Is Rey a Kenobi or a Palpatine? Theories Heat Up as 'The Last Jedi' Draws Closer
See the cases for both major fan theories inside.
Fan theories regarding Rey's lineage have been around since before The Force Awakens opened over a year ago. With Kylo Ren revealed to be Ben Solo, son of Han and Leia, and the Star Wars penchant for secret familial connections, it seemed obvious Rey was related to someone we've seen before. Her Force abilities are more powerful than anyone else's and that power must come from somewhere.
While it's alluring to imagine who Rey is, it's important to decipher who she's not also. The Force Awakens gives us many hints that Rey might be Luke Skywalker's daughter. She's drawn to his lightsaber and her journey parallels Luke's in the original Star Wars down to the note. But, that possibility seems much too obvious. The Star Wars canon novel, Bloodline, explains Leia and Luke were in contact while Luke was building the Jedi Academy before the events of TFA. So wouldn't she know about a daughter? In TFA, Leia clearly doesn't recognize or know Rey.
However, the real dagger in the Rey Skywalker theory was J.J. Abrams saying Rey's parents were NOT in TFA at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016...
...Then backtracking and saying he meant she doesn't discover them, but they may already be "in her world." That sounds an awful lot like hedging since just about everyone's in Rey's Force visions. But it leads us to:
Could Rey be the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine, Darth Sidious himself, and the most powerful Sith villain in the Star Wars universe so far? There's a lot of evidence to support it. Let's unpack.
First, Rey's Force vision in The Force Awakens contains Palpatine's voice a number of times. Could it be her grandfather calling out to her? It also seems both Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke knew about Rey before they ever meet her. Ren throat grabs an Imperial officer at one point in TFA when the officer mentions Rey, seemingly disturbed by the sudden appearance of a powerful female. "What girl?" He asks, as if he has one in mind.
Likewise, Snoke doesn't tell Ren to murder Rey when he hears of her. He tells him, "Bring her to me." This mirrors Palpatine telling Vader to bring him Luke in Return of the Jedi. Palpatine wanted to turn Luke to the dark side and make him his apprentice. Snoke and Ren want the same fate for Rey.
This is later confirmed when Ren and Rey battle at the end of TFA and Ren declares, "It is you!" Obviously, they have a history or Ren has, at least, heard of her. He tells her desperately, "You need a teacher! I can show you the ways of the Force!" Then she kicks his ass. There is a tacit fear of Rey at every turn in The Force Awakens and that suggests she comes from a devastatingly powerful line, maybe even an evil line.
Perhaps Snoke and Ren know of a powerful Palpatine offspring and have been searching for her. Perhaps she was hidden away on Jakku for years, away from the influence of the dark side, because of her dangerous lineage.
There's also something disturbing about the way Rey fights. She seems filled with anger which, of course, leads to hate, which leads to suffering, which leads to the dark side. Rey had never used a lightsaber before and her natural fighting style imitates Palpatine's. She does his forward thrust stab, something no other Jedi does in the other movies.
Rey also seems to relish the violence of the moment. She's exhilarated by pounding Ren and beating him into submission. She paces around him like a lion with her prey once he's beaten. The original script says Rey is tempted by the dark side in this moment and Ridley definitely shows it in her performance:
"And she could kill him—right now with ONE VICIOUS STRIKE! But she stops, realizing she's on a greater edge than even the cliff—the edge of the dark side."
More evidence? The Force Awakens canon novel released alongside the movie reveals a mysterious voice in Rey's head during this scene we don't hear in the movie:
"'Kill him,' a voice inside her had said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion. 'So easy,' she told herself. 'So quick.'"
Could the voice be Palpatine? It's definitely something he would say. The word "unidentifiable" says the voice isn't Rey's own.
The circumstantial evidence is pretty solid regarding the Rey Palpatine theory as well. You could also point to the Star Wars tradition of Skywalkers fighting Palpatines. Maybe TFA secretly flipped the allegiances so a Skywalker (Ren) is now on the dark side fighting a Palpatine (Rey) on the side of good. It would be a tidy way to keep the tradition alive without telling the fans outright. And, look at the TFA poster. Why is Rey on the "dark side" of the collage with Ren? She seems angry. Then again, it could just be thoughtless photoshopping. Knowing Disney, that's a distinct possibility.
