Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot points we can’t reveal in our review.
One major problem with the George Lucas Star Wars prequels is the nearly complete absence of compelling heroes or villains, and coming up with new ones is where The Force Awakens shines: Poe Dameron, the swashbuckling pulp hero that the Republic-serial-indebted Star Wars cycle has, for some reason, never had before; Finn, the Cowardly Lion ex-Stormtrooper; and Kylo Ren, also known as Ben Solo, the unstable, tragic-figure-in-training bad guy. (Rey leaves less of an impression, but that’s because she’s in the Luke Skywalker position of having most of the plot happen to her.) And though it’s sometimes hamstrung by J.J. Abrams’ slavish devotion to the A New Hope formula and career-long aversion to satisfying endings, The Force Awakens offers an interesting flip on the original trilogy’s central character triad and a reconfiguration of the series’ father-figure dynamic.
There are two important through-lines in the Star Wars mythos: the sins of the father theme established in Empire Strikes Back and concluded in Return Of The Jedi, and the idea of Luke Skywalker as being torn between the legacy of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the father he never had, and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, the father he never knew. When you take the prequels into account, the original trilogy then becomes about Luke and Vader fighting over Kenobi’s legacy, with Luke being Kenobi’s spiritual successor and Vader being his trainee. And in The Force Awakens, the Kenobian legacy figures are Han Solo and Leia Organa: Rey is the spiritual successor to both, having Han’s wits and Leia’s resolve, and now she’s pitted against the son who rejected them. She may have inherited Luke’s lightsaber, but what leaves more of an impression of continuity is seeing her at the controls of the Millennium Falcon, with Chewbacca at her side.
And as with so much about this enjoyable, fast-paced, incomplete movie, it’s a dynamic that’s set up (perhaps in a way that’s too-on-the-nose; see Kylo Ren mocking Rey for thinking of Han as a “father figure”) but left unresolved.