NOTE: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars 7
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is proving to be a juggernaut at the box office, fulfilling many of the massive expectations that fans had set for it. J.J. Abrams’ film, which begins the sequel trilogy, answered many of the questions that we had about the new Star Wars movies. We learned that Darth Vader has a grandson. We learned where Luke was, and why he was hiding. We know from the wave of positive reviews that Abrams succeeded in executing his vision: Star Wars is back.
There are, however, a number of new questions that have arisen – some are questions that we had hoped that the movie would answer, but then were not addressed. Others are new questions that we have based on the events, characters, and planets that we were introduced to over the course of the film. While some of these questions seemed to be seeds that we hope will be answered in the future films, other questions seemed to arise simply because of the movie’s pace.
This is not meant to devalue Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a film – even the best movies can have plot holes. Star Wars movies often prefer the technique of showing rather than telling, but in these cases, events were presented at an action-packed pace where there is little time to explain, and it left us wondering.
Here are 10 Unexplained Plot Points in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that we have questions about:
10. Why Isn’t the Force Balanced?
The prequel trilogy and original trilogy both build from the idea that Anakin Skywalker is the chosen one who will bring balance to the Force. That story arc appears throughout both trilogies and finds closure in Return of the Jedi. However, in The Force Awakens, the Force is anything but balanced. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is referred to as the last Jedi, is the only practitioner of the light side of the Force, and is in secluded hiding.
While the Sith have been destroyed, the dark side of the Force flourishes – Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the only visible Force user for most of the movie, but he is a member of the Knights of Ren, and it remains to be seen how many dark side users there are. Rey (Daisy Ridley) discovers her natural Force-sensitivity, which allows her to escape from Kylo Ren’s grasp (Speaking of plot holes, why is there only one stormtrooper guarding the powerful Force-wielding prisoner?) and defeat Kylo Ren in a duel.
If the Force isn’t balanced, then perhaps Anakin Skywalker is not the chosen one after all – if that is true, then any of the characters in the sequel trilogy could potentially balance the Force once and for all.
9. How did Poe Dameron Get Off Jakku?
When Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) crash land on Jakku, Finn discovers Poe’s jacket in the wreckage, but Poe is nowhere to be seen. Finn presumes that Poe is destroyed when the wreckage is consumed by the sand, and he takes up Poe’s mantle and works to return BB-8 to the Resistance.
However, when Maz’s castle is under attack, Poe Dameron leads a squadron of X-wings that help to save Finn. And when Poe and Finn reunite, Poe explains that he survived, but not how he managed to get off of Jakku without alerting the First Order to his whereabouts. What’s more, Finn doesn’t seem to care how Poe managed to not only evade capture but also return to the Resistance before Finn and BB-8.
8. How Did Maz Get the Skywalker Lightsaber?
Anakin Skywalker’s blue lightsaber journeyed through the previous two trilogies, and it appears that it will continue to be central in the upcoming trilogy. Anakin used his lightsaber through his career as a Jedi during the Clone Wars, and it was taken from him on the planet Mustafar by Obi-Wan. Years later, Obi-Wan gave the lightsaber to Anakin’s grown son Luke. Luke lost his father’s lightsaber during his duel with Darth Vader at Cloud City. When Vader cut off Luke’s hand, Luke lost the lightsaber, which went toppling downwards into the unknown depths. The lightsaber was lost, either somewhere in Cloud City, or into the gas giant Bespin which Cloud City orbits around.
Even before The Force Awakens was released, the trailer and other promotional materials featured Luke’s lightsaber, and fans speculated how the lightsaber would be retrieved, and who had managed to get their hands on it. In Episode VII, however, after the lightsaber calls out to Rey at Maz Kanata’s castle, there were no answers of how the lightsaber had made such an incredible journey. When asked, Maz (Lupita Nyong’o) even responds that it’s “A good question for another time.” It is difficult to tell if there will ever be “another time” after the First Order descended on Maz’s castle. Instead, the fact that Maz had the lightsaber seemed to just be sheer luck, because Finn and later Rey would eventually need the weapon.
7. How does Rey speak Wookiee?
When Rey discovers that Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewie (Peter Mayhew), and Finn have come to rescue her, she translates for Chewie to Finn, saying, “He said it was your idea.” Rey hugs Finn, happy to know that he cares enough about her that he would risk his life to rescue her from the First Order.
Earlier in the movie, Finn clearly establishes the fact that most humans cannot understand Wookiee – he is surprised that Han Solo is able to understand Chewbacca at all. If Rey grew up on the planet Jakku, where there did not seem to be a Wookiee presence, then how did she understand what Chewbacca was saying?
6. How did Kylo Ren get Darth Vader’s helmet?
In similar fashion to Skywalker’s lightsaber, Darth Vader’s helmet is an iconic image and artifact that made its way from the original trilogy into the hands of a sequel trilogy character. At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke burns the helmet along with the body of his father in a funeral pyre on the forest moon of Endor. The helmet is destroyed, and yet, it seems to have sustained minimal damage when it reappears in the hands of Kylo Ren.
