Neither Finn or Rey will be journeying alone in this film, and the characters they will be interacting with also have interesting connections to their family (or lack thereof). Rey will be spending a lot of the film with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the Jedi who sought to redeem his own father at all costs. Luke, now having lost his nephew to the Dark Side, is no longer the hopeful figure he once was. He is isolated from his family. On the Resistance side, Finn will be strengthening his relationships with both Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and newcomer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran). He will no doubt also interact with Leia, who has lost both her husband and son. Familiar loss, it seems, will drive many of the characters.
Both Poe and Rose, the secondary protagonists and characters who round out the film's heroic quartet, also will have to deal with issues of family, despite knowing where they came from. Poe lost his mother, Shara Bey, at a young age, and is now being groomed by Leia to take over the Resistance (Isaac confirmed that Leia views Poe as a surrogate son). Rose and her sister Paige (Veronica Ngo) lost their home to the First Order, and if rumors and speculation are to be believed, Paige will die early on in the film. Both Poe and Rose have lost family, and Finn is looking for a family, or at least a cause worth fighting for. It is likely that these three will form a surrogate family unit, supporting and helping each other. And given that we know Rey will return to the Resistance, it is likely that she will be welcomed into this little band of heroes as well.
Of course, to go this far without mentioning the fact that The Force Awakens explicitly sets up Rey and Finn as each other's new family is almost sacrilege. Despite what some fans would want to believe, the narrative is not subtle about the duo finding what they've been looking for in each other. We are explicitly told that Rey has been waiting for someone to come back for her her entire life; Finn comes back for her on Starkiller. Rey looks at Finn "like no one ever had" and, according to Boyega, part of Finn's motivation at the start of The Last Jedi will be to find Rey and escape the destructive conflict together. With the promise of a reunion on the horizon, we have yet to see whether this relationship will stay friendly or if it will blossom into a romantic one. But the importance of that relationship will no doubt play into the third act of the film.
The Last Jedi might stray from Star Wars tradition and, instead of focusing on family bound by blood, might instead focus on its protagonists creating their own family through shared experiences. Rey and Finn will be on paralleled journeys of self discovery and finding out what role their past plays in their future, and on that journey they will be connecting with other lost souls, such as Luke, Poe, and Rose. With a villain who actively rejects his loving family in favor of evil, this film could blaze a new path for the franchise in saying that your blood family does not matter, but rather your choices do.
It's still too early to entirely tell what the thematic journeys of the film might be. But this interpretation, based on the character development in The Force Awakens and the information we have been given, could point to a fresh angle for a series that has been accused of retreading familiar ground. It would also be an empowering story for the two new leads, to be allowed to choose their own destinies and characters instead of being forced to fit in with what their backstories demand of them. Family will be important to The Last Jedi, that much is certain. But what kind of family that refers to remains to be seen.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019