I want to start off by being completely transparent, I love The Last Jedi. After my first viewing of the movie I knew I loved it and those feelings have only gotten stronger each time I’ve watched it. Many have criticized the Rose and the Canto Bight sequence. Neither of those aspects bothered me and I was never someone who jumped on the, “Rose is the new Jar Jar” bandwagon. My first impression of her was very positive and I thought she was a fun addition to the film. I knew her arc with Finn wasn’t executed the best, but I never felt it detracted from the film. However, The Last Jedi novelization enhances their story line and completely changed my understanding of Rose.
A lot of the novel is written from Rose’s perspective, which was something I was not expecting as she is a secondary character in the film. The novel also adds additional scenes with her sister, Paige. The moments between them add a lot of weight to Paige’s early sacrifice. Besides those minimal alterations to Rose’s introduction, she was the same character I knew from the film. However, it wasn’t until Rose and Finn arrived on Canto Bight that I noticed a huge shift in how I was perceiving her character, and it initially wasn’t for the better.
The movie makes Rose’s hatred of Canto Bight explicitly clear. The novel takes those feelings to the next level. As she rides through the town on falthiers with Finn, she laughs hysterically and is euphoric at the destruction they cause. When I first read this, I was shocked, completely taken aback. I understood she was coming from a place a deep pain and her desire to enact revenge was enormous. However, to see a main hero taking such delight at the destruction and plight of others was jarring. I was baffled at why she was acting so over-the-top and gleeful as they destroyed Canto Bight. Finding a reason to root for her was confusing when she acted out of pure hatred. Our heroes are supposed to embrace the light, choose selflessness over selfishness, and forgiveness over revenge. The sequence would not have bothered me so much if it hadn’t been so exaggerated. I realize characters must go through arcs to overcome their faults, but this was almost too much. I carried on through the novel however, still bewildered at what her character had become.
I was not expecting any resolution with her since it wasn’t present in the film. That changed however, when I read her exchange with Finn on Crait after she saves him from flying into the battering ram. At that moment, all of Rose’s threads started coming together. During the movie, I felt that exchange was only about Finn, why she chose to save his life, and how she was helping him to realize his arc. However, when I read, “That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.” I understood the line in a completely new light. I instantly knew that she was not just communicating her love to Finn, but also her growth from their adventure throughout the movie.
I was taken by surprise with this revelation and saw how perfectly the novel detailed her arc. At the start of the story, the only person Rose had in her life was her sister Paige. The First Order had already destroyed her home world and goes on to take her sister as well. Rose’s entire foundation is ripped out from under her, leaving her shattered and alone. When she is taken to a planet full of First Order supporters, she wants to leave them as broken as they’ve left her. She goes through with this, but her outlook eventually changes when she sees the man she’s grown to love, sacrificing himself to destroy the enemy they both hate. It is in that moment she realizes that love triumphs over hatred and resentment. She sees that to truly be victorious in war, but more importantly life, one must choose love and forgiveness over hatred and destruction.
I probably would have never come to this realization had I not read The Last Jedi novelization. Jason Fry did an amazing job translating Rian Johnson’s story into book form. The novel features many amazing sequences and truly enhances the movie. Fry took Rose, a character I never cared about, and turned her into someone I now respect and admire. I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you love or hate The Last Jedi.
Click HERE to purchase a copy of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition.