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Let’s Speculate Wildly: Rey’s Family History Might Not Even Be That Important

Entertainment Weekly recently had a big issue covering The Last Jedi, and in that issue, they describe a chat with the film’s director, Rian Johnson. In that chat, they discuss Rey’s parentage, which has been a hot topic of debate since The Force Awakens landed in 2015.

Right off the bat: they don’t spoil this major plot point, obviously, but they do a pretty good job of talking around the debate, mostly focusing on why something like this is important to both Rey and the Star Wars universe as a whole. Johnson said, “To me, it’s important insofar as it’s important to her. And I think it’s important to her in terms of what is her place in all of this? What’s going to define her in this story? She was told in the last movie that the answer’s not in the past; it’s looking forward. But she’s showing up on this island to talk to this hero from the past.” That’s some important characterization to consider, because remember: Rey was more or less patiently waiting for her parents (or guardians or whoever) to come back for her on Jakku. By all accounts, she had been waiting there for just about her entire life, and she effectively had her life put on hold as she tried to protect that flickering hope that she’d find out where she’s going by finding out what’s in her past.

In a way, that seems to be what The Last Jedi will be about. Johnson continued, “You can be told [‘the answer’s not in the past’], but I think she still has a lingering hope that she’s going to find the thing that’s going to say: This is where you belong. This is where you are. I think she still holds onto the thought that where she comes from will help define where she’s going.” And that’s where she is exactly: she’s diving into the past, hand-delivering Luke Skywalker’s own lightsaber to him (thus making him face his own past, too). At the end of The Force Awakens, Rey is looking for a future amongst a suddenly much larger, much more dangerous universe, and sometimes the best way to go about figuring out your future is by digging into history.

I want to point out that I’m hesitating to say “digging into her history,” because while many people believe that Skywalker is her history (i.e., her father), I’m not so sure I buy into that theory. As I’ve said before, I’m a firm believer in the “Rey is a Kenobi” theory, and I still stand by that. Daisy Ridley herself chimed in on the importance of the familial debate, too, saying that the answer to this question that we’re all searching for actually won’t matter that much. It won’t be too much of a paradigm shift for the character, it seems, but it’s still important to Rey, obviously. She explained, “Yes, it would potentially change her mind, or at least give her a little bit more peace in moving forward. But ultimately what’s coming is coming, and whatever abilities she has are there. So, personally, I think it’s less important than even she may think.”

Ridley also provided a bit of an eerie warning, saying that The Last Jedi will essentially be about gray areas, and that nobody falls cleanly into “good” or “bad” categories. She also shared some heavy disclaimers with that explanation. “What’s wonderful is it’s not so cut and dry, who’s good and who’s bad and that’s not me saying, ‘Oh, my God, some people are gonna go bad,'” she said. “There’s always room for bad people to make good decisions and vice versa. Again, that could be nothing to do with your parents and it could be everything to do with your parents.”

I’ve been kind of tending to my own pet theory, which you may or may not have heard me mention in one of our TMS subscriber live chats, which is that this entire trilogy revolves around Rey and her relationship with the Force, specifically Kylo Ren. No, I’m not shipping the two (for so many reasons), but my totally left field theory says that it will ultimately be up to Rey to save Kylo Ren, and to do so, she’ll have to “fall” from being a Jedi. In other words, she’ll have to forsake the light side of the Force in order to find a way to “dive in” and save Kylo not only from Snoke, but from himself. Kylo’s entire arc is about him resisting the pull of the light side of the Force, which is exactly the opposite of Anakin’s own struggles before his legendary fall. But where Anakin had Obi-Wan Kenobi to turn to for guidance, I think Kylo may ultimately turn to Rey.

The bit that Ridley says about how it might not matter at all to Rey who her parents are is somewhat telling. I can imagine Rey finding out her parents descended from Kenobi, who considered himself responsible for failing Anakin—and thus the Jedi as a whole—and resolving to herself that this doesn’t matter, that his failure won’t affect her future and what she chooses to do with it. Such a revelation may have an earth-shattering effect on anybody else (imagine if you found out you were a Kenobi in this universe), but it would speak volumes about Rey and her hard-earned independence that she can buck that history and focus on carrying out her own destiny, her own story, guided by her very own hand.

Moreover, Kenobi’s near-fanatical adherence to the Jedi Code would stand in stark contrast to Rey’s possible own “fall” from the light side of the Force. At the heart of my pet theory is this wild assumption: that this very destiny that she’s carrying out will call for her to do something evil, something nigh unforgiveable, all for the purpose of illustrating this “fall.” My guess is that The Last Jedi ends with Rey performing such an act, possibly as a twist, leaving us, as an audience, in suspense, waiting for the next episode.

I should mention (if it wasn’t already clear) this is some wild-ass speculation. I’m just shooting from the hip, here. All I know is that I’m going to have a lot of fun finding out what actually happened later this year, and who knows, maybe I’ll retweet this story with an “I told you so!” But then again, chances are just as likely that I’ll quietly sweep this under the carpet and not want to talk about it again.

(image: Lucasfilm/Entertainment Weekly)

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