Let’s get this out of the way: even many detractors of The Force Awakens concede that Rey is the wonderful, nuanced female Star Wars lead we’ve always wanted but never dared to dream we would get. That was the case from the moment she popped up on our movie screens, and it’s enormously unlikely that any new information regarding her origins would change that. Her being a Skywalker would not diminish her value any more than Darth Vader being a Skywalker diminished Luke’s.
That said, I’ll be damned if it isn’t fun to guess! Speaking for myself, it all comes down to the execution; I can see a version of Rey Skywalker that I love just as easily as I can see one I hate, and that applies to all the possibilities. There’s more than enough evidence to go around (there’s even a spreadsheet out there, because of course there is) and keep us guessing and debating for the next eighteen months—at least!—so I wanted to see where we at ETE stand right now. Think of this as a snapshot more than battle lines; I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of our minds are changed as the months go by. Mine has already.
Speaking of which, I’ll be back at the end with my own totally batshit theory, because that’s how I roll, but where are you guys leaning right now? What’s the most important piece of evidence as you see it—or is it more your personal hopes than an objective analysis?
friend: "who is your fav star wars character?" me: "rey solo. the daughter of leia organa and han solo. i know it's not official, but yes."
— phoebs (@danakmulders) January 7, 2016
Jay: I’m 100% on Team Organa / Team Solo (as many have said, both are equally plausible names!). I could go into the reasons why: her quick connection to Han, her instant recognition of Leia, etc. but I don’t think that’s really that important. I don’t know if there’s any point in laying out my evidence like I’m presenting a case because we have so little information, and because it isn’t like people are looking to be persuaded. Maybe some people are looking at it objectively and analyzing the evidence. I tell you right now that I’m not.
So I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll say that from the moment we got the sequel trilogy announcement (and certainly from the moment of the cast photo), I was hoping to get Jaina Solo as the hero of the trilogy. I figured early on that it wouldn’t be a direct Expanded Universe adaptation, even if I didn’t predict the full reboot. But Jaina Solo was my favorite EU character growing up — the one I grew up with in old Bantam, in fact — and the one I championed through the New Jedi Order and beyond when the fandom was crapping on her. I even like Crystal Star because of its excellent Jaina portrayal.
Why Jaina? Because of who she was. Mechanical aptitude. Pilot. Warrior. She was an exceptionally good role model. I wanted to see her do that for more people, and the sequel trilogy was the means to do that. I also desperately hoped she’d have a strong character arc again and not be thrown into pointless love triangles, but that’s… an aside.
Now, Rey is already the perfect distillation of Jaina. She has all of Jaina’s key traits. She has already proven to be a role model for girls and boys alike. I could not be happier with Rey. I want her to be Leia’s daughter, Han’s daughter, to further cement that. Not because that’s what the EU did and I want TFA to redo the EU, but because Jaina was one of the best things the EU ever did and I think that her origin actually fits the story we’ve created too. She’ll never be an exact match: she’s not a twin, she has a different story line, there’s a vastly different context. But insofar as Rey strongly resembles Jaina, I also think she works very well.
I think that the hero has to be a Skywalker, not just the villain. I think the Skywalker saber calls to a Skywalker. And I think it would be more satisfying for Ren and Rey to be siblings rather than cousins. But most of all, I am just a longtime Jaina Solo fan and I want Rey to be her analog.
If she’s not, I will still be over the moon for what Rey’s done. Even if she’s not Leia and Han’s kid, she’s Jaina’s heir in every way. I mean, she’s a Jedi and she’s the captain of the Millennium Falcon. What a time to be alive indeed!
Wild Star Wars fan theory: What if Rey is the daughter of someone who is not in the original trilogy?
— Uncanny Kate Kirby (@uncanny_kate) January 6, 2016
David: My personal choice would be Rey Durron.
Hey, don’t go, let me explain myself.
I’m wary of adding yet another connection to the Skywalker clan without falling into a Spaceballs-like parody. We have Kylo Ren already. He’s the legacy character, and he can well carry the weight of the saga on his emo shoulders.
Rey Solo? I’m not sure I could swallow Han and Leia not recognizing her (especially Leia, because you know, the Force) and if they recognize her, wow, that’s not exactly how I’d expect someone who’s already lost one kid to react when their second kid turns out to be alive. And I really like that Han became, in just a few hours, the father that Rey never had. Having Han actually be the father would ruin that for me.
Rey Skywalker? I don’t really like the idea of Luke having met the love of his life and having had kids off screen, but I think it’s more likely than the other scenario. After all, we’d have the lightsaber going from father to son to grand-daughter, and we’d have a character with the “Skywalker” last name once more.
Rey Kenobi? Euh, maybe. But it’s as likely as, say, Rey Antilles. Or are you crazies saying this because she hears Obi-Wan’s voice during the Forceback? You know she hears Yoda’s too, right? Are you implying she’s a clone of Yoda and Obi-Wan?
