*Note : This article was written post-The Last Jedi and before The Rise of Skywalker. Clearly new developments have taken place in the storyline and with the characters of Rey, Ben Solo, and Finn. I have discussed those events and character arcs in a recent article covering The Rise Of Skywalker. You can read it here.
That being said, this article still has value as it points out what a truly kind, loving relationship (romantic or platonic) involves and is a great character break-down. Keep that in mind as you continue reading. Thank you!
Yesterday I covered why Reylo needs to be seen for what it is, abusive.
Abrams and Johnson gave us a brilliant example of what-not-to-do to win and keep the girl.
At the same time, we were also given a beautiful example of what true love looks like.
I cannot remember falling in love with the idea of two characters together faster than I fell in love with Finn and Rey. I was sold within the first 3 minutes of their interaction, the chemistry is that real.
Finn is a glorious character to me. He gave a face to the face-less stormtrooper and showed us in a new way how heroes can come from anywhere. Finn often stumbles or stutters his way through his actions, but his heart is so noble and fierce that it always wins out. Finn is simple and powerful as a character.
Rey’s heart of compassion was shown the moment she rescued BB-8 and let him come home with her (we all know he slept at the end of her bed that night). True, she was grouchy about it at first, but let’s give her some grace, it had been a long day. She proved how true her heart was when she was offered 60 portions for BB-8…and she turned Unkar Plott down. This sets her apart from every other creature scratching for survival on that junkyard planet and points to the fact that she’s nobler, higher, and destined for more. Her principles out-weight her fear for her future needs.
Rey and Finn, unlike Kylo and Rey, are not actually as similar…on the surface. However, in their hearts, Rey and Finn are cut from the same exact heroic cloth.
Rey and Kylo are both strong in the Force, they are the light and dark sides of the same coin, but that does not mean they fit together.
Finn is an ex-stormtrooper, a fact that he hates. However, his military training and insider knowledge of the First Order prove invaluable during the progression of this story and his involvement with Rey. He knows military history, First Order Equipment, and battle strategy. He uses this knowledge for key missions in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
The thing that Finn hates most about his past is actually the thing that he uses time and time again to save his future.
Rey hated her life on Jakku, but it taught her valuable skills. She’s smart, quick-thinking, an athletic warrior and a genius mechanic.
Like Finn, the most painful parts of Rey’s past have become the keys and tools to unlocking her future.
Practically speaking, their strengths and weaknesses complement each other. They are a shockingly good team, a fact they discover within just a few minutes of meeting each other.
And then there is the cuteness of this “you’re awesome” “no you’re awesome” session where BB-8 is feeling like a third wheel.
This is only the second time Finn has connected with a human being in his life. For Rey, this is the first time. They look at each other with amazement because they didn’t know nice humans like this existed.
Finn and Rey are not the same in their giftings like Kylo and Rey are. What Finn and Rey have is the same heart, which is vastly more important than the same skills.
True love happens when two people who have the same heart and intentions towards life find each other. They are not the same person, they have different skills and stories, but they are pointed in the same direction and care about the same things.
We attract what we are. Rey and Finn are attracted to each other and brought together because they are pointed in the same direction and have the same heart.
Kylo’s first introduction to Rey was him knocking her out and kidnapping her. #howromantic
Finn’s first introduction to Rey happened when he moved to help her once Unkar Plott’s thugs began attacking her. Read the difference between Kylo and Finn here. One came to kidnap and use, the other came to help with no thought of personal gain.
Finn is on the run, wanted, and in an easy-to-spot location. He lost his only friend, has no experience or resources, just spent hours in the desert wearing all black (that’d take me down), and just drank water full of Happobore snot.
Finn has nothing. He’s on a godforsaken planet where everyone is rude or doesn’t speak his language. A person who is only concerned with their own survival would keep a low profile, stay out of trouble, and certainly not get involved in a fight without a weapon.
Finn does NONE of the above, strategically, he does the dumbest thing. He sees some thugs hassling a girl, and he runs over to help, “Hey!”
He doesn’t know the story here, who the ruling class is, nothing! All he knows is someone is being attacked and he’s not okay with that. Finn to the rescue!
Stupid? Maybe. Noble? Totally. Our first scene with Finn showed his horror for cruelty and his unwillingness to be a part of it. But this moment goes even farther to define his character. He is not just going to remove himself in protest, he’s going to get involved when someone needs help. What is it they say about evil?
