There’s a lot to be contested about The Rise of Skywalker, Star Wars’ next installment set to conclude its trilogy of trilogies. A large sum of fans were left with a bad taste in their mouths following Rian Johnson’s nutty experimentation in The Last Jedi, leading to the start of the insufferable trend of entitled nerds and their change.org petitions pleading to strip the film from the series’ official canon. Alongside debates about the application of the Force and how the plot has turned out so far, there has been a lot of detailed discussion surrounding Rey’s lineage. Her abandonment on Jakku might have started this whole adventure, but many are much more interested in who left her there. Quite frankly, I don’t think we need to know.
Watching Rey grow and discover her abilities through The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi is gratifying to no end, thanks to their sheer scale comparatively with her small beginnings. Emotionally, she begins her story in an almost opposite way to Luke Skywalker himself in A New Hope; Luke is sheltered by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, constantly finding himself wondering about the great expanse of the universe he’d love to see and the adventures he could have. Rey, however, is forced to scavenge from space wreckage for scraps to keep herself alive and fed. She wonders what life could be like amongst the stars, but is tethered to the junk planet by her optimism and desperate hopes that whoever left her there would come back for her.
As her adventures take her away from the planet, she is tormented by the thought that her whoever abandoned her on Jakku could have returned to find her while she isn’t there, and she can’t bring herself to accept a job offer from Han Solo, the man from the legends she is so fond of. The first half of The Force Awakens shows her amazed by the splendour of the endless galaxies but simultaneously terrified of the potential result of her exploration.
In terms of plot, the ‘child of previously established character’ archetype has already been seen to by Ben Solo’s parentage, which makes sense in terms of tying characters both new and old together for the same adventure, but would be redundant if the story was to tell of Rey’s family being familiar faces. There would be no reasonable tie to the direct story of the new characters we’ve met since The Force Awakens, and would serve as mere fan service while working backwards against the progress that Rey has made with acceptance that she doesn’t need her parents to know who she is in The Last Jedi.
Rey has proven herself over the course of the trilogy so far with no tie to her family beside the fear and misplaced hope they instilled in her and following her as she becomes an immensely powerful fighter and Force user is more rewarding without knowledge of her lineage. Rey is a nobody. She is, as a result, a lot easier to project onto – coming from nothing to becoming something truly incredible is a message that came across to Luke Skywalker’s audience, but even more powerfully here thanks to her clean slate with no friends and no future.
When she comes to embrace her abilities and the good she can do for the Resistance, she knows it’s best to let go and move on. As she is drawn to the darkness that lives beneath Skywalker’s island on Ahch-To, she begs the presumed-omniscient darkness only to see her parents. When the two approaching figures form one and reveal to Rey only her own reflection, she finds herself feeling even more alone than before. She knew she was playing with fire when she tampered with the darkness in the first place, so to be rewarded with nothing dictates that the dark side is not to be trusted – or there is truly nothing special about her ancestry. A shock reveal of her family being important, or even still caring for Rey, would prematurely sever this thread, leaving her without needing to have learned anything about letting go of the past for the benefit of the future.
Rey’s journey from longing to acceptance is summed up with subtle care near the end of the film – as she reunites with her friends after shifting the landslide keeping them trapped in Crait’s Resistance base, her silent hug with Finn speaks a thousand words. Rey’s face is lit with such relief and unfiltered happiness that her feelings are crystal clear. Her home was never on Jakku, or wherever her parents could have taken her – it was with her new friends fighting the Republic. And really, that’s what shows more than anything that Rey needs to stand by herself (as far from her family tree as she can). The implication that Rey is a product of something much bigger than herself despite her hardships and difficulty overcoming them sets the story back to another weak tale of a ‘chosen one’, telling of a hero that is so pure that they can only be born that way, rather than made through their experiences and choices. Rey makes herself a hero, and that’s what makes her one of the most compelling and endearing characters Star Wars has seen yet – She isn’t a Kenobi, nor is she kin of any other Jedi masters or important figures. She’s Rey from Jakku, and that’s all she needs to be.
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