What's Up With Rose In 'The Last Jedi'? A Character Study
When it comes to character studies, Rose in The Last Jedi is a fun one. Let's go over her arc and see what we can learn.
When it comes to Star Wars movies, sometimes there are too many characters to count. They're like the Nashville of space epics. And that's not even counting the droids. So how do you get these characters to stand out when you meet them?
Writing and developing a main character is hard, but throwing a new person into that mix and getting them to shine is even harder.
Today we're going to go over Rose Tico, look at how her character fits into the Star Wars universe, helps set where the franchise is going and develops a unique arc that sets her apart from any other character we've seen in the universe.
Who is Rose?
Rose Tico is a resistance force volunteer. Her sister died in the beginning of The Last Jedi and now she's both dealing with that grief and trying to make a name for herself in a world with so many famous heroes already. That's hard to do when you're just a maintenance worker.
Lucky for her, when she catches one of those famous people trying to retreat, Finn, she was able to align with him and thus change her destiny.
Rose has wants and desires. She's not afraid to go out and get them.
One thing that Rose has in common with her current younger counterparts, Rey and Finn, is that she grew up poor and sees this war as the way to change her stripes. When it comes time to take her mechanical knowledge to help out, she jumps at the opportunity.
As you can see, Rose is developed from lots of different perspectives.
Without speaking with Rian Johnson, I can only infer that Rose gets a lot of her traits out of what the story needs. This is smart writing. When you're crafting plot you want to think of characters who have abilities to help you out of tight situations.
You can work from an archetype and then build outward.
Rose also has lots of unexpected qualities. She's not quippy or funny, she lets her heart lead the way. Something that thrives in a Star Wars universe. If The Last Jedi is about the passion and love we have for a cause, Rose's character helps personalize that down to her feelings toward Finn.
That all plays into her arc.
What is her arc?
As I mentioned above, Rose goes from mechanical engineer to bonafide hero in the last stand with the First Order. What sets Rose apart from other characters is that she's not willing to sacrifice herself, or to see anyone else die. In these big movies, we often find nobility and noble sacrifices inside them.
The Last Jedi is defined by death. We see Snoke perish, Luke pass on, Leia dies and come back, Rose's sister dies, and Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself for the cause to go on.
When it becomes Finn's time to die Rose won't let that happen.
Her arc is not just to save him, but to set an example for all the rebels moving forward. The war cannot be about what and who they lost. It has to be about staying alive because of the people they love.
Why does this arc matter to the story?
Rose's arc is so central to the movie because it drastically shifts the entire thinking of Star Wars. Before this point, each battle and struggle was about sacrifices. Luke has been hiding away. Rey's parents abandoned her, Han and Leia lost a son, but Rose has already lost so much.
Her refusal to lose more people, to see more death, subverts what we usually get from the series, and thus opens us up to new possibilities.
The better thing here is that it makes her vastly different from all the other characters we've met so far.
Po seems determined to die for the cause, Finn is always running away, Rey constantly walks into the danger zone, and Han/Leia/Luke are defined by their own constant willingness to die to stop the dark side from winning.
Rogue One was about all the characters you meet and learn to love dying so the first franchise could be born.
How does Rose set up the new Star Wars universe?
As a franchise moves forward, you need to keep the story feeling fresh. While I loved The Force Awakens, I know it did stop and played the hits. The Last Jedi, led by characters like Rose, helps break open the brand to new and interesting stories we haven't yet seen.
What I love about this character is that it does this shift seamlessly, by using someone so obsessed with the heroes of Star Wars she never even considerers her own heroic actions. This inherent humbleness is not something we're used to from these stories.
Luke wants to go off because he thinks he can make a difference, then gets to be the chosen one.
Rey is a reluctant hero, but by the second movie, she's the heir apparent. And Finn is running from his own shadow and the pressure that comes with it.
Rose's arc helps us not only get a new emotional journey but also a new window into the kinds of characters that populate this world. Lovers, fighters, and people who just want to survive. It humanizes the rebel forces not just as people who want to defeat the bad guys, but people who have wants and desires that go beyond "winning."
They have a love for one another, the desire to build a family, and the hope that death is on its last legs, and a prosperous and happy life lies at the end of this war.
What's next? What can you learn from the Last Jedi screenplay?
When it comes to screenwriting, everybody and their Aunt Ginger has a theory or philosophy. Some writers swear by Joseph Campbell's monomyth, others swear by Syd Field's three-act structure, and still others are like, "I don't have to follow any damn rules." Guess what. They're all right. Stories can sprout up out of pretty much any structural paradigm you sow them in, but there is one narrative element that is almost always essential for storytelling: conflict.
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