Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Analysis: What We Learned

The new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is here. It's the last one we're going to get, so we dig in for details.

They made us wait long enough, but the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped during Monday Night Football. With a ton of new footage, there’s lots of new Star Wars lore to try and unpack. 

Watch it one more time if you need a refresher:

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Now, here’s what we found…

We open with Rey, a scavenger indeed, wearing some excellent goggles. Her clothing is worn and functional, and she appears to be moving around a cavernous wreck – probably the Star Destroyer we’ve seen crashed on the planet Jakku.

As she rappels gracefully down a line, a female voice asks “Who are you?”

This isn’t a voice we’ve heard before. The most likely contender seems to be Lupita Nyong’o’s character Maz Kanata, the space pirate who has her own Jabba the Hutt-style den of thieves.

Rey returns across the desert with her trusty droid BB-8 and her staff, but she doesn’t appear to be carrying any large parts. Maybe the scenes aren’t contiguous, or she had to leave the starship unexpectedly and without any loot.

“I’m no one,” she replies, and by fairy tale logic, this means she is someone. We’re not sure whether she’s the daughter of a Skywalker or Solo, but this does seem to suggest that Rey finding out who she is will be big part of the story. A small ship flies away over the desert, and Rey appears to have returned to a resting place, tinkering with something and watching the ship go.

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Next comes John Boyega’s character, Finn, and a look at the First Order. We’ve seen some of these images before in the earlier teasers. As suspected, Finn is a stormtrooper, “raised to do one thing,” who now has “nothing to fight for” after his TIE Fighter crashes on Jakku. It’s difficult to see what exactly shot his ship down, although the blast might have come from the Star Destroyer in the distance.

His wording is particularly interesting here – he was “raised” to do one thing, not ‘trained to do one thing.’ Was Finn part of the First Order from birth? He isn’t a Jango Fett clone, but could he be from a different clone army? Or is his biological family simply part of the First Order tradition? Could he be a Mandalorian by birth? A later image shows the Mandalorian crest.

An exhausted Finn looks down at a Jakku settlement – and with that, we have a rough answer to how our heroes meet.

Then it’s time for the dark side, with a blood-red shot of the interior of a First Order ship and the voice of Kylo Ren. Ren looks at the desiccated mask of Darth Vader, which we’ve seen in teasers before, intoning, “I will finish what you started.” Kylo Ren as Darth Vader fanboy confirmed: Ren seems to see himself as carrying on the Sith tradition.

And Poe Dameron appears to be on Kylo Ren’s bad side, as we see what appears to be Ren torturing the X-Wing pilot. Dameron screams, a forest is devastated with either some kind of weapon blast or the pure power of the dark side, and we cut back to Jakku for a TIE fighter chasing the Millennium Falcon around the ruins of other ships. We know those ships not to be the wreckage of a recent battle, but rather one from when the Empire fought the new Republic: that story was told in the novel Lost Stars.

If Han Solo stole the show in the earlier teaser, he did so in this one too. The Millennium Falcon appears to have been outfitted with a sleek-looking hologram projector. Han speaks to Finn and Rey, telling them something that sounds like perfect character development for the person who once dismissed Jedi as having “hokey religion and ancient weapons.”

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“There were stories about what happened,” Rey says, and Han replies:

“It’s true. All of it.” Cue my Star Wars fan heart overflowing with joy.

The Falcon jumps to hyperspace, and after another cut comes one of the most interesting shots in the trailer…

…a quick flash of seven figures lead by someone who looks a lot like Kylo Ren. Are these the Knights of Ren? Sith acolytes? Non-Force-sensitive mercenaries? Whoever they are, those hoods are both a creepy fashion statement and protection from the pouring rain.

Han parallels the monologue from the previous teaser with his next lines: “The dark side. The Jedi. They’re real.”

Then the trailer heats up even further, bringing us a rocky battlefield beside a lake – it looks like the place we saw Poe Dameron’s squad fly through in the earlier trailer – Poe Dameron and Finn meeting up and exchanging a curt touch on what looks like a Resistance landing field, and more X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter action. Is it coincidence that when Han says “Jedi,” the camera focuses on Finn?

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Then, a flashback: Rey and Finn run from an explosion on Jakku. We know something goes down there, so that isn’t as significant as the next shot: a beautiful scrap-metal covered building, with the Mandalorian symbol hidden near the top. A droid almost reminiscent of a Prequel-era battle droid watches Finn, Rey, Han, and BB-8 go inside. All of the humans are clearly armed. It seems highly likely that this is Maz Kanata’s den, the location of all of those aliens we’ve seen in the Vanity Fair photos.

Speaking of weapons, Phasma, Kylo Ren, and a large group of stormtroopers devastate a town – possibly on Jakku, so maybe they’re on Rey’s trail.

Another shot shows Rey in tears, beside what looks like a body. It’s hard to tell who the character is, since they’re mostly out of frame, but it looks like you can see an ear with tan skin.

A monologue from the same female voice rounds the trailer out, saying, “The Force. It’s calling to you.” Maz Kanata again? If Maz Kanata was the same character shown giving Leia a lightsaber in the earlier trailer, these words might actually be directed at Leia – but the trailer seems to frame them as Rey’s story.

Other quick images include Han, Chewbacca, and Finn with their hands up in surrender, surrounded by burning ruins;  BB-8 in the droid socket of what might be Poe Dameron’s X-Wing flying in a flurry of firefights over a snowy planet criss-crossed with trenches, presumably the First Order’s Starkiller Base; First Order troopers deploying; Rey deploying a blaster; and the bridge of a starship exploding. Han and Leia embrace (!!), Han wearing what look like message cylinders. I think it’s safe to say the two have some kind of reunion in the Resistance base, whether Han has been gone for years or just days.

The last scene is another one we’ve seen before, Finn fighting Kylo Ren in a snowy forest.  

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The tone of the trailer is almost somber, with gentle, eerie music and the classic Star Wars themes. Who’s missing? First Order soldier General Hux, and, except for the clip of the Jedi in the cave we’ve seen before, Luke Skywalker. This trailer didn’t give us much more than we’ve known before about the actual plot of the film. My rough prediction for the plot is that Han finds Finn and Rey on Jakku and brings them to the Resistance base by way of Maz Kanata’s palace before a showdown at Starkiller Base, but we have no clue as to what the actual story is within that framework.

These trailers leave a lot of questions left unanswered, perhaps the biggest of which is: where is Luke Skywalker? Which, if not all, of the three new main characters are Force sensitive? Finn wields a lightsaber, but it looks like Rey might have the greater destiny.

Partially because of all of those questions, it’s hard to tell how much semblance this bears to the Expanded Universe. Kylo Ren could be a corrupted Skywalker child, but we don’t know, and everything else, including the First Order and the Resistance, look new. There’s also the question of that Death Star-like starship on the poster – whose side is that on?

We’ll find out more on Dec. 18.