For the past two years, Star Wars fans have been debating the identity of Rey’s parents. The Force Awakens clearly set this up as a mystery, with the movie providing a few hints that she could be the daughter of someone important.
In The Last Jedi, we seemingly get our answer to this question. Apparently, Rey’s parents are nobody of any significance. They were just two junk traders who sold her off for drinking money and are buried in the Jakku desert. But wait, is this really the solution to the mystery? Should we take Kylo Ren’s word for it? Some fans now believe that we’re being misled and that Episode IX will feature a big reveal about Rey’s heritage.
Let’s explore whether there may be more to Rey’s background than The Last Jedi suggests.
Is Kylo Ren lying to Rey about her parents?
One possible reading is that Kylo Ren is lying to Rey in The Last Jedi. The parentage reveal comes during a scene in which Kylo is attempting to manipulate Rey into joining him. So some fans came out of the movie theorizing that Kylo completely made up his vision about Rey’s parents in order to prey on her weaknesses.
Since then, though, Rian Johnson has shot down this idea. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johnson explained, “But for me, in that moment, Kylo believes it’s the truth. I don’t think he’s purely playing chess. I think that’s what he saw when they touched fingers and that’s what he believes. And when he tells her that in that moment, she believes it.”
So that’s the end of that line of thinking. But this doesn’t mean the information presented in that scene has to be accurate.
Kylo isn’t lying, but his information could be wrong
We know from what Johnson said that Kylo is not intentionally lying about Rey’s parents. But there’s still room for the possibility that Kylo is incorrect.
After all, the idea in the movie is that Kylo saw a vision when he touched Rey. But it could be that Kylo misinterpreted what he saw. Another theory is that Snoke fed him false information; we already know that Snoke was pulling Kylo and Rey’s strings throughout the movie and set up their connection, so that would make sense.
It’s also worth noting that Johnson has yet to confirm that Kylo was right about Rey’s parents. In every interview, he only says that Kylo is not lying, which is very different.
Rey seems to confirm her parents are nobody, but she supposedly never knew them
One wrinkle in all of this is the fact that Rey seems to confirm that her parents are nobody in The Last Jedi. The way it plays out, Kylo determines that Rey already knows about her parents, and he encourages her to say it out loud. She responds, “They were nobody.” Kylo then continues from there, saying that they were “filthy junk traders.”
But how would Rey even know that her parents are nobody? Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Visual Dictionary states that Rey never knew her family. So it’s possible that, while being manipulated by Kylo, Rey simply voices her worst fear about her heritage, but this is something she doesn’t know for sure.
Everything else Kylo says about her parents, such as them being junk traders who are buried on Jakku, is not something Rey confirms to be true. And Johnson told Entertainment Weekly that Rey “believes” what Kylo tells her. This would imply that there’s some information he provides that she doesn’t already know.
The original director of Episode IX suggested that movie will reveal Rey’s parents
J.J. Abrams wasn’t originally supposed to direct Episode IX. For a while, Colin Trevorrow was attached. Interestingly, in an interview back in early 2016, Trevorrow suggested that Episode IX was going to feature a reveal about Rey’s parents. At the time, he said:
What I do know is that we’re going to make sure that that answer is deeply and profoundly satisfying, because Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens but in the entire galaxy, and she deserves it. So we’ll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was —it’s something that happened a long time ago [in a galaxy] far, far away, we’re just telling you what happened.
There are a few things that are now quite bizarre about that quote. One, the reveal that Rey’s parents are nobody important is not exactly satisfying; it’s intentionally meant to be unsatisfying and uncomfortable, and that’s why it works so well. His quote also suggests that he’s involved in the process of determining who Rey’s parents are. But he didn’t work on The Last Jedi at all, so he seems to be implying that there’s a reveal in Episode IX.
Maybe when Trevorrow said “we,” he was just talking about Lucasfilm in general. But as is, his statement could be read as suggesting that there’s more to Rey’s parentage that’s coming in the next episode.
Johnson says Episode IX could change who Rey’s parents are
Johnson has outright said that it’s up to Abrams to decide if Rey’s parents are truly nobody. When Johnson took over The Last Jedi, Abrams did not tell him what he had in mind for Rey’s parents. Johnson got to make up whatever he wants. So now, Johnson is giving Abrams that same freedom, refusing to commit to Rey’s parents truly being nobody.
“I can’t speak to what they’re going to do. And there’s always, in these movies, a question of ‘a certain point of view,’” Johnson recently said. He’s referring to the fact that the original Star Wars told us that Darth Vader murdered Luke Skywalker’s father. When it was revealed that Darth Vader and Luke’s father are one in the same, Obi-Wan had to provide a long explanation about how this was true “from a certain point of view.” A similar retcon could happen in Episode IX, according to Johnson.
If Abrams wants to, he can continue the idea set up by Johnson that Rey’s parents are truly nobody. But if not, he could very easily give Rey a more significant background and just explain that Kylo misinterpreted his vision, or he was lying.
Either way, what’s crucial to the story is that Rey now believes she comes from nothing, something that has been accomplished. There remains room for her to find out she’s more special than that after she has reached the end of her hero’s journey.
If Rey’s parents died on Jakku, who’s leaving the planet on a ship in The Force Awakens?
One reason to think Abrams could take the story in a different direction is that his movie, The Force Awakens, contained several hints that Rey’s parents are more important than The Last Jedi suggests.
For example, there’s the Force vision scene where Rey has a flashback to her childhood. She is seen being dragged off by Unkar Plutt and shouting, “Come back!” at a spaceship that’s flying away. But wait, if her parents were so poor that they sold their daughter for drinking money, how are they flying away from Jakku on a spaceship? And why are they flying away from the planet at all if they died on Jakku?
There are also a bunch of little moments throughout The Force Awakens that suggest Abrams had more in mind for Rey’s backstory, like when Maz Kanata asks Han Solo, “Who’s the girl?” The scene cuts away before Han can answer, and it comes across as a very enigmatic beat that’s meant to raise questions about who she is. Minutes later, Maz says that the lightsaber “was Luke’s and his father’s before him, and now it calls to you,” which definitely leads viewers to believe she’s the next in the Skywalker lineage.
If you factor in the novelization, there’s also the moment in Rey’s vision scene where a mysterious voice says, “I’ll come back, sweetheart. I promise.” That doesn’t exactly sound like something a drunken parent would say before selling their daughter, does it?
Even if her parents are nobody, there could be more to her story than we think
Even if we are to accept that Rey’s parents are nobodies, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that there’s more to her than we currently know.
In Episode IX, there’s plenty of room to reveal more about Rey’s background that could help explain why she’s so in tune with the Force and could help shed light on those inconsistencies in The Force Awakens. Perhaps her parents did leave her on Jakku, but they did so to protect her. Maybe her parents were really just her adoptive parents, and she was born of the Force like Anakin Skywalker. Maybe she is actually the reincarnation of Anakin.
Or maybe she truly is just a random girl from Jakku who came from nothing but who became the galaxy’s only hope. That story, arguably, is the most powerful option. But the answer is still not entirely clear, and it won’t be until the release of Episode IX in 2019.
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