Another day, another theory about how Star Wars: The Last Jedi tricked us, and Rey really is the daughter of Leia/Han/Luke/Chewbacca [delete as appropriate].
After JJ Abrams went full mystery box on The Force Awakens, certain fans were consumed by the question of Rey’s parentage and the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. As the theories grew more and more complicated, it didn’t take a genius to guess that The Last Jedi would have neither the time, scope nor inclination for such narrative acrobatics.
Now, Episode IX might take a dive into the secret history of Snoke (though we seriously doubt it), but there’s no way that it will reveal that Rey’s parents really weren’t nobodies all along. Sorry about that, but there are some pretty damn good reasons why you just have to live with it…
1. It makes perfect sense
The best explanation for Rey’s parents being no more than “filthy junk traders” who sold their daughter for booze comes from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson himself.
Having worked through all the possible parental permutations, he decided that the revelation that her parents were “nobody” best reflected the legendary “I am your father” reveal from The Empire Strikes Back (another movie that didn’t get a wholly warm reception, incidentally).
That was the “hardest possible thing that Luke, and hence the audience, could hear at that moment,” Johnson told the Empire podcast.
On the other hand, revealing that Rey is related to the legendary Skywalker clan would be “the easiest thing she could possibly hear”.
“The hardest thing to hear is, ‘Nope, this is not gonna define you’,” Johnson continued.
And he’s right. Any other reveal would have been wish fulfilment for Rey – and the audience – but possibly not the best piece of storytelling. And admit it, you didn’t want The Last Jedi‘s big reveal turning out like that, did you, Rey-is-Obi-Wan’s-granddaughter theorists?
It also addresses what was arguably a flaw in the first trilogy. We know the ‘Luke is Darth Vader’s son’ reveal is part of pop-culture canon 40 years on, but it changes the way young fans can identify with the moisture-farmer-turned-Jedi.
In A New Hope, he was a young man frustrated by his boring home life and dreaming of adventure – ie relatable – but how many of us can claim that our dad is evil space Jesus?
The Last Jedi affirms Rey as a role model that a new generation can keep – someone who is awesome on their own merits.
2. The Skywalker saga is ending
When StarWars.com made the official cast announcement for Episode IX, it was billed as the “final instalment of the Skywalker saga”. Han and Luke are dead (though admittedly only from a certain point of view in the latter case), and Carrie Fisher isn’t around to play Leia any more.
Kylo Ren’s survival odds are harder to predict right now, but as Luke’s Last Jedi arc was partly about how he can’t redeem Ben Solo and that’s OK, a return to the light side is uncertain at best. Chuck Kylo down a shaft in the final act, and the Skywalker saga really will be over…
…unless Rey was revealed to be a Skywalker, too. We don’t know whether Daisy Ridley will be sticking around the Star Wars universe after the trilogy or not, but either way, the revelation that she is part of the family too would be a peculiar way to wrap up their story.
3. Rian Johnson is still working on Star Wars
Amidst all the petitions to remake The Last Jedi to incorporate angry fanboy demands and the vain hope that it will be revealed as all a dream (seriously, guys?), some people seem to have forgotten one important detail – Johnson is still working with Lucasfilm.
He’s developing a new trilogy, too (one that will, tellingly, be distinct from the Skywalker narrative). Now, imagine Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy calling him into her office.
“Hi Rian. The Last Jedi took $1.3 billion and has 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. But some fans want Rey to be a clone of the Emperor, so Episode IX is going to contradict your movie completely. Hope that’s ok. Now back to work with you. Kthnxbai.”
Disney and Lucasfilm committed to the plot of The Last Jedi before it was released. To try to undo it would be a sign of both weakness and disrespect towards someone they are still working very closely with. The film was a huge hit, and we’ve no doubt they’ll stick to their guns.
4. BONUS: Snoke isn’t coming back to life
Ok, so maybe you’re stuck with Rey’s junk-trader parents, but the least they can do is reveal that the oh-so mysterious Snoke – who was killed before he even got a chance to deliver a lengthy monologue about his secret origin – wasn’t really killed by the treacherous Kylo Ren.
Apart from the fact that everyone seemed ok with not knowing where Emperor Palpatine came from – until the prequels, and remember how well those turned out – it doesn’t take a genius to see that, in terms of villainy, the new trilogy belongs to Kylo.
The first film saw him trying to live up to Darth Vader’s example and prove himself. The second was his struggle between the light and dark. Now he’s embraced his own (evil) way, he can be the prime antagonist of the third.
There’s no real place for Snoke in all this. His role is over, and even if he is really Darth Plagueis or whoever, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Time to move on.
Star Wars Episode IX will be released in the UK on December 19, 2019 and in the US on December 20.
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