The Power of ‘Just Rey’

Now, the Internet has been swirling with rumours about Rey’s parentage basically from the moment that we got our first glimpse of her. The release of The Force Awakens didn’t do anything to abate the swell of rumours but two camps seem to have solidified: Rey Solo and Rey Skywalker. Then there’s the stubborn support for Rey Kenobi and those who think she may be the offspring of the Emperor. I’m going to give a different theory a try and that’s the idea that Rey is just Rey. I’ll be exploring the consequences that this choice would have both within the Star Wars universe and outside of it.

Let’s go back to what Kathleen Kennedy said last year:

“The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga,” she explains. “The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story. The Anthology films offer opportunities to explore fresh characters, new storylines and a variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe.” – THR

When I first read this I assumed what everyone assumed which was that the Saga films focus on the Skywalker family and its troubles and trials. A couple of great memes were spawned from this, but looking at the quote again a different interpretation came to me. What Kennedy actually says is that all the upcoming Saga films will continue the generational story of the family saga, i.e. the form will be the same, each trilogy will follow a new generation which deals with some of the fall-out from the previous generations’ actions. It is also the Skywalker family saga which is the focus of Star Wars and The Force Awakens made that really clear. What happened in the Original and Prequel trilogies has become the stuff of legend but all the young people know the stories. Kylo Ren is obsessed with his grandfather’s legacy, shaping himself into  a next generation copy. So, more than ever, Star Wars and the Skywalkers are at the centre of a Star Wars film. As such, I think we could have a non-Skywalker Rey in the Sequels without Kennedy perjuring herself.

Before getting into why Rey might be more interesting and better of not being a Skywalker or Solo, apart from the tragic family tradition of someone losing a limb and most of their loved ones, I want to spend a quick moment to discuss some of the consequences for The Force Awakens‘ story if Rey does turn out to be either a Skywalker or a Solo. Throughout the film it seemed that there were little hints that Han Solo might know Rey and yet for me these moments felt like a recognition in a different way. Although we canonically don’t know a lot about Han’s origins it is probably fair to say that the solitude and hardship of Rey’s life can’t be completely unfamiliar to him. However, if he recognizes her because she’s his daughter it problematises their whole relationship. The same goes for Leia’s attitude towards Rey. Although they don’t see each other untilt he end of the film, she definitely hears about her and it is hinted that Han has talked to her about Rey. However, she is overly focused on the destruction of Starkiller Base and on getting her son back. And that is where the real crux lies for me. The storyline for Leia and Han very much centres around their son and their desire to get him back to the Light and back into their family. If Rey was also their daughter it would feel incredibly cruel to leave her alone on Jakku and ignore her need while being so upset about your son. It would undo a lot of the work that Star Wars has just done to represent a universe in which gender isn’t an issue.

Similarly, there would be issues with Rey being a Skywalker. Although Mara Jade will never be forgotten, Luke Skywalker does not, yet, have a wife according to the canon. That would be a first thing that would have to be resolved and there would be an gap in Star Wars storytelling that would have to be filled in in order to make this all fit. And then there’s what Maz Kanata said to Rey :

“Dear child, I see your eyes – you already know the truth. Whomever you are waiting for on Jakku, they’re never coming back” Rey cries “but, there’s someone who still could”

According to Maz, Rey’s future does not lie in her past and her parents will not be a part of her future. But the person who is in her future and that is, by her own admission, Luke Skywalker. Although I can see that there is perhaps a hint here that Luke was once a part of her life and could therefore come back, her parents, the people she has been waiting for on Jakku, are not coming back. The fact these two things are so clearly split makes it rather clear to me that Luke couldn’t be her father unless this was shoddy script-writing. It does make me hope, however, that we’ll get a look at how Luke may have featured in Rey’s life before.

And now let me get to why I’m slightly passionate about ‘just Rey’. We have all grown up with the stories of Jedi, we have all imagined what it would be like to be one of them, to play a role in bringing down an Empire and changing your future. As such, we are all in Rey’s position (and Finn’s admittedly). Especially for a whole generation of young girls she is an amazing entrance into this brilliant universe. So how amazing would it be if she was indeed  just herself? Not part of a big legacy but a girl who finds herself in the middle of this whirlwind, meeting legends, fighting villains and affecting the course of the future. What happens with massive universes and franchises such as this is that everything and everyone has to be related. For the sequel we need the child of the protagonist of the original, a reboot needs to be linked to an original by some family link and in massive tie-ins like Marvel or DC there is no way everyone is not somehow linked and related. Although exciting when well done, there is not a lot of place for fresh blood, new faces and a character for the audience. In the way that Finn doesn’t have to be related to Lando Calrissian in order to be “allowed” into Star Wars, so I don’t think Rey has to be either a Skywalker or a Solo to have a place in the Sequels. We already have a Skywalker descendant in the Sequels and that is Ben/Kylo Ren. And with the role he had in The Force Awakens it is clear that his story is intrinsically linked to that of Finn and Rey.

Rey as ‘just Rey’ also allows her to form her own destiny without having to step into the shoes of those that have gone before. As The Force Awakens already shows, she finds independent and unexpected ways through the story, discovering the Force in ways that some have found odd and I see as incredibly natural. Although a part of me would love for the Skywalker legacy to now fall on the shoulders of a woman, part of me is even more excited to see a woman step into a galaxy in her own right, being her own person. I have no idea how the Star Wars Story Group will take this ahead but there are a lot of different options out there right about now.

What is your favourite origin-theory for Rey? And what do you think of ‘just Rey’?

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3 thoughts on “The Power of ‘Just Rey’

  1. Hear Hear! I’ve had about enough of “Rey is Luke’s daughter” “Snoke is Plagueis” and more than enough of “Darth Jar Jar”. I can’t imagine what would be so completely terrible about these people being their own characters, hitherto unconnected to anyone from the past.

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