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Finn is not going to do nothing, even if that’s what he thinks he wants, his actions keep contradicting his surface-level fears and beliefs.
He runs to help…but, wow! This girl can kick-rear! He pauses in his heroic charge. This facial expression is just the cutest. His face says #impressed and he glances around to see if anyone else just saw what he did.
This may seem like simple fangirling on my part, but it’s so much bigger than that. This detail ties into one of my absolute favorite aspects of Finn and Rey’s relationship.
Finn absolutely loves Rey for who she is. He is immediately attracted to her heart, desires her good opinion, and believes 100% in her capability, sometimes more than she does.
Kylo Ren wanted Rey and what she had to use for his own gain, whenever she refused him he became angry and fearful because her strength threatened his control.
Finn delights in Rey because he loves everything about her. He enjoys her, admires her, and celebrates her strength.
True love does not fear someone else’s strength, rather, true love values a person and celebrates all that they are.
Finn is so excited that Rey exists, the moment he meets her he has someone he loves to fight for. Over a short time that love grows bigger than his fear of what he fled.
Finn displays his appreciation for what Rey can do throughout The Force Awakens. When they are about to be boarded (they believe Han and Chewie are actually The First Order) he asks her to unfix the gas leak to conquer the Storm Troopers “..their helmets filter out smoke not toxins.” Again, pairing his knowledge + her skills = effective team.
Onboard Han’s freighter ship Finn and Rey are hiding while Han “talks his way out” of trouble with the gangsters. Hearing that the situation is getting out of hand, Rey comes up with a mechanical solution.
Look at his cheesy grin. He thinks she’s just the dadgum smartest thing and doesn’t even question that her trick worked.
Later on during the escape from Starkiller Base Finn leads Rey to the precise spot where she can remove the whatcha-ma-call-it (she’s the mechanic, not I) to get Han and Chewie into the core for some explosive activity.
In The Last Jedi Finn and the other 7.5 Resistance members remaining head out in the equivalent of rusted soda cans to take on the best The First Order has. They’d be toast, but who should show up at just the right moment? Rey!
While Kylo is screaming “Blow that piece of junk OUT OF THE SKY!” Finn is having the exact opposite reaction.
The man is screaming in pure glee. His face is at first shock, next glee, and then proud certainty. He knows exactly who is on that ship and he knows his girl is gonna kick some First Order butt!
When Rey uses the Force to move rocks (oh the poetic humor of that) she’s never done this before and holy cow I cannot believe that worked!
Poe is amazed. Finn is also amazed, but it’s different. Poe is gaping and Finn just accepts the obvious of course she can do it and goes running to her.
Which leads me to my next thought.
Finn and Rey are constantly reaching new heights in their abilities and character growth because their desire for the other person to be okay is bigger than their fear or comfort zone.
Finn and Rey really care about each other.
Finn’s immediate desire to impress Rey and have her think well of him is really cute. Finn is kind of like an adorkable puppy, so at first glance, this looks like puppy love.
Everything following that scene, even events that take place within just a few hours of their first meeting confirms that Finn’s crush is more than just a crush.
He hears the approach of the tie-fighters and grabs her hand, she’s not gonna die today if he can help it.
An explosion sends both Finn and Rey to the ground. Rey recovers first and reaches over to her fallen companion.
Finn starts and instantly turns to her with a look of true concern.
Are you okay?
Rey stares at him like she hadn’t heard him correctly. Wait, what?
Finn is the first person in Rey’s entire life to ask if she was okay. No one has ever cared before.
Can you even imagine?
I already covered the cuteness of the following scenes above (I know this is not chronological but there is a method to my madness).
When the Rathtars escape Finn shows yet again that he truly cares about Rey. Like Rey, Finn has been emotionally starved his whole life, however, his reaction to that lack is to instantly wear his heart on his sleeve. Rey is far more reserved about her responses in the beginning, but it doesn’t take her that much longer to start showing her affection in return.
Nooo, noo, noo!
Poor, terrified Finn is about to be eaten quite violently, but he’s screaming at Rey to keep running.
Rey is a stayer, not a leaver, so she uses the same trick that got them into this mess to get them out of it again, saving Finn.
