Can two people want the same thing and still have a conflict? What does completing a character arc really look like? THE LAST JEDI serves a master class on Goals/Motivations/Conflicts.
After the events of THE FORCE AWAKENS, Finn is a huge hero. But even he can see the writing on the wall. The First Order is going to kill every single one of them. And he’s not going to die when Rey, his first real friend, is still in danger.
WOW. I mean, sure, he’s abandoning his post, but it’s for a noble goal. He wants to save his friend. Sacrificing himself for an already lost battle means nothing to him if it also means abandoning his friend. (We’ll come back to why this foreshadows his Grand Gesture)
Now let’s look at Rose (<3). She reveres Finn as a true hero. Which is why she’s heartbroken when she finds him trying to leave. To her, no single life is worth sacrificing the Resistance. (We’ll come back to why this foreshadows her Grand Gesture)
So a bunch of stuff happens that we won’t rehash. But soon, Finn and Rose are on the same side. They have a unified goal: find the codebreaker. BUT THIS IS WHERE THING’S GET STICKY.
Sure, they have a unified goal. But their MOTIVATIONS are still in conflict. And that’s something that CANNOT BE RESOLVED until they complete their character arcs. So let’s take a second to go back over their GMCs.
See, Finn’s motivation is to save his friend (Rey). Rose’s motivation is to save the Resistance. Those are NOT the same thing. And you can imagine the sorts of obstacles they’ll face that would make Rose and Finn enemies all over again.
If something happens that could save the fleet but would jeopardize Rey, Finn is going to have a huge decision.
If something happens that could save Rey but would jeopardize the fleet, Rose is going to have a huge decision.
As the audience, we support both of them. We don’t want anyone to die. We support Finn because it’s noble to sacrifice so much to save a friend. He’s even willing to sacrifice his status as a hero. He doesn’t care about pride. He doesn’t care about vanity. He cares about his friend.
We support Rose because JFC, she’s trying to save the galaxy. She doesn’t care about being a hero. She doesn’t care about saving one person. She cares about winning the war.
As the audience, we can’t help it. We’re on both of their sides. And at least as it looks now, they have a task that might allow them both to get what they want.
But we also never forget that if this fails, they’ll be right back where they started. On opposite sides.
This illustrates the power of GMCs and how they organically lead into a powerful Black Moment. No matter what happens, we intuitively know that this isn’t going to work.
Finn and Rose believe they will succeed at this task and won’t have to sacrifice anything. This is the essence of the MIDPOINT FALSE HIGH. They believe they’ll both get what they want! But they can’t. Not until they’re willing to let go of what they always wanted.
Clinging to what they THOUGHT they wanted leads them directly to the BLACK MOMENT. But it’s also what leads to their GRAND GESTURES. And OH. MY. GOD. Their grand gestures are gorgeous.
Finn refused to sacrifice himself for the fleet. But what does he do in the big climax? He flies that damn speeder directly into the First Order.
Rose refused to risk the fleet in order to save ONE person. But what does she do in the big climax? She stops Finn from blowing up the First Order because she can’t stand to lose her friend.
I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING OKAY WE’RE BOTH CRYING
No. Really. I’m crying.
That’s it for today’s GMC lesson. Any questions? Comments? Disagree? Head to Twitter and let me know!