‘The Last Jedi’ gave us the perfect answer to the question of Rey’s parentsOn December 15, 2017 by Kenna
Spoiler alert: This post contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
As promised, Star Wars: The Last Jedi gives us a definitive answer to the question of who Rey’s parents are.
And with apologies to every fan who’s spun an elaborate theory about why she’s definitely a Kenobi, or a Skywalker, or a Solo, or a Palpatine, or what have you, she’s none of the above.
After a movie and a half’s worth of wondering about and pining after her missing family, Rey finally comes to terms with the truth in The Last Jedi: her parents were just a couple of random deadbeats who, as Kylo sneers, probably sold her off for drinking money, and are now in a pauper’s grave.
It’s a deeply disappointing answer for Rey, and maybe also for those who hoped the new Star Wars movies would carry on the legacies of big-name characters past.
It’s also kind of perfect.
Rey’s parentage opens up the Star Wars universe
The Star Wars galaxy is an enormous place, full of boundless possibility – in theory, that is. In practice, the films’ narrow focus on the Skywalker clan has made it feel kind of small. Whether we’re talking about Vader, Luke, Leia, or even Kylo Ren, it often feels like the Skywalkers are the only people who really matter in this galaxy.
They’re the ones leading the charge on either side of the war, the ones who are constantly un-balancing and re-balancing the Force, the ones who make other, non-Skywalker people important by extension. (Had Han never run into Luke, he’d still be just some smuggler, and not a world-famous hero of the Rebellion.)
Even Rogue One, which centered on a ground-level team of Rebel fighters, ends with Darth Vader and Leia. Jyn and her friends are killed and quickly forgotten; it’s Leia and her allies who get all the glory in A New Hope and beyond.
Rey restores balance to
the Force the story by showing us that there’s much more to this galaxy than just this one messed-up family. She’s an ongoing reminder that this war has touched people from all walks of life, spread throughout the entire system. Everyone is affected, and anyone can be a hero. Even a nobody from nowhere.
Rey brings Star Wars back to its roots
In a weird way, Rey’s insignificant background brings Star Wars back to its roots. Before we learned he was Darth Vader’s son, we loved Luke because he was just some ordinary guy staring up at the sky and dreaming of adventure. In other words, he was us. Now he’s an aging legend with a world-famous (galaxy-famous?) family, and she’s the one who is us.
By the end of The Last Jedi, Rey’s past is still something of a blank slate. However, that, too, dovetails with the themes of the movie. For a long time now, Star Wars has been about the past. Much of Luke’s journey in the original trilogy involves him discovering his true lineage as he falls in with a dying religious order.
The prequels took that fixation on the past even further, jumping back in time to chronicle Luke’s ancestry. Although The Force Awakens skipped ahead to thirty years after the end of Return of the Jedi, the film was so saturated with nostalgia that it felt like a look back even it pressed forward. It was followed in theaters by Rogue One, another excavation of galactic history.
Rey is a sign that Star Wars is moving forward
The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars movie in a long time, then, to feel like it’s truly about the future. It doesn’t ignore the franchise’s history – Rey explicitly rejects Kylo Ren’s suggestion to “let the past die” – but strikes a balance that feels like an exciting step forward.
It gives Rey (and us) the gift of freedom to move forward, without the burden of a rich history or a dramatic prophecy. She’s no one, which means she can become anyone.
That last part is beautifully underscored by The Last Jedi‘s very last shot, which shows a little boy recounting the legend of Luke Skywalker, before casually using the Force to pick up a broom and get started on his chores.
This kid is a nobody whose life was changed in some small way by hearing of other people who used to be nobodies, and then grabbed life by the horns to become somebodies. He’s what Finn and Rose and Rey were once. What Luke was when we first met him.
Will this kid come back, or is he just some random extra we’ll never hear from again? The answer remains murky, but the point is clear: Everyone in this galaxy matters now.