This article contains Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers.
There are millions of reasons Disney should be happy this holiday season with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you look at the opening weekend box office alone, you can count about 240 million of them right off the bat.
Yet one of the brightest elements about the whole endeavor is how director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm used it to catapult relatively unknown actors into the pop culture stratosphere—and amongst the most unknown is also the young woman who flew highest with a star-making turn as Rey, the quick-witted scavenger from Jakku. Representing the true main protagonist of this Sequel Trilogy, Daisy Ridley carries much of the film on her shoulders, especially for whenever Han Solo or Kylo Ren are nowhere to be found, and she is the one whose journey is the most pegged for oncoming greatness.
Indeed, The Force Awakens ends with only Rey in the presence of Luke Skywalker, the enigmatic protagonist of the Original Star Wars Trilogy, on a windswept Irish isle. In Luke’s face, there is clear mourning for the loss of old friends, while on Rey’s there is a wordless, desperate plea for the last of the Jedi—please take up your lightsaber again.
Undoubtedly, many audiences were ensnared by Rey’s silent appeals to Luke’s better midi-chlorian angels, and I’m almost certain Luke will be too. After all, Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter.
Yes, you read that correctly: Rey of Jakku, the protagonist who is absent a surname, might as well be called Rey Skywalker at this point, because she is more than the heir apparent to Luke’s Force sensitive heroism. She is quite literally his daughter who will bring balance once more to a Force that her family disrupts with all the frequency of Millennium Falcon thefts.
The last line of the movie could have been, “Rey, I am your father.” And if you search your feelings, you will know it to be true. And then you can read the below list of reasons why…
It is established early and often that Rey might just be the best star pilot in the galaxy in The Force Awakens—just like her father and grandfather before her. Consider for a moment that while the film makes a big deal of establishing Poe Dameron (the terrific and underused Oscar Isaac) as the best fighter pilot of the Resistance, we still see his first time behind the controls of a TIE fighter end in a fiery wreck after a few other First Order fliers get on his back. Rey does him more than one better by not only avoiding TIE fighters, but also doing it while piloting a ship that she’s never stepped foot in before.
As you probably noticed, one of the crackerjack action sequences of the movie is when Rey pilots the Millennium Falcon through the ruins of a crashed Star Destroyer while evading the laser fire of closing TIEs. Additionally, she has a few tricks we’ve never even see Han Solo do with that old bucket of bolts, like letting the Corellian freighter plummet in free-fall to line Finn up with the perfect shot, as well as wowing even old Solo by fixing the hyper-drive during a later escape from evil smugglers.
To be fair, almost every Force sensitive character like Rey, from Obi-Wan Kenobi to little Yoda, has proven to be an ace pilot when necessary. And Luke Skywalker certainly never flew the Millennium Falcon. Still, he’s not such a bad pilot himself, and he confirmed that by being one of the only two X-Wing fighters not shot down in the Battle of Yavin. Hell, he was in fact able to take down the Death Star too after the Rebel Alliance’s targeting computer failed Red Leader during Star Wars.
And like Rey, Luke’s piloting skills shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that his father was “the best star pilot in the galaxy” when Obi-Wan Kenobi met him. Admittedly, it’s a bit disappointing to realize Obi-Wan was referring to a 10-year-old boy giggling in a podracer, yet the precedent is still firm. And now that Han is out of the picture, Rey might just be the best pilot left in the galaxy when The Force Awakens’ credits roll. Note also that the little prequel book from Greg Rucka, Before the Awakening, explained that Rey spent a lot of her time in a flight simulator when not scavenging for trinkets.
After the aforementioned Millennium Falcon escape, some poor First Order sap must have drawn the short straw when he got the fun job of telling Kylo Ren about the disappearance of BB-8 and his map to Luke Skywalker.
Surprisingly Kylo Ren takes most of this briefing pretty well. “The droid stole a freighter?” is his first stern but measured reaction to his subordinates’ incompetence. Then when he finds out that the treasonous FN-2187 (Finn) helped that top-selling Christmas toy escape, he still takes a deep breath, buries his rage, and merely trashes a presumably useless control module.
But then he hears a girl from Jakku helped that droid, and Kylo Ren is compelled to Force-Choke the fool. Kylo Ren drags this poor, blubbering, soon-to-be lifeless brown shirt across a room to demand “What girl?” And it’s for the simple reason that he knows who Rey is. He is not asking out of curiosity or indignation that a simple scavenger from Jakku helped foil his plans, but with the knowledge and fear that this person is Force-sensitive, and a presence to be reckoned with…. one he perhaps even left on Jakku oh, so many years ago with the hope he’d never have to hear about her again.
