herself “Skywalker” and Finn says he would like that name as well, which sounds an awful lot like a proposal.

The sun sets as Luke, Leia AND HAN watch the new generation from the afterlife. All is finally well in the galaxy.

-The end.

Spacecest

So – is there any point warning for Star Wars spoilers anymore? – at the end of Rise of Skywalker, this kiss happens.

(gif from here. I guess there’s a camrip of the movie already?)

I’m not a Reylo shipper, but it was effective, I guess. Adam Driver’s acting in that scene was stellar, which made it mostly worth it overall. Except. EXCEPT

Rey and Ben are related! (Probably.)

So in a canonical Star Wars comic from last year, this scene happens,

which seems to confirm the Palpatine = technically Anakin’s father theory that’s been in the air ever since Revenge of the Sith came out. Okay cool! But Palpatine is also Rey’s grandfather, and Anakin is Ben’s…

See? You see what I mean?!

Why’s the question mark there? Well, because some of the Star Wars story people (holy heck, that’s a job? Sweet) have come out and said Palpatine is absolutely not Anakin’s father and all that stuff in the comic was a vision or a metaphor etc etc etc, but… it’s Star Wars. There’s pretty much no strict canon at all anymore, so heck, let’s assume that purely based on Palpatine’s Revenge of the Sith speech and the fact that he keeps calling Anakin “son” that he’s his, uh, I guess “Force Dad.”

So what does this make Rey and Ben? I have no idea, but let’s just say they’re closely enough related that they probably shouldn’t be kissing. (And that’s even without getting into the weirdness of Ben’s parents constantly serving as surrogate parents to Rey.)

Luke and Leia would be so proud.

Ben Solo The Rise of Skywalker Animation — Darkside Creative

It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of Ben Solo that I’ve seen and I just had to animate it! I added the blue lighting to signify Ben’s turn to the light in the final act.

Ben Solo The Rise of Skywalker Animation — Darkside Creative

Ahh, this is so pretty. Adam Driver’s face is also pretty, in the most delightfully inexplicable of ways.

There’s one thing in particular The Rise of Skywalker did that served as a fitting end to the Skywalker saga — Star Wars Thoughts

****This article contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker**** The Rise of Skywalker is intended to be the end of the nine-chapter Skywalker saga. The film put a ton of effort into attempting to establish this satisfying ending, and it paid off in plenty of ways. In just one example, Rey ends […]

There’s one thing in particular The Rise of Skywalker did that served as a fitting end to the Skywalker saga — Star Wars Thoughts

The more I think about it the more I love this,

Anakin told Padme in Revenge of the Sith, “Love can’t save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that.” As it turns out, his new powers couldn’t save; but years later, his grandson proves that love can.

and the way it connects the Prequels and Sequels in another little circle. I keep thinking of that simple, very kinda… pointed? sentence from George Lucas a while back, “Love people. That’s basically all Star Wars is.”

I noticed during my first viewing of the movie, when Ben places his hand on Rey and starts giving his life to her, all you can hear is breathing. It sounds like the noise we’ve come to associate with Darth Vader, the sound of the mask keeping him alive, the air in the mechanics reminding us there was a person in there. And then… the same thing again with Ben, in his last moments. There was a person in there.

(God, I love Star Wars, you guys. I just really, really love Star Wars.)

The First Casualty

Title: The First Casualty
Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Rey, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker
Rating: PG13
Summary: The first casualty in any war is truth, as Rey is about to painfully learn.

Luke Skywalker spoke to her like a father at first. He took the lightsaber from Rey’s outstretched hand and put it carefully away, he praised her for having come so far, he expressed sorrow for all that she had seen, and he sat her down in his hovel and brought her some tea. Then he started talking to her like a fellow adult.

“Rey,” said Luke, “you have been lied to.”

“By who?” said Rey, her hands quivering a little. She told herself it was because of the cold.

“By the galaxy itself, I feel,” said the old man. He sighed and he cast a glance at the ancient old flag that divided his room into two halves. “Rey, Kylo Ren is not who you think he is.”

Unbidden, the image of Finn lying unconscious in the medcenter flashed into Rey’s head. If he dies I will kill Kylo Ren, Rey had thought, he deserves to die anyway for what he’s done…

“Be mindful of your thoughts,” Luke said gently. “Even without the Force, I could tell what you were thinking.”

“What do you mean, he’s not who I think he is?” Rey said, trying to cancel out her anger but failing.

“Rey, he actually arrived here before you did,” said Luke, and Rey shot up from her seat before he could even finish the sentence. She grabbed the curtain and ripped it back, and standing there was a tall, thin man with wispy black hair. He was wearing white, which didn’t suit him. Rey just stared in horror.

