WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the bonus features for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, available now on Digital HD.
With the digital release today Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fans get a hint of the film that almost was through seven deleted scenes, half of what we'll ultimately see across Blu-ray and DVD. This opening volley, with optional commentary by writer/director Rian Johnson, reveals an early vision for the film that may have focused more on John Boyega's ex-Stormtrooper Finn, literally from the start.
The Last Jedi was originally intended to open with Finn, as Johnson cleverly played with the franchise trope of panning from the opening crawl to the planet below. However, the audience quickly realizes that's no planet -- or even a moon -- but instead the dome of the medical chamber containing Finn, as seen in the film's trailers.
Alas, the scene fell victim to a desire to move quickly from the scroll to the heart of the action, with the Resistance abandoning their hideout. "Cleverness lost," Johnson concedes in commentary.
Lost, too, was a nice scene between Finn and BB-8, who seeks to lift his spirits by playing a hologram recording of Rey's farewell, punctuated by a chaste kiss on his forehead and the words, "Thank you, my friend." But the tenderness of the moment is immediately undercut by Finn's acknowledgement to the little droid, "All right, that was kind of weird that you recorded that, but thank you."
Stormpilot shippers will no doubt be pleased to see the scene in which Finn and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) swiftly catch up on events, only for the former pulls a halfhearted Han Solo. "I believe in what you guys are doing here," he says, "but I didn't join this army. I don't want you to think I'm something I'm not." Of course, he didn't know he'd have to contend with Poe, who returns his leather jacket, all patched up.
"That's your jacket," Poe says, "I'm not much of a sewer, but, you know, I was busy saving the entire fleet." Of course, he doesn't have much time to gloat, as he's slapped by General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) and demoted in the very next scene.
Finn's showdown with Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is also different in the deleted scenes, as the "traitor" remains defiant, even while surrounded by armed Stormtroopers and taunted by his former commander.
"You called for order, you beat us down," he tells her, "but when your shiny neck was threatened, you squealed like a whoop hog. The evidence blew up with the base, but you and I know the truth: When I put a gun to your head, you shut down Starkiller's shields. Now, what would your troops do if they found out, or your masters?"
As Poe's words begin to register with the Stormtroopers, Phasma moves to ensure the truth of the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will go no further, by killing everyone within earshot. That's right before Poe cuts off her hand -- because this is a Star Wars movie, after all -- and sends Phasma to her ultimate fate (in different fashion). He still gets to deliver that "Rebel scum" line in the original version, though.
Johnson reveals the scene was changed primarily because of pacing, "But I loved John's performance here, I loved the idea that we're calling out that Phasma kind of flipped like a wooden nickel in The Force Awakens, and that that's coming back to roost." Of course, fans disappointed that Phasma wasn't permitted to live up to her potential might not agree, but it is another good showcase for Finn.
Available now on Digital HD and beginning March 27 on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and On-Demand, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong’o, Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and the late Carrie Fisher.