WARNING: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
After years of anticipation and waiting, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is finally here, and though the film did answer some of the burning questions fans had, there are plenty left to be explored in the coming installments of the sequel trilogy. Star Wars 7 was essentially the tip of the iceberg and was more concerned with setting up a foundation for the films to build on instead of revealing everything all at once. It’s arguably better that it played out this way, since it leaves much intrigue for Episode VIII. After all, moviegoers didn’t learn the full story of the original trilogy in A New Hope.
The Force Awakens has plenty of ambiguous moments that left viewers questioning what exactly they saw, and it’s unknown if a future movie will share additional answers. Fortunately, the Force Awakens screenplay (which has now been sent out for awards consideration) and the tie-in novel provide greater details concerning some of the movie’s most talked-about scenes, giving fans materials to pour over before their next viewing of the movie. While we have covered a select few of the details already, we’re compiling a “one-stop shop” list of the most noteworthy reveals from outside sources and what they might mean for the series moving forward.
FINAL SPOILER WARNING
The film does not state how old the new characters are, so fans were left to rely on the actors’ ages to come up with a rough estimate. For instance, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are 23, Adam Driver is 32, and Oscar Isaac is 36. Turns out, some of those numbers are a little off. The Force Awakens visual dictionary reveals that Rey (Ridley) is 19 during the events of the film, much like Luke during A New Hope. And while this isn’t stated in anything that can officially be considered franchise canon, a tweet from Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo said that Kylo (Driver) is either 29 or 30, which means he was born shortly after the Battle of Endor.
The age difference eliminates the possibility that the two are twins a la Luke and Leia, but they still could very well be related (more on this in a bit). One of the biggest mysteries is when exactly Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side and everything went to hell, and nothing released so far has provided any indications. During Rey’s vision sequence, a flashback shows her as a 5 year old girl being left on Jakku, which would make Ren around 15. If that seems like a young age to be consumed by the Dark Side, consider that Anakin Skywalker became Obi-Wan Kenobi’s apprentice at 9 – so teaching children the ways of the Force is nothing new. Whoever abandoned Rey may have felt the conflict within Kylo and decided to hide Rey for her own protection.
Resistance Ally at Maz Kanta’s
When Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Finn (Boyega), Rey, and BB-8 go to Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) on Takodana for help, First Order and Resistance allies alert their groups that BB-8 is on the planet, leading to a big battle. The one who alerts the Resistance is a droid who as far as anybody knows had never met BB-8 before. Whereas Kylo Ren knew the map to Luke Skywalker was contained inside a BB unit, nobody else knew what they were looking for. So how did the droid know to contact the Resistance?
Everyone’s favorite protocol droid, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), was responsible. The novelization states that C-3PO activated the Resistance’s network of droid allies to search for the lovable soccer ball. He was actually supposed to turn on a tracking device on BB-8 before he got separated from Poe Dameron (Isaac), but he forgot. Fortunately, he was able to come through in a different way and get BB-8 back to Resistance HQ before anything bad happened.
Rey’s Force Visions
Towards the middle of The Force Awakens, Rey is called down to the basement of Maz Kanata’s castle and drawn to Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) old lightsaber he used in The Empire Strikes Back. Upon touching it, Rey has a disorientating Force vision that features several out of context scenes and images. These include Luke resting his hand on the domed head of R2-D2, and what has now been confirmed as Kylo Ren and his fellow Knights of Ren standing amidst slaughtered bodies in a rainstorm. Readers have already seen our theories for what’s implied by the visions (and how an adorable species may have met its bitter end), but the screenplay has bits of clarifications.
There has been some debate as to when exactly in the timeline the Luke and R2 scene takes place. The script indicates that it took place at some point before The Force Awakens takes place, saying that there is a “burning temple at night” while Luke shares a moment with his droid companion. It suggests that this happened shortly after Kylo Ren led an attack on Luke’s new Jedi academy (causing the elder Skywalker to flee). While the screenplay doesn’t confirm anything beyond that, this knowledge could provide clues on the mysterious map to Luke that serves as the film’s MacGuffin. BB-8 is in possession of a portion of it, while R2 has the rest. Luke very well could have stored information regarding his location in R2 (in case he was needed again) right before he left and told R2 to rest in low power mode until the time was right.
Young Rey’s Guardian
During Rey’s Force-inflicted visions, audiences also see a glimpse of the protagonist as a little girl, being left on the desert planet Jakku where she would stay until her fateful meeting with Finn (John Boyega). Out of the corner of the screen, there’s an arm dragging Rey away as she begs for her family to come back. The movie does not reveal who Rey was left with, but the screenplay states that it is Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg), the Jakku junk dealer Rey does business with to receive portions of food. It is interesting to consider that Plutt was charged with watching over the young Rey, since their interactions in the final film do not come close to indicating a long history between the two.