But no, my favorite option would be for Rey to be the daughter of a completely new character, the Kyp Durron or the Mace Windu of the New Republic era: the tremendously powerful apprentice not related to the Skywalker clan. Maybe meeting this new character was the reason Luke started training apprentices, or maybe jealousy of this new character is what led Kylo Ren to fall into Snoke’s paws (“how can he be more powerful than me? I’m a Skywalker!”). Anyway, this skilled apprentice would fall at the hands of the Knights of Ren, but Kylo would be unable to kill his or her young daughter because the pull of the light was still too strong, getting two of his knights to sell her into slavery. And now, having killed his father, Kylo sees Rey as the last reminder of his past weakness. And Rey has now become the real heir of the Skywalker legacy, the only student to have been fully trained by Luke Skywalker. She’s the hope of the galaxy by merit and not by blood. A second duel between both warriors, perhaps now aware of their true nature and their connection during that fatidical night, is fated to happen. And so Episode VIII begins.
Sorry, got carried away…
Rey Skywalker. O Rey Solo. o Solo Rey. pic.twitter.com/1uNnMJTGPT
— essined (@deniiiiiisse) January 7, 2016
Rocky: I had three predictions for TFA. 1- Han was going to die. 2- Kylo Ren would be Han and Leia’s kid. 3- Rey is Luke’s kid. I was right about 1 and 2, and I’d love to be right about 3, and not just for the nerd credit.
Star Wars has, for a long time, been the tale of the Skywalker family. Luke was such a central character of the OT, and we know that he doesn’t have a lot of reverence for the culture of the old Jedi Order. Especially from what we’ve gathered from the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, what if Luke did meet some nice Rebel girl at some point, and had a child? It would be far from implausible. Furthermore, with the Jedi being so extinct, wouldn’t there be some social pressure on Luke to restore the Jedi and have a Jedi family? It would make sense for him to have a child.
Rey being Luke’s child also ties well into her being on Jakku and the dreams she’s had of an island surrounded by ocean. When Luke needs to hide his child, perhaps because of Kylo Ren’s misdeeds or something else going politically wrong in the galaxy, he doesn’t want Rey on Tatooine or anywhere else associated with him. An out-of-the-way desert planet might be a good idea, somewhere that Luke would know of but few others would. Rey might have been only five when she was left on Jakku, but her Force-sensitivity alone explains well why she has such clear memories from such a young age, has survived so well, and her dreams. Perhaps her Force-senses work so well, even untrained, because she is Luke’s child and is therefore predisposed to much better Force-sensitivity in the first place.
Finally, there is every reason for Luke to hide the fact that his child is still alive. Luke has disappeared from the galaxy, presumably after something horrible happened to the Jedi he was trying to teach. He isn’t going to want the rest of the galaxy to know that his highly Force-sensitive child is still alive and could return to become a Jedi on her own, after what happened the last time he tried to reestablish the Jedi. Of course, the First Order is interested in Rey as soon as they figure out that she is Force-sensitive, and their interests are likely much more dangerous. For the interests of galactic security and Rey’s own safety, Luke probably doesn’t want to admit that she exists and who she is. For that matter, how do we know that Rey is her real name? It might not be.
The GFFA is a complicated place for Force-users, especially those from prominent families. I still think Rey is Luke’s child, perhaps from a bit of Star Wars genre-savviness. There are many good reasons to hide who she is, and hopefully it’ll be revealed at some point in the ST. Maybe we’ll even find out who her mother is.
Rey Kenobi. Search your feelings, you know it to be true!
— Ryan Wyatt (@Fwiz) December 31, 2015
Ben W: I haven’t written much about The Force Awakens since the movie came out, but of course I have to chime in about the film’s largest enduring mystery. Who is Rey? There’s pretty much every possibility and theory under the sun out there right now, from the obvious to the outlandish. She’s Han and Leia’s second kid, she’s Luke’s daughter, and so on. If she is related to someone, if she has to be grandfathered into the Force so to speak, her being a descendant of someone like Obi-Wan Kenobi would be a pretty good option. In all honestly, I’d prefer that she not be related to anyone, but if we have to take sides…
Here’s the thing: the Skywalker and Solo families, for all of their pedigree among fans, have a lot of baggage along with them. Once someone is a part of that family tree, they are immediately burdened with the sort of galaxy-shaping power that previous generations of Jedi had prophecies about. They also have the legacy of Darth Vader to contend with, the specter of the dark side hovering over them like a sword of Damocles (Exhibit A: Kylo Ren).
Not everyone in Star Wars has to be related to someone “important”. This isn’t Dragon Ball Z where only those of the Sayan race are strong enough to be worthwhile protagonists. Not everyone needs to be related to Anakin Skywalker in order to become a hero. Just like The Force Awakens is the first installment in a new trilogy, Rey needs to be the first in a new generation of Jedi. But unlike much of TFA, rather than relying on something that’s happened before, in Rey they should create something new.
