A few weeks ago, the teaser trailer for Episode VIII hit the Internet and, I’ll be honest, I kind of lost it. In a good way, I promise. For those who missed it, here it is again:
One of the most interesting comments I heard about this trailer was that, awesome as it is, it really doesn’t tell us much. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of cool visuals and tricks with the audio, but aside from Luke’s final line, this really doesn’t tell us much about the plot or what to expect. I’m good with that. This is a teaser trailer, after all. We’ll hopefully get something more substantial in the coming months.
But the approach of this new movie has stirred up new questions and speculation about one of the mysteries from The Force Awakens, namely “Who are Rey’s parents?”
When we meet Rey on Jakku, she’s 19 years old (at least, that’s what Wikipedia says) and she’s apparently been living on that desert planet for most of her life. All she says about her family is that she knows they’ll be coming back to get her someday. Given her surprisingly intense connection and raw talent with the Force, it seems safe to assume that her folks (or at least one of them) has a similar talent.
But that just begs the question: who abandoned her on Jakku? Why would anyone think that leaving her in the care of that bloated scavenger, Unkar Plutt, would be a good idea? Why would someone with (presumably) Jedi training be so cold and cruel?
Who are Rey’s parents?
Well, a number of theories have popped up in the past couple of years, each one debated with some intensity. For example, people latched onto the idea that Rey’s mom was Jyn Erso before Rogue One released. I don’t think many people are holding to that theory anymore, but until the movie actually released, there was a fair amount of speculation that the two movies were connected through a familial bond.
So let’s talk about some of the more interesting theories, starting with the most obvious:
Rey is a Skywalker/Solo
There’s a certain amount of sense to this theory, at least on the surface. I remember reading sometime before Episode VII came out that the mainline Star Wars movies (the actual “episode” movies) would always be centered around the Skywalker clan and their adventures. Since Rey is a main character, it seemed entirely possible that she was a secret Skywalker, either the long-lost daughter of Han and Leia or Luke’s daughter. If it turned out that Rey was Kylo Ren’s long-lost sister, it would be reminiscent of the Legendary EU’s Jacen and Jaina Solo. Plus it would definitely keep the Star Wars legacy of creepy kinda-incest storylines going.
But I have my doubts. For starters, I really don’t think that Rey is Han and Leia’s daughter. If she was, you’d think that one or both of them would have figured it out at some point or another. “Hey, you kind of look like that girl we lost fourteen years ago!” While Rey may be looking to Han and Leia as replacements for the jerk parents who abandoned her on Jakku, I don’t think the Solos are those jerks. It just doesn’t feel right.
What about Luke, though? Could he have had a daughter and then dumped her on a desert planet? Well, maybe. Rey’s abandonment might have been prompted by Kylo Ren’s destruction of Luke’s new Jedi order. Luke, grieving the loss of his students and maybe out of a desire to protect her from her murderous cousin, dumps her on a planet like Tatooine and then sets off to find the earliest temples of the Jedi and…well, got distracted.
I have to admit, this one feels more right than the idea that Rey is Han and Leia’s kid. Rey’s journey definitely parallels Luke’s from the original trilogy and it would set up a great Empire-like moment for Rey. But again, I have to wonder, why wouldn’t Leia or Han figure out who Rey is? If Luke had a kid, you’d think his sister would know. Even if the two of them didn’t hang out that much after Return of the Jedi, you’d think he’d shoot her the Star Wars equivalent of an email and let her know, “Hey, I reproduced.”
So while it may be possible that Rey will turn out to be a Skywalker or a Solo, I’m not holding my breath for it. Not when there are more intriguing possibilities, like…
Rey is a Kenobi
This theory seems to be gaining a fair bit of traction. At some point, Obi-Wan had a kid, who then had a kid, and that kid happens to be Rey! The proponents of this theory point to details like Obi-Wan speaking Rey’s name in her vision after touching Luke’s lightsaber and the fact that there’s no stand-alone Obi-Wan movie in the works (meaning that Lucasfilm must be saving Obi-Wan for some reason).
