01:00:01 – 01:15:00
This chapter of the Awakens Edition of the 15-Minute Force begins where Chapter Four left us last time: In Maz Kanata’s Cantina. Han Solo has just asked for Maz’s help in getting BB-8, the astromech droid carrying a map to locate the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker, to the Resistance. To our surprise, Maz refuses this particular call to adventure. She tells Han to take the droid to Leia himself. It’s past time for him to go home.
I feel I have to admit that I grayed out a little during this sequence when I watched the movie the first time in the theater. I didn’t completely go to sleep, because I remember the highlights of what follows, but after the nonstop adrenaline rush of the first hour of this movie, our scenes at Maz’s cantina seem to slow our ride a lot. Not quite to a grinding halt, but close to it.
It’s okay, though. We’ve got a little exposition to get through, and something important happens to Rey, and then the action is turned back up to eleven again. Just bear with us. On any long trip, you occasionally have to stop for a bathroom break or to stretch your legs. This is like that.
Maz accuses Han of running away from the fight for too long.
When Rey asks what fight, Maz responds, “The only fight: Against the Dark Side. Through the ages, I’ve seen evil take many forms. The Sith. The Empire. Today, it is the First Order. Their shadow is spreading across the galaxy. We must face them. Fight them. All of us.”
Okay, I get it. Maz is like the Yoda of this movie. She’s one of the long-lived Star Wars races, and she’s vaguely reptilian (or perhaps amphibian) in appearance. And she waxes poetical about the Force. She’s quick to point out that she’s no Jedi, though. Let’s get that straight.
Finn argues that they don’t stand a chance against the First Order. He bets they’re on their way right this moment. Maz adjusts her goggles, which magnifies her eyes, and looks Finn over closely. She determines that she’s looking at a man who wants to run. Finn says they all need to run.
Maz points out a couple of pirates to Finn and tells him that they’ll trade work for transportation to the Outer Rim. He can disappear there.
Finn asks Rey to come with him. She says she can’t. They have to get BB-8 to the Resistance Base. Finn offers to give his blaster back to Han, who tells him to keep it, and, just like that, it seems that Finn is dealing himself out of our story. As he heads off, Rey gets up to follow.
Maz asks Han who the girl is. We don’t get to hear an answer. We’re back with Finn, who is trying to arrange passage with the pirates. Rey says that she’s not going to let him go. This prompts Finn to come 100% clean with her. He lied about being a member of the Resistance. He tells her that he was a Stormtrooper, working with the First Order. He ran away from the First Order, and he’s done with them. Again, he asks Rey to come with him.
When she tells him again not to go, Finn tells her to take care of herself and walks away from her again. Once again, it looks like Finn’s story ends here as he leaves the cantina with the two aliens.
Rey is heartbroken. And suddenly delusional. She begins to hear voices.
Rey walks down a spiral stone staircase as the voices continue. A door opens by itself. That’s no big deal. That happens every time I’m going into the supermarket entrance. Rey is snooping around in the basement of Maz’s castle. She is immediately drawn to an old wooden box. A mystery box, you could say. And, what’s inside this box?
It’s a lightsaber. Rey touches it and begins to experience a vision. With sound effects. She hears Darth Vader’s mechanical breathing. She sees a hallway from somewhere else, maybe Cloud City, or the Death Star, maybe even Starkiller Base. We get a glimpse of Luke Skywalker, even though we don’t see his face, and it appears that he’s being killed. We get a snippet of Rey as a young girl, watching her parents fly away in a ship, leaving her stranded on Jakku. Then, Rey is in the snowy woods, at night, suddenly confronted by a masked Kylo Ren.
When she snaps out of her trance, Maz is there in the basement with her.
“I shouldn’t have gone in there,” Rey says.
“That lightsaber was Luke’s,” Maz says. “And his father’s before him. And now it calls to you.”
When Rey says that she has to get back to Jakku, Maz says that she sees Rey’s eyes. Rey already knows the truth. Whomever she’s waiting for on Jakku, they’re never coming back. Maz’s middle name is “Buzzkill.” But, there could be someone else, she adds. Maz talks about the Force again, just like Yoda. You know, how it moves through and surrounds every living thing. She encourages Rey to take the lightsaber.
