The debut of the teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX, which we can now refer to as The Rise of Skywalker, treated fans to everything from the return of Billy Dee Williams to Lando Carlrissian to the eerie laughter of Emperor Palpatine. Through it all, however, our eyes were drawn to a familiar yet strikingly different weapon wielded with impressive confidence by Rey, which confirms what a leaked poster suggested: Daisy Ridley's Rey may now wield a white lightsaber.
That reveal would be a landmark moment in Star Wars history. The film's have depicted blue, green, red and even purple lightsabers, but never white.
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The symbolic weight that carries won't be lost on anyone who's kept up with Star Wars' expansive universe. But even for those who haven't, the color holds connotations of peace, passivity, neutrality, and -- in Japanese culture, from which George Lucas drew so much inspiration -- traditional funeral attire.
In that respect, if her lightsaber is indeed white, Rey's choice to pair her new blade with white robes could be a way to both mourn the passing of her Master, Luke Skywalker, and to honor his legacy. Because, whether or not she knows it, it's a wardrobe choice that harks back to Luke's A New Hope days, completing the cyclical history that Star Wars has been unable to escape over the course of nine films.
Ridley confirmed at Friday at Star Wars Celebration Chicago that "Luke's lightsaber lives," implying the one she now holds was indeed forged from the shattered remains of Luke's, which was in turn inherited from his father, Anakin; a history that also drew Kylo Ren to try and pry it from her hands on two occasions. He was unsuccessful , with the iconic weapon continually identifying Rey as its true holder.
If that's the case, then how was Rey able to create this potential new shade? The answer could lie in Star Wars Rebels. In the animated series, Ahsoka Tano, a former Jedi padawan, got her hands on a pair of red kyber crystals, the color traditionally chosen by Sith to power their weapons. Her decision to swipe them from their owner -- whom she killed -- was driven by an impulse she couldn't quite describe, much like the way Rey and Luke's lightsaber seems to call out.
After some study, Ahsoka determined the method used by the Sith to create their distinctive red blades involves "bleeding" all of their negative feelings into the crystals, painting them with screaming, scarlet pain. In the hands of their new owner, these kyber crystals were healed -- a process of purification using the Light side of the Force that drains all of the red away, leaving only white behind. Ahsoka went on to face off against Darth Vader, her former tutor, using her uniquely hued blades against his red one.
Rebels co-creator Dave Filoni has stated white blades reflect Ahsoka's status as neither Sith nor Jedi. In other words, she's a Force user without a political or religious agenda controlling her actions. By that logic, Rey choosing this color for her own saber would be a perfect actualization of the same idea seeded by Luke in The Last Jedi: that the Force is out of balance under either a dominant Sith or Jedi contingent.
Now, as many commenters have noted, there does still appear to be a blue hue in Rey's lightsaber, but it has also become decidedly less blue, particularly under Rey's possession since The Force Awakens. Is that simply a design choice or perhaps the effect of different backgrounds making the blue pop more or less? Possible. Could it also be a subtle nod to Rey's character progression and the overall message of bringing a new purity to The Force? Just as possible. Perhaps the process of purification is simply not as immediate as the bleeding of a Sith saber; after all, while wounds may gush red quickly, healing scars turn white over time. Don't forget, too, that Ahsoka had much more training in The Force, so her process may have been more active, while Rey's could be more passive, affecting the transition differently.
In any case, if the saber is turning white, impartiality could be confirmed as Rey's true destiny, rather than the formation of a new Jedi Order. The Rise of Skywalker sounds deceptively like a step backward, however, as no one Skywalker is referred to here. It's more likely to be about the Skywalker ideology that will become Luke's true legacy -- one that values the Force as the natural, neutral energy it always was.
As plausible as this is, you might wonder how Rey could mimic Ahsoka's method without having any kyber crystals at hand, a functioning lightsaber or any basic lightsaber-making knowledge. But, she actually has access to both.
As we saw at the end of The Last Jedi, Rey made off with the Sacred Texts that Luke thought he'd burned. And while Ridley, when asked at the Episode IX panel, was extremely coy about how much reading time her character has had, we're confident she at least got to the "Build Your Own Lightsaber" chapter fairly quickly. What's a Force user without their signature weapon, after all?
As for a power source, the crown jewel of this theory comes from The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary, which reveals in one illustration that the "recovered Jedi crusader pendant" around Luke's neck also contained a "trophy made from fragmented Sith lightsaber crystal." That crystal could only have been taken from his father's weapon, an important Skywalker family heirloom that -- along with the Texts -- could very well have been passed into Rey's possession.
And wouldn't it be so fitting for Rey, Luke's last student, to find a way to purify Anakin's old lightsaber blade and wash away the last remnants of his regrettable Sith years? It would certainly send a powerful message to his Vader-worshipping grandson who, from what we see in the teaser trailer, is still very much in the red.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives Dec. 20.