I was going to go with the inscription from Thor, but this one seemed to fit the Star Wars universe way better. After all, it’s not like wielding a lightsaber makes you strong in the Force, right?
But that’s right peoples, we are discussing the one, the only, Rey Skywalker today! I know she hasn’t been officially confirmed yet as Anakin’s grandkid, but… well, see my post on Rey’s parents.
In the meantime, join me under the cut!
Rey In The Last Jedi
Rey is The Hero of the Sequel Trilogy, serving in the same role as Anakin and Luke before her. Her arc in TFA was the Departure Phase of the Hero’s Journey almost note for note, and her role in TLJ is to continue learning the ways of the Force and to become a Jedi Knight and continue the restoration of balance that began with her father and grandfather on an unfinished battle station some thirty years ago.
Rey, in many ways, has the simplest and easiest arc for the audience to understand. She is to train in the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like her father before her. She must then confront Kylo Ren and his evil master Snoke in an attempt to defeat them and end their cruel reign of terror. She won’t succeed, not yet, for there’s another movie to come and the Force is not yet her ally as it was Luke’s at the end of RotJ.
But she’s making her first steps. And she is strong, far stronger in the Force than anyone yet realises.
Rey: I need someone to help me find my place in all this
Rey, as her quote states, begins the movie lost and alone. Kylo Ren has killed her only father figure, Han Solo. She’s about to meet her hero, the legendary Luke Skywalker, and at this point he pretty much wants nothing to do with her. She has these incredible powers that she doesn’t understand and has really only known about from myths and legends, and the first time she accessed them really freaked her the hell out. Her best and so far only friend is lying in a coma, and she won’t be there to see him awake, if he ever does (we know Finn does awake, of course. But Rey doesn’t know she’s in the second movie of a trilogy nor does she have the ability to watch trailers. So as far as she knows, Finn may well be in that coma permanently).
So when Rey starts out in TLJ, she’s stuck on this island, it’s probably cold (certainly for a desert dweller) and she’s basically alone.
Rian Johnson: Luke and Rey are kind of the beating heart of the film, I guess
Right, obviously we’re not going to leave Rey in that state, otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a movie and certainly no emotional arc whatsoever (I normally wouldn’t think I had to point that out, but this is the fandom that was convinced for months that Finn would be stuck in his coma for the entire movie…)
And Rian’s quote tells us exactly what’s going to happen. Luke and Rey will slowly bond, overcoming their initial distrust and start building a relationship.
But purely one of master and student? No, I don’t think so. Luke and Yoda’s relationship was a key part of ESB and Luke’s overall character development, but it’s by no means the beating heart of the film. Their relationship is much more professional and strictly master/student.
Even Luke’s relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi, which was much more paternal, does not provide the same kind of emotional anchor that Rian seems to be going for here.
Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship in the prequels does, however. Anakin very much sees Obi-Wan as his father figure, and Obi-Wan sees Anakin as a younger brother. It is their relationship that fuels the tragedy of their final battle and Anakin’s fall, much more so than Padmé’s death at the hands of her own husband. Even The Clone Wars, which does much to alleviate Padmé’s mishandling, falls into the same trap. It’s about Anakin and Obi-Wan, damn near start to finish.
And with that precedent in mind, that gives us a pretty good idea of what Rian’s going for here: Luke and Rey’s relationship will be paternal. Rey’s already lost one father figure, now it’s time for her to reconnect with her biological father.
Some people think that this relationship will be that purely of a symbolic father and symbolic daughter, that Luke and Rey won’t be related by blood.
Rey must find her biological family
This is a key part of Rey’s development, but it’s also important for the audience as well. It’s the only real mystery that TFA left us with: we know, at the end of TFA, where Luke is, what happened to Kylo, Han and Leia, we know who Finn is. But we don’t know where Rey comes from, how she came to Jakku or why the Force is as strong with her as it is.
So in order for the audience to be satisfied, never mind the fans, we need answers to those questions.
