It’s All in the Family: Why Episode 9 Will Resolve Rey's Identity

All the Theories 🤯

Episode 8 seems to have sealed the coffin on the debate surrounding Rey’s heritage (more on that below).

BUT, theories abound. If you want to make your head explode, take five minutes to read these 15 theories on Rey’s identity.

Now that you’re all caught up, I want to argue why J. J. Abrams will give us a definitive answer on who Rey is, and (I believe) what the family connection is.

The Last Jedi's Dark Influence

Whether intentional or not on Rian Johnson’s part, I believe Episode 8, Like Empire, offered purposeful loose ends—in a good way!

And like its predecessor, Last Jedi magnified the voice and influence of the Dark Side more than its surrounding installments.

Because we heard more from Kylo on who Rey must be than anyone else in Last Jedi, the audience received a “Darker” slant on her identity.

One scene in particular illustrates this. After Snoke's defeat, Rey feels hope: maybe Ben Solo had embraced the light! But then, this significant moment of dialogue drops:

Kylo Ren: No, no. You're still holding on! Let go! You want to know the truth about your parents or have you always known? You've just hidden it away. You know the truth. Say it.

[Rey is silent]

Kylo Ren: Say it.

Rey: [in tears] They were nobody.

Kylo Ren: They were filthy junk traders. Sold you off for drinking money. They're dead, in a pauper's grave in a Jakku desert. You had no place in this story. You come from nothing. You're nothing, but not to me. Join me.

Did Kylo Ren truly see into her past through the Force? Can the audience trust his commentary on her life?

Or, is he playing into her deepest fears (confirmed by the weird endless-mirror-in-the-cave scene)?

We can't know for certain, but we do know Snoke “bridged” Kylo's and Rey's minds through the Force, altering what they perceived. He hacked their desires. Confirmed their fears.

Earlier in the film, Snoke played-upon Kylo Ren's fear of not being enough like Vader (less espresso and more medium roast perhaps).

So, did Kylo Ren repeat this strategy with Rey? Was he attempting to stoke her fears of abandonment, isolation, and being a “nobody”?

(Flashback of Rey scraping Day 3,061 in the hull of her home on Jakku.)

Though Johnson's themes of a nobody-becoming-a-somebody and anyone can be strong in the Force seem sexier than the George Lucas's vision, I believe Rey has had a place in this story all along.

Her Place in this Story

Some of my absolute favorite scenes in the new Star Wars trilogy belong to Rey's opening montage. The imagery and foreshadowing of Abrams, coupled with John Williams' beautiful score, all point to her story having a place in the galaxy and the Skywalker saga.

If you pay close attention to Abrams' use of imagery in this montage, you get a sense of what he wanted to work towards for Rey's character:

  • Her resourcefulness, scrapping technology from the bones of a downed Imperial cruiser.
  • Her home nestled in the heart of an Imperial AT-AT.
  • A hand-made doll of orange and white yarn perched in her “room.” A childhood toy left behind by her parents? Or a toy crafted by a young Rey to capture memories?
  • Her placing the Rebel helmet atop her head while eating, looking relaxed and at ease.
  • Rey longing for family as she stares at a space freighter leaving the atmosphere.

Put together, we see a woman surviving in the desert with less amenities than Luke had at the start of his journey: no aunt, no uncle, no droid, and no access to power converters from Tosche Station.

Through this beautiful, voiceless montage Abrams showcased Rey’s strength, resourcefulness, and a strong desire for finding home.

He also speckled the montage with imagery linking Rey’s humble origins with Luke’s. The white and orange handmade doll of yarn, the Rebel fighter helmet, and the desert call back to A New Hope.

Later in Episode 7, Luke’s old lightsaber calls out to her, sparking a dramatic vision of her traumatic past mingled with the voices of the Light’s greatest Jedis.

Rey's place in the story is clearly not that of a random person stumbling into the Star Wars mythos or the Force by accident. From the start, Abrams connected Rey with the tropes we grew to love from A New Hope.

An Odd Nobody

So, in Episode 7 why was Kylo Ren so bothered by the appearance of some “girl” aiding the Resistance on Jakku?

Why did Rey grab the interest of Snoke and Kylo early on in the series?

If she truly is a nobody to the Skywalker family, then explain her odd affinities to Han Solo and his longing stares at Rey in The Force Awakens.

Vast, green mountainous island.
Photo by Michael on Unsplash

 But, if she truly is the daughter of junk traders, then why was she abandoned on Jakku? Her vision showed a shiny metallic ship leaving Jakku as she cried out to the ones leaving her behind. What kind of junk traders can afford passage on a ship like that? Think back to Rey’s opening montage: she had worked for years as a scrapper only to barely afford her rations. How could her poverty-stricken parents have afforded such a dramatic send-off?

Instead, if she were left on Jakku by her family (perhaps for protection from Snoke originally?), then the montage, her dramatic abandonment, and the vision would all point to her family being more central to the story line.

So in one sense, she is a nobody from Jakku. And if she ends up being a Skywalker (somehow), then would that detract from her struggle and origins? If she does have family ties to Leia and Luke, they would make her abandonment more intriguing to the trilogy’s plot.

The Force is Strong in Her Family

I believe Abrams had dropped many bread crumbs in Episode 7, connecting Rey with the Rebels of old and with the Skywalker family.

Star Wars is rooted in Shakespearean drama, betrayal, and family intrigue. Whether Rey is Kylo’s sister or cousin, this is going to be a family feud as it has always been.

Yet...there’s a small chance Abrams will take up Johnson’s orphaned no-body-who-became-a-somebody thread and seal the Skywalker story for good.

With the title of The Rise of Skywalker, though, I am leaning towards Abrams weaving Rey’s story into a family story.

Post Script: Why I am really 85% sure Rey is a Skywalker...

Maybe Disney has prodded for a more symbolic ending for the Skywalker legacy, casting Rey as the heir of Luke's legacy - not by blood, but in spirit. Perhaps the deeds of Rey will inspire a generation to rise for the common good (as Episode 8's ending alluded).

So, the title The Rise of Skywalker may represent the new path for the Star Wars saga: not a literal resurrection of Luke or a continuance of the Skyalker bloodline, but a new wave of Force-empowered humans living like a Skywalker...those pushed to the side but living courageously for the Light.

To be honest, I hope Abrams finishes the Star Wars saga with some semblance of George Lucas's original vision. Alas, I feel the latter theory will be more palatable, though, for moviegoers and more lucrative for Disney. If Abrams ends the saga with Rey as the orphan-who-became-a-somebody theme, it will leave the window wide open for other Force-sensitive protagonists in future Star Wars films.

To Disney goes the spoils!

This article was updated on March 7, 2021

Jordan Hopkins

Jordan is a freelance content writer and educator. He is passionate about serving others and amplifying their narratives through quality writing. You can find him hanging with his family, fishing, playing guitar, and grinding the best beans for his morning coffee.