This Star Wars article contains MAJOR SPOILERS.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens left a lot more story to tell on the table. The movie’s big challenge was to set up a brand new future for the franchise while also looking back at its legacy. This is why The Force Awakens asks key and very familiar questions about its characters but doesn’t offer up any answers. Who is the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke? What’s the deal with Luke Skywalker? Why does the Empire keep building Death Stars?
But the most important question of all is the one we’ve been obsessing over for two years: who are Rey’s parents? While The Force Awakens gave us some hints, including a flashback of Rey being abandoned on Jakku, begging her parents to come back as they fly off into space, there’s no definitive answer by the time the credits roll. Despite our manic speculation, including our belief that Rey was a Skywalker, Daisy Ridley initially thought the question regarding her parentage had been answered.
“I thought a lot was answered in The Force Awakens,” she told Time Out London back in 2016. “Then after the screening I went for a drink with my agent and everyone, and we were chatting away and I realized that oh, in their minds it’s not answered at all!”
It helps that Ridley had the script and J.J. Abrams by her side while shooting the film, but the rest of us were left in the dark, picking apart the vague details of the strange flashback scene in Maz’s castle. But those days are over, it seems. The Last Jedi, which was written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper), has given us the answer we crave.
Who are Rey’s parents? The answer is more surprising than anything we could’ve imagined (and we imagined quite a lot, although that Ben Kenobi theory did seem a bit rubbish) in our wildest dreams.
Rey’s parents are…
During Rey’s confrontation with Kylo Ren, whose just named himself Supreme Leader after murdering Snoke in one of the most gruesome sequences ever put in a Star Wars movie, the young hero finally discovers the truth. After seeing Rey’s past through his Force connection with her, Kylo reveals that she’s always known on the inside who her parents were, suggesting that her quest to discover their identites was simply her attempt to add meaning to her life.
But in reality, Rey’s parents were drunks who traded her to Unkar Plutt for drinking money.
“They were filthy junk traders,” Kylo tells Rey. “You have no place in this story. You’re nobody. But not to me.”
Is this a satisfying answer? It depends on whom you ask. There is a certain relief in knowing that Rey isn’t carrying any extra baggage around. After all, making her a Skywalker, a Kenobi, a Palpatine, or born from midi-chlorians (ugh), would have really complicated the character in a way that would have looked more backward than forward. Instead, Johnson takes our tangled web of theories and wipes the slate clean, giving Rey her own unique space in the story – and therefore keeping the audience from getting too distracted with characters who have come before.
As Kylo says to Rey, “It’s time to let old things die. The Sith. Jedi. Rebels. Let it all die.”
There is one caveat to all of this: what if Kylo is actually lying? He might just be saying this to Rey to break her spirits and convince her to join him, the person she’s been the most connected to since setting out on her journey. Kylo is powerful in the dark side and certainly not above manipulating people to get his way. After all, he was the key to luring Rey to Snoke’s flagship. And how exactly was he able to see so far into her past when Rey (or Luke, for that matter) couldn’t? Was this just a part of herself that Rey had locked away deep in her mind in order to survive the harsh heat of a Jakku summer?
Even when Rey tries asking the mirror in the dark side cave on Ahch-To who her parents are, it only offers her a reflection. Why doesn’t this cave show her the truth? Or is it merely speaking in metaphors the same way the cave on Dagobah did with Luke? Actually, if you go back and watch the Luke vs. Darth Luke scene in The Empire Strikes Back, you’ll realize that movie has already revealed its big twist about an hour before Vader utters his famous line, “No, I am your father.” At least from a certain point of view.
Is Rey’s mirror doing the same? Is it telling her that she’s ultimately always been alone or is there something more? We’ve already speculated that Rey, while born of human parents, might actually be a product of the light side of the Force, the counterbalance needed to offset the dark side.
The fact that Rey so easily accepts Kylo’s revelation seems to indicate that we have our answer, as vague as it might be. Johnson is nothing but brilliant here, providing an answer that will keep us deconstructing and speculating for another two years. After all, in Star Wars, it’s never quite that simple. Might there be more to Rey’s origin? Probably, but we’ll have to wait to find out.
Star Wars: Episode IX is out on Dec. 20, 2019.