The sizzle reel for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that made waves at the D23 Expo finally debuted online this morning, depicting a sinister-looking Rey wrapped in a dark, hooded robe and wielding a red, double-bladed lightsaber that opens like a switchblade. That scene might herald her turn to the Dark Side, teased previously in the trailer of The Last Jedi, in which she was dressed in dark colors and held Kylo Ren’s distinctive crossguard lightsaber. Fans theorized at that time that Rey was being turned, but it turned out that she was attempting to attack Snoke by reaching for the only weapon available.
However, Rey’s appearance, expression and demeanor in The Rise of Skywalker's sneak peek aren't quite ... right. While her face is usually an open book, this "Dark Rey" is frozen in a near-grin, and too elaborately dressed for the character we know. She looks like someone’s fantasy, or rather nightmare. But whose? Kylo’s, of course.
Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams has repeatedly said Kylo and Rey are two parts of the same protagonist. With that perspective, it would be logical that if Kylo had to confront his darkest fear, similar to Luke’s cave vision in The Empire Strikes Back and Rey’s vision in The Last Jedi, this might be what he would see.
The lighting of Dark Rey’s vision is washed in dark blue, just like the shot of Kylo Ren leaving the Silencer and walking through a snowy landscape, sword alight, and the shot of what looks like a snowy planet targeted by another Starkiller, or else a Death Star. That may suggest the three scenes take place at the same time and on the same planet, probably Kijimi.
The way Kylo walks toward something is purposeful and relatively slow; on the other hand, Dark Rey is poised inside a dark, stony place that resembles a cave. Remember Yoda’s advice for Luke to not bring his sword into the Dagobah cave, because he would be bringing conflict with him? That might be what's happening here.
If anything was made abundantly clear in The Last Jedi, it was that Kylo considered Rey his equal. He went so far as to propose her to rule the galaxy with him. That was a massive step up from his previous offer in The Force Awakens, in which he viewed her as his inferior, and offered to be her teacher. Rey rejected both. The Force struggle for Anakin’s lightsaber in The Last Jedi left both of them unconscious, with a broken weapon. Rey woke up first, took the two broken pieces of the lightsaber, and fled the scene to help her friends.
The logical progression of Rey’s growth, from Kylo's perspective, ends with her becoming stronger in the Force than he is, repairing Anakin’s lightsaber, defeating him and and then taking his place in the Dark Side.
Furthermore, Dark Rey’s physical appearance in the footage is reminiscent not only of the sinister, hooded Palpatine and Darth Maul, but also of the robes favored by Padmé Amidala in the prequel trilogy, and of Leia’s first appearance in A New Hope. Those are Kylo’s mother and grandmother, who wielded enormous political power (something that he might be struggling with now that he’s the Supreme Leader of the galaxy).
So, chances are that this eerie Dark Rey with an unlikely, but super-cool, red lightsaber is the physical manifestation of Kylo Ren’s conflict, and not the actual Rey jumping head-first into the Dark Side.
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.