Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens – In Search of Rey’s Last Name (SPOILERS)

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The biggest topic people have been discussing in just over a month since the release of Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (TFA) is Rey’s heritage. I figured I would round up the best theories and the best evidence and we could get a better idea of where Rey comes from.

Rey, this is your life!

Luke Skywalker

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If you ask someone on the streets — because everyone on every street has seen TFA by now, right? — who Rey’s parents are, you’re likely to get some variation of this answer,

“Well, the obvious answer is that Luke is her father, but I’m leaning toward…”

The evidence that people will quote is ample, but it is incredibly fragile.

The first argument I encountered suggested that each trilogy has a protagonist that is a direct ancestor of the one before. In other words, the prequel trilogy (I-III) features Anakin Skywalker as its protagonist, the original trilogy (IV-VI) his son Luke Skywalker, and the sequel trilogy (VII-IX) his granddaughter by way of Luke, a young lady named Rey.

One crack in this particular theory is that it is not entirely clear that Anakin Skywalker is the protagonist of the prequel trilogy. It has often been cited as a weakness of Episodes I-III that George Lucas seemed to jump back and forth between Anakin and Obi-Wan in determining the protagonist of the series. In ethical terms, Obi-Wan Kenobi is certainly the hero, but a protagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be “good.” A YouTube series attempted to edit The Phantom Menace, et. al., into awesome movies, and the first edit suggested was to make Obi-Wan the protagonist but to make the story about Anakin’s fall. This is the prequel trilogy that we deserve, but it is not necessarily the prequel trilogy that Lucas intended. That said, a shadow of a doubt might be all we need when it comes to suggesting that Anakin is not the protagonist of I-III. If we don’t have to look to the protagonist for lineage, it is easy to find Anakin’s grandchild in TFA — we need look no further than Kylo Ren, Anakin’s grandson through Leia.*

The remaining reasons people believe Rey is Luke’s daughter center around parallels between Rey and Luke (and occasinally Anakin/Darth Vader) throughout the film. The most compelling of these from my perspective is the comparison of “Rey’s Theme” with “The Imperial March” (Vader’s unofficial theme) and “Binary Moon” (Luke’s unofficial theme). Redditor swissvale_nick was able to recite a handful of parallels between Rey and Luke only moments after watching TFA for the first time, including similarities between Rey’s speeder bike and Luke’s X-34, between her AT-AT home and the AT-AT that Luke brought down, between Rey’s rebel pilot helmet and Luke’s, and so on, and so forth.

The parallels aren’t terribly compelling, in my opinion. What they prove is not lineage but similarity in role. Some have argued that parallels between Han Solo and Finn suggest that Finn will be Han’s spiritual successor, but I don’t hear everyone suggesting that Finn is Han’s son.

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There is a theory that Han’s “wife” Sana Solo from Jason Aaron’s Star Wars comic book arc “Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon” (issues 8-12) might be Finn’s mother, but that whole relationship was dismissed as a grift in the last issue so the theory doesn’t have much in the way of legs to stand on.

Han Solo and Leia Organa

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“…but I’m leaning toward Han and Leia,” is probably the most common alternative to the Luke Skywalker theory.

Before TFA hit theaters, I avoided all news and rumor sites. I watched a couple trailers and that was it. The fact that there was a spherical droid and X-Wing fighters flying low over water was enough for me. If I had been scouring the web at that time, I suppose I would have heard some of the first rumors that Kylo Ren and Rey are both the children of Han Solo and Leia Organa.

In Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, Han and Leia had twin children named Jacen and Jaina. Both trained with Luke in the ways of The Force (as did their little brother Anakin, but that’s not important right now). Jacen later became Darth Caedus and Jaina ended up having to kill him.

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The parallels to Kylo Ren and Rey are pretty obvious. Moreover, now that Disney has taken over the Star Wars franchise, there have already been a couple of modified ideas from the old expanded universe incorporated into current canon. In Chewbacca #5, it is revealed that Chewie has a son back on Kashyyk, which reminds readers of Wookiee Jedi Lowbacca from Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta’s Young Jedi Knights. Starkiller base itself is strongly reminiscent of the Star Forge from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

The trouble with the comparison with the Solo twins is that Kylo Ren and Rey are almost certainly not twins. According to The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary — which Wookieepedia** cites as a canon reference book — suggests that Rey is 19-years-old whereas most sources (all non-canonical) suggest that Kylo Ren is nearly thirty. The “shadow of a doubt” is not as important for this theory as for the direct lineage theory above. What is more important is the fact that extra-canonical sources from the pre-Disney days do not dictate what happens in current Star Wars. The extended canon has always been plagued by questionable legitimacy, and yet when I watched TFA there were people whispering that Kylo Ren was Luke’s son Ben Skywalker (from Gregory Keyes’ duology Edge of Victory) even after it was revealed that he is definitely Han’s son Ben Solo. If the extended universe has any affect on future Star Wars canon it will be as a brainstorm not a blueprint.

