Dark Rey has been revealed to be part of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in some capacity, and we think she - and the original Rey - could be a clone. Lucasfilm's sequel Star Wars trilogy will end this winter with the release of Star Wars: Episode IX. J.J. Abrams is back in the director's chair after previously helming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. His two installments, along with Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will be the last three films in the Skywalker Saga. Making one movie in this franchise can be a difficult task on its own, but Abrams is attempting to wrap up a story that has spanned four decades of films and fan's imaginations.
Much of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's plot is remaining heavily guarded by Abrams and Lucasfilm. But, one of the big reveals they have made is that Ian McDiarmid is back as Sheev Palpatine aka Darth Sideous aka The Emperor. His laugh was featured at the very end of the first trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, and he was most recently seen looming in the background of the D23 poster. This is establishing that Palpatine will be a big part of this movie in some form. Anything less than a substantial role for him will leave many feeling disappointed.
Well, one more major secret that was revealed was the new appearance of Daisy Ridley at the end of The Rise of Skywalker's D23 footage. She is shown in a black robe and hood with two red lightsaber blades in front of her face. Fans then were able to see a full look at her attire as well as her double-bladed red lightsaber, and it teased that "Dark Rey" is part of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The Star Wars fandom has been buzzing over this moment ever since, with popular assumptions being made that this is a Force vision. But we have a different theory about Dark Rey that ties together Palpatine's involvement - which may recontextualize a sequence from The Last Jedi.
Dark Rey Being A Vision Doesn’t Make Sense
It's generally believed that Dark Rey is part of a Force vision. The rationale behind this line of thinking is clear, after all. Rey making an actual turn to the dark side would be too last second of a twist to throw into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at this point. But she could very easily see a possible future of herself where she's turned evil and embraced the dark side. It would harken back to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker fights a vision of Darth Vader on Dagobah, which ends with Luke's face being beneath the beheaded mask. As part of Rey's continued training, it wouldn't be the most surprising thing in the world to have her receive a similar warning sign.
If this were the case, though, it would mean that Dark Rey is likely only a minuscule part of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Lucasfilm's decision to reveal it, and how they did so, indicates otherwise. This shot wasn't lumped together in the middle of a montage - no - it was the tag of the footage and meant to drum up excitement. Most audiences will see this and expect Dark Rey to play a crucial part in how the Skywalker Saga ends - not something that will last a few seconds on screen. Subverting expectations can be great, but in this instance, it would be Lucasfilm misrepresenting what the Star Wars film is and putting themselves in position for fans to be disappointed.
So unless that is what Lucasfilm is doing, Dark Rey has to be a pivotal piece to The Rise of Skywalker's story. And for what it's worth, Ridley is teasing that Dark Rey is a legit part of the story, as well. This is where our theory comes into play. If it is true, then it could bring answers to some burning questions about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - e.g., Rey's past and how Palpatine will return - and serve as a way for the Skywalker Saga, on the whole, to be tied up.
Is Rey A Clone Body For Palpatine?
It's theoretically possible that Rey is one of many clone bodies created as part of an all-powerful army by Palpatine, which he could then use as a host body down the line. The idea of Palpatine using clones to stay alive is something that has been explored in Star Wars before, just not in-canon anymore. In the Expanded Universe, the Dark Horse comic series Dark Empire, by Tom Veitch, introduced the idea of Palpatine living through cloned bodies. He can do this by possessing a body of one of the clones of himself. Even though this story is not canon, it is a fan-favorite comic from the EU that Abrams could've pulled from. One of the recurring themes from various reports and leaks about The Rise of Skywalker is Palpatine's contingency plans, such as having an army in the Unknown Regions. Maybe this army is his second attempt at a clone army, and Rey is one of these clones who has somehow escaped.
Palpatine has used a clone army for his galactic takeover before, too. He helped see the mass production of the clone armies through and then used them to execute Order 66. This not only allowed him complete control over an entire army, but it could've also inspired the next step of his plan. In the time between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope, the Empire began ushering out the clone army in favor of regular Stormtroopers. But maybe that's because he decided to produce a brand-new, more powerful clone army instead. It is conceivable that Palpatine could've created an army of Force-wielders - possibly made up of DNA from himself, Vader, and more - who can do his bidding, but also for him to one day inhabit.
