As Star Wars fans make their final preparations for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it's easy to forget that in just about a year (as of this writing), Star Wars: Episode VIII will hit theaters. Rian Johnson's film will of course continue the sequel trilogy in the Skywalker family saga, telling the next chapter of Rey's journey. The young protagonist was one of the many highlights of last year's The Force Awakens, but the character is far from a complete picture yet. Episode VII was extremely brief on offering any details about Rey's backstory; the only real clue coming in the ambiguous Force vision sequence, where audiences see Rey as a child being left by an unseen family on Jakku.
Since Star Wars 7's premiere, Rey's heritage has been the subject of much rumor and speculation (much of which we have detailed in the past). Theorizing is part of the fun of following a big franchise like Star Wars, and fans have spent the past 12 months pouring over anything they can find to try to piece the whole thing together. Though Lucasfilm is promising that satisfying answers are in store, viewers are not content to just sit back and wait - instead, many are trying to piece the puzzle together themselves, well ahead of the official revelations.
One of the more popular theories regarding Rey's lineage is the notion that she is part of the Kenobi bloodline and is Obi-Wan's granddaughter. The symmetry of a Kenobi doing battle with Anakin Skywalker's grandson is quite tantalizing, so many fans have bought into that hypothesis. In recent weeks, thanks to comments about Obi-Wan's potential role in the upcoming saga films, Daisy Ridley's thoughts on Rey's parentage, and even Star Wars Rebels, "Rey Kenobi" is starting to gain a fair bit of traction within the fan community. But based on what we know now, how realistic is that? We're about to dive deep into the theory.
What We Know From The Films
Ridley raised a fair amount of eyebrows recently, when she was asked about preserving the secrets of the new Star Wars films. On the topic of Rey's mysterious family, the actress believes many of the answers were hidden in The Force Awakens. It wasn't until after attending a screening and hearing the ensuing discussions that she realized things were not as clear-cut as she initially thought. This, of course, will only encourage curious minds to give Episode VII another watch, but what exactly should viewers be looking for when trying to crack the case?
If "a lot was answered in The Force Awakens" as Ridley suggests, then the options for her ancestry are somewhat limited. From the beginning, many have claimed that the former scavenger is the estranged daughter of Luke Skywalker, and there is some evidence in the movie to back this up. The Skywalker family lightsaber (which belonged to Anakin and then Luke) called to Rey on Takodana, and the way Maz Kanata described the weapon made it seem like an heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation. If the lightsaber was Luke's and his father's before him, wouldn't the next direct descendent be in line to own it now? Additionally, the Star Wars 7 script revealed that during the fateful final scene, Luke "doesn't need to ask [Rey] who she is, or what she is doing here... his look says it all." The implication is that the elder Skywalker has some history with Rey, even though she believes Luke is nothing but a myth at the beginning of the film.
Still, there have been plenty of holes poked in the "Rey Skywalker" theory since Force Awakens came out. One of the more telling ones was in the canon novel Bloodline, which is set six years prior to the movie. The book is primarily about Leia, but Luke is periodically mentioned throughout. He is traveling around the galaxy with his prized pupil, Ben Solo, meaning the son of Han and Leia has yet to turn to the Dark Side. It seems unlikely that Luke would abandon his 5-year old daughter on Jakku then, if things were still relatively peaceful. J.J. Abrams also mentioned in his Force Awakens commentary that Rey and Kylo Ren never met before the film, so unless Rey was birthed in secret, chances are Ben would have had some interaction with his cousin while still a Jedi apprentice. It's worth mentioning that Kylo has a volatile reaction upon hearing a Jakku girl accompanied Finn and BB-8 off-planet, suggesting that he was at the very least aware of her existence. Hopefully time will reveal more.
Some believe that portions of Episode VII point to Rey being related to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Again, the Force vision holds the most compelling hint, as it is Old Ben who speaks to Rey, telling her, "Rey... these are your first steps." The fact that Obi-Wan addresses her directly indicates there could very well be a connection between the two. Other evidence seems to be more circumstantial and less concrete; Rey speaks in a very Kenobi-esque English accent, is adept at Jedi mind tricks, and climbs her way through the innards of Starkiller base a la Obi-Wan on the Death Star. Depending on who you ask, that's simply a coincidence or proof that lends credence to the theory. Without knowing what's to come in Episode VIII, it's difficult to say for certain which direction Force Awakens leans in. The stronger case can be made for Skywalker, but the non-film canon materials throw some monkey wrenches in there for good measure.
Proof In Star Wars Rebels?