On Takodana Finn’s fears overwhelm him and he walks away from the mission to get BB-8 back to the Resistance. Maz is disappointed. Han looks sympathetic and sad. Rey…Rey is devastated.
You can’t just go, I won’t let you. (She’s been left before, not again, she cares too much.)
I’m not who you think I am.
Finn, what are you talking about?
I’m not Resistance! I’m not a hero.
He’s looking at her with so much shame.
…I made a choice, I wasn’t going to kill for them. So I ran, right into you. And you looked at me like no one ever had. I was ashamed of what I was. But I am done with The First Order, I’m never going back.
Rey, come with me!
She didn’t even blink at him being a former Stormtrooper. She just pleaded don’t go. She’s found someone real, please, please don’t go.
He’s still too scared, you can see how much he wants to be with her, but he leaves anyway. This is his low point as a character. Still, he asks her very sincerely to take care of herself.
The fact that Rey would even be tender enough to let herself grow attached to someone so quickly, and then ask them to stay is incredible. It speaks of her tender heart and of the true connection she and Finn have.
True love makes you braver.
It’s brave of Rey to open up her heart. Right now, it looks like that decision is about to get her hurt again. Finn thinks he can just walk away…but…
Finn needs a t-shirt with this phrase. Rey disappears into the forest after her terrifying visions and the rest of Takodana stares at the skies in horror as Starkiller Base destroys the New Republic. Finn runs up to inform Han of what is happening and then stops where’s Rey?
The explanation from Maz Kanata (this girl gets things done) and the arrival of The First Order get things in motion.
Go! Help your friend!
She’s figured out Finn’s motivation, so she plunks that lightsaber in his hand and sends him off. And he goes.
I’m done with The First Order, I’m never going back.
He literally said that like an hour ago and now he’s charging into the ranks of a warzone, wielding an unfamiliar weapon with courage he does not believe he possesses. He’s doing it because he knows that Rey needs him, and that need is stronger than his fear.
The horror in Finn’s eyes when he sees Rey limp and being carried off by his worst nightmare is legit. I was already sold on Finn, but the acting here of pure devastation and anguish sold me on John Boyega as an actor. WOW!
Finn goes running and screaming (again, bad battle strategy) towards a horde of Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren. He’s not thinking, it’s pure emotion right now.
The rest of the movie is Finn acting in direct contradiction to what he says he wants, and that is to get as far away from The First Order as possible.
This guy, this scared, inexperienced guy comes up with a plan to get himself behind enemy lines and sneaks himself, Chewbacca, and Han into the base. Once there, he confronts and conquers his former slave driver, Phasma, to accomplish the mission. Next, he comes up with a plan to save Rey. It’s a terrible plan, but an incredibly brave one that actually includes him running in to draw fire. He may not even live another hour but as long as Rey is okay, he’s okay.
I’m done with The First Order, I’m never going back.
When Finn first fled The First Order his only goal was freedom and escape. Now that Rey is in his life, his only goal is making sure that she’s okay, this goal is to the detriment of his original goal.
Actions speak louder than words. After Han’s death Rey and Finn attempt to make their escape back to the Falcon. Kylo shows up (can the man portal jump, how’d he get there so fast?). Rey yells, Kylo knocks her against a tree, Finn is devastated again.
Rey is down for the count. Finn takes up that lightsaber again and engages in combat with a vastly superior foe, one whom he has been terrified of from the beginning.
It is Finn’s screaming that awakens Rey, she opens her eyes in time to see Kylo slash his back open and leave him still and cold in the snow. Kylo reaches for the lightsaber with the full expectation of it coming to him, but it goes to Rey instead.
You can see the utter shock in Rey’s face, it is the same shock she has when she is actually able to move the rocks on Crait to save the Resistance. She’s shocked, she’s scared, but she is doing it because she has to.
In The Last Jedi Finn awakens with one thought.
His motivation for most of the second movie is to ensure Rey has something to return to. He knows she will come back, and he’s going to make sure it’s safe for her to do so. Rey is on a personal mission, but even bigger is her knowledge that the people she loves (like Finn) are counting on her to come through for them. She goes to the scariest place to face the scariest people to accomplish this mission.
True love fights for the other person.
True love is focused on giving, not getting. When two people in a relationship are both focused on giving, more needs are actually met.
True love never stunts growth, it creates growth organically.
