Here’s the second installment of my Women of Star Wars series.
From the moment we meet Rey, scavenging on Jakku, we know that she’s young, strong, and capable. Her harsh environment has taught her how to handle herself and others; she very rarely needs rescuing (something that Finn, annoyingly, fails to understand).
But at the core of her is a mystery, not only to us but to herself. There is a power within her, a strength in the Force that suggests she’s special in some way. Who left her on Jakku as a child and why? Rey’s desperate need to believe they’ll come back for her is a result not only of her terrible loneliness, but of her need to know: who is she?
The old adage “Be careful what you wish for,” comes into play by the third film. But in the second, The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tells her, “You come from nothing. You’re nothing.” And we start to believe him. Her parents were simply junk traders, selling her off for drink money. Sad, but never mind. It’s all right. She doesn’t have to be anyone “special” to be, well, special. Rey’s experience in the dark well of mirrors on Ach-To seems to confirm this. She only has herself to rely on.
But a little part of me refused to believe it. Rey had to get those amazing Force powers from somewhere, right?
When we find out in TROS that Rey is a Palpatine, I was blindsided. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming at all. Rey had always been a vessel of Light to me. I couldn’t see her coming from the most evil man in the Galaxy.
The clues, however, were there for me to see. Rey had raw strength, yes, but she also had anger that she unabashedly drew from . In her battles with Kylo, she often seemed more angry and agitated than he was, though this was probably due to her lack of control. She’d never been properly trained as a Jedi, while Kylo had spent years as Luke’s student. She yells, snarls, and growls a lot in her fight sequences, as if she’s drawing on some monster inside her.
On Acht-To, when Luke gave her that first lesson on the Force on the rock ledge, she went deep–deeper than he had expected, deep into both Light and Dark, which frightened him.
“You didn’t even try to stop yourself,” he said to her, eyes wide with fear. Rey had a (unbeknownst at this point) familial link to the Dark Side, almost an attraction that she couldn’t resist.
It’s ironic that Kylo, who was born to the Light, kept insisting that Rey surrender to the Dark Side, while even he hadn’t completely surrendered himself. Not really. He kept feeling the “pull to the Light”. He kept doing things that he thought would cement his commitment to the Dark. But he still felt “split to the bone,” in Snoke’s words.
Rey stubbornly refuses to surrender, even after her meeting with Dark Rey. She knows she comes from the Dark, senses the power she could have if she gave in to it; yet still plods on in the Light, determined to help her Resistance friends, and to face her grandfather, the Emperor.
The full import of her parents’ sacrifice comes into play here. In giving her up and putting her into hiding (and they being killed in the process), she was protected from the evil influence of her grandfather. She fully gets to choose who she wants to be, whether she follows the Light or the Dark.
This is in contrast to Kylo, who had heard the whisper of the devil in his ear from a very young age, confusing and twisting him.
The gift Rey’s parents gave her is incalculable. In being able to choose her destiny, Rey is prevented from being a victim (as in many respects Kylo can be seen); and, of course, is able to save the Galaxy!
At the end of TROS, when she names herself “Rey Skywalker”, she gives up on the idea of somebody else telling her who she is. She’s choosing her own identity. It doesn’t matter to me whether she called herself Rey Solo, Rey Skywalker, or even Rey Palpatine, if she wanted to. The point is, she chose.
That’s claiming a power almost as strong as the Force.
How do you feel about Rey’s character? Did you like her story? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!