Most fans may not even realize it, but J.J. Abrams is building them a puzzle.
Or rather, he’s giving audiences the pieces. If they want to see what’s going on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they have to assemble it on their own.
The first trailer, released last November, was an impressionistic mood-builder. The second trailer, which debuted at Star Wars Celebration in April, offered a more in-depth look at the war-ravaged galaxy — but it still raised more questions than it answered. Now, with the behind-the-scenes reel that premiered this weekend at Comic-Con, we finally have enough dots to start connecting each into recognizable story points.
Here’s a rundown of what I’ve found — although there’s certainly more to uncover. Be warned: We’re venturing into spoiler territory…
Theory #1: THE WOMAN WITH THE RING
Theory #2: FRIENDLY FIRE
Theory #3: IF THE JACKET FITS …
Theory #4: C-3PO’S RED ARM [pagebreak]
There’s a moment in the second trailer when Luke Skywalker’s narration, which is lifted from Return of the Jedi, is discussing Force sensitivity in his family. “My sister has it …” he says at the exact moment we see a small, seemingly alien hand reach out with a familiar lightsaber hilt. Another hand, obviously belonging to a human woman, accepts the laser sword — which happens to be the same one Luke inherited from the father he thought had been killed.
Whose hand was accepting it? There was no way to know, except the hint from the dialogue. Back in April, I theorized that the large, ornate ring on the woman’s hand didn’t seem like something the desert scavenger Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) might wear.
Thanks to the behind-the-scenes footage, we now know without a doubt — that hand belonged to Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher. Here’s a shot of her reaching out and squeezing the cheek of director J.J. Abrams. Notice what’s on her finger?
So she’s the one in possession of the lightsaber. But what happens next?
NEXT PAGE: Finn unleashes friendly fire … [pagebreak]
The first face we saw in this new Star Wars universe belonged to John Boyega’s Finn — a frightened, gasping man in a Stormtrooper’s uniform, who leaps into the frame like someone awakened from a nightmare. What had happened to him? Was he a real Stormtrooper or merely using the white armor as a disguise?
These were the questions the first teaser raised, and Abrams and Boyega confirmed in April that Finn was not wearing the suit to hide himself. He was a true soldier for an Imperial splinter group called The First Order — but whether he was a good guy drafted into bad circumstances, or a bad guy getting his comeuppance was unclear.
That second trailer also gave us another shot of him in some kind of starship, ripping off his white helmet and — once again, breathing heavily in a clear expression of panic. As fans were discovering the rolling ball-droid BB-8, some nicknamed Finn “Hyperventil-8.”
But what was causing him such distress? And how did he end up apparently stranded on the desert world of Jakku?
Think about that scene in Trailer 2, when we see a TIE Fighter lift off inside an interior hangar and begin blasting the other ships and sending Stormtroopers wriggling through the air like confetti. We had no idea who was in that fighter or what was going on. But note the red casing on the exterior of the fighter.
The behind-the-scenes Comic-Con footage may have the connective tissue we need to figure this out. It begins with the evolution of a shot, from concept drawing, to model, to finished scene. Each one shows a different aspect of a crashed TIE Fighter. The same TIE Fighter.
Notice the same red panel on its exterior? Now we have to make a leap, but it’s not a big one to assume that something happened to cause Finn to rethink his allegiance to The First Order. He went on the run, hurt some people, and ended up crash-landing in the middle of the desert. (Not the first time that has happened. Ask R2-D2 and C-3PO.) But what could be so bad that he’d attack his fellow soldiers and stage an escape?
This is a bit of a more perilous leap, but let’s take a look at what Finn ends up wearing on Jakku — and what he happens to be carrying with him.
NEXT PAGE: If the jacket fits … [pagebreak]
Here’s Finn, no longer sporting his white armor. It’s not exactly desert-wear, but he looks comfortable. As comfortable as you can get running like hell from a TIE Fighter that’s dive-bombing you.
In the behind-the-scenes footage we saw a similar outfit, only this time Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron was wearing it as a Stormtrooper marched the X-Wing pilot through an Imperial-looking corridor in handcuffs.
So what gives?
Adding to the confusion is this piece of concept art of Finn that was on display during the Celebration event. Notice the weapon he has sticking out of the pocket of that jacket? It’s the same lightsaber that was being given to Princess Leia. No doubt whatsoever.
How did Finn end up with that artifact? And how did he end up with Poe Dameron’s clothes?
The answer may be another question: What if he’s the one marching Dameron through that hall at gunpoint? It’s possible that the captured pilot was given that lightsaber by Princess Leia, sent on a mission, and was intercepted by The First Order. Perhaps Finn’s conscience starts to act up and he decides not only to make a run for it, but to take Dameron with him. That would explain the hangar shoot out, and if that leads to a crash …
Maybe — and here’s a potential major spoiler — maybe Poe Dameron doesn’t survive the escape. So Finn picks up the lightsaber, trades his armor for the pilot’s clothes, and sets off to redeem himself by completing the mission.
Again, that should be followed by 12 question marks, because it’s solely speculation. But it adds up. That’s why we don’t see Dameron riding in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.
NEXT PAGE: C-3PO’s mysterious red arm …[pagebreak]
There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to this one, so it may be just the start of a new riddle Abrams is laying out. In two shots in the Comic-Con behind-the-scenes footage, the golden protocol droid is seen with a red arm.
In the shot below, I assumed he was located wherever Princess Leia was hiding out. It looks like a similar control center. But thinking again about that red housing on the exterior of the TIE Fighter, which was always plain gray in earlier trilogy, I can’t help but wonder if it’s an aesthetic choice — a marking of The First Order.
Has Threepio been commandeered by the bad guys and branded with the crimson limb?
We might need to see a little more footage before figuring out this one.
Got any more theories? Leave them in the comments!