Episode 7 was a fine blend of old and new. Its most nostalgic call back wasn’t to any one line or character but simply a reminder of how much fun old school Star Wars can be.
JJ Abrams was very particular that Episode 4, the first Star Wars, “implied a history that preceded it and also hinted at a future to follow” and that he wanted his Episode 7 to follow the same template.
As a fan though I thought somethings in Episode 7 were just too abrupt, with very little implication or outright explanation. These minor quibbles don’t detract from the enjoyment of the film but do leave me wishing that it could have been that just little bit more awesome if these points were threshed out a bit more.
1. How is Rey using powers only a fully trained Jedi can have?
Rey saves herself twice from Kylo Ren by drawing on the Force.
First she gets herself out of Ren’s torture chamber by using the Jedi mind trick on the Stormtrooper guarding her.
We’ve only seen the Jedi mind trick used by trained Jedi, ones who have undergone years of training. (eg. Obi-wan in Epsiode 2, Obi-wan again in Episode 4.)
Second, Ren is about to kill her in their lightsaber duel but Rey manages to overpower him when she is reminded of the Force at the last minute.
There’s absolutely no reason why Kylo Ren couldn’t defeat Rey in a lightsaber duel. Ren has been trained, at least partially by Luke Skywalker, and he has undergone further implied training under Supreme Leader Snoke.
Rey has had zero training, and it shows in the way she wields her lightsaber. All of her moves are either forward lunges or over the head swings. Ren on the other hand handles his lightsaber with aggressive elan, twirling it in his hands in showy but confident arcs.
2. Why is Kylo Ren such a wussy?
Kylo Ren, for his age, is the strongest Sith we’ve ever seen on screen.
Sure his grandfather Anakin was doing amazing things as a young man (see the Clone Wars) but not even Darth Vader could stop a laser bolt in mid air. Kylo Ren does this with ease, and not only stops the bolt but holds it for a long stretch of time.
Why then can’t Kylo Ren, brimming with power, jazzed up on hate, twisted inside with loathing, manage to outduel and kill Finn and Rey, neither of whom have any training with lightsabers?
This guy can stop a laser bolt but he can’t dispose of two untrained combatants in lightsaber combatant!
Worse yet, Rey manages to force pull a lightsaber towards her while Ren is concentrating on the exact same object.
Even granted that he was battling injured, there’s no reason why Ren shouldn’t be able to dispatch Finn and Rey with ease.
In fact the only person Kylo Ren manages to kill properly is his father.
3. Why is Poe a squadron leader?
There’s no denying that Poe Dameron is an excellent pilot. In all the engagements in Episode 7 he pilots his X-Wing with deadly grace. He’s incredibly accurate too, managing to hit individual stromtroopers while they’re assaulting Maz Kanata’s bar.
A good pilot though doesn’t a good squadron leader necessarily make.
Poe, whom all the Resistance pilots defer to, does not make any tactical decisions nor does he ever give any worthwhile orders.
Dameron’s favored attack method is to fly right in while whooping it up. His orders consist of asking for help and telling everyone that trouble is heading their way.
Contrast Poe’s method of leadership with Red Leader’s in Episode 4. Red Leader is professional (“Cut the chatter Red 2, accelerate to attack speed.”) and capable of making tactical decisions (“I’m going to cut across the axis and try to draw their fire.”)
4. Why is there still a Resistance when the Republic has been reestablished?
After the destruction of the second Death Star there was celebration across the galaxy. Based on currently canon fiction outside of the movies, it took awhile for the Rebellion to reestablish the New Republic but they were eventually able to do so.
If the good guys have a government in place, why the need for the Resistance? What (or who) exactly the Resistance is resisting is never explained or even hinted at. One assumes that the Resistance is against the New Order but why wouldn’t Leia work in the existing channels of the Republic, a body with much more military might and political weight than a ragtag resistance.
Perhaps the Republic concluded a separate peace with the First Order, a peace so onerous that Leia has no choice but to take up arms against the Republic (since she would be defying the government’s treaty with the First Order) and the First Order as well.
If so, this is a rather messy state of affairs for the Resistance.
5. Why is the Resistance still using X-Wings which are over 30 years old at this point?
There’s no indication that the current batch of X-Wings have been upgraded since the last time we saw them in Episode 6. The only discernible difference is a ground blaster (similar to the one we saw on the Millennium Falcon in Episodes 6 and 7) which can pop out and swivel to attack ground troops.
At least the Tie fighters have undergone significant modifications. They now hold 2 people, a pilot and a gunner, and have an upgraded suite of weapons.
Moreover, an X-Wing seems to be easily destroyed by small blaster fire (as Poe’s was at the beginning of the Episode 7) but Tie Fighters shrug off small arms fire with ease, allowing Poe and Finn to escape the First Order’s capital ship over Jakku.
Even at the height of the Rebellion (Episode 6) the X-Wing wasn’t the only craft available, there were Y-Wings (old bomber), A-Wings (interceptor) and B-Wings (new bomber).
6. Finally, if the Resistance was so desperate to take out Starkiller Base why send only a bunch of fighters?
When the Rebellion had to take out the first Death Star there was a reason why they only sent fighters. “The Empire doesn’t consider a small, one man fire to be a threat, otherwise they would have a tighter defense.” (Episode 4)
When the Death Star was resurrected in Episode 6 the Rebellion left nothing to chance and sent the entire fleet, capital ships, fighters, everything against the unfinished (or so they thought) weapon of mass destruction.
In Episode 7 though, faced with Starkiller Base which is both larger and even more dangerous than the Death Star, the Resistance only sends 3 squadrons of old X-Wing fighters.
The only plausible explanation would be that those X-Wings were the only military assets the Resistance had or they were only available assets which would reach Starkiller Base in time. Neither of those explanations though are even hinted at on screen in Episode 7.