Ever since the multi-talented Rey first dropped into the Star Wars universe back in 2015’s The Force Awakens, fans have been theorizing about just who her parents could be. I mean, obviously she had to be related to some sort of established character, right? Is she really Luke’s daughter? Obi-Wan Kenobi’s? Kylo Ren’s secret twin?
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we finally get our answer – and it comes as quite a shock. In a climactic moment of the movie, Kylo Ren reveals that Rey’s parents were… no one important at all. Just some lowlifes on Jakku who sold their daughter in exchange for money to fuel their various vices. Kylo uses the info as a tool to break Rey’s spirit, in hopes of getting her to come to the Dark Side. Rey proves stronger than him though and stands her ground.
Still, it’s got fans wondering what they’re to make of the revelation. For instance, is Ren just making this up to tempt Rey? Director Rian Johnson spoke to EW at a Q&A following an AMPAS screening of the film and explained his thoughts on the matter, saying that while J.J. Abrams could retcon it away in Episode IX, this is definitely the truth about Rey’s origins. At least, for now.
“I can’t speak to what they’re going to do. And there’s always, in these movies, a question of ‘a certain point of view,’…But for me, in that moment, Kylo believes it’s the truth. I don’t think he’s purely playing chess. I think that’s what he saw when they touched fingers and that’s what he believes. And when he tells her that in that moment, she believes it.”
The director also took the time to clarify that he had free reign from Lucasfilm to do with the character’s backstory what he liked, so it was totally his decision to explain Rey’s parentage the way he did. Johnson revealed that he wanted to find the most dispiriting answer to that question, one that would really be the “hardest thing” for Rey to hear.
“I was thinking, what’s the most powerful answer to that question? Powerful meaning: what’s the hardest thing that Rey could hear? That’s what you’re after with challenging your characters.
“The easiest thing for Rey and the audience to hear is, Oh yeah, you’re so-and-so’s daughter. That would be wish fulfillment and instantly hand her a place in this story on a silver platter…The hardest thing for her is to hear she’s not going to get that easy answer. Not only that, but Kylo is going to use the fact that you don’t get that answer to try and weaken you so you have to lean on him,”
As with much of The Last Jedi, explaining Rey’s parents away as nobodies is a bold move for the franchise as it knuckles down on the fact that the films will move away from familiar characters and their families moving forward. Unless that is, we get another “Did I say Darth Vader killed your father?” moment in Star Wars: Episode IX. For all we know, Abrams could have a grand plan to make Rey the offspring of that stormtrooper that bumped its head. Now wouldn’t that be something.