The last time that we saw Anakin Skywalker’s second lightsaber (and Luke Skywalker’s first), it fell down what could have only been a garbage chute, deep within the bowels of Cloud City.
We’re not sure how old Maz Kanata retrieved the civilized weapon from the planet Bespin, and frankly we’re not sure that we want to. If this lightsaber is really so sentient and aware of its place in the Force that it can call to you, then it might also recall that time when Anakin used it to slaughter a few dozen Younglings in the Jedi Temple because of… reasons. Still, here it sat in a chest for presumably decades until of all the gin joints in all the systems, and in all the galaxy, Rey walked into Maz’s. And this particular lightsaber called to her.
Of course, one could argue that it simply reached to her because she is strong with the Force. But if that were the case, it is hard to ignore the next clue to Rey’s parentage…
Upon touching the lightsaber, Rey has very specific visions manifest before her eyes. The first, and most potent, is of Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand resting before a blaze on R2-D2’s trusty dome. But the next is of Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, leading the Knights of Ren on what appears to be a rainy slaughter.
It is easy to deduce that what we've glimpsed are images of Kylo Ren’s betrayal of the fledgling Jedi Order that Luke Skywalker attempted to create after the defeat of the Empire. Much like his grandfather, Ben Solo turned out to be a poor pupil to Luke when he defected to the Dark Side for an unknown reason, and killed all of the other Jedi students… except for one (more on that in a moment).
These visions go hand-in-hand for Rey with the hazy flashbacks of her being abandoned on the planet of Jakku. That’s because they aren’t merely visions of the galaxy’s past; they’re also explicitly images from her own personal backstory and hidden memories. She was there when Ben became Ren.
In a moment that is sure to engender audience sympathy—it even made an impact on gruff Han Solo—Rey is shocked to see that there was ever so much green in the whole galaxy upon reaching Maz’s castle. The reason for this is of course obvious: Rey doesn’t remember any place other than Jakku.
However, if this is true, then how can she dream of an island on an ocean? That is the first (and only) thing Kylo Ren definitively reads from her mind. Yet, this snippet is quite telling since one would assume Rey would not know what an ocean looks like. Nonetheless, she dreams about one every night while waiting for a loved one to reclaim her—and it is also the first thing Kylo Ren senses when asking her about the map to Luke Skywalker.
For anyone who watched the ending to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the reason becomes clear. She is dreaming of the planet where Luke Skywalker and (presumably) the original Jedi Temple reside. And it just so happens that this temple also rests on an island. In an ocean. That his daughter dreams about every night while thinking about family.
This one is so pitch perfect that it barely merits description. At the end of The Force Awakens, Rey claims her birthright when she summons Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber to her hand. While Finn admirably uses the weapon for most of the movie, he is no Jedi, and Kylo Ren made short work of him. Understandably, Ren believes the lightsaber belongs to him. Nevertheless, it feels drawn to another.
And when Rey finally accepts her destiny, what is clearly the Luke Skywalker theme, as is first heard when he looks at dueling setting suns, plays for her emergence as a Jedi. Luke’s daughter has taken her first steps.
It is safe to say that Han Solo did not recognize Rey when he found her aboard the Falcon. And considering how pained he was by the visage of his son right up until the moment of his death, it’s likely those theories about Rey and Kylo Ren being siblings can be put to rest.
But while Han might be oblivious to her origin, the much more Force sensitive Leia—who is a Skywalker herself—seems to implicitly know Rey. When the girl appears at the Resistance’s base at the end of The Force Awakens, Leia embraces her not like a stranger who also mourns the loss of Han Solo, but as if she is a long lost family member. And later, after learning the location of Luke Skywalker from R2-D2, she does not mount a massive envoy to bring Luke home like she first wished for upon BB-8’s successful return to the Resistance. Rather, she sends Rey alone with two other old friends of Luke Skywalker named R2-D2 and Chewbacca.
This is because Leia knows that Rey is more than just a new Force sensitive ally/student in the war against the First Order; she’s also family. And more importantly, she’s the one family member who might be able to convince Luke Skywalker to come home and pick up his lightsaber for one more battle.