The on-screen cues that Rey might be Han and Leia’s daughter are probably the best evidence of the claim. Han and Rey bond amazingly in the short time that they share together, Kylo Ren has a hefty interest in Rey, and the Leia/Rey hug has been cited by some as the scene that proves it all. It has been suggested that the Han and Leia theory of parentage was disproven at the get-go because Han left Leia following Kylo Ren’s massacre, but there is certainly room in the timeline of events for Rey’s birth. My favorite counter-argument is that Leia was pregnant with Rey when Han left her, and he never even knew that they’d had a second child together.

I tend to dismiss most of the #TeamLuke arguments because they work just as well for #TeamHanAndLeia’s case without realizing the fact that the #TeamHanAndLeia arguments tend to do the same for #TeamLuke. Rey’s chemistry with father figure Han might just be meant to invoke Luke and Han’s friendship from the original trilogy, Kylo Ren might know that Rey is his cousin and not his sister, and Leia’s embrace would be just as warm for her neice as for her own daughter under the same circumstances. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi

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It took a couple of weeks for the Case for Kenobi to hit the scenes, but when it did people started jumping all over the theory that Obi-Wan is Rey’s grandfather. This is despite the fact that the primary argument people are using is that Rey and Obi-Wan Kenobi are the only “good guys” with English accents.

My first problem with this evidence is that there is no reason to believe Rey has to be descended from “good guys” (see the next theory). Rey could be a Tarkin or a Dooku and I wouldn’t cry foul. Luke was the son of the most powerful Sith warrior in the universe. Why couldn’t Rey come from “bad” blood? My second problem is that accents are acquired by nurture, not nature. In other words, she would acquire an English accent because she is around people with English accents, not because she is genetically linked to someone with an English accent. I feel like the accent is bad evidence for what could turn out to be a really fruitful theory.

Better evidence comes in the form of voice-overs from both Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan, Episodes I-III) and Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan, Episodes IV-VI) during Rey’s lightsaber-induced flashback scene. This is likely because Obi-Wan was in custody of Anakin’s lightsaber during the time between Episodes III and IV, possibly longer than Anakin and Luke’s tenure combined.***

To admit this as evidence, we would have to believe that Obi-Wan’s voice was some sort of memory (actual or genetic) that was activated by the lightsaber. I am more convinced that Rey heard Obi-Wan’s voice because the old Jedi was in possession of this lightsaber when he underwent the trials to create a Jedi ghost, an event that would have happened between Episodes III and IV. We would also have to either ignore the fact that both Luke and Yoda spoke in the flashback or admit that TFA is the long awaited third Three Men and a Baby film.

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My favorite reasoning for inviting Rey into the Kenobi clan surrounds a woman named Satine Kryze who served as the Duchess of Mandalore and who was featured on eleven episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

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During these episodes it was hinted that Satine and Obi-Wan’s relationship was a bit more complicated than that of a political leader and her Jedi protector. The most obvious purpose for a story arc involving romance between Obi-Wan and Satine was to draw a parallel to Anakin and Padme, but it is not much of a stretch to suggest that the parallel goes further and at least one child resulted from this relationship.

Many who are rooting for this theory enjoy it because this would embody a reversal of the mentor relationship. In both the original and prequel trilogies, a Skywalker was trained by a Kenobi. If #TeamObiWan is the real deal, we will witness a Kenobi getting trained by a Skywalker beginning with Star Wars, Episode VIII: To Be Announced (TBA).

The further we get away from the Skywalker family, the more difficult a big reveal is going to be. It would be much easier for Leia to say, “No, I am your mother.” Obi-Wan is dead, Satine has never been featured in a film (and she’s dead), and any children they might have had are complete unknowns in the canonical Star Wars universe.

There are a couple ways I can think of to make this work. The first work-around is for Obi-Wan to say, “Rey, I am your grandfather.” We have heard Obi-Wan’s voice in all seven films despite him only being alive for four of them. That’s right, Jedi ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi could be the one to deliver the information. The other work-around would be that Luke could tell her. According to the canonical Star Wars comic books, Luke is in possession of Obi-Wan’s journal. It would also be an amazing reversal compared to A New Hope, where Obi-Wan didn’t have the heart to tell Luke that Darth Vader was his father.

