Chris Terrio, co-writer of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker recently said the final film in the Skywalker Saga will center on two key questions: Who is Rey, and how strong is the Force? Both questions have seemingly been answered in the past. Rey is a juggernaut Jedi orphan, and the Force is "an energy field created by all living things." However, because both of those questions seem to be connected in the mind of The Rise of Skywalker writers, maybe it's time to examine them together.
As has been discussed before, the character that most strikingly parallels Rey's origins is none other than Anakin Skywalker. They're both desert-dwellers, feisty despite deprived upbringings and incredibly talented with machines and the Force (and in a universe where most machines, with the exception of some droids, are metaphorically associated with the dark side, that's no small matter). Both characters had trouble integrating into the Jedi order because of the mistrust their power provoked in their masters, both fell in love with powerful individuals that were socially above their station, and just in case all of these beats didn't drive the point home, J.J. Abrams made sure that Rey's lightsaber was Anakin's.
There are two very important differences between Rey and Anakin, though. The first is that Rey is a woman. The second, which may ultimately prove to be a narrative contrivance, is that Rey's parents sold her for drinking money. Meanwhile Anakin's mother, Shmi, was loving, caring and only let her son go to ensure that he would have a better life.
Rey is so scarred by her early abandonment that it becomes an important part of her character development and arc in the first two Star Wars sequel films. Yet, when one thinks about it from the cold, ruthless perspective of a mystery-box lover (J.J. Abrams, we are looking at you) the orphan trope is also an extremely convenient device. It could distract from the idea that Rey might be the Force's way to balance the disaster that Anakin Skywalker unleashed in the Galaxy when he fell to the dark side.
This doesn't deny the fact that Rey was abandoned, but if her parents were junk trader drunks that were leading a life that had no place for a child, but then found themselves pregnant by the Force... Well, that kind of explains their extreme callousness towards their little one, as well as Rey's extreme survival skills.
In the many shots of Niima Outpost, we don't see another child; in the novelization of The Force Awakens, only one is mentioned and she is forced to stay within the safe confines of her parents' ship. If Tatooine was a dying desert planet, Jakku has already perished, and the only other children mentioned in canon were terrifying First Order child soldiers marked to kill and die. By any standards, a child would die on her own there... and yet Rey thrived as much as one could on Jakku.
But why would the Force need to create The Chosen One 2.0? And shouldn't that person have been a Skywalker, like many, from Luke to Snoke, expected?
Well, yes and no. J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson said that Rey and Ben are two halves of the same protagonist. So maybe we should analyze their roles through this filter. Ben Solo's obsession with Darth Vader marks him as the heir of that darker side, and from the Amidala and Organa families, he also gets the royal bloodline and the political power and temptation that might come with it.
Rey is the part that Anakin choked, and Vader killed -- the talented desert child that found strength in vulnerability, that loved his mother dearly, and that tried to pick up the first pretty girl that walked into his sweatshop. The kid that went out of his way to help strangers in distress only for the reward of piloting a cool ship really fast.
Ben Solo accuses Rey is looking for her parents in everyone. However, she's not only trying to cope with her own abandonment issues, she's also doing everything that Anakin was forbidden from doing the moment he left Tatooine. She's hungry for real human connection, and she's not afraid to show it. So even though she becomes deeply attached to Ben Solo in The Last Jedi, she believes severing her ties to the Resistance by letting them die would be an unforgivable crime.
Kylo Ren and Rey's push and pull over Anakin's lightsaber at the end of The Last Jedi also mimics Anakin and Padmé's last fight, where she ended up unconscious after she refused to join him and he choked her with The Force. In The Last Jedi, it's Rey who wakes up first, makes sure that Kylo is still breathing and then leaves, more determined than ever to do what's right instead of what would make her powerful. Where Anakin went left, Rey goes right.
Rey's next challenge is looming on the horizon of The Rise of Skywalker's trailer: Emperor Palpatine, back from the dead and, as always, keenly interested in powerful Force babies. Rey already heard his voice in her head coaxing her to kill Kylo Ren after Starkiller base imploded, which implies that Sheev is done with the Skywalker boys and looking for a new minion.
Rey's vulnerability will be in her connection to the people that surround her, her desire to keep them safe and, to a lesser degree, to feel loved in return. Her pull to the dark side and her powerful rage come from the same source as Anakin's greatest fears.
Rey, however, is surrounded by people that are emotionally smarter than the Jedi ever were. They have fallen and gotten back up a number of times, giving them perspective and making them less judgmental. For instance, Finn's, Poe's and Leia's reaction to the reveal that Rey and Ben Solo are attached was much more measured than the Jedi's dramatically over the top judgment in the time of Anakin. Maybe this is what the Force intended: to have a Chosen One that can soar high, but that is also grounded by everyone around them instead of isolated, confused and vulnerable. After all, this is the full Obi-Wan quote:
"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power.
It's an energy field created by all living things.
It surrounds us and penetrates us.
It binds the galaxy together."
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, Matt Smith, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives on Dec. 20.