12:00 pm EST, December 21, 2015

Star Wars investigation: Who are Rey’s parents?

Rey is Kylo Ren’s sister

Rey Kylo Ren

To be perfectly upfront and honest, Rey as Kylo Ren’s sister is still my favorite fan theory, and despite the rampant popularity for Rey as Luke’s daughter, I’m still holding out hope that Rey is Leia and Han’s kid.

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Yes, the second half of the film dropped heavy hints that Rey’s connection to the Force was strong because of her connection to Luke, but this could easily be a red herring to divert us as an audience from the other clues linking Rey up to Han Solo. For the entirety of the movie, Rey’s connection to Han is immediate and obvious. Despite never having flown the clunky ship before, Rey takes to the Millennium Falcon like a fish to water. Chewie adores her, and even attaches himself to her side after Han’s death. I mean, for Yoda’s sakes guys, Han and Rey even have a habit of finishing each other’s sandwiches… Before Maz Kanata’s lightsaber revelation, odds were that you and everyone else in your theater were convinced that this scrappy little scavenger had to be Han’s kid from the moment they locked eyes. But then Luke’s lightsaber changed everything! Or did it?

Yes, Luke’s lightsaber called to Rey and responded most strongly to her compared to Kylo Ren, but we have to remember that it was only in Luke’s possession for a comparatively short amount of time, and long before it was Luke’s, the lightsaber was Anakin’s. With Anakin as the original, and essentially primary wielder of the lightsaber, all of his grandchildren would in theory have equal claim to its connection. So then if Rey and Ben were siblings, why would the lightsaber respond so much more strongly to her than him? Maybe (shocker!) the Force is just stronger in Rey than in her brother — (I know that girls beating their brothers at anything is a relatively novel concept, but just stay with me here.) Maybe the lightsaber senses the Light in Rey, and is just plain more down to hang with that than with the Dark Side Kylo Ren’s got going on.

It can be argued actually that Maz Kanata’s revelations, while revealing Rey’s connection to her Skywalker heritage, actually more clearly hint towards Rey’s connections to Leia rather than Luke. As a spiritual guide, Maz Kanata makes a big deal about eyes, and we can’t help but notice how much more Rey physically resembles Leia, Han, and even Kylo Ren in comparison to Luke.

Rey Han Solo

Her comparisons to Leia’s side goes far beyond the physical though. She’s plucky, and quick to think on her feet. While the boys storm forward to meet their possible demise, Rey takes the time to pause, compose herself, and come up with a plan that works. She’s the spitting image of Leia diving into that trash compactor.

While Luke always longed to be a hero, seeking out opportunities to prove his heroism, Rey is much more practical in her longing. She doesn’t have anything to prove: she’s competent and she knows it. No thank you, she doesn’t need you to hold her hand, but if you really need it, she’s willing to hold yours, she’s generous that way. She’s a natural leader: the person people feel comfortable trusting in a crisis because she clearly has a handle on both herself and the situation.

The reason why the theory of Rey as Han and Leia’s daughter is my favorite is because it is the one that fills in the most plot holes, while also providing the deepest emotional impact. We know from the prequels that children who were strong in the Force were sent to train with Jedi as early as possible — some even from birth. As a Skywalker, Rey’s abilities would be clear early on, and it would make sense for her to go study at Luke’s Jedi apprentice academy. Rey studying with the other Jedi apprentices answers the question of why she had the visions of Kylo Ren’s Jedi purge — they are suppressed memories. Rey’s visions seem to hold the answer to her parentage, and all at once, they also seem to point back to Kylo Ren.

The Force Awakens really drove home the idea that Kylo Ren struggles with his ability to completely give in to the Dark Side, especially when it comes to his immediate family. He betrayed Luke because he saw him as his master, but Leia feels that Han will make a bigger impact on him because he is Ben’s father— a human connection, rather than a Jedi one. And we see that despite the fact that he does kill his father in the end, Han’s reappearance did have a deep impact on Kylo Ren. He could feel himself being torn apart by both the Light and Dark sides— did that just have to do with the emergence of his father, or was it brought on by the recognition of his sister as well?

