“The belonging you seek is not behind you, it is ahead.”
Maz Kanata’s words to Rey in
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalkerbelow.
Except it isn’t.
It feels like a joke. And it plays out like one, too. For the second time in a row, this vital bit of information about Rey is told to her by Kylo Ren, as he attempts to manipulate her. This time it’s clear how he knows all of this, because Palpatine told him. But it doesn’t make the reveal any less clunky or cruel. After two films about letting go of the past and forging your own destiny,
The implications here reek of character assassination and cowardice. Writer/director J.J. Abrams, who began Rey’s story in
“I really feel like the assumption that any character needs to have inherited a certain number of midi-chlorians or needs to be part of a bloodline, it’s not that I don’t believe that as part of the canon, I’m just saying that at 11 years old, that wasn’t where my heart was. And so I respect and adhere to the canon but I also say that the Force has always seemed to me to be more inclusive and stronger than that.”
The Rey reveal is also the most glaring example of a trilogy with no cohesion whatsoever. If this was Abrams’ plan from the onset, why not embed it into the story straight away? What’s the point of dragging out the mystery of who this person is over the course of three films? It’s frustrating and insulting, and it seemed done after
And let’s go back and examine what Kylo says for a moment: “They were filthy junk traders. Sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead in a pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert. You come from nothing.” In the text of the film, we realize that he’s reading her mind, saying aloud what she fears and assumes. But in
What an absolute dishonor it is to the story to present something that profound and neglect it right away. There’s a beautiful message to make of something like that. That children from broken homes and troubled families who never felt loved can still have strength and be heroes. That you can come from nowhere and still be important. That the Force chooses the most worthy, not the person with the most genetic relevancy.
But J.J. Abrams clearly doesn’t understand the foundation of what he created or the possibility of imagination. Instead, Rey had to suffer through an identity crisis for three movies only to land exactly where she began in the first place: rejecting the past and looking fondly to the future. In the closing moments of the film, Rey wanders through the Lars homestead on Tatooine, another desert planet. Kylo Ren, transformed back to Ben Solo, is dead. She has her Resistance family, but symbolically, the movie ends with her alone, taking the name “Rey Skywalker,” for reasons that are mostly unclear. She has to rebuild the next era of Jedi by herself.
Rey didn’t need to be a Palpatine to be strong. She doesn’t need to wear the Skywalker name like a mask. She could have truly been Rey from nowhere, with no last name. Who struggles with her inner darkness not because it’s a clue, but because she’s a human. It would have made her story better. It would have made