“Were you just behind that curtain so you could make a dramatic entrance?” she finally spat.

Kylo Ren said nothing, just looked at Luke. Luke sighed, and stood.

“Rey, this is Ben Solo-Organa. Or possibly Ben Organa-Solo, his parents never could decide.”

“Whatever he’s told you,” Rey said, anger burning in every part of her, “he’s lying!”

“He’s not,” said Luke quietly. “I can tell. The Force can tell. He’s not lying.”

“He killed his father!”

“I don’t deny it,” said Kylo Ren.

“He hurt my friends! He’s-” Words failed Rey completely. Barely even realising she was doing so, she turned and ran outside. The cold air hit her right in the throat. She had to climb down the mountain, and warn the others, and leave. Whatever inexplicable thing was happening here, she had to be somewhere far away from it all. She had to run. She was good at running…

Suddenly Luke was behind her, and his hand was on her shoulder. It was the metal hand, but it still felt inexplicably like a flesh-and-blood one.

“Rey,” he said. “I’ll go down there and talk to Chewie,” Rey didn’t bother asking how he knew the Wookie was there. “You are free to do whatever you choose.”

But am I? “I’m not staying – up here – with him.”

“That’s fine,” said Luke. “Ben? Follow me.” And even though Ben – Kylo – had been still inside the hut, at those words he suddenly appeared outside it and quietly followed Luke down the mountain.

*

Rey paced around at the spot where she had first found Luke, angrily thinking. First it was what would Finn do? Then it was what would General Organa do? And finally it was what must I do?

Eventually she decided that she was quite simply owed the truth, and she had to keep to her path and find it out. Too many people had done too much running already. So she started walking down the mountain, only to meet Luke on his way back up.

“Where are you going?” she asked. She couldn’t bring himself to speak to him rudely.

“To see my sister, Leia,” Luke answered. Then he said, “You’re powerful, Rey. You’re very powerful. To leave you untrained would be…an insult. But your choices are important and you can still choose to go. We can drop you off on Coruscant with a thousand credits, or on Naboo with friends of the Resistance…”

“No,” said Rey straight away. “I have friends who need me.”

“That’s the right attitude,” Luke said.

*

On board the Millennium Falcon, neither Rey or Chewie interacted with Ben. Chewie couldn’t even, it seemed, bring himself to look at him.

Rey did look, but it was with contempt. (She hoped he could sense it.) The journey seemed to last an eternity, but at last it came to an end, and it was night when they landed on D’Qar.

“Let me talk to my sister first,” Luke said, and he was the first to exit the ship, running rather than walking. This was the first time Rey had seen him rattled. She followed behind him at a reasonable distance, saw the astounded expressions cross the faces of various people as they realised who he was, and then she turned away and ran to the medcenter. Finn was still there. Nothing had changed. Well, something had: Poe was sitting next to him. He and Rey regarded each other with surprise.

“That was quick,” Poe finally said.

“I found Luke Skywalker,” Rey said. She couldn’t go into too much detail, she simply couldn’t. “Things have happened and I don’t even know if they’re bad things or not. How is Finn? Has he got worse?”

“Rey, he’s the same. But he won’t die, I know he won’t,” Poe said. Rey decided she was tired of hearing people say her name gently and then follow it up with an ambiguous statement. She was not a child.

You might know he won’t, but I don’t know that,” she said. However, Poe actually interrupted her words, saying “You found Luke Skywalker?”

“Yes,” Rey said, frustratedly. “I know you wanna be here, but…can you go? Please, can you just go?”

Poe was a good person, and he understood, and he left. He didn’t even ask why. As the door closed behind him, Rey crawled onto a chair and wept. She could have cried for five minutes or she could have cried for five hours, she didn’t know, time seemed to have stopped. And then-

Someone, or something, knocked on the door. Rey already knew who it was. She paused behind the closed door wondering if he would give up and go away, but he didn’t, so she finally opened it.

She and Ben Organa-Solo looked at each other for a long time.

“You take what you want, huh?” she finally said to him.

“None of this was what I wanted,” said Ben.

Rey realised she was almost too angry to talk. She took a deep breath – it seemed like the right thing to do – and waited for the rage to subside. Even as she saw in her mind’s eye, over and over again, Han falling.

“I’m not going to speak to you over the unconscious body of my friend,” she said to Ben. “We go in that side room over there and the second you try anything, I kill you.” She thought of Leia Organa. “Or at least I mess you up so badly you never feel anything but pain again.”