This theory might have legs…****

Darth Vader

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My biggest problem with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was that they introduced the time-turner and never used this device in any significant capacity throughout the rest of the series. Similarly, Redditor minqj notices that clones are referenced momentarily in TFA but otherwise only referenced in the prequel trilogy. He compares it to Chekhov’s (Anton, not Pavel) idea that a gun that is introduced is going to be used at some point in the story. Minqj believes that Rey is actually a clone of Darth Vader.

If Rey is Vader’s clone, the line, “I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people,” which most have used to suggest that Rey is either Luke or Leia’s child, takes on a really interesting meaning. Even considering this, I probably would have overlooked this theory if my first thought about Rey hadn’t been that Daisy Ridley is the spitting image of young Jake Lloyd who played Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. Yes, the evidence is scant, but not nearly as scant as some of the ideas that I have listed in the Other Theories section.

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If we could judge a theory by the quality of its consequences, I think Rey being a Vader-clone might be the best theory we have. With Kylo Ren’s dedication to become more like Darth Vader, facing a rival who is a perfect clone of Vader would be the ultimate antagonism. This would also cast the line, “You’re afraid you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader,” in a different light. If this were revealed at the end of TBA, we would have a brand new question to deal with: Where does this leave us in terms of Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship? Does he become her apprentice? Does he deny the truth and attempt to erase “the lie?” Do they team up to defeat Luke Skywalker when he becomes the new Sith Lord?

Probably the best consequence of this revelation was thought up by Redditor hochamole in a comment on the same post who suggested that Luke could say to Rey, “No, you are my father.” Since Han isn’t around to scratch his head and say, “Hey kid, I’m your father,” this theory has my vote for best appropriation of a classic quote.

It was also suggested that Rey could be Luke or Palpatine’s clone. This theory doesn’t hit as hard, but based on the lack of evidence it seems like any clone theory would probably have the same level of validity, at least until some other theories start to surface. Maybe we can get a better proof worked out in the comments.

The Force

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If you have a Facebook account and friends who care about things that matter, then you have already read that “nobody we know” is no longer a valid theory for Rey’s origin, “somebody we know” is no longer a valid theory for Snoke, and specifically that Snoke is definitely, totally not Darth Plagueis. These revelations tore apart some of the favorite theories that people were throwing out during the week or so after TFA’s release, but I think I might be able to reassemble pieces of each to satisfy some of the people who found that the horse they were betting on had been removed from the race. Rey was born through immaculate conception.

The best theory on Anakin Skywalker’s origin, based on Qui-Gon Jinn’s thought in The Phantom Menacethat Anakin was fathered by The Force itself and Palpatine’s suggestion that Plagueis had power over life and death in Revenge of the Sith, is that Sidious’ master Darth Plagueis manipulated the midi-chlorians in order to create Anakin Skywalker. Skywalker would be the most powerful Sith in the galaxy and he could be used to replace Palpatine should his weakness in battle bring about his end. If we understand this to be the truth and we fast forward to Return of the Jedi, Luke’s risky gambit to convert his father to the light side wiped Plagueis’ Plan A and his Plan B off the board in one fell swoop. As Plagueis’ Plan C and an homage to this likely (though unconfirmed) explanation of Anakin’s origin, Rey could be yet another soldier of Plagueis created by his power over the midi-chlorians.

In this sense, Rey’s parents (well, parent — specifically her mother) could be nobody, and yet she could be created by Darth Plagueis. True, we haven’t ever seen Plagueis, but his presence was certainly felt in the prequel trilogy. This theory would also bring Plagueis back into the lineup of possible villains despite the fact that we know him to be a separate entity from Snoke. In a lot of ways, this is a best of all worlds theory.

This also gives me a jumping off point for a much more fun theory that Bobby and I had about a week after watching TFA. It was one thing that one of Anakin’s parents was The Force, but wouldn’t it be something to behold if both of Rey’s parents were The Force? A big male mass of midi-chlorians met a big female mass of midi-chlorians, they started getting fresh with one another, and, badda-bing, badda-boom, they made a 100% force baby named Rey. Anakin was powerful, and Rey would be doubly so. Maybe Rey could be Anakin-squared in terms of power. We could take Plagueis out of the equation, because everyone has met The Force. I mean, if you read my review of the first six movies you already know that The Force was the main character of A New Hope.

Other Theories

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There are some who believe Rey is a Palpatine based on her fighting style. I love the idea that the greatest hero of the universe might be the child of the greatest villain. I mean, I’d have no problem seeing it happen again. Some even think that Luke might have hooked up with Palpatine’s daughter, which is a compelling story in and of itself.

