Since the 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the subject of Rey's parentage has been the most hotly debated among fans of the franchise. The sequel, 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, appeared to settle the matter by revealing that her parents were, in actuality, "no one." That non-twist was revealed to Rey as she explored the Force-rich underbelly of the First Jedi Temple on Ahch-To, and then corroborated by Kylo Ren. "They were filthy junk traders. Sold you off for drinking money. They're dead in a pauper's grave in the Jakku desert. You come from nothing."
Given that Kylo was then on-track to becoming the Galaxy's biggest threat, before Emperor Palpatine's return was heralded by the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer, some viewers doubted his honesty. Kylo, with a hand outstretched, was attempting to sway Rey over to his side: Why wouldn't he sweeten the deal by reminding her of her insignificance? Joining him could give her the sense of familial belonging she's craved since we met her. According to a fresh rumor, Kylo may have been offering Rey real familial belonging -- not as a potential Master or romantic partner, as we assumed, but rather as her half-brother. That's right: Rey is thought to be the daughter of Han Solo.
The rumor, which originated with the Making Star Wars fansite, elaborates that Han fathered Rey during a rocky patch in his relationship with Leia. Leia, it's said, left to hone her Force-powered Mary Poppins impression under Luke Skywalker, while Han returned to his roguish ways, and romanced an unknown woman. They eventually reunited without Leia fully completing her training and with Han, whether or not he knew it, becoming a father again. It's unclear whether he came clean to Leia, but the rumor goes onto to state that their son, Ben Solo, learned of his father's infidelity, and was shipped off to Uncle Luke when he didn't react well to the revelation.
Like any fan theory, which is all this is at the moment, we can only weigh up its legitimacy by analyzing how well it fits into established canon. And, like it or not, this one does track comfortably with everything we know so far about the Skywalker/Solo/Organa family and, by potential extension, Rey.
Without that new information, Rey inhabiting the same backwater planet as the Millennium Falcon, and then getting on like a house on fire with its ex-owner, could be viewed as tools for story momentum. The same could be said of Rey's immediate expertise as both a pilot and a mechanic. Within what could have been, conservatively, several hours or, more generously, a day or two, the curmudgeonly smuggler offered her a spot on his crew, which Rey politely declined. In retrospect, that could have been flagging the parallels between Rey and her real father.
Rey also bonded with Leia quickly, pulled into General Organa's arms following Han's death, despite having never met the woman before. Previously, that might have been explained as two Force-sensitive women bonded by shared grief. If Rey is actually Han's daughter, Leia could be subliminally drawn to her as one of the remaining fragments of him. It's possible, given she also subliminally sensed Luke was her brother before he told her, that part of Leia could have already accepted the truth about Rey.
That brings us to the most uncomfortable aspect of this rumor. The Last Jedi brought the subtextual sexual tension that Reylo shippers clung onto in The Force Awakens into the foreground, facilitated by late-night, shirtless psychic calls, illicit hand-touching and Kylo's pseudo-romantic plea that Rey becomes his dark queen: "You're nothing. But not to me." If their attraction turns out to be that of estranged siblings, it will mirror -- almost perfectly -- the incestuous overtones of Luke and Leia's estranged relationship in the original trilogy. And if we've learned anything from Star Wars, it's that the franchise is obsessed with parallels.
There's certainly fruit for The Rise of Skywalker to grow from these seeds. Would the truth of Kylo and Rey's kinship bring them closer together once more, reopening the possibility of a redemption arc for Kylo? Or, would it push them even further apart with the realization that Rey witnessed her father's murder at the hands of her half-brother? Regardless of how this possible reveal might reshape the series' relationships, it could have a negative effect on the franchise's already-fractured fandom.
After deeply divided opinion about Episode VIII ripped the community asunder, a lot of fans would likely view this twist as a regressive move, overturning the bold, new direction teased by The Last Jedi. Others, particularly those who felt isolated by this same bold, new direction, will likely welcome it as necessary course correction to steer Star Wars back into familiar territory: that the fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of one extended family. Then again, reinforcing once and for all that Rey has no ties to an existing "legacy" heritage, which Episode IX could well do if this rumor proves unfounded, may have the same effect. At this point, there's virtually no crowd-pleasing trick that J.J. Abrams could pull.
Whichever camp you fall into in regard to Rey's parentage, giving the trilogy's heroine the baggage of a famous family is undoubtedly the safest (read: least interesting) thing that Lucasfilm could do. Star Wars is entrenched in the tropes of fairy stories -- the eternal struggle between good and evil, Chosen One heroes, knights and princesses, etc., so in some ways, attaching Rey's importance to a special lineage honors this tradition.
On the other hand, this reveal would contravene the series' other conflicting, but more empowering, message, that anyone -- even a poor farm boy gazing up at the stars -- can be special.
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 opens Dec. 20.