[Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead]
Heading into this past weekend’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, one of the biggest questions we had was just who exactly would be the next generation of the Skywalker lineage. Most bets were on the mysterious Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and while, indeed, he did end up being unmasked as Ben Solo, General Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) son, there is still the very real possibility that he’s not the only continuation of that famous lineage.
The amount of evidence suggesting that protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley) is also a new member of the Skywalker clan is very compelling. Much like Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Luke (Mark Hamill), she grows up on a remote desert world, away from the intergalactic action; she’s an expert tinkerer/mechanic and pilot extraordinaire; the lightsaber that General Skywalker constructed at the start of the Clone Wars – and which was subsequently passed on down to Luke – calls out to her, wanting her to become its new master. Oh, then there’s the fact that she’s quite obviously the single most powerful Force wielder the films have ever produced, something which practically begs her to be the granddaughter of the Chosen One.
But is this really the best course of action for executive producer Kathleen Kennedy and her assembled teams of filmmakers to pursue? Is it a more contrived storyline, forcibly following creator George Lucas’s “rhyming” pattern from the first six films at the expense of an inventive new twist – or is it the best possible bow to package the Star Wars triptych in? In short, Should Rey Be a Skywalker?
The case for
While having the Skywalker family tree continue on down through Leia - who is, apparently, the less powerful of Anakin’s two children - would be perfectly fine, there would be so much more heft behind Luke being the main vessel of familial continuation; he is the protagonist of the original trilogy, after all, and the only one to undergo anything even remotely resembling traditional Jedi training. And how else, after all, would Rey lull herself to sleep with the vision of the place where Luke has spent (apparently) so many years residing on a planet on the other side of the galaxy?
It would also allow for a strong parallel to Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’s grand revelation – Darth Vader’s admission to Luke that he is the would-be Jedi’s father – and would do so nearly word for word: imagine the scene in Episode VIII when Luke admits/realizes that he is Rey’s father, and the effect it would have on the abandoned girl who’s been forced to subsist as a mere scavenger for the past 14 years. It could certainly rival the psychological fallout that Luke faced, though it wouldn’t necessarily have the same impact on either Rey (discovering your father is a Jedi Master hermit is quite a stretch from discovering he’s a Dark Lord of the Sith responsible for countless deaths) or on audiences (given all the strong foreshadowing in The Force Awakens).
And then there’s the other strong parallel to the original trilogy that such a move would entail: it would make Rey and Kylo Ren cousins, and it would go back and change the tenor of their encounters throughout Episode VII, just as the revelation of Luke and Leia’s true relationship in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi threw all of their scenes together from the entire trilogy into an entirely different light. Of course, here, the twist on the familiar narrative ground – something which the sequel trilogy has already invoked several times, starting with the simple fact that its central character is a woman – would be that the relations are hostile with one another instead of cooperative, with one sworn to the dark side and the other, the light.
Would this make for one too many parallels? For better or worse, this is the way that Star Wars has been set up for at least the past 16 years, showing how various generations of the same family face the same set of (mythologically archetypal) choices, and how the consequences from these choices have interstellar ramifications. If Kennedy wanted to show she were serious about continuing (although not necessarily evolving) Lucas’s mythos, there are few better ways to do so than by making Rey have that most famous of last names.