We all have a theory about who Rey’s parents are. But will any of them end up being correct?
Following the reveal of the latest trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, we decided to see where our geek-laden office stood on the question of Rey’s mysterious parentage. The answers are informed by a wide range of perspectives: Some of us looked at it as a marketing question, some of us saw it as a mythology question, and some of us…well, take a look. Nothing goes where you think it’s gonna go!
parents grandparents are: QUI-GON JINN
Rey is Qui-Gon’s grandchild. Look, I’d prefer she weren’t related to anyone at all, but if she must be (which seems probable, given Star Wars’s M.O.), Qui-Gon is easily the smartest and most interesting choice. Qui-Gon wasn’t big on the Jedi Order’s rules and regulations; he’s totally the kind of guy who would have had a fling that resulted in an illegitimate child. Qui-Gon believed in adhering to a more naturalistic view of the Force, the “living Force” as it was called, and was the first Jedi in centuries to learn how to become one with the Force in death (landing him those sweet Force ghost abilities that everyone’s always talking about). He had a lot of opinions about the Order and was willing to go against the Council when he thought they were wrong, even to the point of planning to train Anakin Skywalker without their go-ahead. In his death, he passes that job to Obi-Wan, and the Council decides to allow it for the sake of keeping Obi-Wan in the fold and keeping an eye on Anakin. Because Obi-Wan does not teach Anakin as Qui-Gon would have, Obi-Wan ends up failing Anakin and misses the signs that denote his eventual turn to the Dark Side.
The three trilogies as they stand are meant to be part of one whole narrative arc, and if Rey is Qui-Gon’s grandkid, she has the ability to connect all nine episodes beautifully. What you end up with is Luke—who, remember, is the son of the boy Qui-Gon wanted to train all those years ago—training Qui-Gon’s own progeny to bring balance to the Force, but outside the tenets of the Jedi Order (a factor we can assume based on Luke’s belief that the Jedi must “end”). Training Rey in that manner is precisely what Qui-Gon wanted for Luke’s father and other Force sensitive beings. Luke and Rey basically stand for the corrected version of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship… and Qui-Gon’s point of view on the Force is vindicated, leading to a new era in their galaxy.
– Emmet Asher-Perrin
Rey’s parents are: HAN AND LEIA
For me, the identity of Rey’s parents is whatever character generates the most story after the revelation. This means that at the very least the answer has to change Rey or there’s no point to having the mystery present in the first place.
By “change” I mean it has to make Rey question her pre-existing motivations and choose an alternate method of addressing the conflict and/or it has to resolve those questions and bring clarity. The revelation of Luke’s father in The Empire Strikes Back does the first, changing Luke from a clear-eyed missile of galactic justice to a miserable wretch hanging upside down from a floating city, clutching his severed arm, and croaking “Ben, why didn’t you tell me?” Luke’s story in Return of the Jedi features the second half of this change, with resolution and clarity coming at the very end when Luke spares his father during their lightsaber battle. The question: “My father is the galaxy’s greatest monster and only I can kill him. What’s the right thing to do?” is answered by: “I spare him so I don’t become him.”
Note that the revelation of Luke’s parents affects the motivations of the primary protagonist and antagonist, and therefore the overall plot of the trilogy. Luke sparing Vader inadvertently triggers his father’s return to the Light, which results in the Emperor’s demise and hastens a close to the trilogy’s galactic struggle. Thus, their personal conflict affects the galactic conflict. To be effective, the revelation of Rey’s parents must do the same, since we as Star Wars fans expect the same quality of epic storytelling.
So who could fulfill that expectation?
Luke himself is the most obvious choice in regards to the revelation of Rey’s parents. We know from The Force Awakens and trailer footage from The Last Jedi that Luke will be teaching Rey how to fight and use The Force. We can also safely theorize that Luke is conflicted not only about the proper way to conceptualize and utilize The Force, but that the slaughter of his previous school of Force users makes him hesitant to train anyone else in the ways of The Force. And while it hasn’t been outright stated, we can also safely theorize that Luke trained Ben, and that Luke’s failure in preventing Ben from becoming Kylo probably weighs upon him.
