Character Breakdown: Jyn Erso
The first thing you have to understand about Jyn is that she’s a passive protagonist. She’s not supposed to be leading the charge, exuding fierce emotions or have a determination to really go anywhere. Instead of moving through the plot and taking charge, Jyn lets the plot happen around her and weaves her way through the falling debris as best she can. She appears indecisive and unsure because she is - she has no real identity besides being that girl that people are interested in for the fact that she can help further their agenda.
Jyn doesn’t have an agenda. She’s wandering around, searching for a purpose, full of angst but at the same time, empty and emotionally naive. She’s fierce in that she wants to be independent, but it’s only because that’s all she’s ever been. She’s been on her own for a long time and is afraid to trust anyone because everyone she’s trusted has let her down some way or another.
She’s not grown up completely. She’s on the fence about where she stands in terms of looking out just for herself or being willing to care about something greater that may not actually pay her back if she gives of herself to it. It’s scary, and she’s a lost little girl who puts on a brave face.
It’s unfair to expect things of her that are out of character. She has some crazy turn arounds, but considering how changeable her personality is, these don’t come as too much of a surprise when you think about it. She never had anything to care about until she hears her father’s charge and finally feels some sense of purpose. So she gives everything to that, while still being mostly in it for herself. Her ability to trust - like anyone’s - comes slowly and shouldn’t be expected to suddenly develop. She’s an emotional character, but shows it in more passive ways.
She was never a selfless character, but was also one without purpose. After gaining one, putting her life on the line doesn’t scare her as much. She wants to do something with meaning, especially after witnessing her father die.
Her speeches aren’t grand. They’re from the heart. Jyn isn’t a hero, she’s a little girl that’s finally growing up. She has no immense resolve from the beginning, instead growing into it. There is truth growth in this character, even if it’s a little jarring at times and barely noticeable at others. She’s a complex character in her own right and should be respected as a solid protagonist. She doesn’t have to be your cup of tea, but she is a good character.
Jyn Erso is not the savior type, and those she bands with aren’t either. They’re all a bit broken, a bit desperate, and willing to go to the ultimate end of things because they’ve got nowhere else to go. They will give their all because they never did before and maybe this time it’s worth it. Is it worth it? It’s worth it. We will do it. Because it needs to be done.
It’s easy to get annoyed by the passive protagonist. I myself get annoyed. I love character stories, where the plot is the bones and the characters fill in everything else. But there’s plenty to be gained from a story where the plot has a bigger role and the characters are floundering a bit, searching for the right way in the maze of story.
Jyn is an awesome character.