Rey's parents may not be important in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - but where she's come from may be far more significant. Rey was introduced as something of a mystery character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and from the outset, it was clear her backstory would be important to the Sequel Trilogy in some way. The Star Wars Saga has always been a generational story, and as a result, viewers speculated she could be tied to Force-users of the past, ranging from Luke Skywalker to Palpatine himself.
Writer/director Rian Johnson decided to subvert these expectations in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In one powerful scene, Kylo Ren forced Rey to confront the brutal truth about her parents. According to Rey's greatest frenemy, her parents were drunken nobodies who sold their own daughter off for drinking money and abandoned her on Jakku. He'd learned this because of the unique Force bond he shared with Rey, which allowed Kylo Ren to peer into the depths of her subconscious and recognize the truths Rey was unable to admit to herself.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi proved remarkably divisive, and Lucasfilm is naturally going to want to do something of a course-correction in order to bring the fanbase back together. At the same time, though, it's important they don't overreact; they still want this to feel like a single cohesive story. That means they can't just retcon Star Wars: The Last Jedi away, and rewrite Rey's history. Instead, it looks as though J.J. Abrams could take a much more sophisticated approach with Star Wars 9.
Rey's Past Is Still Important In Star Wars 9
It's ironic J.J. Abrams is returning to finish the story he started. In an interview last year, Star Wars actor Simon Pegg revealed he knew Abrams originally had a very different idea of who Rey's parents were. "I know what J.J. kind of intended, or at least what was sort of being chucked around," he noted. "I think that’s kind of been undone slightly by [The Last Jedi]." Whatever that original concept was, though, Abrams seems to have dropped it. He's determined to follow on organically from Rian Johnson's decisions. "I don't want to say that what happens in Episode 8 [didn't happen]," he observed in one interview. "We have honored that."
At the same time, though, Abrams insists there's more to the story of Rey's parents than Kylo Ren revealed. Abrams is well known for his Mystery Box approach to marketing, meaning right now he's naturally remaining as ambiguous as possible about what that means. However, it does make sense that Kylo Ren might not know the whole truth; he only knew what was buried in Rey's own mind. Star Daisy Ridley has echoed Abrams' words, promising the question will be answered and "at the end of [Star Wars 9], you do know what the dealio [about Rey's background] is."
This was apparently confirmed by the first Star Wars 9 trailer, which actually appears to contain a subtle nod to Rey's parents. One shot featured a spaceship flying over a misty, mountainous terrain towards an unknown city; this appears to be the snow-dusted world of Kijimi, one of the new planets set to be introduced in Star Wars 9. The starship's silhouette is very familiar; it's the same kind of ship Rey's parents left Jakku in, as seen in Rey's vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That's unlikely to be a coincidence.
Where Rey Came From Is Still A Total Mystery
Perhaps the real question, then, is not who Rey's parents are - but rather, where she comes from. Certain specific places have always been important to the Star Wars Saga; although every movie introduces new locations, how many times has the franchise returned to Tatooine? "If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from," Luke Skywalker famously complained, and yet the fate of the galaxy was decided from that arid wasteland. Darth Vader himself, the Chosen One, was born there; his son Luke, the one who'd destroy the Death Star and redeem his father, was brought up there. In Star Wars, places are just as significant as people.
Given that's the case, it's important to note the precise details of Rey's origin - including where she really comes from - are still a mystery. While Rey's parents were clearly humans, they were junk traders, which means they could have traveled to Jakku from anywhere in the galaxy. It's impossible to say whether they brought their daughter to Jakku with the intention of selling her, or whether the young Rey just happened to be on board on a day they failed to make as much money as they'd hoped. All Kylo Ren knew of Rey's parents was what he read in her own mind - and Rey appears to have no memories of her life before Jakku, not even repressed ones. That means when he insisted Rey's parents were "dead in a pauper's grave in the Jakku desert," Kylo Ren had reached the limits of his knowledge and was simply expressing Rey's hidden fears. Rey's parents could well be alive - and if so, it's curious to note they never returned to Jakku.
Where Could Rey Be From?
So the key to Rey's story may not lie in her parents' identity, but rather in where exactly she came from. If that is indeed the case, though, it's difficult to take this theory much further. While it's possible J.J. Abrams has tied Rey in to a pre-existing location, maybe even Tatooine, he's more likely to have created a whole new world; it wouldn't even be a surprise to learn Rey's parents came from Kijimi, which appears to be the planet shown in the trailer.
While all that's just supposition, certain logical deductions can be made about Rey's backstory. Rey's parents were junk traders, which means they're less likely to be tied to a Core world like Coruscant or Hosnian Prime, where customs procedures make that profession a lot more difficult. She was born at a time when Luke Skywalker was attempting to reform the Jedi Order, and yet she never came to Luke's attention; that again supports the idea Rey was brought up on a more remote Rim-world, where nobody of note ever crossed her path and noticed the child's Force potential. This all supports the idea Rey could have come from Kijimi, which appears to be a fairly lawless Rim-world, and has a "Thieves' Quarter" where bounty hunters like Zori Bliss operate.
There is one other potentially important clue, though. Rey is unusually powerful in the Force, so much so that she can match Kylo Ren, grandson of the Chosen One. That means you'd expect powerful Force-sensitives across the galaxy, such as Luke Skywalker or Palpatine himself, to sense her existence from an early age. In Star Wars, however, a nexus of the Dark Side can conceal the existence of even the most powerful Force-users; Yoda remained hidden on Dagobah for 20 years, living near the Dark Side cave. Rey was safe on Jakku, a world that had been touched by the Emperor's plans, and was only sensed by Supreme Leader Snoke when she left the planet. But why did nobody sense her before she was taken to Jakku?
It could actually be Rey originates from another world steeped in the Dark Side, which concealed her as a child. If so, that may even hint at why Rey's past is important - because she has a secret link to the Sith, and the greatest Dark Lord of the Sith is making his unexpected return in Star Wars 9.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019