Disney is in the homestretch now when it comes to the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And that means the House of Mouse is shifting the promo barrage of the usually secretive movie franchise into high gear. Accordingly, on top of the TV spots and new images we got yesterday, both writer/director JJ Abrams and star Daisy Ridley have also been doing the press rounds, and both touched on the latter’s character of Rey.
Across both of the opening two chapters of this new Star Wars trilogy, one of the most divisive aspects of Rey has been her surprisingly prodigious skill with the Force. After The Force Awakens, some fans suspected that this was due to her secretly being the offspring of legendary a Force user like Luke Skywalker. However, in The Last Jedi, that theory was seemingly blown out of the water when Kylo Ren told Rey that her parents were nothing more than “filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money.”
Personally, I’ve actually always liked this approach, as it means that anybody in the galaxy can be special, not just the members of a single family. Not everybody was happy with this answer though, and that apparently includes Rey herself, as Ridley told Entertainment Weekly recently:
The parents thing is not satisfied — for her and for the audience. That’s something she’s still trying to figure out — where does she come from? It’s not that she doesn’t believe [Kylo’s answer], but she feels there’s more to the story. And she needs to figure out what’s come before so she can figure out what to do next.
JJ Abrams, who is returning to direct/co-write The Rise of Skywalker after kicking this trilogy off with The Force Awakens, has previously been quite vocal about the fact that he doesn’t plan to contradict anything filmmaker Rian Johnson did on The Last Jedi. So what does that mean for Rey, then? Is she just a nobody or is there more to her that Kylo Ren just didn’t know about? Abrams definitely appeared to be hinting at the latter when asked about Rey’s preternatural Force gifts during an interview with Rolling Stone.
Yeah, spooky, right? It’s a fair point. It’s not an accident. The idea was to tell a tale of a young woman who was innately powerful, innately moral, innately good, but also struggling with her place in the world and forced to fend for herself in every way. As exciting as it was to get to play in the Star Wars universe, it was this young woman that I felt oddly compelled to get to know.
So what could be the source of Rey’s abilities? I would be willing to bet money that she has no link to the Skywalker lineage at all as that would just be the laziest option. One fan theory that was spawned in the wake of The Force Awakens was that she was somehow a clone of the dead Emperor Palpatine, the theory pulling inspiration from one of the most famous story arcs in the now non-canon Expanded Universe material. That theory got a massive jolt of potential authenticity when the surprise reveal was made that Palpatine would somehow be back in The Rise of Skywalker in some form.
Now as some of you may recall, when originally announced, it had been Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow who had been tapped to follow Abrams and Johnson to helm the closing chapter of this trilogy. Trevorrow was unceremoniously removed from the project for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear, paving the way for Abrams’ return. Whatever Trevorrow had planned, enough of it was kept around for him and writing partner Derek Connolly to earn a writing credit on The Rise of Skywalker (“I’m grateful to JJ [Abrams] for embracing some of our ideas”). But Palpatine’s return? That was all Abrams, as Trevorrow told Empire.
Bringing back the Emperor was an idea JJ brought to the table when he came on board. It’s honestly something I never considered. I commend him for it. This was a tough story to unlock, and he found the key.
So could Abrams have brought Palpatine back because the old Emperor was the key, as Trevorrow puts it, to Rey’s story? Or, as Star Wars Rebels’ Freddie Prinze Jr. recently put it so magnificently (with a whole lot of swearing), IT’S ALL JUST THE FORCE RESTORING BALANCE!
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases in cinemas worldwide on 20 December.
Last Updated: November 26, 2019