Today I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And while it was an enjoyable film, full of pretty much exactly the sorts of things a Star Wars film should have – space battles, lightsabre fights, and so on – there were some things that really stood out when I’d had a little time to think about it, which undermined the story quite significantly.
This post contains major spoilers, so if you don’t want the film spoiled, do not read.
Why did Poe leave Jakku when he’d gone back there looking for BB-8?
For this one I might have missed or forgotten something. But let’s lay out what I do remember, shall we?
Poe insisted that, having escaped the First Order in a TIE fighter, he and Finn must head back to the planet Jakku, risking recapture, in order to retrieve BB-8 because BB-8 has the map to Luke Skywalker. Poe was thrown free of the wreckage of the crashed TIE fighter – a long way free, far enough away that he was unable to locate the TIE fighter or Finn. He then decided to leave the planet without BB-8 and return to Resistance HQ.
Now, maybe he overheard the news that BB-8 had made it off-planet aboard the Millennium Falcon, and knew he had to leave as a result. But how would he overheard that news? He’d have had to arrive at the scavenger settlement shortly after it happened, but after the Stormtroopers had already left. And then he must have made the decision to go right back to Resistance HQ rather than attempt to pursue the Millennium Falcon in case the First Order caught up with them – or, indeed, in case Finn and whoever he was with (Poe didn’t know Rey, after all) decided to run and hide or use BB-8 as a bargaining chip instead of going to give it to the Resistance.
And then he’d have had to get transport directly to Resistance HQ to arrive there in time to board an X-wing to join the fight at Takodana as Rey is being kidnapped by Kylo Ren. In between, the Millennium Falcon has been travelling at lightspeed, and briefly stopped at Han and Chewie’s space base before the whole situation there got them moving again fairly sharpish, once again at light speed. Now, there was perhaps some time when the main group were stopped at Takodana for Poe to make up lost time, but even light speed travel isn’t instantaneous. The time just doesn’t add up, unless Han and Chewie’s space base was really a long way out of the way – but it had to be close enough to Takodana for Han to conclude that Takodana was the best place to go to change ships.
Why didn’t Kylo Ren leave a token force behind on Takodana to continue the search for BB-8 and prevent the map reaching the Resistance?
The First Order wants to capture the map that leads to Luke Skywalker, partly so they can kill Luke and partly so the Resistance can’t find him. And yet once Kylo Ren has captured Rey and discovered she has some sort of brilliant memory of the map that he thinks he can extract from her brain, he decides that BB-8 is insignificant now.
But he’s not. The First Order still don’t want the Resistance to reach Luke first, which they can if they have the map. It was even stated, at a separate point in the movie, that destroying the droid so that the Resistance don’t get hold of the map is an option available to them. But once Kylo Ren has Rey, he stops caring about the droid. Leaving a force of Stormtroopers behind with the sole aim of finding and capturing or destroying BB-8 would have been both a backup plan to get hold of the map another way, and a means to deny the Resistance.
We know Kylo Ren has anger management issues, but this is just plain stupid.
If Finn worked in sanitation, how did he even know enough about the Starkiller base to convince the Resistance to listen to his plan?
At the war council as the Resistance realise the Starkiller is charging up and aimed right at them, Finn puts forward information about the Starkiller – claiming to know how to lower the shields and informing the Resistance council of the Oscillator thingamy wotsit which presents a weakness. Or so I remember, at least. He gained credibility with his insider information. But if he was working in sanitation, how would he even know the military or mechanical weaknesses of something that he probably wouldn’t go near most of the time. Either it’s general knowledge, in which case the First Order have a security problem, or he shouldn’t know it.
For all Finn knew, he might have been fed false information. The general knowledge he’d picked up might have been wrong, urban legends or deliberate deception as a security feature. He could have given the Resistance information that would have gotten everyone killed, including himself. It is only because that’s how the plot was meant to go that he was lucky enough to be right. It’s contrived.
Why did Captain Phasma agree to turn off the Starkiller shields?
Captain Phasma has the security clearances and knowledge necessary to take down the shields. With the threat of blasters in her face, she agrees to take them down. But in her position, would you, really? Thinking about the risks, as far as she knows, the moment she’s captured, she’s as a good as dead. Here are her options and the likely outcomes:
- Refuse to take down the shields. Finn, Han and Chewie kill her. She is dead.
- Refuse to take down the shields. Finn, Han and Chewie have some objection to killing her (either moral or because she’s their only chance of success). They are eventually discovered and surrounded by Stormtroopers. She is rescued, and possibly demoted for getting captured by the enemy.
- Agree to take down the shields. Get stopped on the way or in the process by Stormtroopers. Phasma gets in trouble for, at best, failing to prevent the Resistance lot from getting so far into their plan, or at worst for treason. She is demoted or executed.
- Agree to take down the shields. Successfully take them down. Get shot by Chewie 4 seconds later because she is no longer any use to them but could be a threat. She is dead.
- Agree to take down the shields. Successfully take them down. The Resistance’s attack is defeated by some other means. Phasma is accused of treason and executed. She is dead.
- Agree to take down the shields. Successfully take them down. The Resistance’s attack is successful. The planet implodes. Phasma is caught in the collapse. She is dead.
- Agree to take down the shields. Successfully take them down. The Resistance’s attack is successful. Phasma escapes the planet and rejoins others from the First Order. Her part in the Resistance’s plan is discovered. She is executed for treason. She is dead.
Now, yes, there are other possible outcomes, but I think these are the most likely. And it doesn’t look good for Phasma. She’s dead in a lot of those scenarios. She only survives if rescued by Stormtroopers, and even then she’s in trouble, and in far deeper trouble if that rescue takes place after she’s agreed to take down the shields.
That’s not even taking into account that she presumably believes in the First Order and wants it to succeed. Even if all options resulted in 100% chance of death, surely she’d want to defy the Resistance and protect the First Order. Instead she just went along with what Finn told her to do.
It doesn’t make sense. And once again, it’s something that has happened for plot convenience more than anything else.
That’s not to say the films weren’t fun. The above problems occurred to me some time after I’d left the cinema, and not at all during the film. But they still mean there are plot holes in the film, and bad writing to keep the story on plot against all reason.