Within the last few months, I finally watched The Force Awakens again for the first time since the theatrical run. What I had liked about it at first I loved even more the second time. What had bothered me about it the first time likewise bothered me exponentially in the repeat viewing. All in all, it makes for a very awkward filmgoing experience for me – I love parts of it too much to say I dislike it, but I hate other parts too much to say I like it. And even if Episodes VIII and IX tie the narrative together in a way that really makes Awakens shine in retrospect, the fact that those films have totally different teams behind them (as opposed to The Maker’s overarching, if fickle-with-details narrative) will always undercut whatever “hidden brilliance” we may or may not find in the film upon future analysis.
The above paragraph was originally supposed to be a lead-in to a whole column re-evaluating The Force Awakens upon a repeat viewing away from the hype and the fear, but frankly, that’s really all I have to say on the matter until the entire picture comes to light. Besides, the main point of my column is to keep Episodes I-III and their rightful place in the Saga as a whole in the public’s eye as a positive force (pun unintentional, but welcome), lest the bile levied at them by mainstream geekdom be history’s final word on them.
But it does serve as a nice introduction to a matter that I’ve been wanting to write about for nearly a year, but wasn’t confidant I could do it justice. Because there is one element of The Force Awakens that I have had a slight but noticeable shift on in the intervening months: Rey.