Revealing Luke as Rey’s father would certainly carries the potential to change Rey: Why did Luke abandon her? Why didn’t he ever come back? Why should she train with him if he’s already discarded his responsibility towards her? Will Luke help her support the Resistance? SHOULD he support the Resistance? If she trains with Luke and goes after Kylo…is she then just a tool to help him clean up his mistakes?
These are all big questions with potentially rich answers, but… those answers don’t produce a lot of story. We understand Rey and Luke better, but we don’t understand why Kylo felt motivated to kill Luke’s students, and Rey’s motivation doesn’t change. Rey being told that Kylo killed all of Luke’s students, for instance, isn’t any more powerful a motivator than Rey having witnessed Kylo kill Han, the man who plunged into the heart of The First Order in order to save her.
Revealing Han and Leia as Rey’s parents, however, ties everyone together, introducing seismic change into Rey’s motivations. This means Kylo killed her father, too. But this also means Han was a father who willfully abandoned her at a young age and only came back for her by accident. Leia not mentioning to Rey in Force Awakens that she’s her mother would reinforce Rey’s impression of carelessness on the part of Han and Leia.
Kylo would seize on this revelation to explain to Rey why he turned from them. He got pawned off onto Luke, after all. He probably feels abandoned, too. Rejected. This is how we, the viewer, get a relatable explanation of what feelings motivate Kylo (“My parents actually were distant and uncaring and pawned me off on my uncle…”) without requiring us to sympathize with his monstrous response (“…so I killed everyone”).
The timeline for this is also relatively easy to explain to the viewer in relation to Luke’s backstory. It seems clear that at some point in The Last Jedi we’re going to see Ben become Kylo and slaughter Luke’s students/bring his Jedi academy to the ground. This is all we need to know regarding the specifics of Rey’s abandonment. All Leia has to do is explain: Hey, just like Luke told you…your brother went nuts and we had every reason to believe he was coming for me, your dad, and you next, so we asked a third party to hide you. That way even if he DID get to us he couldn’t use his telepath interrogation mindtrick thing that he did in Force Awakens to dig that info out of us.
(The timeline for this series of events actually matches up, too. Kylo is 10 years older than Rey, and it’s not at all impossible that Han and Leia got pregnant again in their 30s. Rey looks to be between 4 and 7 years old in her abandonment flashback, which would make Kylo an irrational teen when he goes crackers and brings down Luke’s academy. Roughly the same age Anakin was when he rage-flipped in Attack of the Clones and killed that camp of Tusken Raiders.)
There’s still the question of why Leia and Han never tried to retrieve her, but there’s likely no clear answer to that, as that would make it easier for Rey to forgive Han and Leia, and lessen the drama of the revelation.
Finally, Han and Leia being Rey’s parents creates a conflict that propels the characters into the next movie. Regardless of how Rey ends up feeling about Han and Leia, she now knows she’ll probably have to kill Kylo. If Luke and Leia don’t survive the events of The Last Jedi, this will mean killing the only family she has left.
father brother is the galaxy’s greatest monster and only I can kill him. What’s the right thing to do?-
– Chris Lough
Rey’s parents are: NOBODY
You know who I want Rey’s parents to be? Nobody. I’m not talking Immaculate Midichlorian Conception or Midichlorian Virgin Birth: I just want Rey’s parents to be people who got pregnant, had a kid, couldn’t keep her for regular-folk-type reasons, and abandoned her on a planet, never to return. I don’t want Rey’s Force sensitivity to be connected in any way to bloodlines, parentage, or any other weirdo Space Eugenics—the Force chose her, and she heeded the call. I want her to be the first in a wave of Force users, like Chirrut Îmwe, who are not part of some Jedi elite but simply people who are willing to dedicate themselves to studying it.
I want Rey to be the proof that the Force belongs to us all.
– Leah Schnelbach
Rey’s parents are: LUKE
“Guys this is Star Wars it’s not hard to figure out.”
– Other folks in the Tor.com office