“Yes,” said Ben.

“Yes what?” She couldn’t understand this at all.

“Yes…I agree to your request,” Ben said. He was like a robot now, exactly like one, except that some of the cuts on him were bleeding. Droids didn’t bleed. Rey turned away from him with disdain and he followed her into the room.

“I’m sorry for everything I did to you,” he said. Rey thought he should have said that first, should have said that back in the Falcon in fact.

“And for everything you did to my friends?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Shame some of them aren’t around to hear your apology, then, isn’t it?”

“Let me explain to you the truth,” Ben said. His voice sounded like it was coming from a long way away and from inside her head at the same time. Was this another Force thing? “I’m Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son. You know this. But I’m not Kylo Ren. I never was.”

“Then who is?”

“No-one is,” said Ben. “He doesn’t exist. He’s an invention.”

“What?”

“I am a double agent, Rey. For the past fifteen years, I have been infiltrating the Knights of Ren and the First Order. It…worked, as you know. Now my training is complete, and I can end them once and for all.”

Rey just stared at him. She didn’t know how to react, what question to ask first. Part of her was convinced it was all a trap. Finally she managed to say just three words, and say them completely inarticulately.

“But…your mother?”

“Didn’t know,” said Ben. He said this with no emotion in his voice whatsoever.

“Didn’t know?” Rey repeated. She wished somebody, anybody, was by her side for this conversation. She shouldn’t have sent Poe away.

“It was vital no-one know,” Ben said. “It would have put my family in terrible danger.”

“You killed your father!” Rey almost howled. How had the world gotten even insaner? “I saw you do it!” For one moment she wondered if perhaps Han wasn’t really dead, but she forced that thought down so the eventual truth would hurt less.

“Yes, I did, and he agreed to it,” Ben said. That hit her like a physical pain in the chest.

What?”

“He knew my plans, you see. He wasn’t meant to, but…he was a good father.” This also hit her like a physical pain in the chest; made her want to gasp for air. “The First Order wanted my parents dead no matter what. Killing my father would cement my place among them once and for all. It was the best, most painless way.”

The most painless way?”

“He said I should,” Ben said quietly. This was the first time Rey had seen any real emotion in him. “He allowed it. He forgave me.”

Rey felt something that was almost like sympathy for him. But it was still only an almost. She would never see Han again and she had adored him.

“So yes,” said Ben, snapping out of his thoughts, “on the base, with several witnesses, in view of multiple security cameras, with his full permission, I killed my father.”

He was looking at her as if searching her face for forgiveness, but Rey wasn’t about to give it. “That’s not all you did. You killed innocent people. Or at least gave the orders for them to be killed.”

“Yes, I did.” After a pause he said, “I’m sorry for it.”

“You’re sorry for it? Is that enough? Will that bring them back?”

“If they knew what they were dying for,” said Ben, “they might have thought the sacrifice was worth it.”

Might have!” Rey wished General Organa were here. What had she done, when her son told her these things? “What about the little kids, the Jedi apprentices you killed? There’s no excuse for killing children, not ever!”

“The Knights of Ren killed them,” Ben said quietly.

“And you did what? Stand by?”

“I granted a few of the younger ones a merciful death, which the Knights would never have done,” Ben said. “Like my grandfather did at the Jedi Temple, during the Purge.”

Rey had not heard this story, but she knew who Darth Vader was, and she very much doubted that was true.

“There was nothing else I could have done!” Ben said. “Yes, people died. But because of my actions now billions will be saved.”

“That’s disgusting. You’re disgusting,” Rey said furiously. “Anyway, billions weren’t saved. They‘re already dead. I saw planets exploding, and how many more children and babies were on those worlds, huh?”

“I could have done nothing to prevent that!” Ben said. Now, suddenly, he was angry. Now he seemed more like the man who had tortured her. “That would have happened whether I was there or not!”

“You should have done something! Anything!”

For a moment she thought Ben was going to react like, well, like Kylo Ren – do something horrible and violent to her. She braced herself for a hit, and wondered what the quickest way would be to take him down. Aim for the legs? Grab his hair and hit his head against the wall? But the blow never came.

“My mother will forgive me, even if you don’t,” Ben said. He was standing much too close to her for comfort, but there was no wildness in his eyes exactly. There didn’t seem to be much of anything in fact. “And she’s the only one, right now, that I want forgiveness from.”

Rey had never had a mother. She didn’t know what sort of crimes they could forgive. Surely, though, no-one could excuse what Ben had done. “Well, I don’t forgive you. I’ll never forgive you. And I want you to go now.”