Unfortunately, neither the novel, nor the screenplay expand beyond that, so this revelation will only raise more questions about Rey’s backstory. Her parentage is clearly an element of the sequel trilogy that’s being saved for another day, and there are no shortage of theories concerning her family bloodline. Based on the wording of the script, it would appear that whoever left Rey behind made a prearranged deal with Plutt, but since that character only shares scenes with Rey (and doesn’t mention any other names), it’s difficult to say who that might be. Regardless, Rey’s history will almost certainly be a topic discussed in Episode VIII.
Leia’s Near Death
Fans have learned that hotshot Resistance pilot Poe Dameron almost met his end in The Force Awakens, but he wasn’t the only hero with a near death experience. If things had turned out differently in-universe, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) would no longer be alive. When the First Order displays the firepower of their Starkiller weapon, they destroy the five planets of the Hosnian system, which includes the New Republic capital. One of the many individuals who dies in the attack is a character called Korr Sella, who acts as Leia’s liaison on behalf of the Resistance.
The film does not make this clear, but the book indicates the Republic and the Resistance are not exactly working together. The Republic signed a treaty with the First Order and does not approve of an offshoot military group waging a war with it. Leia sends Sella to Hosnian Prime to speak for her and ask for aid from the Republic, because Leia feels the planet is not a safe place for a “political pariah” like herself. She feared that she would encounter someone who didn’t agree with her views and decide to take action against her.
C-3PO’s Red Arm
It was highly-publicized that the golden C-3PO was going to be sporting a new red arm in The Force Awakens, but the film does not concern itself with an explanation as to why. The protocol droid has one line of throwaway dialogue where he jokes that Han won’t recognize him because of the crimson limb. It’s smart that the movie glosses over the switch, since it definitely had more pressing issues to tackle. But for those wondering why C-3PO has a change of appearance, the answers are coming in a Star Wars comic book to be published this February.
The full story remains to be told, but a companion book to The Force Awakens provides a brief clue to what happened. The publication refers to it as a “memento of another droid’s sacrifice.” It’s simple, but certainly attention grabbing, and it should raise enough eyebrows for the special comic to sell copies when it’s released. With 30 years between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens, C-3PO could have gotten into any kind of trouble and it’ll be interesting to see what exactly he did.
The Resistance is Small
Much like the Rebel Alliance before it, the Resistance consists of a ragtag group of fighters and spaceships taking part in a conflict they are not fit for. But from the sound of it, the group showcased in The Force Awakens is even more outmatched than the heroes of the original trilogy. When Poe Dameron knocks out a key part of the Starkiller base during the final fight, Leia commands the remaining fighters to leave the battlefield. She states that Poe’s squadron and those at the Resistance base are the only ones capable of putting up a fight.
That’s a startling development. Whereas the Rebels had an entire fleet at their disposal (shown in Return of the Jedi), the Resistance appears very much on their own, gathering what supplies they can to go against the well-resourced First Order. Now that the Republic capital has been destroyed, it will be interesting to see where the Resistance goes for help as they try to build up their cause. This is new ground to explore for a Star Wars movie and presents a great deal of challenges for Leia moving forward. Maybe Benicio del Toro’s mystery Episode VIII character is a shady source for support? Regardless, the good guys are still the underdogs in the Star Wars galaxy.
Kylo Ren’s Emotions
A major reveal of The Force Awakens is that villain Kylo Ren is actually Ben Solo, the son of Rebel Alliance heroes Han Solo and Leia Organa. Ben was a pupil of Luke’s before Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) seduced him and drew Ben to the Dark Side. Adopting the name Kylo Ren, one of Ben’s missions in life is to fully consume himself in the darkness and resist the pull of the Light Side he feels. In the book, Snoke believes that Darth Vader’s (who Kylo admires) downfall was his love for his son, Luke, and if Kylo could remove his familial attachments, he could become more powerful.
Ren’s “greatest test” alluded to in the film is facing his father and killing him. Kylo believes that the action will give him the strength he craves, but the cold-blooded murder has the adverse effect. The Force Awakens script states that Kylo is “weakened” and “horrified” by what he’s done, and the shock only wears off when Chewbacca screams in agony and shoots Kylo in the abdomen. Towards the end of Star Wars 7, Snoke states that he needs to complete Kylo’s training, indicating that the young Ren still has much molding left to do. This would be an interesting angle to explore in Episode VIII, since fans have never seen Dark Side training take place in a film before, and watching Kylo combat his mixed emotions could make a great character even richer. Knowing how Kylo felt killing Han makes the notion of his redemption all the more fascinating.
Leia Knew of Snoke’s Influence
Han and Leia have a brief conversation in the film about their son, and how his downfall drastically changed their lives. Their talk deals with whether or not there is still good left in the former Ben Solo, and how Han (as his father) would be able to draw it out as opposed to Luke. In the movie, Leia mentions that it was Snoke who took her son away, but the novelization fleshes out this scene to reveal Leia knew well before Ben’s turn that the Supreme Leader was eyeing Ben. According to the book, Snoke understood Ben was strong with the Force and had “equal potential” to be good or evil.
