One of the newest additions to the Star Wars franchise has become one of its most frequently speculated characters. We only know Rey by her first name, her true origins still very much a mystery – and although cast and creators alike were fairly tight-lipped at Friday’s panel for The Last Jedi, they did drop some tantalizing scraps of information to whet fan appetites in the months leading up to the film’s December release.
Among them: the first official teaser trailer, which provides fans with a ridiculous amount of information to unpack once they recover from the sensory overload. There are several characters who appear – like Leia, Finn, Poe Dameron, BB-8 and Kylo Ren – but the bulk of the trailer focuses on Rey and her story, which mostly revolves around her Jedi training under the supervision of Luke Skywalker. The voiceover between Rey and Luke only offers up so much – but what it does do is clue us into what Rey’s true purpose may be within the arc of this Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Throughout the forty-years-long history of Star Wars there has been an oft-referenced Jedi prophecy spoken by many characters, about an individual who will be able to bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith once and for all. Fans initially speculated about the identity of this so-called “Chosen One”, and as the debate raged on over whether it was Anakin Skywalker or his son Luke who ultimately fulfilled the prophecy, George Lucas himself seemed to put the matter to rest when he confirmed it was Anakin on DVD commentary for Revenge of the Sith.
While the Jedi legend was realized in the deaths of Darth Vader and Darth Sidious, who apparently represented the last of the Sith, the sequel trilogy revealed that those who pursue the dark side of the Force are far from vanquished. The Knights of Ren in The Force Awakens may be calling themselves by a different name than their Sith predecessors, but what they represent is something far more sinister: the fact that the Force has once again been set off-balance.
That’s where Rey comes in, and why the dialogue in the trailer for The Last Jedi packs an important punch. The themes of light and dark are not new to Star Wars diehards, but what’s fascinating is that there are definitely similarities between Luke’s unconventional training on Dagobah and Rey’s time spent learning the Force from him on Ahch-To. And, just as Luke experienced powerful visions that ultimately dictated the course of his path and his eventual showdown with Vader, Rey too seems to have as strong of a prophetic ability – if not stronger. She glimpsed the past by touching Luke’s old lightsaber in The Force Awakens, and within the voiceover of The Last Jedi mentions that she can see “the balance” alongside both the light and the dark sides of the Force.
Aside from Rey’s prescient powers, there’s also a very deliberate shot of what many fans believe to be the Journal of the Whills, a book that makes mention of the Jedi and has been referenced in several Star Wars books – but never on-screen. Within the Journal itself is a verse about restoring balance to the Force, which is excerpted in the novelization for The Force Awakens:
“First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.”
―Journal of the Whills, 7:477
One of the biggest themes in the Star Wars universe is the conflict between good and evil, light and dark. Until the stories of the sequel trilogy came along many characters were defined by that dichotomy – they were either a hero or a villain, without a lot of room to maneuver into shades of grey. With The Force Awakens, however, those dividing lines are beginning to blur. Characters like Finn and Rey are changing the definition of what it means to be a hero, and in regards to Rey in particular this may mean that the balance to the Force can only be restored by a “gray Jedi,” someone who operates between the light and the darkness but can also bridge that dividing line.
We’ve already heard Luke’s ominous words from The Last Jedi trailer, about how it may be “time for the Jedi to end.” Perhaps what he’s saying is that it’s time for the galaxy to close the book on the Jedi as they know and understand them – and for a new generation of Force-wielding heroes, like Rey, to repair the damage that’s been done.
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