During a live Q&A at the TriBeCa Film Festival in April 2016, J.J. Abrams was asked by a young boy from the audience as to who Rey’s parents were. As this is perhaps the most prevailing mystery in the Star Wars series to date, the question drew cheers from the audience. At a loss for words, J.J. told the crowd “Rey’s parents are not in Episode VII.” Entertainment Weekly caught up with Abrams after the event and he clarified his statement saying “What I meant was that she doesn’t discover them in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world.”
It’s interesting that Abrams chose to backtrack his statement, he being the same director that denied feverishly that Khan was in Star Trek Into Darkness before that film’s release. So though his statement isn’t a confirmation that Rey’s parents are in the film, it’s certainly not a denial of the fact either. With that in mind, can we work out who her family is by the clues we received in Episode VII? Daisy Ridley certainly thinks so, and we totally agree. It’s a lot more obvious than you may realize.
Speaking to Time Out London, Daisy had this to say when asked about her secret origin: “I thought a lot was answered in The Force Awakens. 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 mind it’s not answered at all!”
Considering her response as proof that it is explainable in Episode VII, let’s take a look at all the clues we’re given as to her true origin. However, we need to ask ourselves a few things before we can come to any concrete conclusion.
1. What is the overarching point of the film?
2. Which characters already know Rey’s origins?
3. Are there any hints from the overall Star Wars narrative?
4. Which scenes add up to a plausible conclusion?
What is the overarching narrative in The Force Awakens?
Is it Rey’s journey to becoming a Jedi? Is it the Resistance blowing up Starkiller Base? What pulls the story along from beginning to end?
The answer: Luke Skywalker. Although he’s only featured in the last 30 seconds or so in the film, his absence is what drives the plot forward. The first line we see in the opening crawl is “Luke Skywalker has vanished.” The Resistance finds a portion of the map to Luke, which the First Order is desperately trying to intercept, as well as the droid carrying it. It’s what pulls Han Solo right back into the mess and is the push for Rey to leave her home on Jakku. Why is this important? I’ll explain in a minute.
Which characters already know who Rey is?
Han Solo is certainly among those characters, as his scene with Maz suggests. The conversation between Maz Kanata and Han is cut abruptly short and the scene jumps elsewhere, but Han definitely knew and told Maz. Perhaps she didn’t believe him, which could explain why she appears so surprised when she finds out whose lightsaber called out to Rey.
We can also assume that Luke is aware of who Rey is. There’s a series of emotions that play out on Mark Hamill’s face that give it away: a little bit of surprise, fear, sadness, maybe anger, but also compassion and resolution; however, we won’t know for sure until Episode VIII rolls around.
Several scenes suggest that Kylo Ren knows who Rey is, but it’s the scene where Kylo chokes out the messenger, who proclaims that the droid they’re looking for is accompanied by a girl, that drives the point home most. It could literally have been any girl in the Galaxy, but knowing that the girl was from Jakku unsettled him. We know he doesn’t want to hurt her, but now that she’s off of Jakku he makes it a point to capture her. Could he be the one that put her onto Jakku in the first place? That’s definitely a theory for another day.
Are there any hints from the overall Star Wars narrative?
What can we glean? In the prequel trilogy, we have the tale of young Anakin Skywalker, who must leave his desert homeworld to become the chosen Jedi who will supposedly bring balance to the force but eventually becomes seduced by the Dark side. The original trilogy sees the next generation of the Skywalker line manifest itself in Luke, a young orphaned boy on a desert homeworld who must leave to finish what his father could not, effectively destroying the empire. Thus far, Star Wars has remained a family saga – the Skywalker family in particular.
Does that necessarily mean Episodes VII, VIII, and IX will also be following the next generation of the Skywalker line? The president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, sure seems to think so. Speaking to, of all places, the Costco Connection, she had this to say. “The Saga films,” as opposed to the anthology films, “focus on the Skywalker saga. The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story.” As Kylo Ren, or rather Ben Solo, has Skywalker blood in him, that quote could technically be about him. But could he be the sole Skywalker descendant in the film? Seeing as how he’s not exactly this trilogy’s protagonist we highly doubt that he’s the torchbearer Kathleen Kennedy is proclaiming for the next generation.
Alright, I know what you’re thinking. Did I watch this video just to be told Rey is Luke’s daughter? Well, hold on. Is there actually any evidence that suggests that Rey is a Skywalker? Besides the fact that her story parallels Luke and Anakin’s to some extent, she is called to Luke and Anakin’s lightsaber. This is significant, as it confirms to Maz what Han has just told her about who Rey actually is.
Which scenes add up to a plausible conclusion?
Let’s revisit the overarching story of the entire film: the search for Luke. It’s imperative for both the Resistance and the First Order to find him; they must retrieve BB-8 who carries the map to Luke. When Kylo Ren finds Rey in the forest of Takodana, instead of continuing his pursuit for the droid, he cuts his losses and takes Rey who has already seen the portion of the map that BB-8 holds. But is it solely because she saw the map that makes her so important to kidnap? We can already assume he knows her because of his reaction earlier in the film – and his restraint while questioning her is something we haven’t seen up until this point. Remember, this is the same guy that gave the order to kill an entire village of people who could have potentially seen the very same map. What is so important about this girl: The very same girl who has been awaiting the return of her family since she was a child and dreams about an island in the middle of the ocean. The island where Luke is hiding out. What are the chances?
Besides the First Order, we also know that the Resistance, in particular, Leia, is searching for Luke and presumably has been for years. So upon retrieving the entire map, who better to go retrieve her brother than Leia herself? After all, if anyone’s going to coax him out of solitude, it would be Leia, his closest living relative. Unless, of course, there is a closer living relative. If Han knew who Rey was, Leia would also. Would Leia have sent any random force-sensitive being to Luke, when she could have gone herself? Probably not.
Most people left the theaters on December 18th believing the most obvious theory to be true: that Rey is Luke’s daughter, and the film is certainly geared towards making you feel that way. That is either a conscious decision to mislead theatergoers or the truth.
Where, then, do all the other rumors about her origin come from? Answer: the infamous “I am your father,” scene. Everyone is expecting a twist, but how do you satisfy anyone when you try to replicate the greatest twist in pop culture history? Spoiler alert: you can’t. So the most obvious answer to Rey’s Origin is also the most likely.
Relative to other theories, what are some of the primary contenders? One suggests that Rey is actually a Solo. Let’s debunk that one, right now. They would have killed off Han after revealing that bit of info to her so that it hits home harder. Also, when Han sees Leia again, after having just seen Kylo kidnap Rey, wouldn’t he have said “I saw our kids,” instead of just ‘our son?’
Another popular theory that isn’t currently debunk-able, is that Rey is a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi. This would actually be a pretty neat twist if they could manage it – but then that would belie the notion that this is a Skywalker family saga. Still, she’s adept at the Jedi mind-trick, a favorite of Obi-Wan’s. She even has the accent! Although, everyone who speaks basic on Jakku has that same accent. Interestingly, Obi-Wan’s voice can be heard in Rey’s vision, but then again, so can Luke’s and even Yoda’s. They can’t all be Rey’s ancestors. Or can they?!
Another big theory that has gained some prevalence is that, like Anakin before her, she was brought to life through the Force itself. While this could explain the odd choice of film’s title, The Force Awakens, there isn’t much else to go on.
If Daisy Ridley is to be believed, the answer can be found in the film.