TLJ: The First Order Storyline & Its Characters

This is Part III of IV in an ongoing series where I review The Last Jedi.

 

The First Order

The First Order was on point this movie. While I thought they looked a little foolish in TFA and I was wondering if they were even a large organization, they showed their might and strength in The Last Jedi.

Even with Poe’s stunt in the beginning taking out the Dreadnought, I felt like they shrugged it off as a minor loss and continued with business as usual. If they barely notice the loss of a Dreadnought, then what the heck was the Resistance thinking?! I believe this could have been the point General Organa was trying to make: save our people, for we need as many as possible. The First Order seems to have a limitless supply, similar to the Empire. Oh, you destroyed our Dreadnought? Okay, we’ll continue after you. Oh, you busted us up with your hyperspace maneuver? Okay, we’ll take our ground assault team to you.

When the Resistance keeps trying to win these battles against the First Order, they may feel like they win, but they lose in the long run. At least with previous movies, like The Phantom Menace, A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, they went after the big fish.

By destroying the Trade Federation, the Death Stars, and Starkiller Base, they are striking where it counts and suffering major losses in exchange for another major loss.

The lesson I took away from this movie is the First Order has the resources to infinitely outmatch the Resistance in these small battles. The Resistance made numerous mistakes throughout the film and it started with Poe’s hot-headed foolishness. They either need to take out all their leaders or their main base of operation (which may have been Snoke’s ship but I couldn’t quite tell). Yes, it may seem like a repeat of the other movies, but it’s a smart tactical move.

Sadly, by the end of the movie, you’ll notice that the entirety of the Resistance can fit inside one ship – The Millennium Falcon. The First Order is winning.

Supreme Leader Snoke

Much to the chagrin of many fans, Snoke came in with full evilness and was quickly destroyed by his apprentice. Rian Johnson clearly did not like his character and wanted to dispose of him as quickly as possible. Though I am completely fine with this, I wish we could have had a bit more of a backstory to him. Creating a character that looks a bit like a zombie, barely alive, but strong in the Force demands some explanation. Will they give it in Episode IX? Perhaps in a book?

While some were upset with his early death, I think it was an important and interesting move. This is the first time we have seen an apprentice over take a master and get rid of the leash holding him, giving him at least one full movie to explore his dark side. By killing Snoke, we give Kylo Ren full control of the First Order, and that is going to be very fascinating to watch in Episode IX.

Kylo Ren

Every time I watch Kylo Ren, I enjoy his character more and more. He is a volatile character, with smidges of good within his evil that makes him unpredictable. His instability is clearly shown with the way that Snoke was able to easily manipulate him. All he had to do was make fun of his mask and indecisiveness and Kylo destroys his mask. But as soon as Kylo Ren brings him Rey, he changes his tune once again. Unfortunately for Snoke, he pushed his manipulation too far to the point that even Kylo caught on and he didn’t see what was coming to him.

Everything Kylo does borders on sociopath prior to killing Snoke. You’re not sure if he was ever truthful with Rey, not only about her parents, but about everything he said during the Force communications. Is he using her for her strength or was he being honest?

But after he kills the Supreme Leader, a change comes over him that lands him in the territory of being insane. Not only does the power go to his head and he takes over the role of Supreme Leader, he tries to kill Luke in a brutal way. Even Hux got to the point of incredulity at how long Ren was shooting at his old Jedi Master. It makes me wonder if he would have killed his mother, Leia, had he been confronted her in his mental state at the end of the movie.

With Kylo Ren losing so much (Rey refusing to join him and unable to kill Luke) by the end of TLJ, I wonder how unstable he will be in Episode IX. What type of leader will he be? This is what I’m most interested to see. He is an emotional wreck and I can’t wait to see what this insecure Sith will turn into as a leader of the First Order.

General Hux

I love General Hux. When many thought he was pointless in TFA, I enjoyed his character as he is so completely brainwashed by the doctrine of the First Order. It’s a fascinating take on a character that we haven’t seen before. He continued with his magnificent sneers, pasty craziness, and intense loathing for Kylo Ren in this movie.

Yet his detestation for Kylo Ren was upped a level in TLJ and that was more intriguing than his leadership of the First Order. You knew he didn’t like Kylo Ren in TFA but TLJ showed us how much he HATED him. I am trying to figure out if he believes Kylo Ren to just be incompetent, if he can sense the conflict within him and believes that makes him weak, or if he sees Ren only as competition and that is where his disgust comes from. Either way, when he reaches for his blaster to kill him, I’m almost cheering him on. When he looks over in disgust at Kylo Ren’s need to blast Luke to smithereens, I find myself nodding in approval.