The final piece of Rey Palpatine evidence lies at the end of TFA. When Rey goes to find Luke and return his lightsaber, the legendary Skywalker does not seem happy to see her, at least not fully. He's hesitant and the immediate reaction is to say, "Oh, Luke's hesitating because of the lightsaber. He doesn't want to fight anymore or join the cause or...something."
However, does that sound like Luke? Yes, he's hiding away, but it's highly doubtful cowardice is the reason. Maybe Luke knows who Rey really is and what she's capable of. Maybe it was Luke who discovered her family's powerful history with the Sith and hid her on Jakku. As leader of the Jedi Academy he would've been searching for Force powerful children throughout the galaxy. It seems probable that Luke knew Rey as a child, but that doesn't mean they're related. The original TFA script describes the final scene:
"Older now, white hair, bearded. He looks at Rey. A kindness in his eyes, but there's something tortured too. He doesn't need to ask her who she is or what she's doing here. His look says it all."
That passage could refer to Luke's reluctance to rejoin the Rebel Alliance, but it seems deeper than that doesn't it? What could be so bone-chilling to elicit such a response in one of the most powerful Jedis of all-time? Maybe he's staring into the eyes of the Emperor's offspring, a girl so dangerous she could change the course of history forever.
Then again, maybe she's a...
The other solid fan theory regarding Rey's lineage is that she's the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Sure, the Jedi code forbids marrying and having kids and all that, but that never stopped Anakin Skywalker and, considering Obi-Wan Kenobi spent years alone hiding on Tatooine before meeting Luke in Star Wars, it doesn't seem a stretch to consider he might've sought companionship during that lonesome time.
From the jump, however, the Rey Kenobi rumors really caught fire last November when EW writer and host of Star Wars Celebration, Anthony Breznican suggested the reason there hasn't been talk of an Obi-Wan prequel spinoff is because there are plans to use him in the current trilogy. If Obi-Wan does have a part to play in Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, what would it be? Could he appear to Rey as a Force ghost perhaps? Breznican was on this theory as far back as July, 2015.
The major piece of evidence, however, is this Daisy Ridley interview from Japanese TV during the early stages of her Star Wars life, before she was as media savvy as she is now. In the interview, Ridley says,
“I am solitary, that’s how I begin—that is probably a big clue as to what it is.”
Um, yeah that's a big clue since it doesn't get any more solitary than Obi-Wan on Tatooine before he meets Luke. In every way, Rey's first introduction in The Force Awakens recalls Obi-Wan's life in the original Star Wars.
Ridley also had an interesting response to Vulture inquiring about the possibility of Obi-Wan being her grandfather last year:
“We will see in a year. Just sit tight on that question.”
That is not a denial.
As with the Palpatine theory, the circumstantial evidence in support of Rey Kenobi is also mountainous. First, take a look at Rey and Obi-Wan's matching style choices:
Then consider both Obi-Wan and Rey seem to be the best at mind control, a powerful Jedi trait.
Other Jedi characters try this trick and fail so it doesn't seem like a coincidence these two can do it.
You could also point to Obi-Wan and Rey's British accents. It's a small detail, but the Star Wars universe is very conscious of who speaks with an American accent and who speaks with a British one. John Boyega, who plays Finn and is British, used an American brogue in TFA while Ridley kept her English accent. So it was a decision to allow her to keep it.
Other Obi-Wan/Rey parallels between Star Wars and The Force Awakens:
They both take the exact same lightsaber out of a little chest and give it to Luke (Rey takes a little longer to do it, but still).
They both sneak around the enemy's lair, Obi-Wan at the Death Star and Rey at Starkiller Base.
Both scream "NOOO!" when witnessing an important death. Obi-Wan sees Qui-Gon Jinn murdered and Rey watches Han Solo die. (This one's a Phantom Menance and Force Awakens parallel.)
And there are tons of other parallels. Both Obi-Wan and Rey have scenes in the rain. They both have scenes walking through hologram maps. They both save droids at the starts of their adventures. But my favorite is this:
Obi-Wan closes his eyes and meditates before Vader kills him at the end of Star Wars and Rey seems to call back to that moment when it looks like Ren has the upper hand on her at the end of The Force Awakens. She closes her eyes. This kind of direct reference is no mistake.
So what do you think? Is Rey a Palpatine or Kenobi or someone else perhaps? With The Last Jedi a mere 10 months away, the big question will likely be answered (relatively) soon. Personally, I'm in the Kenobi camp. I don't think the major new character of this trilogy comes from Palpatine. He's not worthy enough.
Comment below with your thoughts.