Despite her overall importance, Ridley’s departure could turn Rey into the franchise’s biggest fool's errand. Admittedly, Lucasfilm is already trying to refocus their efforts by introducing anthologies focused on more “secular” accounts, such as Rogue One and Solo. But the fabled family’s goose isn’t cooked just yet.
Some fan theories purport, and Luke himself once believed, that Kylo Ren was the true Chosen One and still is. It certainly would keep with his family’s rocky tradition (again assuming Rey isn’t a Skywalker). There is some precedence for it, as his Legends counterpart Jason Solo struggled with the dark side for many years (suffice to say, it didn't end well for the eventual Darth Caedus). However, if the nature of the Force changes, clearly the Story Group and Johnson left aspects of Ren's inspiration in the dustbin of the EU.
Of course, presuming Rey and Ren aren't related and given their unique connection in The Force Awakens, the Skywalkers may have another outlet: Rey and Ren's purported interpersonal dynamic in The Last Jedi is most often assumed to be familial, and as Driver noted in Rolling Stone, “the relationship between Kylo and Rey is awesome.” However, the "relationship" he's referring to could also suggest something very different (Star Wars’ history of icky romantic entanglements aside). Are Rey and Kylo destined to become a Force-wielding power couple? Given the continual teases of a team-up, it's not beyond the realm of plausible. Force bun in the oven definitely leaves Lucasfilm an out if Ridley turns down the truckload of cash they’ll likely park in front of her home
Read More: Did Adam Driver Just Spoil Rey’s Parentage?
The survival rate of the increasingly dark sequel trilogy is also up in the air. Even if Luke, Leia, and Kylo don't survive, the family legacy could survive in Rey's children. Once again, though, that would make Ridley’s character a massive red herring. She may be the hero of The Force Awakens triad, but if she refuses to return, Abrams' could turn Kylo Ren’s salvation into the true narrative thrust – assuming it isn't already – and bringing the family drama full circle again.
With so many shattered prophecies about Force-balancers in one lifetime, Luke seems to believe the Chosen One is nothing more than a dark side stopgap, if not a one-way ticket to heartbreak city. For the sake of argument, let's assume The Last Jedi and its successor follow this mandate. Johnson and Abrams could tweak the established rules to gray-out the saga. Rather than an ultimate evil along the lines of Emperor Palpatine, Snoke might represent one end aspect of a cosmic continuum (even though he seems pretty freaking evil). If so, Lucasfilm can set up a richer Star Wars universe (just in time for Johnson's trilogy, perhaps), one reflected by somewhat morally ambivalent galaxy displayed in shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels as well as Rogue One and, presumably, Solo. With the next decade of Star Wars under construction, Lucasfilm then has a less-dogmatic clay to mold with.
If the next two chapters discredit the Chosen One concept or displace it from the Skywalker lineage, the preternaturally powerful family would still play an important role in galactic history, just in a more legacy sense. In the real world, that would also allow Johnson and others explore the franchise without the requisite callbacks to its most famous gene pool.
The Last Jedi is about to fill in a few blanks left by The Force Awakens, but the story is far from chiseled in stone. Lucasfilm is expanding the parameters of one of the contemporary era's most beloved and universal fables of as it plots the future. Moving away from the Skywalkers is smart from a diversification standpoint, but Disney understands the clout of their conflicted clan. After all, the original trilogy team sustained a highly lucrative Expanded Universe and merchandising empire for decades.
If Rey is a Skywalker and the Chosen One and Daisy Ridley returns for another round, the bloodline will continue through her. If not, Lucasfilm isn't restricted to it; Kylo Ren, like his grandfather before him, could find redemption and reclaim his birth name – or not, which would also take Star Wars to a neat, dark place – and reemerge as a force for good in the universe. The Skywalkers might be down in the trenches with a flock of TIE fighters breathing on their necks, but don't count them out. Never doubt the power of a reliable legacy.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018