Kylo Ren

If Kylo Ren has always had a problem separating himself from Ben Solo, then it would reason that during the purge of Luke’s Jedi apprentices, he would have a moment of doubt coming across his little sister. In Rey’s visions, we see a little girl amidst an island of corpses, a masked hand reaching towards her. Later on, she’s left sobbing on Jakku, begging her family to come back. Notice she keeps mentioning family — not parents. It’s plausible that feeling the pull of the Light, Ben couldn’t bring himself to kill his little sister along with the other Jedi apprentices, but instead chose to hide her away on a desert planet where she would ideally never be found. By promising her that he would come back, it pretty much guaranteed that she would always feel the need to remain put, so she would never be a threat to him. (And I can’t be the only one who notices the coincidence that Ren is a mashup of Rey and Ben.)

Of course, if Kylo Ren did abandon Rey on Jakku, this begs the question of whether or not he recognizes her as his sister once he has her in his grasp again. His comment to Rey that Han as a father would have “disappointed” her seems to suggest that he at least knows something. After the disastrous interrogation, Kylo Ren doesn’t give Snoke any indication that he recognizes Rey, but we’re also aware that in those moments, he’s deeply struggling with his temptation to turn to the Light, so he could be lying to protect his sister. If Rey is a part of the source of his internal struggle, it would also explain the myriad of hissy fits he has whenever he finds out that the droid is traveling with an otherwise anonymous “girl.”

But what about Han and Leia? They collectively spend quite a bit time with her during the film, and the possibility of her parentage is never brought up by either of them. But if we’re sticking with this theory (I’m sorry, it’s complicated, I know) then they would both be under the impression that she was killed along with the other Jedi apprentices when Kylo Ren broke bad. Which then all of a sudden explains why they would never bring their daughter up: What’s worse than losing your son to the Dark Side? Believing he killed your daughter in the process. With two children lost, the desperation alone would certainly be enough to drive Han and Leia apart, and considering they hadn’t seen each other in years, it makes sense that they wouldn’t bring up the child their son murdered when they are still holding onto the minuscule hope that they can save him. It also explains why Leia and Han seem so hell-bent on recovering their son, considering in this scenario they’ve been devastated by the death of one child already. Then again, was Leia’s insistence that there is some light left in Ben because a part of her subconsciously senses that her daughter is still alive?

Han and Leia

Considering Leia and Rey had never met before, the loving embrace they share at the end of the film suggest more than just two people who incidentally found out that the other one was important to Han. The Force is strong in them both, so even if the women had no idea what they were to each other, it would be natural for them to be drawn to each other in a way very similar to how Leia originally sensed a connection to Luke, despite not knowing what it meant. In comparison to the way Han and Leia both instinctively took to Rey, Luke’s stone-cold reception of her at the end of the film is hardly the way we would expect our favorite farm boy to receive his long lost daughter.

As for the emotional arc this theory would be provide, if we’re totally honest here, a showdown between siblings is and would be infinitely more epic than an eventual showdown between cousins. Having the same parents is important precisely because Kylo Ren made such an ordeal about how his weakness comes from his own father’s weak nature. But if Rey and Ben come from the same lineage, for the first time in the canon Star Wars saga, we would get the chance to see how choices rather than bloodlines determine a person’s willingness to fall towards the Dark or Light. With the same parents, Kylo Ren and Rey would be on equal footing, and no one could blame Rey’s superiority on Luke’s more defined Jedi skills or Han’s lack of Force sensitivity. It would be up to Anakin’s grandkids to sort through their power based on skill alone to discover which side is actually stronger— the Dark or the Light.

Then again, maybe Rey isn’t a Skywalker at all

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