In contrast to the clone troopers of the prequels and originals, the First Order’s Stormtroopers in the sequels were mostly kidnapped children brainwashed into serving their evil masters. This cruel recruiting technique was brushed over in the movies themselves, but – as with many elements of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – it’s now been expanded on in tie-in material. For instance, we previously learned that the First Order specifically targeted the children of Rebel leaders, like Lando Calrissian’s daughter, Jannah.
TROS‘ junior novelization adds another intriguing detail into the mix though via a brief passage. When viewing Rey using the Jedi mind trick on some troopers, Finn wonders whether a darker version of that same power was used on himself and the other stolen children. This heavily hints, then, that the Dark Side of the Force was integral to the FO’s Stormtrooper programming.
Here’s the extract in question:
“What was worrisome was if someone who lacked Rey’s principles wielded such powers. Was that what had happened with the First Order? Had Finn’s own mind, and the minds of all the children taken to be soldiers, been somehow warped and influenced by a dark power?”
What we can infer from this is the reason how Finn and Jannah and her troop were able to break out of their conditioning in the first place: because they’re Force-sensitive. Rise of Skywalker all but confirmed this when Finn and Jannah discussed the innate feeling they had when turning against the First Order, with the former labelling it the Force. Most Stormtroopers wouldn’t have been able to break out of some Sith-like mind trickery, but Force-sensitives would.
At this stage, we don’t know if we’ll find out whether Finn, Jannah and the rest will get to explore their Force-sensitivity in future Star Wars projects, but it seems like a good bet. Rey is fully expected to pull a Luke and restart the Jedi Order, after all. So, why not enlist one of her best friends as one of her first students?