Star Wars The Force Awakens: Who Is Rey?

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It probably comes as no shock to most people who might read this blog that I’m a massive Star Wars fan. A New Hope is the film responsible for turning me into a cinephile to begin with. As a five-year-old, watching it in the theater with my father back in 1977, it blew me away. Star Wars and George Lucas are partly responsible for me wanting to be a storyteller. So I was pretty excited to learn, with the transition of Lucasfilm to Disney control, more Star Wars films would be forthcoming, starting with the continuation of the episodic series–the adventures of the Skywalkers and their effect on the evolution of the Force.

Thankfully, I loved The Force Awakens. It was everything I wanted from a new Star Wars movie. I loved being introduced to the new characters and seeing the old favorites. But after seeing TFA, a few questions were left unanswered. And the most burning of those to me was this: Who is Rey? Specifically, what is her parentage? I was fully expecting that we would learn she was the daughter of Han and Leia, perhaps even a sibling to Kylo Ren. But it seems that’s just not the case, and after thinking about it for quite some time (and seeing TFA four times), I’ve begun to develop some theories. And by the way, if you haven’t already seen the movie, you might want to refrain from reading this. You’ve been warned.

In my mind, only two possibilities exist as to the question of Rey’s parentage. Either her parents are a couple of deadbeat nobodies who abandoned her on a desert planet in the care of a not very scrupulous non-human junk dealer (Unkar Plutt) … or she’s the daughter of Luke Skywalker. As far as I’m concerned, all these other theories that have been floating around (that Rey is the granddaughter of Obi-Wan or a “reincarnation” of Darth Vader) are just too ridiculous to be true. I just don’t buy any of that nonsense. She’s either nobody or Luke’s daughter.

Now, I’m leaning toward the idea that she’s Luke’s daughter because, ultimately, the episodic Star Wars movies are the story of the Skywalkers. They always have been and always should be. People will say, “But Kylo Ren is a Skywalker.” True, but Rey is clearly the central character of these films. If she’s not a Skywalker, they’re really mishandling things here.

Evidence that Rey is Luke’s daughter includes the fact that Luke’s lightsaber called to her. Remember, this was Anakin’s saber before being passed to Luke and now it has found its way into Rey’s hands. The Force put it there. And Maz Kanata herself says something like, “This was Luke’s saber and his father’s before him and now it’s calling to you.” (I have to paraphrase since I don’t have the movie to refer back to, just my memory). Why include that line if there’s not some kind of familial identification? Why mention it was Luke’s father’s saber at all? That really doesn’t make sense unless the implication is that Rey falls in that line somewhere.

That being said, the one thing that makes me think Rey might NOT be Luke’s daughter is something else Maz says. She tells Rey that those she’s been waiting for back on Jakku aren’t coming back for her. That would seem to be indicate that maybe Luke isn’t her parent. Of course, we’re assuming that Rey has been waiting for her parents all that time. She never says “parents,” only “family.” Still, what does that mean? Keep in mind, though, Maz doesn’t really know anything. She doesn’t know who Rey’s parents are any more than we do. Or at least, at this point, we have to assume she doesn’t. Though it’s pretty clear that, through the Force, Maz senses Rey is someone pretty special. And she senses that whoever Rey’s been waiting for isn’t going to come pick her up on Jakku and that her path is forward, to Luke. Given that, Luke might very well be her dad after all.

Okay. Here’s what I think may be going on and why I think so.

I think it’s highly possible that Rey, when she was a child, was formerly a member of Luke’s Jedi academy (whether she was his daughter or not). This would help explain why the Force comes so easily to her; she’s already had training. When Rey was about four or five, Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo, also a member of the Jedi academy, was seduced to the dark side by Snoke. Ren commits himself to finishing what his grandfather, Darth Vader, started. In other words, the annihilation of the Jedi. Ren forms a group of ruthless Jedi killers called the Knights of Ren (apparently the group is named for him–in the movie, Snoke says that Kylo is the “master” of the Knights of Ren). Keep in mind, when this happens, Kylo is about fifteen years old.

Presumably, Kylo and his Knights attack the Jedi academy and slaughter all the students. This event seems to be depicted in a vision Rey has after she touches Luke’s lightsaber. At the beginning of this particular vision, we are presumably looking through Rey’s eyes. She looks up, and we see someone about to attack her, someone with a club-like weapon and a boxy helmet. Before this person can deliver the killing blow, a red lightsaber pierces this person’s chest, and we see it is Kylo Ren. The camera switches to a wider shot, and we see adult Rey lying on the ground, looking up at Ren. Then the camera goes wider, and we see Kylo standing there with his Knights. Not including him (and this is very important), there are SIX Knights.

In the book, The Art of Star Wars The Force Awakens, you will find a picture of some concept art of the Knights of Ren. This picture depicts SEVEN Knights without Kylo Ren. (I can’t repost for copyright reasons, but here’s a link). And one of these Knights, the only one apparently not depicted in the shot in the movie where Kylo is standing among them, is someone with a boxy helmet and a club-like weapon. So. If that guy was one of Kylo’s Knights, why did he run him through with his lightsaber?

My theory is that Kylo killed his own man rather than have him murder Rey. Why? Well, a couple possibilities exist in my mind. Kylo clearly struggles with the light side of the Force. It was difficult for him to murder his father in the movie (he says, “I know what I need to do, but I don’t know if I can do it”). It took a full fifteen years to build up to it, in fact. If little four-year-old Rey was his cousin, maybe he just couldn’t see her get killed at that time. Or maybe she was just the youngest member of the Jedi academy, and he didn’t want to kill a youngling (though his grandfather, Anakin, didn’t seem to have a problem with that). I’m leaning toward the former theory, that Rey was Luke’s daughter and Kylo’s cousin.

So, what does he do instead? He uses the Force to wipe or alter her memories and ditches her on a remote desert planet in the care of an unscrupulous junk dealer (basically selling her into slavery–a la Joseph of the Coat of Many Colors). And all Rey really remembers is that her family left her there.

Some additional evidence to all this is something that is apparently in the novelization of the movie (which I haven’t yet read). Apparently, there is some recognition when Kylo Ren encounters Rey. I’ve heard that he says to her, “So, it is you.” What Kylo’s statement specifically refers to isn’t revealed, I guess. But it seems like maybe, in the original script (from which novelizations of movies are based), he knows her from somewhere. Also, in the movie itself, when Kylo learns that BB-8 and Finn have escaped in the company of a girl, Kylo freaks out a bit and demands to know, “What girl?” Maybe even at that point he begins to suspect who she is–the girl he left behind all those years ago.

Of course, these theories are dependent on several things. Specifically, that the vision Rey sees of Kylo and the Knights of Ren is a vision of them slaughtering Luke’s Jedi students. It may not be that at all. Also, Rey might not be seeing her own memories. The Force could merely be showing her a glimpse of this dangerous enemy and servant of the dark side. And if that’s the case, none of this hold any water at all. But I like my theory, and for now, I’m sticking with it.

So there you have it. My theories about who Rey really is. Of course, this is all speculation, and we have nearly two years to find out the truth. But as I said before, the episodic Star Wars movies are the story of the Skywalkers, so if Rey is NOT one, I for one will be a bit disappointed.

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