Among the deleted scenes from The Last Jedi that did not make it into the film, but were released together with the DVD and Blu-ray versions as bonus material, one stands out: an alternate version of the duel between Finn and Phasma. The clip, about a minute and half long in total, provides two hundred percent more depth for the character of Phasma, as well as for the entire subplot regarding her relationship with Finn.
By this I mean the entire sub-narrative spanning from Finn’s refusal to shoot in the very fist scene of The Force Awakens, through Phasma noticing it, and especially through their second encounter inside the Starkiller Base. There, Finn gets his payback and forces Phasma, with gusto and at a gunpoint, to turn off the Starkiller’s otherwise impenetrable (!) defenses.
Let me say it again: without Phasma’s cooperation (or, from The First Order’s point of view: treason), there was no way the Resistance could blow up the Starkiller Base. The First Order would, undoubtedly, remain triumphant and possess the ultimate power in the universe. Alas for them, Phasma proved to be a coward. Or at the least she didn’t possess the amount of devotion she demanded of her own brainwashed cadets: she valued her own life more than that of hundreds of First Order troops, more than the trillions of credits the Starkiller Base must have cost, not to speak of everything that perished in its destruction, more than The First Order’s technological supremacy, more than… you get the picture. Essentially, this makes her no better than Finn, whom the stormtroopers see as the “official” Traitor with capital T.
And this brings us to the deleted scene from The Last Jedi.
Duel of the Traitors
So what actually happens in the deleted scene? If you don’t have access to the bonus materials, let me just quickly summarise it for you. Just like in the theatrical version, Finn and Phasma are facing each other in the ruins of the First Order hangar. Four stormtroopers surround them (this is important), otherwise no one else is in sight. Phasma calls Finn a traitor, to which he, undaunted, responds by saying that he knows the truth about her, and recounts her cowardice aboard the Starkiller base, asking what would her superiors do if they learned what she had done.
There is a moment’s hesitation, and Phasma seems thrown out of balance. (By the way: this is the moment for which I would give Gwendoline Christie an Oscar - how subtly can you act and express emotions while wearing a full-body armour!) “Who would believe a story like that?” she says, uncertainly. The stormtroopers look at each other - then Phasma quickly draws a blaster and shoots one, two, three, all the stormtroopers. All the witnesses to her treason. Which leaves one - Finn. Then the duel begins - and we know the rest roughly from the theatrical version.
But we can see how this short dialogue could give the scene an entirely different vibe, load it with more gravity, more meaning. More importantly, it would give Phasma - and Finn - a little more personality and also add extra definition to their relationship. Finn’s courage and resolve becomes more pronounced, while Phasma’s cowardice is shown.
The Coward Chrome Warrior
After watching episodes VII and VIII, many fans have expressed their disappointment over Phasma’s lack of personality, depth or amount of screentime after the expectations that her indisputably cool design (and the casting of Gwendoline Christie) had originally raised. I must agree with this, even though I understand that the films simply don’t have the time to spend enough time on every single major, let alone secondary character. The single deleted scene, however, would have changed much in the perception of Phasma, and made her far more interesting for the entire audience. It would also have provided the Phasma-Finn relationship and Finn’s “traitor subplot” with a much definite conclusion than their duel has now.
Phasma was given more backstory in her own Star Wars novel by Delilah S. Dawson - and her personality is perfectly in line with the way this deleted scene shows her. Phasma is portrayed as a survivor, and her motives are ultimately - well, let’s use the word selfish. She may be instilling the idea of orderly Galaxy, unquestioning obedience and devotion in the young First Order recruits, but ultimately, her allegiance is only to herself. The (in my opinion brilliant) scene in The Force Awakens, where she lets the Resistance destroy Starkiller Base without much thinking, is a perfect testament to that. Many fans, however, were confused and outraged when she did it so easily: is this how an epic, high-ranking First Order officer behaves?
With Delilah S. Dawson’s novel in mind, it is easy to see that Phasma is no honourable idealist. But for those who do not read Star Wars novels, there is nothing in the films that would indicate what Phasma’s personality actually is like. The deleted scene in The Last Jedi could have amended that.
The good thing is, however, that such a scene exists (even though not in full detail). My personal hope would be that perhaps a “director’s cut version” of The Last Jedi could be assembled for some future release - and if anything, then this particular scene should make it there. In merely ninety seconds, it tells you everything you need to know about Phasma, and adds a brilliant twist to the story of Finn the traitor: there was never only one traitor within the First Order.