“I’ll go,” said Ben. He walked out into the medcenter, and Rey watched him, just in case he tried to go near Finn.

“I’m not a Sith Lord,” he said to her as he neared the door. “I’m like my grandfather in many ways, but I’m not…that. I’m not Kylo Ren. I’m Ben. And everything I did I did to bring peace and justice to the galaxy. I swear.”

This was said with emotion, but Rey didn’t buy it. He had already proven himself an excellent actor. “Or maybe you killed all those people because you were an angry little boy who liked killing people.”

“I didn’t enjoy a moment of it,” Ben snapped. The ‘angry little boy’ comment seemed to have touched a nerve. “You don’t think I see my father’s face before me every time I close my eyes? Even though I had his blessing? You don’t think I see those children, too?”

“Yeah,” said Rey, seizing on that, “you didn’t have their blessings-”

“Do you not think your friends have killed children too? Do you not think that’s what war is?” Suddenly his voice was loud and his eyes dark with rage, and Rey doubted that Kylo Ren had ever been buried that deep within him. “My uncle, did he spare a thought for the children on the Death Star when he fired on it? Because there were children there. Your friend Finn, how many children must he have killed-”

“None!” said Rey furiously, casting her eyes towards the prone body of her best friend. “As soon as he was told to kill people, he ran away! And suffered because of it! Because he’s not like you!“

Ben shrugged. That only served to infuriate her more.

“He’ll pull through, I know he will,” he said. “I was careful. I missed all his vital organs. It’s a shame he broke his programming, he would have been safer if he hadn’t.”

He’s talking about a human being like most people would talk about droids, Rey realized. Or like, like we’re all just pieces in a game to him…

“You know…I heard General Organa say, more than once, that there was still light in you,” she said to him. “But she never said there was still good in you. And I know why. Because good’s a different thing from light.”

Ben said nothing. Rey was very grateful.

She turned her back on him and walked towards Finn. She heard the door behind her open and then close. She let out a long, tired sigh, and grasped for Finn’s hand. It was cold, so she rubbed it with her own.

“You won’t believe what just happened. You won’t believe it at all,” she said to him. Of course, she got no response.

Finally she exited the medcenter. Nurses were starting their rounds, so she figured she should leave – and she had to talk to someone, someone who wasn’t horrifying, who wasn’t Kylo Ren…

She had been hoping Leia would be around somewhere, or Chewie, or any of the pilots she had befriended during her brief time on the planet. Maybe Poe would be in his quarters. Or maybe he was in a meeting with Leia, learning that the man who had tortured him had done it all for some vague, probably unattainable greater good…

Suddenly Luke was there, falling into step beside her. He was wearing new clothes, and his hair and beard were trimmed now, but he didn’t actually look that different. His eyes were the same. He also had a noticeable red patch on one side of his face.

“Leia slapped me,” he said when he saw her looking at it. For one moment he actually sounded rather young.

“Did she also tie you down and cut your hair?” Rey responded. Why she was being so familiar with him, she had no idea, but he laughed. Just for a second.

“Let’s sit down.”

They sat down on a bench outside. Rey had to remind herself not to stare at the plants: she had never seen any of them before, but presumably they would still be there once this long, strange day was over.

“I want to help you, Rey,” said Luke. “I wonder if the best way of doing that is telling you this: I’m just as scared as you are.”

Rey just nodded.

“I suppose you could look at it this way: the Dark Side is not as powerful as we thought. We have an extremely powerful ally back,” he swallowed. “We also have a member of our family back.”

Rey hoped he would say something about her also being a member of the family, but he didn’t. Of course he didn’t. She barely knew any of them.

“I’m sorry,” said Luke. “I’m sorry you were dragged into all this. But your choice to stay is an important one.”

“I don’t want my friends to die,”  Rey said. She was thinking of Finn, and the impact it would have on her if he did die. “I just want…” She couldn’t get Ben’s words out of her head. Whatever his complete scheme was, how could he ever build something new on so many thousands of millions of bones? How could anything that required the deaths of so many ever be good?

“I know what you’re thinking,” Luke said. “I don’t have the answers.” Rey wondered about the Death Star.

“I would like the wars to stop,” she finally said.

“I know. I understand,” Luke said.

Once he had left, Rey lay down on the bench and eventually, exhausted, fell asleep. The sweet scent of the plants nearby helped her rest like she had never really done before.

When she woke up she had a blanket over her. Who had put it there – Luke, Leia, Poe, Ben? She hoped it hadn’t been Ben. She folded it and left it on the bench to be found, and walked slowly back to the medcenter to wait and wait and wait: for Finn, and for the war to be over.