Being an ongoing series wherein CSW host and presenter Brian holds forth on news of the day, idle thoughts, and such like.
Fan Theories, part the Second
We Love Nothing More than Bland Predictability.
I am a denizen of the internet, as we all are. And in my days spend in the Star Wars section of said internet, I read the same news as we all do. Who’s been cast, who was wearing what on set, and the like. I also, however, come across some of the less mundane and more esoteric lines of thought out there, in particular about the Saga. This week, as the inaugural releases from Imperial Dispatch, I’m sharing some of those esoteric lines of thought. Namely, fan theories. You may have seen these before, or this may be the first time for you. In either case, I hope this will be a good read for you. And if you are a devotee of the theories I am noting here, I welcome your input, provided it is as well thought out as the theories we’ll be discussing.
As soon as we saw that there was a female protagonist in The Force Awakens, the internet lit up with speculation as to her parentage. I have seen, as recently as today, vehement assertions that Rey is a Kenobi. That she is a Solo. That she is a Palpatine. That she is an Erso. That she is the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker. I have to take a moment to clear my palate after typing that. Clones, sure. Space magic, why not? Laser swords and audible explosions in space, all day every day. But reincarnation is, for me, a bridge too far.
Of course the most popular notion of Rey’s parentage is also the most obvious: that she is a Skywalker. All the signs are there, as they always are for those who are looking for them. Musical cues allude to Luke when Rey is holding his lightsaber. She is a great pilot, as have been both Skywalkers we have seen. She is a natural combatant, as we see early in the film and in greater depth later in the film, whether she is holding a scrap metal staff or a lightsaber. Maz Kenata tells her the lightsaber called to her. And of course, one cannot deny, she’s got chops with the Force.
She mind tricks a Stormtrooper on her first day, and that directly following an intense interrogation by Kylo Ren, whose power one cannot deny. Not even Darth Vader is shown to stop a blaster bolt in midair, and have a conversation while maintaining it. Ren’s ability to probe the mind of his target is not equalled on the screen by any other Dark Side user. And despite withstanding the brunt of his assault, Rey pulls herself out, forces a presumably well trained Stormtrooper to let her go, and makes her escape. Chops, as I say.
But I digress. I cannot get behind this theory. I see the signposts pointing to Rey being Luke’s. But they are so obvious, and so clear, that I cannot help but think (read: hope) that they are the misdirection of a clever production company. I can sum it up this simply: imagine if at the end of Empire Strikes Back, Vader told Luke who Luke’s father is, and we all as a collective audience yelled at the screen “YEAH WE KNOW, WE KNEW IT TWO YEARS AGO!” I like to think that Lucasfilm values the story enough to give it a twist that we won’t see coming. And knowing the depth to which we all dissect every hint on the screen, Lucasfilm could perhaps know what we’re looking for, and know how to distract us.
Let me rebut the inevitable protestations.
Rey is a great pilot, yes, but haven’t there been great pilots before Anakin Skywalker? Her dream, we are told in the book Before the Awakening, has been to escape Jakku. She has practiced flying. And of course she has the Force, so her skill need not come from Skywalker blood but rather her own ability.
Musical cues abound in the films, and we cannot say for sure what they mean. Does Luke’s music mean Rey is his daughter? Or does it mean that she is picking up the torch of the fallen Jedi the same way he did so many years ago? If we decide ahead of time what we want such things to mean, then we see confirmation of what we wanted to see. I’m doing it right now. Have you done the same, in the other direction? Many have.
Rey’s skill in combat also need not come from Skywalker DNA. She’s lived essentially on her own practically all her life. Of course she is good with that staff. She probably made it herself, or found it, but in any case it’s all that stands between her and starvation, death, or worse. She’s a young girl alone on a largely lawless planet. Imagine what would have already befallen her if she weren’t a good fighter.
Yes, the lightsaber called to her. But for all we know, that lightsaber has been calling out to anyone since Maz put it in that cellar. Rey could be just the first sensitive enough to hear it. Is it calling her because she is a Skywalker, or because she is strong in the Force? As with musical cues, we have no way of knowing what that bit of dialogue portends, but if we decide what we want it to mean, then we can convince ourselves that it means exactly that.
Lastly, Rey’s skill with the Force.
If you and I sit down, and scratch our heads, and rub our chins, I imagine we could come up with one or two Force users in the Saga, canonical or Legendary, who are not Anakin Skywalker. We could probably come up with two or three more who are not related to him. I can name some off the top of my head. I know you can as well, or you wouldn’t have bothered to read this far. And I know we have been told that Star Wars is the story of the Skywalker family, to which I say that Kylo Ren is a Skywalker by blood exactly the same amount as Luke’s daughter would be.
Which brings me to my overall point. Rey is a strong woman, and she carries the entire story of the Force Awakens. In a very real way, she is to the new trilogy as Luke was to the Original. But that does not mean necessarily that she must be related to him. I would prefer, and I think many of you might agree, for her to be strong in her own right. What if the new trilogy hinged on the adventures of an entirely new character, who is not the cousin or daughter or long lost twin or cousin’s brother’s roommate of someone we already know? I like Rey as a character, and I want more for her than to be a retread; powerful only by her association to a more powerful man. Not a descendant of someone else, drawing her power from another’s mythology.
I want her to be a Force in her own right.
Thanks for reading this episode of Imperial Dispatch. Brian Karasek can be found discussing Star Wars on channelstarwars.com, both YouTube and Podcasts. Find us on iTunes and subscribe on YouTube!