Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Inciting Event: Rey sees the Resistance droid BB-8 about to be scavenged for parts and rescues him. She is the protagonist, and this is her first brush with the conflict—hence, this is the Inciting Event. Up to this point, we’ve seen plenty of conflict, but the plot has been mostly concerned with introducing characters and situations. Because BB-8 represents the conflict (he—and the map to Luke Skywalker he is carrying—is what everyone is after), this is where the important character of Rey is drawn in

First Plot Point: Just after meeting the deserting stormtrooper Finn, Rey is attacked by the First Order when they come after BB-8. Together, all three of them flee the planet aboard the Millennium Falcon. Now Rey has not only brushed the conflict; she’s firmly enmeshed with. She is now a fugitive from the First Order, just the same as BB-8 and Finn. She agrees to help Finn—whom she thinks is with the Resistance—get BB-8 to safety.

First Pinch Point: After being located and brought aboard ship by Han Solo—who is smuggling expensive monsters—they are all attacked by vengeful gangs who are out to recoup the money they’ve lost from Han by taking the fugitives back to the First Order. This is the pinch felt by the protagonists, but note that the audience is also given major new clues and antagonistic emphasis when they learn that the evil Kylo Ren is, in fact, Han and Leia’s son.

Midpoint: There are Moments of Truth all over the place here. Han takes Rey and Finn to the pirate Maz, in order to get them transport back to Leia and the Resistance. Finn then finally admits to Rey that he’s a stormtrooper. Rey touches Luke’s old lightsaber and has a Force vision that seems to be about her mysterious past. She is drastically shaken. Meanwhile, the First Order locates them and descends upon Maz’s base. Thanks to the revelations—and the antagonist’s actions—the protagonists have no choice but to move into action from this point on.

Second Pinch Point: During the battle, Kylo Ren realizes Rey has seen the map and that he can get the information from her. Leaving the droid and pulling out of the battle, he kidnaps Rei and takes her back to the First Order’s Starkiller base.

Third Plot Point: As the Resistance scrambles to come up with a plan, they realize Starkiller Base is charging up on sun power and preparing to target the Resistance base.

As Third Plot Point low moments go, this one isn’t particularly amazing. It serves its purpose, since realizing you and all your friends are about to get obliterated is a pretty low moment, but it can’t help but pale next to the more powerful emotions of desperation and despair in the previous pinch point and the following climactic turning point.

Climax: While helping Finn and Rey with their mission to blow up the Starkiller Base, Han confronts his son Kylo Ren and tries to bring him back from the Dark Side. But Ren chooses to prove his dedication to his master Supreme Leader Snooks by killing his own father. This is a huge turning point that drags first Finn and then Rey around into the final one-on-one confrontation with Ren.

Climactic Moment: After Rey accesses the Force and manages to knock Ren down, they are separated when an explosion-triggered earthquake drops the ground out from under them. Chewie then shows up in the Falcon and rescues both her and Finn, ending the conflict—for now.

This is also, arguably, something that could have been strengthened. Obviously, the end of the conflict here is only temporary, leading to more battles with Ren down the line. The weakness lies in the fact that this Climactic Moment doesn’t decisively answer any dramatic question raised in the Inciting Event. Rey’s question has always been “who am I?,” and, in a sense, that is answered when she accesses the Force, but not as decisively and satisfactorily as it might have.

Remember: the Climactic Moment isn’t just about delivering characters to safety, it’s about answering the conflict’s central question.

Resolution: In a needfully long Resolution, Rey returns to the Resistance to comfort Leia, to see Finn’s wounds patched up, and then to set out with Chewie to follow the map and find Luke. She finds him, worn and weary, and tries to give back his lightsaber. In a sense, this is a more fitting Climactic Moment for Rey’s story, but since it answers no obvious questions either, it works just as well as the Resolution and the hook into the next story.

Notes: The first two thirds of this movie hang together quite nicely, but there are some definite weaknesses in the Third Act. Primarily, this is the result of the antagonistic force (and specifically Starkiller Base) not having been developed and foreshadowed well enough. In the movie’s defense, it has a ton of ground to cover in the first two-thirds, so it’s not shocking it ran out of space upfront. Still, something as important as the antagonistic force always deserves attention from the First Act onwards, if it’s to truly have its desired powerful effect in the finale.

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