Upon my second viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was struck with an epiphany regarding the origins of the film’s protagonist, Rey. I’d like to document my theory, as I have not encountered it elsewhere. (I do not claim to be the only person to have thought of this, only that I have not seen it expressed elsewhere.)
Let me start by saying that, while I enjoyed the film and feel it’s a worthy successor to the original trilogy, I do feel some of the choices the writers made were somewhat clunky and ham-fisted. The writing seems to bend over backwards to create certain situations, manufacture drama, or bring characters together. Coincidence should never be a tool in a writer’s toolbox. That did not sit well with me. However, if my theory pans out, some of those clunky moments begin to make sense.
This epiphany occurred to me near the end of the film on my second viewing. As the Resistance ships return home after the destruction of Starkiller base (don’t get me started on that thing), the crews and pilots run to each other in celebration. However, Rey steps off the Falcon with a look of confusion. She’s never been there, and aside from her Wookie and droid companions, doesn’t know a soul. (Her other two human companions having been killed and knocked into a coma, respectively). General Organa separates from the crowd, and slowly approaches Rey. It occurred to me that this one moment seemed to drag on, and with a strange sense of awkwardness. Finally, Leia embraces Rey in a hug. Now I was really confused. Why would Leia do this to a stranger? Where’s the “You saw Han die?” discussion. For a movie that seemed to have no brakes, this moment ground to a halt. And then it struck me.
Rey is the daughter of Leia and Han. But Han never knew.
Luke didn’t know.
And neither did Rey.
Bear with me a moment. Here’s what we know from the film, with a few tidbits from various licensed books (mostly the novelization and the visual dictionary). The film takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi. Kylo Ren/Ben is roughly 30 years old, and is the known son of Han and Leia. Clearly, he was born within a year of the Battle of Endor. At some point in his childhood, Han and Leia sent Ben to be trained by Luke as a Jedi. Somewhere around age 10, Ben is seduced to the Dark Side by Snoke. Bad Things ensue, Ben becomes Kylo Ren, Han and Leia split up, and Luke blames himself and goes into hiding.
We know that Rey is roughly 20 years old and was left on Jakku by her family. And not much else.
I submit that just after Han and Leia split up, Leia discovered she was pregnant with a second child by Han. Fearing another problem child, she did not tell Han. (Presumably, she could not tell Luke, as he was missing.) Instead she sent the child off to be raised elsewhere. Somewhere along the line, Rey was left on Jakku. Maybe that was the plan. Maybe it wasn’t.
How else to explain Rey’s quick control of the Force, and her uncanny ability to know the ways of Han Solo well enough to finish his sentences?
Consider Lor San Tekka’s brief appearance at the beginning of the film. He’s obviously long familiar with Leia. It’s not out of the question that she sent him to Jakku to watch over Rey from a distance, much the way Obi-Wan watched over Luke. (Indeed, that was his job based on rumors of an earlier draft.)
One of my complaints after my first viewing was the handling of Han and Leia’s relationship. I thought the breakdown of their marriage/union/whatever undid the happy ending of Return of the Jedi. Splitting them up felt very cliché to me, and I am not a fan of clichés in modern writing. I felt a better solution would be to maintain their relationship, but maybe Leia had sent Han out years ago to find Ben, and he simply hadn’t been back. Maybe they sent emails and texts (or whatever they do in Star Wars), but hadn’t actually been in each others presence for years. That way we avoid all the clichéd awkwardness and get straight to the snappy banter. However, for my theory to hold true, Han and Leia would have to split up, and not talk for years. So maybe my initial complaint is made moot.
I find it unlikely that Rey is the character’s given name. I don’t recall the name “Rey” being spoken on-camera in front of Leia (Finn refers to Rey as “my friend” when he talks to Leia), but it’s likely Han said the name Rey when he brought Leia up to speed on recent events. Meaning Leia probably did not know her long-lost daughter was involved in anything until they laid eyes on each other after the Starkiller defeat.
It’s unlikely Rey knows of her true parentage. I doubt Leia would have told her at the end of the movie, keeping the secret for everyone’s safety. (Parallel to Obi-Wan and Yoda in previous films.) Otherwise, the cat would be out of the bag before Rey meets Luke. One assumes they’ll be starting a master-padawan type relationship, and a dramatic reveal regarding parentage is due in Episode VII.
The writers of The Force Awakens love to parallel the original trilogy, and this certainly fits that mold. The idea of a conflict between siblings Ben and “Rey” also matches up with the sibling-rivalry found in ancient myths. Siblings are in the DNA of Star Wars.
So no, I don’t think Ben and Rey are twins (10 years difference!). I really don’t think Rey is the daughter of Luke. (That theory holds NO water.) Rey is no one’s clone. And while parts of me would like to see Rey turn out to be just a nobody from a backwater planet, Disney is not in the business of selling the mundane. This theory is the only one I’ve considered that stands up to scrutiny, and can conceivably fit the narrative with the fewest holes.
“Rey” is the daughter of Han and Leia, and younger sibling to Kylo Ren/Ben. Check back in 2017.
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