This would require Palpatine's spirit to be around still, though. Thankfully, Star Wars canon has explored the idea that spirits can possess artifacts, leading some to believe Palpatine's spirit is possessing Darth Vader's helmet that Kylo Ren has, while others point to the wreckage of the second Death Star as where his spirit may lie. Either way, this spirit jumping ability could be the Sith's way of cheating death, which could tie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker back to Darth Plagueis. Inhabiting another body is undoubtedly an unnatural way to keep living that prevents someone from actually becoming immortal. Regardless, what we've seen from Rey - a naturally gifted and incredibly powerful Force-wielder - makes her fit the bill as someone who could have been created as Palpatine's ultimate weapon.
Rey Being A Clone Pays Off The Last Jedi
Rey being a clone wouldn't just tie together several currently unconnected stories in Star Wars, but there is a chance that it would pay off a scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fans were waiting to find out more about Rey's past and lineage heading into the film, which sees Kylo tell Rey that her parents were nobodies. He mentions explicitly they were "filthy drunk traders" who "sold you off for drinking money." This comes after one of the film's most distinct sequences, when Rey enters a cave on Ahch-Toh and tries to figure out who her parents are. When she first touches a dark mirror, though, Rey first sees a nearly endless line of herself.
Even though this may not be what The Last Jedi intended, this scene could retroactively be used as a piece of foreshadowing to reveal that Rey is a clone. That would explain why she saw so many copies of herself. Rey is one of many clones who are all similar. This could even possibly be taken a step further to explain why Rey sees herself on the other side of the mirror when asked to see her family. She reappears because Rey is made from another version of herself. More importantly, this would then be an example of Abrams building off of a seed - unintentional or not - left by Rian Johnson and not undoing The Last Jedi's story, which has been a concern for some.
Star Wars 9 Could See Rey vs. Dark Rey
So if Rey is a clone, that could mean that Dark Rey is also a clone. The biggest questions this theory raises is why Rey was left on Jakku all those years ago and how Dark Rey came to be. As for the first part, Palpatine creating all-powerful, Force-wielding clones for his new host bodies likely means he didn't stop at two. For all we know, there could be thousands of Reys scattered across the galaxy. Maybe the entire Sith Trooper army is made up of Rey clones. That could be a bit too much for The Rise of Skywalker to get into, but a more straightforward approach could still work. Perhaps Rey was created after Dark Rey, but whoever helped Palpatine clone her turned against him and took Rey somewhere she could be safe. Then, it is possible that Dark Rey has been kept in hiding all these years with knowledge of Palpatine's plan and has been trained to be the most powerful Sith the galaxy has ever seen.
Whatever the case may be, these two different versions of Rey could then be the centerpiece of the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's final fight. Strictly from an entertainment level, seeing Rey fight a Sith version of herself possessed with the spirit of Palpatine could make for an epic finale. Rey would be fighting against the person responsible for her creation essentially, with Palpatine's contingency plan, then, being used against him. And with Star Wars' themes of destiny, Rey going against her originally intended purpose could be a powerful conclusion to her arc. However, Rey is still learning the ways of the Force and could need some help to defeat Palpatine.
With that in mind, it's impossible to envision a finale to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that doesn't involve Kylo Ren, too. Since Palpatine may be responsible for his turn to the dark side, Kylo could feel spurned by the reveal that Palpatine had Dark Rey waiting in the wings. Could this reveal be what turns Kylo against Palpatine? That could work well enough to give him a redemptive finale where he helps defeat Palpatine, but out of jealousy instead of a more noble reason. Rey being a clone, if done correctly, could be an excellent way for Abrams to wrap up the Skywalker Saga. It could build off prior movies, answer big questions, and even make it so Dark Rey is something beyond a marketing gimmick. But only time will tell.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019