I’ve been watching YouTube videos about Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII a lot in the last week. Seen a lot of utterly batshit stuff (Leia is Snoke! Rey is the reincarnation of Palpatine!), but also some random things that have made me think.
Generally, what I’ve been thinking is “Uh… Duh.”
The number of videos I’ve seen regarding Finn and his probable future as a Jedi is truly staggering. And generally all I can think of when I watch them is “Well, congratulations, Sherlock.” I mean, there’s a metric ton of promo materials with Finn holding a lightsaber, he’s too stupidly skilled and lucky for what is, in essence, a space janitor, and wether his opponent was wounded or not, Finn did manage to do fairly well in a duel with Kylo Ren. That’s all pretty suggestive of him being Force sensitive and marked by destiny. I’ll give credit to at least a handful for pointing out the parallels to Kyle Katarn (you know, the one from the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series of games) and Disney’s apparent liking of cherry picking elements from the EU to scatter throughout the new canon… But for the most part, it generally seems like they’re hopping on the promo bandwagon without giving a lot of thought to it.
Now, thinking about it does seem to provoke some interesting ideas, and that’s actually what this post is about. Most of them revolve around the fact that Finn picks up a lightsaber and goes to town with it, taking down some of his former mates and (until the last few seconds of the fight, at least) pulling a draw from Kylo Ren. People frequently point out that “only a Jedi/Sith (or one meant to be one) can use a lightsaber!” Of course, we know that’s just not true, and the internet as a whole is quick to point it out, but the reason they cite is stupid.
“Han totally used one, when he saved Luke in Empire!” That’s got to be the most retarded thing I’ve ever heard. Yes, Han technically used a lightsaber. He turned it on and gutted an animal with it. Well, hot damn. Guess what, kids? I’ve never used a flamethrower before, but I bet if I got it turned on I could still melt an ice cube. That doesn’t imply any actual skill or knowledge in how the thing is used. Lightsabers have power switches. They run off… Electricity, I guess. Something. They have batteries or at least the Star Wars equivalent. Turning on what is, for all intents and purposes, a laser-bladed flashlight requires no psychic powers. Applying the result to a stationary object so that it cuts it also requires no special knowledge.
I always interpreted the “Only Jedi can use them” thing to be related more to the actual use of the weapon in a fight. Because lightsabers are weird weapons. It’s not going to be like swinging a sword. Anyone who has actually swung a sword, please raise your hand. There. You guys know. Part of learning to use the damn thing is the weight involved, and part of proper fighting technique is using that weight, both in the initial strike and to bring the weapon back to a ready posture. When in a fight, part of the deciding factor is the weight of the two weapons, at least as much as the skill and strength of those swinging them, because when the weapons make contact, that’s going to have an effect.
Point #1: Lightsabers have no weight beyond the hilt. You’re swinging, for all intents and purposes, a flashlight. You’re hoping the beam of that flashlight is going to hit your opponent or his weapon in such a way as to cause damage, protect yourself, or otherwise be advantageous to you. You’re also hoping to do this without inadvertently touching yourself with that beam, because you don’t want to chop off your own legs, Ted Nugent style.
So basically, you’re flailing about with your fist in an attempt to make precision strikes on something between two and four feet away from you, without touching yourself in the process. For an idea of how well that’s going to go for the average person, check out the Fencing minigames or Red Steel on the Wii.
That is why lightsabers are meant to be used by Force sensitive people. They have better agility, finer control, are accustomed to externalizing their thoughts, have a touch of precognition. You need that to be able to use the weapon properly.
Now, there’s exceptions. PR0XY and Grevious come to mind; but then again, they’re droids (well, mostly, in the case of Grevious.) Who were programmed by amazing lightsaber duelists. They’re not doing what they do because they feel the ebb and flow of the Force, or because they’re sensing the moves their opponent is making and what moves they need to make a split second before they happen; they’re doing it because their little servomotors are programmed to finest precision how to replicate the way a Sith or Jedi moves. When things get wonky or outside of the strict edges of their programming or training, they can be beaten (as Starkiller and Obi-Wan do), because they have a problem with adaptability. Still, they are most assuredly not Force sensitive, and they can be effective in a lightsaber duel.
There’s that Mandalorian from Clone Wars, who had the Darksaber. He manged to use it without hurting himself and pulling a draw and the occasional victory against proper Jedi. But he is not Joe Smith from Alderaan. He’s from a warrior race who strive to perfect body and mind, who made killing their business (and business is good…) and he worked damn hard for a long time to be as good as he is (which, realistically, still isn’t as good as “Fresh out of Padawan training or Sith Recruitment Center Force sensitives”). And then there’s the whole issue that he’s not using a “proper” lightsaber, but rather an ancient (and sometimes seemingly semi-sentient) artifact, so that might have had an impact, too.
Then there’s Boba Fett. Ugh. Even mentioning him makes my teeth ache and my eyeballs throb in my head. But in some EU sources, he does have a lightsaber and can use it in an emergency. He doesn’t like to, and he’s not going to take out a well-trained Jedi with it or anything, but if he has to, he can defend himself and make small hits until he thinks of something better.
So there’s four people who we know can use a lightsaber who are not Force sensitive. Of course, the list is one droid who may not be canon any more, one general who was more droid than organic, one warrior-god guy with an ancient relic and one “I can do anything because I make Star Wars fans’ genitals explode any time I’m on screen or mentioned” guy who also happens to be a clone of that same warrior-god race as Captain Darksaber. What do all four have in common? Training, training, training. (Or programming. Whatever.)
What is something that Finn most assuredly does not have, in the lovely First Order universe of Jedi and Sith being a myth, Snoke an illusion, and Kylo a tempermental six year old with a busted relic of a lost era? Well, a lot of things, really, but I bet lightsaber training is high on the list. It doesn’t even look like there’s anyone still using Force Pikes in the First Order. Regardless of being top of his class and the only Stormtrooper who can hit something he’s shooting at, Finn has not had years playing with Jedi toys to learn how to make them work… But he takes to it relatively naturally. Remember, he’s not poorly butchering an animal or melting a door; he’s taking down other humans and fighting the best lightsaber duelist currently known to be in action, and he’s doing it without hurting himself or being handed his ass in point five seconds. And doing it at the behest of someone who, at the very least, has got some affiliation with the Jedi Order and who I suspect might be Force sensitive (if not actually a lost Jedi) herself; Maz Kanata has got some ‘splainin’ to do, if she just hands random dudes a lightsaber and tells them to go wild with it. Or there are a lot of autosevered limbs under the floorboards of that castle…
Anyway. As I said when I started. Finn becoming a Jedi doesn’t seem like news to me, and everyone on the internet who thinks they’ve found one of the great truths of the universe for thinking it’ll be so and wanting a cookie for it should be slapped. But so should anyone in the opposition camp that says non-sensitives can use them and point to Han as an example.
Of course, what I’d really like to see in Episodes VIII and IX is that Rey and Finn fall to the dark side, possibly starting a new Rule of Two in the process… And Kylo ends up having to embrace the light and strike them down. But I doubt Disney’s got the guts to tell that story. Le sigh.
What about you folks? What do you think on the Finn-as-Jedi theory? What about untrained users and lightsaber usage? Have a favorite sequel trilogy theory you want to share, or one you absolutely hate? Let us know down below!