Star Wars Rebels, which is now in its third season, is part of the franchise canon like all the films, novels, and comics, so some people have been searching through the show for any potential clues. The tenth episode of season three, titled "Visions and Voices," actually makes reference to Obi-Wan, as it's revealed both Ezra Bridger and Darth Maul are looking for the old Jedi. In the episode, Maul takes Ezra to his lair on Dathomir, which has objects of his past. A couple of eye-catching items are the Darksaber (an ancient, black-bladed lightsaber that Maul used during Clone Wars) and a painting of Mandalorian Duchess Satine Kryze (Obi-Wan's love interest who was killed by Maul in Clone Wars). At the end of the episode, Sabine takes the Darksaber - which is a symbol of Manadalorian leadership - for herself off-planet.
Following "Visions and Voices" airing, some fans believed that Rebels offered a major clue about Rey's past. The theory speculates that Sabine is the daughter of Obi-Wan and Satine and later becomes Rey's mother. However, none other than Dave Filoni has shot down any possible Sabine/Satine connection, saying in interviews that the name similarities are purely coincidence. Fans are used to members of the creative team playing coy, but the Lucasfilm story group has years of content planned out and no doubt decided long ago that Sabine and Satine would not be related, despite both hailing from Mandalore. It also seems unlikely that the studio would want to have that blatant of a connection between the movies and Rebels, a popular animated program that still only secures a viewership that's a fraction of the filmgoing public. If Rey's parentage is meant to be an impactful reveal, her mother being a character not all know could be confusing and alienating. Saw Gerrera having a minor role in Rogue One is one thing. This would be something else.
Now, the notion that Rey's parents are not on Rebels doesn't necessarily discredit the idea that she's a Kenobi. Obi-Wan spent 19 years in exile on Tatooine, and though he largely remained hidden and tried to distance himself from the Jedi ways, Old Ben still got involved with some action. The comics detail a specific event where he stopped Jabba the Hutt's henchmen from extorting the Lars family, and the one-off issue From the Journals of Old Ben Kenobi: "The Last of His Breed," Obi-Wan does battle against various injustices on Tatooine. He didn't just stay put in his hut until Luke was old enough to train. If there is to be an Obi-Wan spinoff film(s) down the line, an interesting hook - in the event Rey is a Kenobi - would be seeing Rey's grandparents develop a relationship. Of course, this could raise questions about A New Hope, but if handled properly, fans could find the angle compelling.
This is all to say, people should not look to Rebels for any potential clues at this juncture. Not only was the evidence in "Visions and Voices" scant, it's been disproven by the show's creator. The series has done a great deal of good in terms of fleshing out this particular era of Star Wars history and introducing new fan-favorite characters, but right now it's just a complementary piece to the larger canon. Perhaps one day, its impact in the franchise will become greater, since it still has a ways to go before wrapping up. Rebels will always be noteworthy for "officially" brining Grand Admiral Thrawn into the fold, so the story group may have some more things up their sleeves as viewers follow the Ghost crew.
Prior to the theatrical release of The Force Awakens, Kathleen Kennedy seemed to lend credence to the "Rey Skywalker" theory by stating that the saga films represent a generational tale about the Skywalker family. Granted, the presence of Luke and Kylo Ren in the sequel trilogy means that the famous clan is accounted for, but Star Wars 7 was decidedly Rey's story. These new films are about her journey, so that would imply that she is in some way connected to the Skywalkers and lean against the Kenobi hypothesis. As strange as it may seem that Luke had a daughter with someone in secret while he was still close to Han and Leia, remember Anakin and Padmé married without Obi-Wan's knowledge and Luke and Leia's true heritage was widely unknown for decades.
It's been reported that the main reason why a standalone Obi-Wan movie has not been green lit yet is because the character still has a role to play in the forthcoming saga episodes, but that has yet to be confirmed and could mean anything. Even if Ewan McGregor cameoed as a Force ghost, it doesn't mean he's Rey's grandfather. With Episode VIII dedicating more screen time to Luke, he could easily be seeking guidance from his former mentor, unsure of himself after failing with Ben Solo. That would be a logical fit for Obi-Wan and give Rian Johnson an interesting angle to explore.
Based on the evidence available to us now, it seems unlikely that Rey could be a Kenobi. The strongest case can be made for Skywalker, though that is not clear cut either. Regardless, the filmmakers have a monumental task ahead of them. Episode VII was intentionally crafted to leave these threads dangling for future installments. Unanswered questions are always tantalizing, but if the eventual revelations are not very satisfying, all the build-up will be for naught. Lucasfilm seems to have a nice handle on their prized franchise, with both Force Awakens and now Rogue One scoring well with critics, so they've earned the benefit of the doubt for now.
- Star Wars: Rogue One / Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) release date: Dec 16, 2016
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018