Han asks why Leia didn’t tell him this. Leia replies that she hoped it wasn’t true and she could keep Ben from falling to the Dark Side without involving Han. She feared that Han’s potential reaction would only push Ben closer to Snoke, and the best way to shield Ben from the darkness would be to keep it all a secret. Obviously, Leia was wrong and she’ll never know if asking for additional help may have saved Ben.
Rey’s Pull Towards the Darkness
One of the most awe-inspiring moments in the movie is when Rey calls Luke’s lightsaber to her and duels Kylo Ren on the Starkiller base. Only tapping into her full potential, Rey channels the Force and gains the upper hand on a wounded Kylo, besting him in the fight. Ren is eventually knocked to the ground, giving Rey an easy opportunity for a killing strike. The script shares that Rey is actually tempted by the Dark Side for a fleeting moment to end Kylo’s life, while the novel goes as far as to have a voice say to Rey, “Kill him.” The book does not state whose voice this is, but the audiobook version heavily implies it is none other than Snoke.
Given the history of the Star Wars saga, having a hero being torn between the two sides of the Force is nothing new. As Rey commences her formal Jedi training, she’ll have to learn how to control the Force so she doesn’t fall to the Dark Side. What’s more interesting is the suggestion of Snoke commanding Rey to kill his apprentice. After all, the Supreme Leader is the one who felt an awakening, and he could have his sights set on Rey, sensing that she’s a great threat to his objectives. Snoke’s willingness to continue Kylo’s training seems to negate this theory, but perhaps Snoke’s merely using Ren as a tool while he waits for the opportune moment to strike. That wouldn’t be new territory for Dark Side masters.
Kylo Ren Knows Rey
In what might go down as the most talked-about reveal from the various Force Awakens books, there are strong indications that Kylo Ren knows who Rey is. When Rey calls upon Luke’s lightsaber in the novel, Kylo ambiguously remarks, “It is you,” indicating that there is a history between the two. It is unclear if the two crossed paths before Rey was left on Jakku or Kylo only heard of her existence, but there is evidence to suggest the characters are not total strangers when they fight on Starkiller base.
The movie actually hints that Kylo is aware of Rey. During the first act when the First Order’s attempts to seize BB-8 fail, a First Order officer informs Ren that the droid is accompanied by a girl on Jakku. Kylo responds curtly with “What girl?” and Driver’s reading of the line suggests that Rey is not just some random individual to him. Way back during the Force Friday product launches, a talking Kylo Ren action figure even said, “Is it true? You’re just a scavenger?” which almost certainly was directed towards Rey – a taunt that expresses displeasure at how she turned out. That line is not in the movie, but Lucasfilm is definitely planting seeds that these two characters have strong connections.
Why R2-D2 Wakes Up
In a puzzling moment at the end of the film, R2-D2 magically wakes up from his comatose state to share the rest of the map with the Resistance. It screamed of convenience and was an obvious case of deus ex machina upon first viewing, but there are some explanations. For the film, Abrams revealed that in R2’s first scene (where he’s in low power mode), BB-8 tells him that he has a portion of the map to Luke and asks if R2 has the rest. That triggers something in the classic astromech, causing him to wake up – albeit some time after BB-8’s interaction.
The tie-in novel tells a slightly different version of the story. R2 overhears a conversation between Resistance leaders as they discuss the map, and Rey mentions that the First Order extracted a majority of it from the old Imperial archives. After that, the fan-favorite droid powers back up, though nobody notices. His reawakening happens much quicker (and is arguably more understandable) in the novel when compared to the film, but both instances are consistent in that talks about the map is what brings R2-D2 back.
Luke’s Location & Relationship to Rey
At the end of the movie, Rey lands on an unknown planet and comes face-to-face with Luke before the credits roll. The entire sequence is dialogue free, so everything from where the meeting takes place to how the characters feel is a mystery. Fortunately, the script has additional details. The planet Luke’s on is referred to as AHCH-TO, which has no connections to anything in prior Star Wars lore. “Ahch” is the Hebrew word for brother, but this world’s name could mean or be anything right now. What’s more interesting is how Luke reacts when he sees Rey standing there.
Obviously, the screenplay does not spill the beans on whether or not Rey is Luke’s daughter, but it seems to suggest that there is a connection between the two. When Luke looks at Rey, there is a “kindness in his eyes, but there’s something tortured too.” Perhaps a greater surprise is the fact that the Jedi Master “doesn’t need to ask her who she is, or what she is doing here… his look says it all.” Of course, one way to read this is that Luke has recognized the grown-up version of the daughter he left on Jakku, and he knew this day would eventually come. Another interpretation is that the Force told Luke everything he needs to know, but there appears to be stronger ties.
These are a handful of the biggest answers and insights provided by the Force Awakens novel, screenplay, and other sources. Ideally, they provide additional clarity to some of the movie’s most confusing or ambiguous moments, giving viewers a better picture of what’s going on in Episode VII. As the sequel trilogy progresses, there will surely be more shocking revelations to come.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.