There’s a lot of characters to love in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, from a septuagenarian Han Solo to newcomers Finn and Rey. Yes, J.J. Abrams did bring us a whole new universe of characters. However, one performance in the film is garnering a surprising amount of attention from the world. No, it’s not Captain Phasma or Kylo Ren – not even the enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke! In fact, it’s the First Order Stormtrooper known simply as TR-8R to fans (because when spoken it is ‘traitor’).
According to ComicBook.com (via Squareeyed): “the book “Before the Awakening,” which includes prequel tales for Rey, Poe, and Finn, may offer us a clue as to TR-8R’s real identity. In the story, we meet Finn’s training squad, FN-2199 “Nines”, FN-2000 “Zero”, and FN-2003 “Slip.” According to the Visual Dictionary, Slip happens to be the stormtrooper who dies at the beginning of the movie, painting a streak of his own blood down Finn’s helmet and helping instigate Finn’s journey and drastic changes.”
In the film, there is a particularly poignant sequence which pits Finn against the band of First Order Stormtroopers he supposedly “betrayed.” Yielding a rather special lightsaber, Finn finds himself in a one-on-one situation with a riot control trooper who calls him a traitor before the two engage in a battle for a few moments. The scene had a particular sense of emotional resonance that prompted fans to speculate that Finn and TR-8R had some serious history while they were both serving in the First Order.
So TR-8R and Finn actually served together prior to Finn’s defection. Another member of their squad named Slip was killed on Jakku, which ultimately served as the reason for Finn abandoning his post (it’s Slip’s blood that smears across Finn’s helmet early on in the movie). Ahhh yes!
This means that TR-8R is likely to be either Zero or Nines and explains why TR-8R is able to identify Finn so easily when the attack begins, as well as why the fight between the two men seems like such an intimate, personal battle. If Finn showed that stormtroopers can express feelings like compassion and remorse, then TR-8R showcases the way they feel anger, hate, and bitter resentment. It’s really interesting to know the backstory of this Stormtrooper.
Finn didn’t kill TR-8R (although we’re pretty sure the blast from Chewie’s Bowcaster weapon DID do the job)– so it will be interesting to see if he is used in the future films.
It was widely anticipated that Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma would become the fan favourite villainous character, but she was, rather disappointingly, severely underused. However, Phasma escaped as the First Order was collapsing and will appear in Episodes VIII & IX.