Rey refuses this particular call to adventure. She was on board with getting BB-8 back to the Resistance. But, all this stuff about the Force is freaking her out. Rey leaves the castle and heads immediately for the woods. After having a vision of confronting Kylo Ren in the woods, you would think this would be the last place she’d want to go. She’s not thinking rationally. She’s just trying to clear her head.
We cut to Starkiller Base, where General Hux is addressing a massive First Order rally. He gives a long-winded speech, all excited about getting to blow some stuff up. There is definitely a Nazi vibe to the assemblage, including the extended fist salute of the assembled First Order soldiers standing in impressive ranks. Nazis will always be our all-around Evil reference, because of their tailored uniforms and stark iconography. And, because they were Evil, of course.
First Order engineers in the control room perform their final firing protocols, so reminiscent of the two Death Stars preparing to fire. The destructive force of the Starkiller Base’s energy beam is impressive. General Hux’s eyes seem to dance with fire as he looks on. Kylo Ren watches from his Star Destroyer above. Finn sees the trail of light cross the sky as he’s boarding the alien freighter. Finn knows what this is.
We witness several planets being obliterated by the Starkiller beam, which separates and strikes different targets. I don’t know what planets these were, but we’re being told that the Republic is wiped out.
Finn returns to where Han and Chewie stand, and asks where Rey is. He’s obviously not leaving with the alien pirates now.
Meanwhile, out in the woods, Rey discovers that BB-8 has followed her like a stray puppy. She sees ships pass overhead as the First Order invasion begins. There is a shot of approaching enemy TIE fighters and other vessels against the planet’s sun that reminds me of several war movies, primarily Apocalypse Now, although I can’t swear that shot was really in the film. It should have been.
Finn ends up taking Luke’s old lightsaber from Maz, for some reason. Maz tells him to go find his friend.
In the woods, Rey shoots a few Stormtroopers after figuring out how to disengage the safety on the blaster Han gave her.
Maz’s castle is destroyed by the First Order’s destructive barrage. Including that impressive giant statue of Maz. Statues are always being toppled.
As Kylo Ren disembarks from his Bad Guy shuttle and begins stalking through the rubble, a Stormtrooper tells him that the droid was seen heading west. With a girl.
Again, we’re hitting the “girl” part of this a little hard. Like it means SOMETHING IMPORTANT, which is exactly how Kylo reacts. This seems like an important plot point that must be discussed at some point in the future.
As the battle continues, Finn is confronted by a former squadmate, a Stormtrooper who came to be called TR-8R by many fans, because his only dialogue was shouting “Traitor!” at Finn. He was officially given the name FN-2199 but I still prefer to think of him by his meme name. This Stormtrooper is armed with a wicked-looking melee weapon. Finn fires up the lightsaber and the two duke it out. TR-8R soundly kicks Finn’s ass and is about to kill him before Han shoots and kills him with his blaster.
And right around here is where we hit the 1:15:00 mark and the end of this chapter.
It started slow, but we managed to end on some excitement, didn’t we? Luke’s original lightsaber comes back into the story. Was this the one he lost with his hand on Cloud City? Seems like his hand would have been a good keepsake as well. A good luck charm or talisman, like a mummified monkey’s paw. Rey appears to be Force sensitive. What’s the story behind that? Is she related to Luke and Leia? Did Han and Leia have a daughter they put up for adoption? Lots of questions. J.J. Abrams wouldn’t be the type to pose a bunch of story questions that are never answered, would he?
The destruction of the Republican worlds by Starkiller Base marks the actual midpoint of our story, in my opinion. We still have the back half of Act Two to cover before transitioning into our final act. I’m sure Act Three will kick off with a Resistance briefing before beginning the assault on Starkiller Base. It’s a tradition.
Until next time . . . This Fierce Machine Which You Have Built, Upon Which You Stand, Is Probably Going To Get Blown Up At The End of This Movie. You Know, Just Like The Two Death Stars It Was Modeled After . . . And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.