My least favorite scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is also the movie’s most innocuous.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.]
The Last Jedi is a story woven together through side missions, jumping back and forth from one group to the next. One particular side mission follows Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance-hero Finn and his new friend Rose, a mechanical engineer for the Resistance, as they attempt to gain access to Supreme Leader Snoke’s First Order ship. The two travel together to the luxurious casino city Canto Bight learning how to work with each other and quickly develop the type of intimate relationship that can only happen in life-threatening situations.
As their relationship grows, so apparently do their feelings for each other. During a climactic battle sequence between the First Order and Resistance pilots, Finn attempts to make the heroic decision to take out the First Order in a suicide run. It’s only because of Rose’s action, ramming her aircraft into his to move him out of harm’s way, that he survives. It’s an emotional scene and a defining moment for Rose, securing her spot as one Star Wars’ best heroes.
It’s at that moment, caught up in the adrenaline rush of almost dying but coming out fully intact, that Rose and Finn share a swift kiss. It wasn’t surprising, nor was it a focal point of the movie, but I have to wonder who that kiss was for.
I, for one, hated it.
It’s not that I’m against the concept of romance in Star Wars. I’ve always been a fan of Han Solo and Leia’s flirtatious, combative romance in the original trilogy. Han and Leia had time to build up that romantic connection, waiting until The Empire Strikes Back to really dive in, seeing our two favorite Rebels fighters finally get together made sense.
That same kind of buildup isn’t there with Rose and Finn. There was no spark in the kiss; there were no longing feelings as far as I could tell watching Finn and Rose get to know each other; there wasn’t any chemistry between the two that hinted at anything beyond a platonic friendship. The kiss played as something that needed to happen because the Star Wars trilogy was devoid of any on-screen romance instead of something that should naturally happen.
That’s another core issue with Rose and Finn’s kiss: By giving a Finn and Rose a possible romantic future — we see those two sitting next to each other at the end of the movie as Rey watches from a distance — director Rian Johnson ignores the other potential romances begging to be attended to.
Kylo Ren and Rey (Reylo as their dedicated shippers call them) are the most obvious pair to point to. The chemistry between them is palpable in every scene they’re talking to, glaring at or simply standing beside each other. The forbidden romance only adds to the romanticism of the couple’s relationship, their anger and disdain for each other morphing into an attraction based on a shared connection.
The mounting sexual energy between Kylo Ren and Rey is what propels their relationship forward and what fans cling to when looking for people to ship. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to what they’re experiencing and, although neither of them can label it, we can see what’s happening. We can see that thin line between love and hate begin to crumble as two opposing forces realize this connection they share with each other is special.
I love watching Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley act opposite each other on screen because I can believe in this feeling developing between their characters. The lust, respect, adoration, jealousy, desire — all of that is present whenever they’re facing each other.
None of that heat is there with Rose and Finn. What they share with one another is a strong friendship, forged through surviving a terrible plight. They understand each other, like Rey and Kylo Ren, but those same intense feelings don’t reside in Rose and Finn. Rose and Finn have experienced near-death together so often that they’ll always have a special, lifelong connection.
That doesn’t mean it has to be romantic. It shouldn’t be. Not when there are other characters like Kylo Ren and Rey — or even Poe and Holdo — who clearly had more of a spark than Rose and Finn. This could all change by the time Episode IX rolls around, and I hope it does. Director J.J. Abrams could decide that he doesn’t want Finn and Rose to be anything more than friends, making the kiss an awkward moment they’ll step around adorably.
Every Star Wars trilogy deserves a good love story; the original trilogy had Han and Leia’s inevitable coupling, while the prequels saw just how powerful love can be as a driving force for power in Padme and Anakin’s doomed relationship. We haven’t been gifted with the great romance that we deserve in the new Star Wars trilogy — one that we’ll write fan fiction about for years to come — but I’m certain we will.
Unfortunately, I doubt that our Shakespearean romance will star Kylo Ren and Rey (sorry, Reylo shippers), but I’m positive the inkling of hope we have for love’s success in a world drowning in despair will never be Rose and Finn.