In some ways, I like this theory. There’s a certain sense of symmetry to it (Luke, who first learned at Obi-Wan’s feet, becomes the teacher of Obi-Wan’s granddaughter), and it would be an interesting twist. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m not so certain that this is a good idea for two main reasons.
For starters, I have a hard time imagining that Obi-Wan, who cautioned Anakin so often against his attachment to Padme, would fall into the same predicament of having kids. I mean, he was there to watch Anakin’s fall into darkness. He saw the shattered aftermath of Padme’s broken heart. I find it very hard to believe that, after all that, he would turn around and say, “Hey, you know what I think would be a good idea? To do the exact same thing as Anakin!”
Plus we know that Obi-Wan takes the Jedi belief in avoiding those kinds of entanglements seriously. In the Clone Wars series, we meet the Duchess Satine of Mandalore:
Satine and Obi-Wan, it turns out, have history together. They knew each other when they were younger and Obi-Wan was just a padawan. And apparently, they developed a case of the mutual irresistibles for each other. However, due to Obi-Wan’s commitment to the Jedi way of life, he never gave in to his feelings of attraction for her. Yes, he wrestled with them, especially when the events of the Clone Wars brought the object of his affection back into his life, but he didn’t waver.
Now I suppose it’s possible that, while Obi-Wan was hiding out on Tatooine, he met someone and, spurred on by the aching sense of what-might-have-been about Satine, he had some sort of relationship with a woman that resulted in the birth of Rey’s mom or dad. A moment of weakness with far-reaching consequences. But the idea of Obi-Wan having a kid at some point goes against who his character is. We’d have to have a lot of explanation as to what happened and why for this to work.
And that’s why I’m hesitant to embrace this theory as well. As a storyteller, I’m wary of what this theory would do to the plot of the next movie. I mean, it would be cool to have an Empire-like moment for Rey: “No, Obi-Wan is your grandfather!” But once the initial shock of that twist wore off, the audiences would be left with a lot of questions: when did that happen? Who’s the mother? Why would Obi-Wan do something like that? And so on and so forth. It would effectively derail the plot for a little while and make it a bit more muddled than it has to be.
Besides, there’s one other possibility that occurred to me that I kind of like…
Rey is a Snoke
Hey, come back! It’ll make sense, I promise!
While I was musing about Rey’s parentage the other day, I had this crazy idea: what if it turns out that Rey is really the long-lost daughter of Supreme Leader Snoke? The dude is apparently a powerful Force user and his background is something of a cipher right now. And this would be the one option that would give Rey a true Empire-like moment, where she learns that the family she’s been longing for this entire time is really the biggest baddy she’s ever heard of? Given The Force Awakens‘s mirroring of A New Hope, this could keep that trend alive.
Plus I had this thought: why do we assume that Rey being left on Jakku is a response to Kylo Ren destroying Luke’s new Jedi? What if, instead, it’s the cause?
So this is what I’m thinking: after Return of the Jedi, Luke found himself with a daunting task of rebuilding a fallen order of Jedi, a task that could easily be seen as overwhelming. Let’s face it, while Luke was trained by one of the greatest Jedi masters ever (even if he does have a penchant for singing about seagulls), his abbreviated course of study was mostly focused on forging him into a weapon to overthrow the Sith. He has no access to the lost lore of the Jedi, no idea of the longstanding traditions or doctrines that should be instilled from the earliest days of training. And so, in an effort to complete his own education, Luke starts searching for guidance.
Enter Snoke. He’s a Force-sensitive individual, maybe a former padawan who survived the purge at the end of the Clone Wars. Or (and this would be the direction I’d want to go) he’s a former Imperial inquisitor whose job was to hunt down the last of the Jedi. He’s become jaded over what he did; he thought he was serving the greater good by rooting out the corruption of the Jedi, only he’s realized that the Sith weren’t much better. When he meets Luke, he sees an opportunity to build something new and better.