Is that the real helmet? We know from the canon novel Aftermath that Sith artifacts are sold by merchants who are not even sure if their purported mythic origins are true. If it is the real helmet, how did it get into the hands of Kylo Ren?
5. How was Rey able to harness the Force so powerfully without training?
Han Solo tells Rey that the Force and the Jedi are real, and she seems stunned at this realization. Later, Rey is able to use the Force to stop Kylo Ren from reading her mind, to control the mind of a stormtrooper (played by Daniel Craig), and to defeat Kylo Ren in combat. Most Jedi begin their training at a very young age – even young Anakin Skywalker was considered to be too old to begin his training at the age of nine.
Luke Skywalker was a largely self-trained Jedi, and his growth in the Force was astronomical given the fact that he only began training in his young adulthood, much like Rey. Luke’s powers in the Force, however, were relatively limited until he trained with Yoda on Dagobah and fully understood his potential. Also, even before Yoda’s training, Luke had three years to experiment with his Force abilities between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
Conversely, Rey is able to use the Force in complex ways with no training after a limited period of time. She is also able to defeat a Force-user who has been training since a very young age. Just how powerful is Rey? Given her abilities in The Force Awakens, she seems to have the potential to be the most powerful Force user in the Star Wars universe – but her hyper-powerful “awakening” might just be a side effect of the pacing and plot of the movie.
4. How did C-3PO lose an arm?
C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) arrives just in time to interrupt an intimate moment between Leia and Han – and one of his arms is noticeably different, with a bright red color. C-3PO is even concerned that Han will not recognize him because of his new arm.
Many fans knew that one of C-3PO’s arms was now red, based on the promotional material and trailers of the film. They had hoped that an explanation of this change would be included in The Force Awakens, but it never happened. In an interview, J. J. Abrams noted that C-3PO’s arm was a way to illustrate the passage of time and how characters had changed. However, fans were just left to wonder what happened to C-3PO during the time between the films.
3. Who was Rey Given to on Jakku?
In a rare insight into Rey’s mind, the audience of The Force Awakens sees a vision (or is it a memory?) in which she is a child being left on Jakku. Rey is given into the keeping of someone, but both the person she is calling for and the person who takes her hand are unseen.
Luke Skywalker was given to his uncle Owen and aunt Beru for safe-keeping on Tatooine as a child, and later as a young man, he continued to live with them. In contrast, Rey was living on Jakku on her own. Where did the person go who she was given to, and why was she left alone?
2. Why Did R2-D2 Wake Up?
R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) had been on low-power mode ever since Luke Skywalker went into hiding. When Finn, Rey, and BB-8 arrive with the missing piece of the map, R2-D2 does not wake up. It is only after the Starkiller base is destroyed that R2-D2 is triggered, waking up to reveal that he has the full map that they needed all along to make BB-8’s information worthwhile. Rey is able to use the now-functional map to track down Luke Skywalker.
It just so happened that R2-D2 woke up at the exact moment with the exact information that was needed in order for Rey to find Luke at the end of the movie. It is the perfect deus ex machina, without any explanation of why or how it makes sense within the pre-established narrative structure. If R2-D2 didn’t just happen to have the map that Rey needed, the Resistance would be no closer to finding Luke than they were at the beginning of the movie. It seems that R2-D2 simply has the information because the screenwriters needed a way to hold off on finding Luke until after the other events of the film.
1. Where Did the Map Come From?
Presumably, because R2-D2 had a copy of the map, Luke was involved in its creation. It’s unclear how Kylo Ren and the First Order obtained an identical copy of the map, which was missing the same piece.
Somehow, Poe Dameron and the First Order both discover at the same time that the missing piece of the map is with Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) on Jakku, even though Poe Dameron did not know that there was a larger map. The Resistance only discusses finding a larger map after the missing piece is retrieved, and they hit a dead end until R2-D2 magically wakes up to save the day.
The map’s existence is equally unclear – if Luke created the map, then did he want to be found? Given the secrecy and complex conditions of gathering the information, it would seem that he would only want to be found under certain circumstances, but those circumstances are unclear. Luke had a copy of the map in R2-D2, and also made sure to give the missing piece to Lor San Tekka. But he also created at least one other copy of the map which somehow ended up in the hands of the First Order, but there was no explanation of why that second copy (or multiple copies) of the map would exist.
Some of these questions may be answered in the upcoming Star Wars films, but they still create plot holes in The Force Awakens that make it confusing as a stand-alone movie. Hopefully the next installments of the trilogy, along with the new content for the new expanded universe, will help to fill in the gaps.
Were there other parts of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens plot that need further clarification? Share them in the comments!