I was just thinking about this movie a little today, and while I don’t mind the Canto Bight sequence, I had a thought about an alternative route they could’ve taken with Finn’s storyline. This was originally going to be a brief paragraph but it turned into an outline, so I hope you’ll indulge me.
I know many people feel the space chase feels rather dull, but I think Finn’s story could have stayed entirely on the Raddus. With RJ’s new “whodunnit” movie Knives Out just released, I think you could have had a story set entirely on the massive rebel ship where it is a race against the clock to identify the First Order spy who they believe is responsible for leaking their location.
In the scene where Holdo is introduced, the Resistance Officer could explain that they believe there is a spy on board transmitting their location to the First Order. Everyone would look around wondering if the spy is in the room with them at that very moment. Then, she introduces Holdo, a former Rebel leader and surviving New Republic senator. This set up could help emphasize why Holdo does not discuss her plan with anyone (because of the spy, Holdo tells Poe it is a “need-to-know” plan), and why Poe distrusts her. Leia told him some New Republic senators were secret First Order agents, and how did Holdo avoid being killed on Hosnian Prime? He begins to wonder if Holdo is actually sabotaging their chances of survival.
At the beginning of the film, Finn wakes up from his coma (which will have a bigger effect on Finn this time around), but when Poe finds him roaming the halls, Finn doesn’t immediately recognize Poe. Poe begins to explain everything and suddenly the memories begin flooding back, leading to “Where’s Rey?” Poe gives Finn the jacket back, and Finn admits that he hasn’t joined their cause, but Poe says it is okay and that he is “Where he belongs”.
Later on, he tries to jump ship like in the movie, but Rose throws him in the brig with another deserter that could fit the role of DJ, a voice of disillusionment for Finn. Poe comes to the brig and is disappointed with him, but gives Finn a second chance by getting him to use his knowledge to help identify the First Order spy. Seeing how helping save the fleet could save Rey (and being currently useless behind bars), he agrees to help. Poe recruits Rose to help Finn with this secret mission, and while she distrusts Finn, Poe vouches for Finn and explained how Finn saved his life. DJ tries to chime in with a suggestion, but they ignore him.
As Poe tries to determine Holdo’s loyalties, Rose and Finn go spy-hunting across the massive capital ship they’re on. This would replace the Casino scene. Through an investigation sequence we would meet various human and alien Resistance members, and as Finn is trying to help identify the spy, he would learn how they have all been affected by the First Order. During this, Finn’s own loyalties get questioned. Rose asks Finn about how he joined the First Order, and he tells her how he and the other stormtroopers were taken as children and brainwashed by the First Order. Rose then shares her own story to Finn about her sister and her homeworld. Hearing these various stories help Finn begin to sympathize with the cause more. As their conversation winds down, Finn and Rose catch someone in a suspicious act, which leads them into an intense chase throughout the ship. They eventually catch him with BB-8’s help. Poe interrogates him in the brig (reflecting his own interrogation in TFA), but concludes that he isn’t a spy, but just another frightened soldier trying to jump ship.
With little to no leads, they begin to wonder if they will be able to find the spy in time. Rose suggests that if they could somehow get on board their ship, she could access their computers and determine the identity of the spy. Finn counters that getting onto Snoke’s ship is impossible. Then, DJ interjects from a nearby cell, “I can do it.” He explains he can slice through their shields so they can reach the First Order’s server. In return, he wants to be free to take a ship and leave after the mission. While they don’t fully trust them, in their desperation they come up with the plan: they’ll sneak onto Snoke’s ship and identify the spy, relay that info to Poe who will then arrest them and make the jump to hyperspace. 3PO, who is with them, tells Poe that Holdo would not agree to this plan, and Poe retorts that it is a “need-to-know” plan.
So Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 steal a ship and sneak onto the Supremacy. While Poe mutinies (already believing Holdo to be the spy), they make it to the computer and they find a hologram recording of the spy communicating with the First Order. And the big moment reveals it to be…. Finn. Finn has no recollection of this, but after they are captured, Hux and Phasma explain how it happened. When Finn woke up from his coma, he thought that he was still a stormtrooper. When he realized where he was, he thought he had been captured and subsequently contacted the First Order via hologram (like Maz), who then saw the opportunity to recondition him as a sleeper agent. Maybe we could get some brief flashbacks as Finn remembers these events, and see them use some form of hypnosis to recondition Finn. This is why Finn had amnesia initially in the film.
DJ is revealed to have thrown the Resistance under the sail barge like in the theatrical film, and Hux then orders to start blowing up the Resistance transports. We watch as the various Resistance members we met and heard stories from during Finn and Rose’s investigation get killed one by one. All because of Finn. Rose is shocked and Finn is distraught, but after Hux leaves, Phasma uses some kind of hypnotic suggestion on Finn to make him try and kill Rose. Finn tries to fight against the command, but he’s overcome. Rose tries to snap him out of it, telling him he is a good person. Right when you think he is going to kill Rose, (maybe he is choking her death, and sees his own reflection in the hangar floor) Finn overcomes the conditioning and retakes control. Finn then fights Phasma, defeats her, then they escape.
Finn decides to go back to “where he belongs” and they rendezvous with the Resistance. Poe is angry at Finn when they return, but Rose vouches for Finn and explains how he broke his conditioning and saved her life. Leia says she believes them. Finn apologizes to Poe and they
kiss and make up. Finn is ready to get back at the First Order for what they did to him. He is angry, and full of guilt with the deaths he has indirectly caused. So when Finn tries to fly into the cannon, his motivation to do so feels even more justified. I would actually keep Rose stopping Finn, because I think it would reflect nicely with Finn saving hers. I would just make it more obvious that Finn would not have stopped it and it was purely suicide, maybe show an AT-AT about to shoot him and she knocks him out of the way. I also like the parallel of Finn ending TFA unconscious from trying to protect a friend, and then Rose does the same for Finn in TLJ.
The sleeper agent angle might feel corny, but I think that would help keep the focus on Finn and his character arc for this film. He has these two sides in him, and we actually get to see that internal battle made manifest.
To be honest I still like the film as-is, but I think something like this would’ve been fun too.