WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now.
Since the 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of — if not, the — biggest mysteries surrounding the new trilogy has been Rey’s parentage. Who exactly is our new hero? Where did she come from? What’s her place in franchise mythology? The Last Jedi provides answers to most of those burning questions, even if they’re not the ones fans expected — or want to hear.
Much of the speculation about Rey’s parents has been fueled by the raw, untapped power displayed in The Force Awakens. Eager theorists reasoned that someone so strong with the Force had to have an established Jedi lineage or Force-rich bloodline. A common belief was that she would be revealed as an abandoned Skywalker child, either a daughter that Luke had marooned on Jakku following his failure to prevent Ben Solo from becoming Kylo Ren, or perhaps Kylo’s secret sister. Or else she’d be an estranged Kenobi or a distant relative of a Sith Lord.
It’s a question that has plagued Rey, too. In The Last Jedi, we get a tantalizing but frustratingly confusing glimpse of the answer when she disobediently journeys to the source of darkness at the first Jedi temple on Ahch-To. When confronted by a mystical mirrored wall, she asks to see her parents. Two shadowy figures appear and move toward her from the other side; ultimately, however, all we see is Rey’s reflection. It’s not until later on, after she and Kylo physically reunite on Supreme Lord Snoke’s ship, that we finally — finally! — hear the answer. And … it’s a bit anticlimactic.
Rey came from nowhere and from nobody of importance in the Star Wars pantheon. Her parents were junkers from Jakku who traded their daughter for a one-way ticket off the planet. That’s it, no illustrious or noble bloodline; no special heritage.
However, because the debate surrounding this subject has been so heated for so long, and, because that revelation comes from Kylo Ren, fans will likely remain skeptical about the legitimacy of this non-origin story. The hard truth for any disappointed franchise devotees is that Kylo didn’t lie to Rey. If he did, Rey would know because, as mentioned earlier, she’s seen the truth for herself on Ahch-To: Rey is special because she’s Rey, not because of who her parents are or were. Kylo gives voice to knowledge she’s struggling to come to terms with.
This isn’t something that fans — or Rey — should feel cheated or disappointed by. If you want to continue comparing the new trilogy to the original, there’s a clear parallel between The Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi: Both Luke and Rey have to come to terms with seismic revelations, as do we as an audience. The revelation in Empire that Luke is the son of Darth Vader, the central villain of the story, rather than a hero, is one of cinema’s most iconic plot twists. What The Last Jedi does is subvert a Star Wars-savvy audience’s expectations. The revelation about Rey’s parentage is that there is no revelation, which, strangely, is a revelation in of itself. It’s also something that’s totally plausible within the Star Wars canon. After all, Anakin Skywalker was an enslaved, impoverished child of seemingly no importance when Qui-Gon Jinn discovered him in The Phantom Menace.
Although she may not be aware of it yet, the fact that Rey is a “nobody” arguably strengthens her character. Unlike Kylo, who feels inescapably “torn apart” by the pull between light and dark in his family tree, Rey is free to forge her own legacy on her own terms. The Force Awakens was accused of being too much of a rehash of what we’ve seen before, but with the truth about Rey’s parents finally out, The Last Jedi boldly takes the franchise into a new galaxy of possibilities.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. The film is in theaters worldwide.
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