And at first, things go really well with this partnership. Snoke is able to help plug the holes in Luke’s knowledge and the two are able to start laying the foundation for a new Jedi order. But the cracks start to form immediately. Snoke can’t quite escape from his dark past. Maybe he starts dabbling in a philosophy similar to the Potentium from the old EU, one that believes that Force powers aren’t inherently good or evil but that the motivations of the wielder are what matters. Luke doesn’t agree with Snoke’s ideas. Worse, he sees his partner drifting farther and farther into his old, dark habits. And worst of all, Luke realizes that this could endanger Snoke’s daughter, a little girl named Rey.
Rey’s mother shares Luke’s concerns. It’s clear that Snoke is planning something evil and Rey is the key to his plans. So Luke and the mother hatch a desperate plan: Luke will keep Snoke distracted while Rey’s mom finds a quiet corner of the galaxy to hide the girl. This is only supposed to be a temporary arrangement, a last resort sort of thing. But Luke and the mother are desperate. They have to do something.
The plan works too well; Snoke flies into a rage and kills Rey’s mother and then leaves. Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t know where Rey has been hidden and so he tries to keep putting together the Jedi again. Only Snoke now has a new plan: he’s going to destroy what he and Luke have built together by corrupting Luke’s nephew, Ben Solo. The new Jedi are slaughtered by the Knights of Ren. Luke, faced with a series of disappointments and disasters, goes into hiding to see where and why he went so long. And Rey was trapped on Jakku.
Like I said, I kinda dig this idea. It would explain why Rey was abandoned for so long. And, originally, I figured that it helped explain a potential discrepancy, the fact that, if Rey and Kylo were roughly the same age (which I thought was the case, given Kylo’s temper tantrums), then Kylo would have had to have destroyed the Jedi when he was like five or six years old.
So what do I have to back up this theory? Absolutely nothing! I came up with this scenario out of my own head. And, truth be told, there’s plenty to contradict it. For example, I recently learned that Kylo Ren is supposed to be approximately ten years older than Rey. Not only that, but it sounds like Snoke is supposed to be some sort of dark alien figure (at least, that’s what Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath books are hinting from what I understand; I haven’t read the books yet), making it unlikely that he is Rey’s father.
So where does that really leave us?
Rey is a ?????
As of right now, we have no way of knowing for sure. And, in some ways, I’m okay with the ambiguity. As a matter of fact, I’d even be okay with it if Rey turned out to be the daughter of just some random individual. I’m not sure why her parentage is such a big deal.
Well, actually, I do have a good idea as to why: family drama has been a cornerstone of Star Wars storytelling in just about every movie. Darth Vader turns out to be Luke and Leia’s dad. Anakin Skywalker’s birth is shrouded in mystery or maybe is the product of an evil Sith Lord’s experiments. It’s only natural to assume that this new trilogy of films will include some sort of “I am your father” type of reveal.
Ultimately, though, we need to be careful that our own speculation doesn’t lead to disappointment. It’s entirely possible that we, in our geeky speculation, will come up with scenarios and stories that are much better than what will actually happen. We become so convinced that Rey’s parentage is one thing that, when it turns out that it’s another (or nothing all that special), we’ll wind up disappointed in what becomes canon. I mean, that’s part of the reason why the prequels were such a letdown when they were first released. Star Wars fans had had decades to build up what the newest entries were going to be. When it turned out to be…well, Jar Jar, it left us wanting more. By coming up with all these theories and ideas, we could be creating head canon that the new movie will never be able to match.
Still, it’s fun to speculate, isn’t it? All I know for sure is this: I’m looking forward to December to see what new details emerge.
Oh, and hey, in the meantime, if you enjoyed this article or you liked my crazy little scenario of Snoke being Rey’s long lost papa, do me a favor and head over to this article that I wrote a while back. I would love to be able to contribute more to the Star Wars universe than random speculative blog posts.
And while you’re at it, let me know what you think! Is Rey a Skywalker? A Kenobi? Something else entirely? Does it matter? Sound off in the comments below!