Rey's secret Force power - psychometry - could be the key to defeating Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Rey is undoubtedly one of the most powerful Force users who's been shown on the big screen to date; even untrained, she was able to match Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By the time of The Rise of Skywalker, her abilities have been enhanced courtesy of a Force bond with Kylo Ren himself, and she seems to have spent the last year training under various Jedi Master Force Ghosts.
And yet, for all Rey may be a powerhouse, her most interesting experience of the Force to date was still in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Jedi-to-be reached out and touched the hilt of Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, and she experienced what Lucasfilm has referred to as a "Forceback". The Force granted Rey visions of the past and the future, key moments in galactic history, and she actually seemed to experience the emotion of them all as well. It left poor Rey stunned and confused, and she briefly attempted to run away from this mysterious call to adventure.
At first glance, the Forceback sequence appears to be a manifestation of the will of the Force, triggered for an unknown reason and frankly to little practical effect. But the Star Wars franchise has recently dropped intriguing hints that the Forceback could have been a rare but innate Force-ability possessed by Rey - and it could potentially be the key to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Rey's Secret Force Power Explained
Star Wars is more than just a film franchise; in truth, it's grown into something of a transmedia franchise, spanning everything from bestselling novels to console games, from live-action TV shows to a popular range of comics. What's more, Lucasfilm like to ensure all these mediums tie closely together. That makes it particularly interesting to note that both the Jedi: Fallen Order game and Kevin Shinick's young-adult novel Force Collector feature a power very similar to Rey's vision, an ability referred to as "psychometry." This is an innate power possessed by just a few Force users, sometimes referred to as "sense echo," and it allows a Force user to experience the past of an object whenever they touch it. Initial experiences are exhausting, sometimes causing seizures and collapses. It's only possible to master psychometry by submitting yourself to the visions, immersing yourself in the experience.
It's true that Rey's Forceback appears slightly different, but it seems to be related. The conditions are strikingly similar - the experience manifests spontaneously on touch, and it has a similar impact on Rey to a psychometric vision. In narrative terms, it makes more sense for this to be a first manifestation of an innate Force power rather than some inexplicable and frankly ineffectual demonstration of the Force's will. And it's not hard to explain why Rey's power would be amplified by the lightsaber; because she's touching an object that is rich in the Force, literally containing a Kyber Crystal, and that was previously bonded to the Chosen One himself.
Rey Would Be Vulnerable To The Dark Side In Star Wars 9
Psychometry may be rare, but the Jedi of old actually believed it was quite a dangerous power. In their view, it risked exposing a Jedi to the dark side, simply because a practitioner of psychometry is exposed to the raw emotions of any memory they access. Imagine, for example, a Jedi who touches a murder weapon and experiences both the fear of the victim and the hatred of the killer. Worse still, a Jedi is only able to master psychometry by submitting to the visions, meaning they have no control of what specific moments in time they experience.
If Rey's power is indeed psychometry, or something related to it, then that means she's taking a massive risk in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Trailers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker have focused extensively on scenes set on the ocean moon of Kef Bir, with the Resistance exploring the wreckage of the Second Death Star for an unknown reason. Rey and Kylo Ren confront one another on a chunk of this wreckage, fighting a major lightsaber duel that took six days to film. The action then appears to move to the remains of the Emperor's Throne Room, a place that would be steeped in the dark side of the Force, and that could potentially contain Sith relics.
It's not hard to imagine a scenario where Rey is forced to experience memories of Darth Vader and Palpatine, of Luke Skywalker's desperation and frustration as the Emperor attempted to goad him into succumbing to the dark side in Return of the Jedi. And while Rey may well have proved able to resist the dark side's siren call to her so far, will she still be able to after she's exposed to it in powerful new ways?
How Psychometry Could Help Defeat Palpatine
And yet, for all the attendant risks, Rey's Force power could prove to be a useful asset in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It's important to note that even the Emperor, who rejoices in being all-seeing and all-knowing, is unlikely to know Rey possesses this ability. As such, Rey has a potential source of knowledge and information that Palpatine can't predict. Touching the right object could give Rey powerful Force visions of the past, helping her to deduce Palpatine's plans, or even explaining how the Emperor has been resurrected in the first place. It's even possible the Emperor doesn't reveal himself willingly in the first place, but that his hand is tipped because Rey uncovers his existence courtesy of a vision.
Meanwhile, in narrative terms psychometry - or some sort of associated power - is a useful tool. A psychometric ability is a way of "showing, not telling" - of revealing how the Emperor has returned and what he's planning without indulging in lengthy exposition. How has the Emperor survived after being tossed down the Death Star reactor shaft, and what has he been doing all these long decades since? Rather than have the classic villain monologue, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker can use Rey's rare Force power to drip-feed information to viewers, offering subtle clues that come together to explain it away. If this is indeed the approach Lucasfilm is taking, then it's a smart one.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019