And Rey needs them, too. Just as she had to leave behind the idea that her family were ever coming to get her on Jakku in order to fulfil her destiny, so too now must she confront her past or she will have no peace. And if she has no peace, she cannot move on.
So, Rey has to learn where she comes to find out where she’s going. Fine, that’s not exactly groundbreaking. But who is she?
Rian has stated that he’s not very interested in that question, beyond what it means to Rey. This means that the answer has to be the simplest one, the one that Rian can spend the least amount of time on and still make sense, without distracting from the main emotional anchor of the story, which is Luke and Rey.
And that means that Rey is going to be Luke’s kid, with the explanation of how she got left on Jakku being a combination of somebody else (I think it’s Skymom, personally) doing the job and Luke being under the distinct impression that she’s dead.
This makes it easy to fold into Luke and Rey’s developing relationship. Luke thinks his daughter’s dead and Rey is a dead ringer for how his dead daughter should look at that age. He probably thinks it’s the cruellest joke the universe could possibly have played on him. Rey, for her part, is looking for a father, for family. And she hopes to find it in Luke. And Luke’s going to give her the cold shoulder, at least at first. And worse, when she finds out the truth, she’s going to feel betrayed. Why did Luke leave her on Jakku? Why didn’t he go look for her? Why? Why?
It’s great drama, and it fits easily into their emotional arcs. Especially when Rey learns to forgive her father for his past mistakes and embrace him openly, much as Luke himself did once before.
It also fits with Kathleen Kennedy’s assertion that the main trilogies are the Skywalker Saga. Making the Hero of the Sequels be a Skywalker fits that way better than making Darth Vader 1.00.05 be the hero ever did.
Rey Must Confront Snoke and Kylo Ren
Rey cannot defeat this evil duo yet. Yet we plainly see in the trailers that Rey has her first confrontation with the evil wizard that is Andy Serkis.
And this makes a certain amount of sense. Luke confronted Vader at least once on screen before their final fight, and the Expanded Universe has several more. Whether you think that’s a mistake or not (and I think that the EU confrontations are a mistake, especially with the new rules that makes them the same level of canon as the films), there is that precedent.
And it definitely makes sense that Rey and Kylo Ren would confront each other one more time, especially if they’re cousins. Rey’s gonna want to know why Kylo betrayed the family and Kylo’s definitely going to want to tempt her to join him. He’s already tried once before, it would be kind of out of character if he didn’t try it again.
But anybody expecting Rey to turn to the Dark Side or Kylo Ren to be redeemed or die or both are in for a disappointment. They’ve still got one movie to go, nobody’s arc is getting resolved here.
There’s this… belief, amongst certain fans, that Rey is going to be able to transcend her destiny and choose a different path other than that of The Skywalker or The Fallen Skywalker. That’s really not how Star Wars works.
That you have control over your destiny. That you have a destiny. That you have many paths to walk down and you may have a great destiny…-George Lucas, The Mythology of Star Wars with Bill Moyers.
Much like the Mortis Trilogy, that interview should be required viewing for all Star Wars fans. It explains a lot about the movies, George’s intentions, and the overall nature of the underlying framework of Star Wars.
In particular, George makes clear that destiny is a big part of Star Wars. That while we may have control over our destinies, the ability to choose our destinies, we still have to choose. Choose to accept our destinies, or choose to deny them.
Kylo Ren denied his destiny. He abandoned the Skywalker birthright, as Anakin had before him, to pursue a destiny of evil. That he does so after Anakin’s fall, tragedy and subsequent destruction marks him as a fool as well as evil.
But what about Rey? What is her destiny?
Maz has a pretty damn good idea
Now, I don’t think Maz Kanata’s omniscient. She doesn’t know who Rey is at first, though she clearly thinks she’s someone special. In fact, Maz’ question (who’s the girl?) is our first real indication that Rey is more than a scavenger and pilot, along for the ride.
