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.