Many Star Wars fans are still holding out hope the true identities of Rey’s parents are yet to be revealed. But does she really need to come from some famous lineage?
Since the first time a certain desert scavenger popped up in The Force Awakens‘ teaser trailer, the Star Wars fandom has burned with a desperate need to know who Rey’s parents are. Even in the wake of The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren’s apparent revelation that they were nobodies who sold her for drinking money has hardly slowed the endless theorizing.
Was Kylo just lying to manipulate her? Are the real identities of Rey’s parents still unrevealed? Will we finally find out in The Rise of Skywalker who they really are?
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I hope not. I hope she really is a nobody, descended from a long line of nobodies who have never once saved the galaxy. Here’s why.
It’s what Rey’s character arc needs
Rey’s entire arc has been about learning to look forward, not back. When we first meet her, she’s hesitant to leave Jakku, expecting (or at least hoping) that her parents will come back for her any day now. Though Maz Kanata tells her, “The belonging you seek is not behind you; it is ahead,” she still longs to know her past.
When she ventures into the cave on Ahch-to, she seeks that elusive truth but receives no definite answer. To me, that vision, with its endless funhouse mirror array of Reys, was a warning that there was nothing to be gained by looking back.
Then she confronts Kylo Ren, who tells her that her parents were nobodies. While the revelation may have crushed her at first, it left her finally free from the burden of seeking out her past so she could concentrate on the future. Rey could at last “let the past die.”
In the final chapter, continuing to drag out the mystery of her parentage would only hinder that valuable character development, leaving her stagnated and stunted. A further search for Rey’s parents’ identities would do a disservice to both Rey herself and the audience.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Photo: David James..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
It’s what the saga needs
Rey’s vision in the cave was more than a personal admonition against living in the past. You can also see it as a meta-commentary on the franchise at large. When I saw the endless repetitions of Rey, I saw a representation of the repetitive tropes to which Star Wars is sometimes prone.
In 1980, the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father must have been shocking. But now it’s been parodied and mimicked so many times in so many stories the classic parentage reveal is no longer meaningful.
By now, we’ve been trained to expect something like it, which is why so many fans were disappointed when there wasn’t one. But the feelings of those who felt “disrespected” aside, we’re better off blazing new territory instead of relying on what we’ve already seen ad nauseam.
That doesn’t mean abandoning what Star Wars is about. The saga is and has always been the story of the Skywalkers. But that doesn’t mean it has to be merely the story of the Skywalker bloodline.
It’s so much bigger than that. It’s about the legacy of the Skywalker name itself, a legacy that is the story of the Jedi Order in microcosm: heroism, fall, suffering, redemption. Perhaps that’s what Episode IX’s titular “Rise” refers to: Rey coming into her own as heir to the galaxy’s most complicated legacy. That’s what Luke’s voiceover in the Rise of Skywalker trailer seems to suggest: “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now.”
That grand destiny is what makes Rey special, not her bloodline. In The Force Awakens, Rey introduces herself as “no one.” And yet she still proves herself worthy to carry the Skywalker lightsaber and save her friends.
That’s the message with which The Last Jedi leaves us, as one of the humble stable workers, inspired by tales of Luke’s heroism, stares out at the stars: You don’t have to be from some fancy magical space dynasty to save the galaxy. “No one” can do it just as well.
Find out if director J. J. Abrams agrees with me when Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters this December.