I believe Hux will have a larger part to play in the next movie and may orchestrate some of Ren’s downfall. He may not have the Force, and sometimes he’s not the smartest bulb, but his lust for power and hatred for Ren could culminate in something climatic in Episode IX.

Captain Phasma

Sadly, Captain Phasma went the way of Snoke and she never got to prove her bad-assery other than with a chrome outfit. I believe the directors and producers never expected Captain Phasma to become a fan favorite and were a little confused with how to handle her character. So they gave her a little hand-to-hand combat with Finn and then killed her off (which, by the way, how did Finn ever get away?). It kind of reminds me of Boba Fett, who was worked up so much between ESB and ROTJ, and Lucas decided to kill him in an embarrassing way. It wasn’t that bad with Captain Phasma, she did get her moment to shine briefly, but there wasn’t much to her character. She fell flat in TFA and fell flat in TLJ again. I would have rather they not have her in TLJ at all and saved a more dramatic confrontation for IX. Or, as Imperial Talker suggested, it would have been cool to see her lead a battalion of Stormtroopers onto Crait to attack the Resistance.

 

What did you like most about the First Order? Were you a fan of Phasma or Snoke and disappointed with their deaths? What would you have liked to be done better?

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9 thoughts on “TLJ: The First Order Storyline & Its Characters

  1. Thanks for linking to my piece!!!

    So, Snoke, what to say. Hmmmm how about this: is he dead? Is he? Issssssss he? Is heeeeeeee?

    Okay, for all intents and purposes he is dead…I think. I hope? But I can’t help but be reminded that a certain Dark Lord of the Sith was bifurcated and survived. It is not outside the realm of possibility to think that Snoke could survive (clearly he HAS survived near-death experiences in the past). I dunno, I think he is dead, I think it makes sense for him to stay dead. But! But there will always be this nagging at he back of my head that he survived…

    1. Oh no, please don’t harbor false hopes. I think they really wanted to make it completely clear he was dead…though I know, his death was very similar to Darth Maul BUT they showed his face close up with absolutely no life left in it sooooo, yeah I think he’s dead.

      1. My gut tells me he is too. BUT I don’t think it is unreasonable, given the internal logic of Star Wars, for him to be alive. Do I think that is how it will go down? No. Do I think it is possible (albeit unlikely) Abrams resurrects Snoke using that logic? Yes.

        1. I won’t argue with you on this because your logic definitely makes sense, especially with what they did with maul.

          Do you wonder how JJ felt to see all his mystery boxes smashed to pieces?

          1. Oh goodness yes. I think publicly JJ will say he is cool with it all, but I just can’t help but wonder if he is disappointed. I dunno, it is hard to say but I’d bet he is slightly annoyed by it.

  2. I was a fan of Captain Plasma but not of Snoke. I agree that Phasma role was wasted but I hope that both of them remain dead because the “back from the dead” option needs to be used sparingly or else it’s becomes even more of a cheap gimmick than it sometimes is.

    I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it is that has been bothering me about TLJ and I think it’s part of a bigger issue, which I’ll come back to. First, TLJ has some very lazy writing. TFA and Rogue One did too, but I was able to suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy what I was watching and only think about the flaws much later.

    Another problem is the issue of scale. In ANH, you knew the Empire was a big deal and had a lot of resources, but you only saw one star destroyer and the Death Star.

    In ESB, you saw more ships but you had this sense that getting this many ships together was a big deal — who is watching the rest of the galaxy. In RoTJ, again even though the Empire outnumbered the Rebel fleet 3 to 1, it felt like it a fair fight. You didn’t feel like it was the United States Navy attacking Granada.

    The First Order shouldn’t have nearly as many resources as it has and the Resistance shouldn’t be as depleted as it looks.

    Now for the larger problem. I think the problem with VII, VIII and presumably IX, will be the same disappointment that many fans felt with I, II and III. You had years, YEARS, to work out the logistics, timeline and explanations for things and yet it feels like every movie is patched together at the last minute.

  3. I liked Hux a lot in this movie, how he was serving as a foil for Kylo Ren. And I thought Ren’s character got even better (kudos to Adam Driver for selling it, too). At first I felt cheated by Snoke’s death, but now I like that it nicely cleared the way for the real antagonist of the story, Kylo Ren, to take center stage. I also think they might cover Snoke in a book. Maybe he is the great danger from the Unknown Regions that Thrawn was concerned about?

    With Phasma, I felt like they were going “Oh yeah, we have to do something with this character.” So much potential for her, but that part felt like wasted time in an overly long movie. It still doesn’t make sense to me how she survived Starkiller Base, and I say that as someone whose headcanon is that Boba Fett survived the Sarlaac.

    I do kind of hate when series just make things up at they go along. Story arcs are usually better when there’s at least an overarching outline ahead of time…

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