Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a decade-long wait for fans, where many expected answers to all their post-Return of the Jedi questions. While we got some of those answers, what we also got were more mysteries yet to be unraveled. J.J. Abrams and company of course had to do what they could to lay the groundwork for a new trilogy. In the process, The Force Awakens left virtually the entire new-looking Star Wars universe open-ended, in true Abrams fashion.
It goes without saying at this point, but consider this your official spoiler warning for the rest of this article. Do not read on if you haven’t already seen The Force Awakens, lest you risk ruining the surprise of a movie that, by modern Hollywood standards, has done a stellar job keeping things under wraps. For those of you who caught the movie already, feel free to continue on, as we dig into all the burning questions Episode VII left us with once the credits rolled.
1. Who is Rey?
It’s vaguely hinted at throughout, but for the most part, the origin of Rey is largely an unknown. We know her family (supposedly) left her behind on Jakku at a young age, and based on her constant need to return, it seems as though the expectation is that they’ll eventually return for her. Why her family thought she’d be better off living alone as a desert scavenger is peculiar at the very least. Her Force-sensitivity and skill with a lightsaber lead us to believe she may have some Jedi lineage, and it wouldn’t be a far leap to think she could be the offspring of Luke Skywalker.
That being said, there are few (if any) hints about her relation to the Skywalker clan, such as her flashbacks at touching Luke’s lightsaber. We know she’s gifted enough in the ways of the Force to utilize mind control without any prior training, and even bests the well-trained Kylo Ren in one-on-one combat. Perhaps she’s not related to anyone we’ve previously seen in the Star Wars universe, but even so, the odd familiarity shared between her and Han Solo suggests a shared past of sorts.
2. Where did Supreme Leader Snoke come from?
This numbers itself among the primary mysteries of The Force Awakens. Snoke appears only as a giant hologram to Kylo Ren and General Hux, with a brutally scarred face and the suggestion that he’s yet another Sith Lord working behind the scenes. Han and Leia seem to know him well enough to be aware of his role in turning their son to the Dark Side, so he’s not quite the secret to our characters that Emperor Palpatine was. We as an audience don’t share the same familiarity as our characters though, leaving us to wonder how Snoke will play things later on down the line.
The prevailing theory circulating right now is that Snoke is in fact Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s former pupil thought to be murdered in his sleep. It would certainly make more sense than conjuring up another random Sith Lord that somehow remained dormant during all the events of the original Star Wars films. For what it’s worth, Snoke looks an awful lot like a scarred version of the artist renderings of Plagueis.
3. Why did Kylo Ren renounce his family and turn to the Dark Side?
It’s safe to say the biggest reveal of The Force Awakens was learning that Kylo Ren was actually Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia. Kylo was one of Luke’s first pupils in the days following Return of the Jedi, but for reasons unbeknownst to any of us, slaughtered the other young students. This sent Luke into a Yoda-esque self-imposed exile, marking his failure to revive the Jedi Order. What we don’t know is why exactly Ben would turn on his family, instead choosing to idolize Darth Vader while serving a new dark lord. We see Kylo Ren put some pretty impressive Force powers on display, including the ability to stop a blaster bolt in mid-air, as well as extract information from the minds of his unfortunate victims. It’s clear he inherited both the power and volatility of the Skywalker lineage, but it’s not clear how he fell so far from grace.
4. Why is Luke searching for the first Jedi Temple?
Much of The Force Awakens‘s primary story revolves around everyone trying to track down Luke Skywalker. The Resistance wants to enlist his help in defeating the First Order, while the First Order wants to kill him to permanently extinguish the Jedi forever. We find out later in the movie that Luke is searching for the first Jedi Temple, although the reasoning behind his journey remains a mystery. He’s likely shouldering a fair amount of guilt for Ben Solo’s turn to the Dark Side, especially since he was entrusted with the care of his sister and best friend’s child. Whatever his goal may be, it must be important if he left a map to his location inside of R2-D2.
5. Who are the Knights of Ren?
We briefly see the rumored “Knights of Ren” in a vision Rey has after she finds Luke’s lightsaber, but that’s about as much as we ever get. Ben Solo’s name changing to “Kylo Ren” suggest he’s the leader of the Knights, but he also appears to be the only one of the group to wield a lightsaber. In Rey’s vision, it appears as though Kylo and the Knights (dibs on that as a nerdcore band name) murdered all of Luke’s Jedi pupils, so it’s clear that they’re a formidable force (no pun intended). Snoke tells Hux to bring Kylo to him at the end of the movie to “complete his training,” making us think there’s far more to come from the mysterious group.
6. How does Maz Kanata have Anakin and Luke’s lightsaber?
Another major mystery that crops up over the course of The Force Awakens concerns the sudden appearance of Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber. When last we saw it, it was sent tumbling down a shaft with Luke’s hand in The Empire Strikes Back, making it that much stranger to see it end up in a box in the basement of Maz Kanata, a character that we’d never even heard of until now. The only hint as to how it ended up in her hands comes when Han straight up asks her himself. She cryptically responds by telling him it’s “a story for another time,” so we could be in for some flashback sequences come Episode VIII.
7. What’s the connection between The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Rebels?
This one is really more about what we didn’t see in The Force Awakens rather than what actually ended up happening. On the Star Wars: Rebels cartoon series, we’re introduced to Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi Padawan who survived Order 66. Still well-trained in the ways of the Force, Kanan takes on the young Ezra Bridger as his own Padawan, leading us to wonder where the two exist within the canon of a Star Wars universe when Luke was allegedly the last of the Jedi. It seems odd to have Disney/Lucasfilm create a whole new canonical cartoon series only to not incorporate it into their movies, leading us to believe that we could potentially see an elderly Kanan and/or Ezra somewhere down the line.
8. How is the New Republic connected to the Resistance?
For many of these questions, it makes sense to save the reveal for a later installment in the trilogy. In the case of the New Republic though, it seemed like a strange omission to not tell the audience about the governing body apparently in charge of the Galaxy. What we get instead is a brief look at a handful of Senators before the First Order annihilates every planet in their system with their latest super-weapon. We’re left wondering why the Republic chose to not get involved in fighting the First Order themselves, instead depending on the modest Resistance forces led by now-General Leia.
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