This is so true for FinnRey. They both face their greatest demons and reach new heights because of their interaction with each other.
And now for the biggest, most beautiful thing of all.
She’s lived a life of misery waiting for one thing…someone to come back for her.
He’s never had anyone to care for in his life…until he met her.
The last thing Rey heard from Finn was that he was leaving. Like the survivor that she is, she escapes from Kylo’s clutches and starts creeping around the base, looking for an exit strategy. She’s on her own, like always, and doing well. But she’s scared. She’s been scared her whole life and this is the worst time yet.
She turns a corner…
And there they are. There he is. Han asks,
Are you alright?
Finn is relieved but still concerned.
What happened, did he hurt you? (clearly he was imagining the worst and who can blame him)
We came back for you.
*Chewbacca noises. Guys, I think Chewie is a FinnRey shipper.
Rey stares at Finn in utter shock.
What’d he say?
He said it was your idea.
The Hug Part 1
This look, this hug, wow. Finn has no idea just how much his actions mean to Rey. He came back for her, she matters to someone.
He cannot fill every hole in her heart, but he just healed some major ones.
And he holds her like she is so precious to him. The amount of peace and hope these two find with each other is vital for the next movie, The Last Jedi.
Kylo Ren tries to reinforce Rey’s feelings of worthlessness so she will turn to him for a sense of value, and he can use her power.
Finn risks everything to go and save Rey because he already loves and values her apart from anything he can gain from her. This action tells her for the first time in her life that she is loved.
*From a deleted scene in The Last Jedi, BB-8 shows Finn a recording of Rey’s parting words to him. Pretty sure BB-8 is also a FinnRey shipper.
The most disappointing part of The Last Jedi to me was that Finn and Rey spent most of the movie apart. John and Daisy felt the absence, the fans felt the absence, the characters felt the absence. But they never forgot each other, they just did their best to work towards the same goals in their separate locations. They loved each other from afar.
There was value added by Rey’s interaction with Kylo and Finn’s interaction with Rose. These new characters not only added the lucrative “love triangle” edge that is super annoying, but they brought something fresh to Finn and Rey that they could not get from each other.
Finn couldn’t fully commit to his future until he stopped running from his past. Rose pushed him to that point.
Likewise, Rey could not have the proper perspective on her future until she had faced her past and chosen not to let it define her. Kylo pushed her to that point.
Even so, Finn was never in love with Rose, and Rey was never in love with Kylo. I mentioned in the Reylo article that Rey felt compassionate empathy for Kylo, not romantic love, which is part of why she was able to walk away when he refused to do the right thing. Finn had respect and appreciation for Rose, but c’mon, have y’all never seen a one-sided kiss before?
See? Chewie ships this! I am DYING to know what he said here, somewhere in some drawer there is a sheet with Chewie’s lines in English. It’s a National Treasure and someone needs to steal it.
Finn and Rey both care about people and their stories (remember, cut from the same cloth?)
Rey cared about Kylo as a person and took the time to hear his story. Finn cared about Rose as a person and took the time to hear her story.
The chance Finn and Rey took with these new people actually moved them past their greatest hurdles and fears to the next level.
The Hug Part 2
This is Rey’s face as she sees Finn running towards her.
The amount of non-verbal communication happening here is breathtaking. Finn’s face has so many emotions. Relief, exhaustion, and deep, deep love. He lets out a sigh like he’s been holding his breath this whole time. He’s finally home.
Rey’s face says one thing, peace. Her face has not been this way for the entire movie. Resolved? Yes. Brave? Focused, determined, angry, afraid, sad, it has been all of those things, but this is the first time she’s been at peace. She’s home.
You are at home with someone who truly loves you.
Finn and Rey are a beautiful picture of how two people with broken places can bring healing to each other. They help each other grow. They give courage to the other one even when they are not together. They appreciate each other for who they are. They are willing to sacrifice for the other person. Finn and Rey show each other true love.
Ladies, don’t be afraid to hold out for a Finn, you will NOT regret it.
Gentlemen, a girl like Rey is the kind of girl you can spend forever with. Keep that in mind.
And the last one is just me indulging my fangirl feels.
She was dressed for the desert. This is a snow planet. He gave her his jacket. I’m done!
See you at the movies!
Reylo Is Dangerous, Stop Glorifying It
The Last Jedi: Where No One Had Gone Before