Rey and The Force Awakens

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Rey, Finn, and BB-8 evading TIE fighters

Before I set out I would just like to state that I am not intending to do a long critique of The Force Awakens, as I will leave that for another time. I will touch on elements of the film but I will try to be brief. This article is more about Rey, who I think she is, and her place in the Star Wars universe. Please bear in mind this my own opinion and I could be horribly wrong about her. I’ll guess I’ll find out in just over a month…

Star Wars has been an influence on me for most of my life. It has chiefly been Star Wars, Tolkien’s works, and music that has kept me alive and in one piece all these years. So any new Star Wars release I take very seriously.  When George Lucas released the Prequels, fanboys were obviously hoping for a rehash of the Original Trilogy, and were disappointed when Lucas didn’t deliver on this. Lucas, instead, stuck to the story he wanted to tell , and good on him for doing so. It was Star Wars, but it was different, but it was still Star Wars. The trouble I had with The Force Awakens is that I felt J.J. Abrams decided to give the fanboys what they ultimately wanted and did a rehash of the Original Trilogy. No real original story, just elements of A New Hope with some of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi thrown in for good measure. When I saw it the first time it felt cold and calculated. I had no emotional response to it and it just didn’t feel like Star Wars to me, even with some lightsaber fights and X-Wings. There was also the frustration that thirty years on the galaxy was virtually still in the same mire that it was in at the end of Return of the Jedi. The fight that our heroes and the Rebel Alliance fought to make the galaxy a better place seemed to have come to nothing. All the main characters from the Original Trilogy seemed to be stuck in the same place. No one seemed to have moved on or were particularly happy for that matter. However, all this said, I found Rey quite an intriguing figure…

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So what do we know about Rey? She has been living on the desert planet Jakku since she was left there as a small child, around the age of five. All this time she’s been waiting for her “family” to return, and presumably take her with them. She has probably learned to survive on her own from a young age, scraping a living from scavenging parts from crashed Star Destroyers and other ships that were left there from a battle between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance around thirty years ago. She lives by herself in the remains of an Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armoured Transport) and seems fiercely independent. She doesn’t really know who her family is. It’s fair to say that she must have picked up skills needed to survive on her own living in such a hostile place. One thing that would have helped her is that quite obviously she is Force-attuned and, like Anakin Skywalker when he was younger and untrained, it may have helped her with picking up the useful skills that she needed. She fights well with a staff and so can defend herself from any would-be attackers. She has also learned how to drive/fly repulsorlift vehicles and starships. Presumably someone trained her, or there was some way she was able to learn to fly them. She is also, like Anakin and Luke Skywalker, a gifted mechanic. By the time The Force Awakens begins Rey is around 19 years of age, having been born 11 years after the Battle of Endor. Even though life is quite tough on Jakku, she is unwilling to leave as she is endlessly waiting for the people who left her there to return even though it’s been around fourteen years since that happened. Despite everything she’s encountered, she still has a good heart, even with life being quite hard and tough for her, and is willing to help others if their need is great.

There has been a criticism about Rey that she is a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is normally a female character (male versions can be called Gary Stu) who is good at everything they turn their hand to with no real explanation why they are good at these things, i.e. lacking in realism. The last part of that: no real explanation why they are good at these things, is the key to answering why Rey is a not a Mary Sue. Rey can fly the Millennium Falcon because she has already learned to fly starships. Rey can fight attackers off at Niima Outpost because she’s grown up in the harsh environment of Jakku and had to learn skills like that, otherwise she wouldn’t have survived. Both Anakin and Luke Skywalker also seemed unnaturally good at picking things up as well, I’ll talk more about this shortly, and as they were all latent Force-users at the beginning of the films that introduced them, I would suggest that maybe being Force-attuned allows you to have a greater edge at picking things up, especially if they’re dexterous type skills.

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Rey handing the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker

At this point I am going to openly nail my colours to the mast and declare that I think Rey is a Skywalker. In fact I am willing to go a step further and say Rey is the daughter of Luke Skywalker. I may be proven horribly wrong shortly, but I think my belief is justified.  Firstly the main Star Wars saga is about the fortunes of the Skywalker family. The Prequel Trilogy is about Anakin Skywalker turning to the dark side and the Original Trilogy is about Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi and turning Anakin back towards the light. It wouldn’t make much sense if the main character of (what I imagine will be called) the Sequel Trilogy isn’t a Skywalker as well.  Secondly, as mentioned before, Rey shares similar traits, such as mechanical aptitude, to both Anakin and Luke when they were younger. They are all good at flying starships, they are all good at fixing mechanical things, and the Force seems to come easily to them.  Thirdly, when Kylo Ren was interrogating  Rey he saw her vision: “You imagine an ocean. I see it. I see the island…” He seems to be describing where Luke is without realising it. Somehow she is visualising where Luke is, like they are connected in some way, though she doesn’t know it. Regarding the interrogation, when The Force Awakens was released Abrams talked about the scene in A New Hope where Leia is being interrogated by Darth Vader and how once you realise she is being interrogated by her own father it makes it creepier. He talked about this scene and yet there was also an interrogation scene in The Force Awakens between Kylo and Rey. Was he hinting that they were both related to one another in some way as well? If not, why start talking about that scene from A New Hope at all when you’ve just released a new movie? What was the relevance? Fourthly, when she reached with the Force for the lightsaber on Starkiller base it came to her rather than Kylo, who was also attempting to do the same thing, as though she has the stronger connection to it, which would make sense if she was the direct offspring of Luke. The lightsaber responded to her, not Kylo. As an aside, that lightsaber has to be a cursed weapon surely, considering what Anakin used it for… Lastly, R2-D2 wakes up at the Resistance Base when Rey gets there. I got the feeling Artoo was waiting for her to arrive so he could show her the path to Luke… Anyway, those are my reasons for arguing that Rey is Luke’s daughter.  Feel free to disagree or mention other things I may have missed.

Just over a month from now The Last Jedi will be released and the filmmakers have said that Rey’s parentage will be revealed, as well as the identity of Snoke (maybe) which has also been a source of speculation and rumour. There have been other theories about Rey, such as she is a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi, or that she is actually the real Chosen One, or she is a reincarnation of a powerful Force-user from another era. Beware that movie studios will sometimes send out false rumours to throw people off the scent. Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, has said that she thinks it’s obvious who Rey is related to and says there are clues in The Force Awakens. Part of me also hopes that Luke is her father for a completely different reason: that maybe Mara Jade is still in the Star Wars universe. She was one of the casualties when the Expanded Universe was erased from existence by Disney. Originally she worked for Emperor Palpatine, but she eventually married Luke and they had a child… Whatever is revealed, despite my misgivings about The Force Awakens, I like Rey and look forward to see what she gets up to in The Last Jedi, which I hope will be a more original film than it’s predecessor. It’s good to see a strong female character in what is often regarded as a series of movies that is mostly for males. And yet some of the most passionate Star Wars fans I know are other women…

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