But, you say, if she’s related to Kenobi for instance, she isn’t exactly unknown, which is true. But there is still an aspect of her being unknown. After all, there’s a whole generation between Obi-Wan and Rey, a whole generation of relative obscurity to allow Rey to come from Nowhere, Jakku realistically. They may not even have been aware she, or they, were Force-sensitive. Also, from a perspective of a Legends fan, giving Obi-Wan a family and eventually a granddaughter would be something that has not been done before.
It also gives a nice bit of circular storytelling going into Episode VIII. Just like Luke originally learned the ways of the Force from Obi-Wan, his granddaughter could in turn learn much the same from Luke. Also, just as Obi-Wan once gave Luke his father’s lightsaber as a call to a new world of excitement and adventure, Rey gives him the same weapon to try and bring him back to save the galaxy again.
FYI Rey has a British accent and therefore, like all people with a British accent in the Star Wars universe, is evil
— an evil rose (@direlog) January 4, 2016
Mike: So yeah, I think Rey is Snoke’s. I’m not joking.
I arrived at this notion thusly: for starters, I can’t see a way to reveal that she’s a Solo or a Skywalker that would be more satisfying after another eighteen months of speculation than it would have been within TFA. In particular, if she were Luke’s child, imagine her holding the lightsaber out to him at the very end, looking at him knowingly (more or less like she actually does, honestly), and saying “hello, father”. End movie.
If it’s as simple as that, I don’t see how it could be done better. And if she were Han and Leia’s, the only ways to explain their reactions to her are to say that either their memories were erased, which I’m philosophically not a fan of, or they think their daughter is dead, which would be a hell of a thing to do to Han considering he doesn’t make it out of the movie alive—but, sure, not impossible.
In any event, her being a SkySolo just feels too easy, if only because everyone is expecting it. But I don’t see her heritage coming totally out of left field, either—so I started thinking about the other characters in the movie. What clinched it for me was a line in the TFA concept art book that says Snoke was imagined by one artist as possibly being “quite handsome” in his youth. Handsome enough to have fathered Daisy Ridley? It’s not out of the question. The same book also mentions that they once considered Snoke being female, but unlike the Plagueis theory, this works just as well either way.
It’s flimsy evidence, I admit—we don’t even know if how Snoke appears in TFA is how he really looks, or if he’s human at all. But what really sold, and continues to sell, me on this is all the other things that snapped into place when I reexamined the movie through this lens. Allow me to run through the rough scenario I’m seeing.
Deciding Snoke is Rey’s father, by necessity, requires one to make certain assumptions about who Snoke is. Right now I’m leaning toward him being one of Palpatine’s advisors; possibly even one of the guys in the background in Return of the Jedi—which means he may have witnessed certain key events on the second Death Star. In Aftermath we learn that another surviving advisor, Yupe Tashu, wants to withdraw to the Unknown Regions, where he believes Palpatine’s power originated. We still don’t know what the hell that was about, but the next thing we do know, there’s a pasty Force user running the First Order out of the UR. Maybe Snoke was already sensitive and something leveled him up, or maybe he wasn’t sensitive at all before laying claim to this mysterious power source.
Phase two: Snoke wants the Imperial throne for himself, but he needs a claim to the position stronger than mere power, so he sets about creating an heir people can get behind—in true First Order style, someone raised for the job from birth. This could have been done the old-fashioned way, or perhaps more interestingly, through a second try at the experiment that created Anakin. So rather than Rey being a Skywalker directly, she’s connected to the Skywalker legacy through Anakin’s other parent—the Force itself. You can take or leave this part depending on how big of a deal you need Rey to be, but it’s there if you want it.
Phase three: Luke, from his shiny new Jedi Temple, senses what’s going on. He confronts Snoke, gives him a few scars, and flees with toddler Rey. He can’t lead Snoke back to the Temple, so he goes into hiding with Rey, perhaps with the intention of training her himself—but meanwhile, Snoke decides to get revenge how? By reaching out and corrupting poor little Ben. Best-case scenario, Ben lures Luke and Rey back; worst-case scenario, at least he’s got a Skywalker in his pocket.
Eventually Snoke coerces Ben into destroying the new Jedi Order. Knowing Snoke and Ben-turned-Kylo will be after him with everything they’ve got, he entrusts Rey to some Church of the Force acolytes (or maybe even a surviving student or two?) and goes off to search for the first Jedi temple—possibly to find some key to countering Snoke’s power, but more importantly, because as long as he’s missing Snoke will assume Rey is with him. Crucially, Luke doesn’t just ditch Rey because he’s bummed out, but because the safest place she can be is far away from him. Somehow, Luke’s confidants lose track of Rey on Jakku, and the rest we know. The Force Awakens is not about Snoke searching for Luke Skywalker, it’s about Snoke trying to get his daughter back.
Last but not least, this also provides an answer for Han and Leia’s vague reactions: they’re aware of a girl out there somewhere but don’t know enough of the details to automatically connect her to Rey. Han, going on a gut feeling, offers her a job on the Falcon because he suspects it’s a good idea to keep her around.