But perhaps the most telling piece of evidence to Rey’s heritage is how the always cagey and secretive R2-D2 reacts to her being on his planet for the first time. Until Rey reached the Resistance base, R2-D2 stayed in a comatose low-power mode, awaiting Luke Skywalker’s return. Even after BB-8 brought Artoo the missing piece of the puzzle to Luke’s hiding place, Artoo remained the self-important jackass who once refused to play the full Princess Leia message for Luke all those decades ago.
Yet when in the presence of Rey, R2-D2 started singing like a canary about Luke’s secrets. This is because Rey is more than just a powerful, potential Jedi. In fact, she carries the same blood as Luke Skywalker. Of course, so does General Leia Oragana. But Artoo had strict orders from Luke to wait for someone or something. Or perhaps, more specifically, sensing someone that R2-D2 knew very well but has not seen in years superseded those orders, and Artoo knew it was up to him to schedule a family reunion…
All of this brings us back to the central point of The Force Awakens’ greatest mystery: Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter.
Above are six heavily underlined clues that foreshadow a reveal so obvious that it is rather curious they did not resolve it in this film. Rey is self-evidently strong with the Force, but she is also a force unto herself that Kylo Ren recognized upon mention of “a girl” on Jakku; she is a gifted pilot like all Skywalkers and Solos; she is summoned by Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s lightaber, and with it she sees visions of her own childhood, as well as Kylo Ren’s betrayal of Luke; and she alone is able to rouse R2-D2 from his self-righteous slumber long enough to get things rolling.
Rey is the daughter that can bring Luke home when Star Wars: The Force Awakens ends, and the only question remaining is how she wound up oblivious to her history and lineage.
The truth is that I think Kylo Ren is mostly to blame. While it is thoroughly established that he was once Ben Solo, the child of Han and Leia that was sent to study under Luke’s tutelage, his actual reasons for turning to Snoke for guidance and protection remain murky. This is quite possibly because they are implicitly linked to the shrouded mystery around Rey’s parentage.
If we are to assume that Rey is Luke’s daughter, then she would have clearly been younger than Kylo Ren when he studied under Skywalker—but she probably would have been just as powerful as she appeared in this movie. In fact, if she were the prodigy she appears to be—much like Luke and Anakin were—then this means her aptitude for early lightsaber training and Jedi Mind Tricks could have overshadowed young Ben Solo’s best efforts.
If Kylo knew she was on Jakku, it stands to reason that he was envious of her pull with the Force when she was but a young girl and he was an adolescent. Envy is as good a reason as any to turn to the Dark Side, and it would explain why she was made to stand witness while the Knights of Ren slaughtered Luke’s nascent Jedi Order back into non-existence.
The only question I have is whose decision was it to place Rey on Jakku? The obvious answer—which would most mirror Obi-Wan Kenobi’s decisions and Luke’s own implied childhood in Star Wars—is that Luke hid his daughter away from the jealous Kylo Ren. It would also stand as a reason he hid himself away from her, lest Kylo find his former mentor and thus the young girl too. And maybe he had Max Von Sydow (who knew of Luke Skywalker’s location) keep a careful gaze on Rey from afar?
However, for the sake of Luke not seeming to be complete monster that abandoned his daughter to grow up without parental figures on a desert planet even worse than Tatooine, I would posit another suggestion: what if Kylo Ren sent Rey to live on Jakku? It is explicitly established that Kylo Ren has never killed a blood relation before The Force Awakens. And Supreme Leader Snoke repeatedly casts doubt on whether his protégé has the ability to kill Han Solo. Murdering his father was Kylo Ren’s chance to squelch any of that inner-conflict he whines about to Vader’s helmet.
So perhaps when, as a teenager, he came to kill young Rey, he could not bring himself to do the deed to his cousin. Ergo, he had her mind wiped and dropped her off on a dead end planet where nobody would ever look, and she could never realize her full potential. Maybe even Luke and Leia simply assumed Rey was dead until “there was an awakening in the Force?”
One thing we are almost Force-positive about though is Rey’s parentage and backstory. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait past May 2017 for Lucasfilm to confirm it—or learn exactly who left her without her memories on the planet farthest from the bright center of the universe. The planet farthest from her father, Luke Skywalker.
Oh, and just one more thing: in the Star Wars universe, it must always come down to power converters.
What was one of Luke’s very first lines in the original Star Wars? “But I was going into Tosche station to pick up some power converters!” And what’s the very first thing we see Rey do in The Force Awakens? Pick up some power converters while in that Star Destroyer. Checkmate.
This article originally published on Dec. 22, 2015.