I will try to avoid getting too carried away with plot theories and conspiracies in this brief article, simply because for two long years that is all that I have read and heard, and quite frankly I am sick of it. Who are Rey’s parents? Is she a Skywalker? How did she end up on Jakku? Will she turn to the dark side? Though firstly I would like to say to Disney, you are masters of keeping fans in the dark, and I absolutely applaud you for maintaining the secrecy and excitement that you have built around this new franchise.
That said, I feel I still would like to add some of my thoughts to the debate on the eve of the eighth instalment of the Star Wars saga, only because I am a little worried, yet still quite excited about the direction of The Last Jedi.
Rey is ALREADY one of the most interesting and beloved characters in the Star Wars franchise. I said it last year, and I will repeat myself again by saying, that actress Daisy Ridley really nailed it on screen, in The Force Awakens, portraying a young woman full of strength and hopefulness, yet also allowing us to see her softer vulnerable side. In fact she was all of that and more. It was in particular her willingness to help those in need and to stand up to schoolyard bullies like Kylo Ren that we can all relate to the best.
Maybe even more important than her relatability is the fact that Rey is an empowering female character whom young girls, as young as ten and eleven (like my daughter) and women all over the world are looking to, as a shining light in a Star Wars universe dominated by male characters. (Interestingly, Disney has to its credit, and I wrote about it here last year, recognised the importance of adding strong female characters to that galaxy far, far away and has introduced a wonderful new character called Rose Tico, played by actress Kelly Marie Tran, as a Resistance fighter, in The Last Jedi.)
For those that may have been living under a rock these past few years, at the end of The Force Awakens, Rey arrives on Ahch-To, the site of the first Jedi temple to return Luke Skywalkers’ lightsaber. But it is at the beginning though of The Last Jedi, that Rey’s story, with her exceptional Force sensitive abilities, and her search for a mentor, truly begins.
And so, it is here that Rey will be presumedly trained by Luke and tested beyond her own limits of self-control. But it is here also that we are led to believe that something terrible is going to happen. In short, it appears that Luke is quite fearful of Rey’s force abilities. Some have come to believe that Rey is not who we think she really is, the story’s hero. And with that thought, will Rey fail to resist the pressure or temptation of turning to the dark side? It is one of the biggest unanswered questions that awaits us in The Last Jedi.
For the pure theatrical aspect of Rey turning to the dark side, it would be an incredible and shocking revelation! But haven’t we already seen and felt that with Anakin Skywalker’s demise in The Revenge of the Sith? Do we really want to see that again? From a fan’s perspective, I know I don’t! And how would Rey’s journey down the path to the dark side affect her legions of new female fans and girls in love with such a vibrate and strong character as Rey? Will it turn off Star Wars new female following? I’d hesitate to say, it might be a disaster for Disney? That alone is one of the issues I hope that Disney has grappled with seriously in their considerations of where they see Rey in this saga. Treating Rey’s character with the utmost respect is the key to the success of the current franchise, story arc –wise, not financially. Then, again, since when are film companies, directors or screenwriters visions dictated by fan reaction? Well, just look at the Justice League disaster and the reappraisal DC Films is now considering.
In a matter of hours we will find out how far Rian Johnson has pushed his new vision of Star Wars upon us. I fear Rey will be truly put to the test. By whom or what we will find out soon enough. Furthermore, and if I may just briefly elaborate, I haven’t forgotten how important Luke is to this story. Yes, it’s true, all eyes will be fixated on the return of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker (No, his cameo in the Force Awakens doesn’t count). But as Rian Johnson said more recently, “This trilogy is not just Luke’s story. At the end of the day, it’s Rey who’s carrying us through this whole thing.”
In the end I will accept what fate awaits Rey, Luke and even Leia, knowing Carrie Fisher will never return the big screen again with her sad passing last year, but I warn you I may do it with streaming tears of joy or a feeling of pensive sadness. Hahaha, I don’t need to be reminded that it’s only a movie! But for a fan boy like myself, is it really only just a movie?
Photo Credits: The header image is a scene from the motion picture Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The image is courtesy and presumedly copyright of Disney/Lucasfilm. I make use of the image that portrays Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, under the rational of fair use, to enable me to makes an important contribution to the reader’s understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone. In fact, I hope that Rey’s image and article help promote the anticipation and excitement of the film. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip embedded here.