There has been a lot of hullabaloo about the latest Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi. Some people loved it, some people hated it, and a lot of people felt pretty lukewarm about it. For me, it is a little more complicated than that because there were a lot of things I liked. On the flip side, there are a lot of things I would have liked… to see left on the cutting room floor. Regardless, The Last Jedi was not my movie to edit, so I have chosen to focus on the positive aspects.
The big one for me? Rey’s parents.
Her parentage has been the big discussion since The Force Awakens. Who is this girl? How did she come into the force? Is she a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi? The fan theories on forums and in videos went wild with speculation and a deep analysis of nearly every frame of the movie. Despite what many might think is a letdown, I thought the reveal was absolutely genius and depicted wonderfully on screen.
This is being written under the assumption that Kylo Ren’s reveal during his and Rey’s attempts to turn each other was genuine and honest. While he might be willing to do whatever it takes to win her over to the dark side, I think it would be obnoxious storytelling to reveal in the next movie that he was lying. My reason for that will come a little later.
First, a warning: everything from here on out discusses movie spoilers and if, somehow, you haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet… get out there and get a ticket. Now. Then come back and read this.
**BELOW ARE SPOILERS YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED**
After years of fan speculation, the minds behind The Last Jedi teased their returning audience with the question again. Who is Rey? Who are her parents? What’s her origin?
When she is in the mirrored cave on Ahch-To, I sat on the edge of my seat as all the reflections of Rey formed into a single person as she asked the island who were parents were. Instead of the big reveal everyone expected, all we saw was Rey staring back at us.
I imagine she shared our disappointment.
Later in her heated discussion with Kylo Ren, during her pleas for him to come to the light side and his request for her to come to the dark, he revealed the answer to the question always on her mind: who were they and why did they leave her behind?
The hard answer: deadbeats who needed drinking money. What? Unless Luke took up drinking post-Return of the Jedi it is safe to say that Kylo is not referring to him. The answer is heartbreaking, Rey does not want to hear it, but slowly the acceptance washes over her.
That is when the good stuff starts, though. That is when we get to see Rey not in an exact parallel of Luke’s story, but as a part of her own unique story. You see, from the beginning she did not need special powers or a famous name to become who she was. Instead of dwelling on the past and looking to the stars hoping to run away, she made her own path. She learned to forage, built a space to call her own both literally and figuratively, and was a damn fine fighter force or no force.
Rey does not need to be a prodigy or the offspring of a famous(ly destructive family) to be a hero. She is a hero in her own right, by her own merit, and her achievements belong to her and those who she relies on to help her along the way. She is a child who has every right to be angry with the world, particularly when Kylo reveals why she was left behind, but instead of succumbing to anger and fear, she rose above it.
This ultimate reveal is why the scene in the cave on Ahch-To suddenly makes more sense. It was not meant to solely disappoint Rey and her audience, leaving them wondering if we wouldn’t find out about her parents until the third movie. Instead, the cave provides Rey with the answer to the question that lies beneath, “Who are my parents?” Because the question is not solely a knowledge-based one, but an emotional one.
She doesn’t want to know her parents’ names, not really. She wants to know if they were good people and what that means about her if they weren’t. I think Rey wanted something to measure herself against and what is better than our parents? They are a part of us after all, genetically and socially.
If she could finally see them, know them, then maybe she would know a little bit more about herself. Maybe she would have answers about whether she is a good person, what her worth is, and what is at the core of her identity.
Instead of giving her her parents, the island and its magic gave her herself. When her own face stared back at her, it answered her question in an unexpected way. She is who she is based on her own merit, her own actions, her own heart, not on who her parents were. From the beginning, she has defined her own story and can continue to, regardless of who her parents were or weren’t.
Even if there is a big reveal later, a huge “just kidding!” as we’re shown she’s Obi-Wan Kenobi’s great-granddaughter or something, it will still not undo the powerful moments in The Last Jedi where Rey got to make the decision to live on her own terms, without waiting to be defined by her parents.
Rey is a hero because she has chosen to act like a hero, and that is more powerful than any Skywalker will ever be.