But like I said, she doesn’t know everything. All she knows is that Rey is strong in the Force, has a powerful connection to The Skywalker Family Lightsaber, and that nobody’s coming back to get her on Jakku. Which, honestly, is pretty obvious to everyone who isn’t Rey.
And she knows one other thing: that Rey’s destiny lies with Luke Skywalker. She may not know everything, but everything Maz Kanata does know is a big clue as to who and what Rey is.
When Confronted With The Fact That Nobody’s Coming Back For Her On Jakku, Rey’s Thoughts Immediately Jump To Luke
That’s a big fucking clue, right there. Totally unprompted, Rey’s thoughts jump immediately to The Skywalker himself.
Granted, it may be wishful thinking on her part, combined with the experience of having just grabbed his lightsaber. But it’s still a big hint.
Kylo Ren, in no particular order, senses her power, has a disturbingly good idea who she is, and is very, very interested in her.
Let’s be straight here: having a Dark Sider express interest in you is never a good thing. They pretty much all want to turn you evil, exploit you, and use you for their own nefarious plans (see: Palpatine, Dooku, Snoke, Vader, Bane…).
But it’s also a sign that you’re important on some level. That you have power or a destiny that’s a potential threat to them. And Kylo Ren is disturbingly interested in Rey. To stalker-ish levels, even.
Further, she kind of kicks his ass every time they meet. Kylo Ren is the grandson of Anakin Skywalker. And while I think his allegiance to the Dark Side has weakened him (for one thing, he’s emotional and erratic as hell. Makes it hard to focus and focus is as important to Dark Siders as it is to anyone else), he still shouldn’t be getting his ass handed to him every six ways from Sunday by an untrained Force-user. Even accounting for his wounds in their final fight. The only way that works is if Rey has the same kind of raw power, and Kylo confirms for us that Rey, yes, does have that kind of power.
He also has a pretty good idea of just who Rey is, despite his knowledge being obviously incomplete. He freaks out when an officer mentions a girl on Jakku and in the novelization he exclaims: ‘It is you!’ Now, Word of God has this as him just recognizing that she’s the Awakening he felt, but that doesn’t exactly negate the idea that she has a great destiny here.
Quite the opposite. It reinforces the idea, in fact. After all, if Rey is the Awakening in The Force, then what can she possibly have but a great destiny?
Whoso Pulleth This Lightsaber…
This is the big one, the one thing that confirms beyond all shadow of a doubt that Rey’s destiny is great and that she is the Heir To Anakin Skywalker. And that’s her connection to Anakin’s Lightsaber, to the Skywalker Family Lightsaber.
First off, it’s been confirmed in the new canon that lightsaber crystals, kyber crystals, have to be attuned to their owner. And that it’s rare for a kyber crystal to be attuned to anybody else. There’s some problems with this idea, particularly in the prequels, but it’s canon.
Secondly, Rey gets a massive Force vision just from touching the stupid thing, the likes of which we have never seen in a Star Wars movie before. And all of what she sees are related in some ways to the Skywalkers. So is what she hears, really. While this makes sense as it’s The Skywalker Family Lightsaber, there’s no way Rey could possibly have such a vision unless she was also attuned to the kyber crystal inside the lightsaber. And it’s kind of a stretch to say she’s attuned to that kyber crystal if she isn’t a Skywalker.
Thirdly, I didn’t murder that quote from Le Morte d’Arthur simply because I like Arthurian Romance. Rey, untrained and unlearned, manages to call the Skywalker Family Lightsaber to her hand over Kylo Ren, who is Anakin’s own grandson. Even if she isn’t of Anakin’s blood, the lightsaber has clearly chosen her to be its new wielder.
So What Is Rey’s Great Destiny?
To defeat the First Order. To destroy Snoke. To defeat her fallen cousin, Kylo Ren. To help bring back the Knights of the Jedi Order. To restore peace and justice to the galaxy. To continue the restoration of balance to the Force started by her grandfather and her father.
Finnrey all the way!
I already talked about this in my post on Finn, so I’m not going to belabour the point here.
I just want to reaffirm my commitment to Finnrey.