The Rise of Skywalker had more than its fair share of bumps, but it closed out an era of a massive franchise, and some fans still love it. Regardless of your opinions on the film, co-writer Chris Terrio recently gave some more insight into the choices they made when making the film. More specifically, he touched on why Rey’s parentage shifted from what Kylo Ren revealed in The Last Jedi. MAJOR spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker ahead.
First off, Abrams added Palpatine back into the story because it would have been “weird” without him
A significant critique for The Rise of Skywalker was whether Palpatine was necessary to bring back after he so clearly died in Return of the Jedi. For director, J.J. Abrams, it was. “As [Abrams] said, that it would almost be weird for Palpatine not to be in some way in this movie,” Terrio told IndieWire on Dec. 30. “Because when we discover Rey, she’s literally living in the wreck of the old war, the previous war, that literally the landscape of Jakku is scarred with evidence of the war that came before. I think what we wanted to say in this is that, that war never really ended.”
And not only did they want to tie it in with all the other trilogies storywise, but also for the balance’s sake and, in a way, symbolism with Anakin Skywalker. “Every generation has to fight for the balance again,” Terrio continued. “We were moved by the idea that the person who should have to fight to regain the balance that Anakin Skywalker gained was the descendant of his greatest enemy who corrupted Anakin Skywalker in the first place.”
Rey’s lineage gave her the “worst” news she could get
So, why did Rey have to be related to Sheev Palpatine? The worst villain of all time (basically)? It came down to Abrams wanting to give Rey the worst possible news he could. “[Abrams] always felt that she should get the worst possible news. In a way, the worst possible news for the Rey of Episode 8 is that she is just a child of junk traders, which is true,” Terrio said. “That’s not contradicted by what you learn in this film, but that she’s the descendant of someone who represents the opposite of all that the Skywalkers represent.”
Terrio also explained that Rey was finally at home with the Resistance, and once she found out her grandfather was Palpatine, she was distraught at the relation, but also at what Leia and the others would think. She didn’t want to lose her family again, and this was even worse news than her parents being nobodies, of course.
But Rey is more than what’s in her blood
In the end, though, Abrams and Terrio wanted their story to focus on what makes each person good. It’s not about who you’re related to, but about who you fundamentally are. Which would have hit home a little bit harder if Rey had kept “Palpatine” as her last name, but we digress.
“Other than scavenging, the first thing that we see Rey do in the trilogy is perform an act of kindness and compassion for BB-8,” Terrio said, pointing out how Rey is kind to her soul, regardless of lineage. “She sees BB-8, who’s an underdog, a weak droid, being exploited by someone, and without missing a beat, she stands up for him. And that immediately told you who Rey was back in Episode 7.”
Luke feels it, Leia feels it, and even Han Solo knows how good she is in The Force Awakens. “Han even not being Force-sensitive,” Terrio notes. “He spent a few minutes with Rey and thought, ‘This is my heir, this is who I want to inherit the Falcon. This is who I want to fly with me and Chewie.’”
So regardless of who Rey was related to all along, it didn’t matter. Rey was Rey, and she completed her mission while not straying too far towards the Dark Side.