Others believe Rey might be the daughter of Luke and Leia because of that whole they kissed even though Leia always knew thing… This would explain her inordinate abilities with The Force. All things considered, I’m not sure anyone sees this theory as anything other than a Star Wars joke.

Based on a fan theory that Boba Fett’s daughter (Ailyn Vel, according to the expanded universe Dark Horse comic Star Wars Tales #7) is going to be featured in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and that she (and possibly her father) were involved with the Battle of Jakku, some are suggesting that Rey is Boba Fett’s granddaughter through this unnamed pilot. I read a particularly out there theory about Boba’s daughter hooks up with Obi-Wan’s son on Mandalore, but there is basically zero support for this theory.

I’ve heard fans of Star Wars: Rebel root for Kanan Jarrus as Rey’s father, but their opinions appear to be based only on the ages matching up and the fact that they could see Freddie Prinze, Jr. (the voice actor who plays him on the show) playing him in the film.

Bonus Theory: Kylo Ren

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I would be remiss if I didn’t at least attempt to put forward a new theory about Rey’s parentage that blows all of the other theories away, so here it is: Kylo Ren is Rey’s father.

Leia knows Rey because the girl is Leia’s granddaughter, Rey resonates with Luke and Anakin’s lightsaber because she is Anakin’s great granddaughter, and Kylo Ren wants to destroy Rey because, like Saturn, America, and many species of fish, Ren is essentially eating his young.

Here’s how it works. Kylo Ren is not Rey’s 19-year-old twin (sorry, Solo twins fans), nor his 29-year-old older brother/cousin. His origin goes back much further in time.

Travel back with me to the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.

Han Solo wants to leave the Hoth base because there is nothing keeping him there anymore. It is clear that some sort of emotional situation went down between Han and Leia, that Han expected her to finally reciprocate his feelings for her, and that Leia — having just watched her home planet destroyed and making time for nothing other than the Rebellion’s military strategy — is cold and distant. I believe that the incident that prompted Han’s departure was an intimate encounter that came on when Leia dropped her guard and let Han into her heart. Ben Solo was conceived the evening before the incidents of Episode V.

Leia realized she was pregnant when they reached the Cloud City of Bespin, but before she could tell Han, Lando betrayed them, Vader and company took over, and Han was frozen in carbonite.

Kylo Ren would be born, in secrecy, between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

When Leia reveals Kylo Ren (the Ben Solo) to Han and Luke, Luke senses his incredible power. He (and to some degree, Leia) is the reason Luke starts his academy.

Kylo Ren comes of age and falls in love with another member of the academy despite Luke’s admonitions to the contrary. This is the point where Kylo Ren starts catching up on the lore about Anakin Skywalker and his fall to the dark side. He relates to Anakin’s struggles with his young wife Padme and knows that there wouldn’t be an Academy — or a Luke Skywalker, for that matter — without Jedi breaking their vows.

Luke sends away Kylo Ren’s lover and their newborn child Ren, and that is the last straw. The rest, as they say, is history.

* * *

Once the dust has settled from tearing apart these heaps of “evidence,” I think Rey’s father is most likely to be Luke Skywalker. If we were looking at a Rey Solo, it would make a lot of sense too. Daisy Ridley was quoted as saying her character’s solitude is a good clue, and the name “Solo” means alone. Of course, Luke and Obi-Wan were both hermits, dedicated to solitude for years. My wife doesn’t think solitude describes Han because he’s always got Chewy at her side.***** When it comes down to it, none of the evidence really matters. Luke Skywalker feels like the right answer. I’m going to listen to The Force on this one, but that’s probably not going to stop me from speculating on other possibilities.

 

* If you’re experiencing déjà vu in reading this passage, it is probably because I said the same thing in my post about the importance of family in TFA.

** The Star Wars wiki Wookieepedia has my vote for the best wiki title of all time. It makes me happy just knowing Wookieepedia exists.

*** According to Harry Potter wizard battle rules, Anakin’s lightsaber became Obi-Wan’s after their battle on Mustafar, but I don’t think Harry Potter is canon in the Star Wars universe. Their loss.

**** Only after re-reading this post did I realize I could have written, “Unlike Anakin Skywalker, this theory might have legs…” Is the sentence better or worse without the pun? What do you think?

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***** Amy brings a lot of sense to my theories, but she also brings a lot of nonsense. Here’s an example — Justin: “Who do you think Rey’s parents are?” Amy: “Banthams.” Justin: “Bantham? Do you mean a Bantha or a chicken?” Amy: “A small chicken… Wampas.” Justin: “Womp rats?” Amy, angrily: “WAMPAS.” To Amy’s defense, she was 75% asleep at the time. She probably doesn’t remember the conversation at all.

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