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The biggest ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ plot holes explained

Published Dec 30th, 2015 9:30AM EST
Star Wars The Force Awakens Plot Holes Explanations

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Like just about every major sci-fi movie that’s been released since the dawn of time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a significant share of plot holes that have no obvious explanations. To see what justifications Star Wars fans are making for these seeming plot holes, I’ve been scouring Quora to see some theories that explain some of the movie’s biggest head-scratching moments. Warning: There will be spoilers ahead.

DON’T MISS: This homemade lightsaber is dangerously crazy, and you have to check it out

Plot hole No. 1: How is Rey so adept at using the Force without any training?

I personally figured that Rey is just super-powerful and thus super-dangerous as a Force user since she’s likely Luke Skywalker’s daughter. Star Wars fan Christopher VanLang seems to share my take and he uses some evidence from past films to show that being a “quick learner” of the Force isn’t all that unprecedented:

People are just used to thinking about Rey as a steady-minded strong-willed character because that’s who she is. Since much cinematic weight is placed on her summoning of the force, people generally have forgotten the preceding scenes that lead up to that event. As a result, it seems like Rey just had this sudden rise out of no where.

Which makes sense.

But if you look back in the Star Wars lore, you’ll have similar scenarios for Luke. His trench run. Retrieving his lightsabre. His second confrontation with Vader. Luke shows a similar rites of passage where he confronts his fear and uses the force to guide him.

Other posters in the Quora thread also note that during their lightsaber duel, Kylo Ren may be holding back on Rey because he wants to bring her over to the Dark Side. They also note that Rey is a tough person who has had to fight to survive most of her life in difficult conditions. In other words, she’s not some frail little weakling.

Taken together, Rey’s ability to use the Force like a seasoned veteran in some circumstances makes a lot of sense.

Plot hole No. 2: The galaxy has already forgotten about Luke Skywalker after just 30 years? For real?

This one baffled me quite a bit. However, it seems that many planets in the galaxy don’t have anything like the Internet to keep them up to date on all the news in the galaxy. Rey’s home planet of Jakku in particular seems like a fairly primitive backwater with no advanced economy or telecommunications systems. Here’s how David Mullich, an instructor at The Los Angeles Film School, explains it:

As advanced as some of the technology in Star War is, many planets seem downright primitive compared to modern-day Earth in terms of mass education and communications.  Most people seem to learn about the universe around them through conversation and stories rather than classrooms, books, and newscasts.  And with the Jedi Order having been wiped out at the end of the Revenge of the Sith, many people who grew up afterwards, especially those on farflung planets, just haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the Jedi.

Added to this, you have to consider that the main communications infrastructure in the galaxy was owned by the Empire, so when the Empire went down at the end of Return of the Jedi, it probably fragmented portions of the galaxy and kept them apart from one another.

Plot hole No. 3: Why doesn’t Kylo Ren know his hero Darth Vader rejoined the good guys at the last minute?

You could chalk this up to the fact that Vader’s turn away from the Dark Side simply wasn’t well known by anyone. However, Kylo Ren is the son of Leia Skywalker and Han Solo, and he was trained in the Force by Luke Skywalker. In other words, he grew up spending a lot of time with the three people in the galaxy who actually did know what happened with Darth Vader at the end of his life.

However, Star Wars fan Jennifer Quail offers the following explanation:

He may have been told that.  He may have been told multiple times.  Though it would be more a teaching fail on Luke’s part if he weren’t (as Han and Leia have only Luke’s word to go on it happened and it would be fair if they even found it hard to believe themselves as nothing in their personal experiences with Vader suggest it’s possible.)  Snoke may have convinced him that Luke lied, or that Vader failed and would view it as a failure.
It also doesn’t entirely matter.  Kylo’s doing what thousands of real-world teens do–taking a genuinely horrible person who has cool trappings and fixating on the cool part.  Ask some college kid with a Che Guevara shirt about how many people he straight-up murdered and the fact he was a viscous racist.   I can almost guarantee they either don’t know or refuse to accept it as true.  There are people who idolize Hitler and who think Stalin wasn’t a bad guy, in the face of all evidence to the contrary.  Darth Vader was cool.  He was powerful.  Obviously, his turning out to be good at the last minute was just something Luke made up to hold Ben/Kylo back.  (Which ironically makes him just like his grandfather, just not how he wants to be.)

Kids these days!

Plot hole No. 4: Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. What is the deal?

This is something I personally don’t care that much about, though many Star Wars fans still seem upset about it. I’ll put it to you like this: In a movie that wants us to believe it’s possible to suck up an entire sun into a planet and then fire it back out as a giant laser death beam, I just can’t get upset over supposedly flawed lightsaber designs.

Nonetheless, one Quora user decided to ask about how the crossguard on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber is at all effective since it also has an exposed hilt. Here’s the answer offered by diehard Star Wars  fan William Travis:

Here’s the thing, it’s NOT a crossguard.
According to the book the lightsaber crystal Kylo Ren uses is cracked and it doesn’t focus energy like a lighsaber should, so the blade is less coherent (fiery) and those are VENTS for the excess energy on the sides of the hilt

And another one offered by fan Jordan Baird:

The thing that most people point out about Ren’s lightsaber is that an opponent could simply slide their blade down and lob off the smaller blades on the side. This would actually not happen, as when lightsabers collide, they will either bounce off one another, or in rare cases, lock against each other. This is characterized by a crackling noise and we see it several times throughout all the movies. So the lightsabers wouldn’t be able to slide against each other, they’d just bounce off or lock against each other. […]

In the movie, we see that the cross guards do have some use. Kylo and Finn’s sabers are locked in place together so Kylo twists his saber and digs a side blade into Finn’s shoulder, causing him extreme pain. It adds a new level of possibility in combat I think!

So there you have it: Kylo Ren’s lightsaber design is both a bug and a feature.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.