The Ballad of Ren and Rey

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has broken records, received stellar reviews and revitalized a much-loved franchise.

More importantly it gifted us Kylo Ren, formerly Ben Solo, son of Leia and Han, Master of the Knights of Ren and Creep of the First Order. He has become an internet sensation thanks to his tantrums, his sullen ambivalence and his rejection of his former identity.

Before the movie’s release we learned that Kylo idolized Darth Vader. It’s why he stomps around in a black mask that he doesn’t need.

One early theory was that new heroine Rey was the child of Han and Leia. Kylo could have pursued her in the hopes of a dark side bride and little Vader great-grand babies.

Instead we learn that it is Kylo who is of Vader’s bloodline.

But he is very interested in Rey. He even sweeps her into his arms and carries her to his ship. When Rey taunts him and refers to him as a “creature” he pops his mask off and tosses his hair.

“Don’t be afraid, I feel it too,” he smirks.

Rey has to pick her jaw up off the ground and re-assume her own mask – a mask of defiance.

Who is she? Technically, she’s just a scavenger abandoned on planet Jakku by her parents. She’s no one.

But her relationship with Kylo may be central to his redemption. Her lineage has become one of the big mysteries of The Force Awakens, and there are plenty of theories.

Rey and Ren are siblings

Well poor Han had no clue.

hansolo

Credit: Lucasfilm

Some people think he unburdened his fatherly guilt to Maz Kanata off-camera at her castle. But the reason we cut away in that scene is because the audience didn’t need to hear Han explain Rey’s backstory.

“Han told me,” Maz says to Rey when the girl starts to explain that she needs to return to Jakku.

It’s possible Leia secretly had baby Rey and then stashed her for safe-keeping.

But Luke and Leia were safely tucked away as babies. Leia grew up a princess on Alderaan, while Luke was raised by his aunt and uncle with Obi-Wan keeping a close eye.

As the novel Before the Awakening (published by Disney-Lucasfilm press) makes clear, Rey suffers an agonizing life, waking up every day starving.

Leia’s reaction to Rey is warm but ambiguous. She greets her with a hug because the girl cared for Han and saw him die, and because Leia can sense she is strong with the force.

But are Rey and Kylo siblings? I’d say no.

They’re cousins

Did Luke’s facial expression scream Skywalker family reunion?

luke

Credit: Lucasfilm

As Rey reached out to him, he looked like he was going to chuck himself off the cliff. It was like that time he jumped off a ledge in Cloud City when Vader propositioned him in Empire.

Vader begged him to join the dark side; Rey reaches out to him to rejoin the fight for the light.

Episode VIII may reveal that Luke is her father. That’s not going to be shocking. And they could have done it in VII.

Comments from Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow hint that we might not get answers to Rey’s parentage until the end of the trilogy. That’s a long drawn out reveal when half the audience already think she’s Luke’s.

As for Kylo, cousin-rivalry will hardly have the pathos of the father-son duel in Return of the Jedi.

Yes, Anakin’s old lightsaber calls to Rey, and she bests Kylo on Star Killer base. But it’s not really fair to play favourites with the grandkids, Ani.

The Kenobi connection

A lot of fans are sold on this one; Rey is the granddaughter of old Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi.

kenobi

Credit: Lucasfilm

Why Kenobi? He was a mentor figure for Anakin and Luke, and this is the Skywalker family show, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has stated.

Kenobi was long dead before the events of Jedi, and Rey was born after the Battle of Endor, so no way is she his daughter.

But Kenobi could have had a child who went on to have Rey… It’s unwieldy. And again, Jakku is no place to hide a child for safe-keeping.

Kylo was likely named Ben after Kenobi. So he goes up against the granddaughter of his namesake, who may also be his cousin? It’s not really the “deeply and profoundly satisfying” ending Trevorrow has promised.

Empire, Jedi and Force Awakens co-writer Lawrence Kasdan has said that Episode VIII will be “some weird thing,” which possibly suggests a stranger answer than Rey-is-a-Kenobi…

She’s the Force, reborn…

Some people say the shadow of Vader looms over Rey.

Rey picked up piloting and force skills so quickly both Han and then Kylo looked at her with amazement. But perhaps this isn’t Rey’s first rodeo. Yup, she’s the Rey-incarnation of Anakin/Vader.

Maybe after Anakin brought balance to the force, he saw his grandson fall to the dark side. He made the sacrifice to return and redeem him, the way Luke saved Vader.

Anakin/Vader is the one person whom Kylo would listen to – he’s been begging his grandfather to speak to him, to show him guidance.

Trevorrow explained: “Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy.”

Does that sound like a girl who is the continuation of the Skywalker/Kenobi line, or perhaps more like the returned chosen one?

According to Trevorrow: “[Episode IX] is something that needs to honour a story that’s been told over a period of 40 years. I don’t want to ignore any of it, and I respect all of it. It’s something I think the fan base is going to embrace.”

Well, even in a fun story of space wizards and Force-assisted births, some will balk at the idea of reincarnation.

2 thoughts on “The Ballad of Ren and Rey

  1. Imperial Talker

    Love this piece! I am thinking of doing a piece on the “Rey is a Kenobi thing” but only to shoot down the idea (well, the idea that she is directly descended from him – I would be open to them being distant relatives of sorts).

    Anywho, I came across a theory the other day that suggested Rey is a clone of Luke. I was intrigued by the thought and it would fit the whole “weird thing” that we would end up discovering, but I am otherwise not sure what to make of it. It would certainly be surprising, but are they willing to go down a road where Rey is the new Luke not only metaphorically but quite literally. I just don’t think this will be it, even if it is an interesting thought. Besides, would be hard to argue that they got a female clone from male DNA (wait, do they have DNA in the Star Wars universe…).

    Reply

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