One of the big questions coming out of The Force Awakens is who is Rey and how did she become so powerful in the Force so quickly. Well I have a theory about who she might actually be, how she got to Jakku and who promised to come back for her...
A Rey Of New Hope
For starters I doubt Rey is Rey's given name. When we first meet the character we see her modest dwelling and her scant belongings. We see she has a tiny homemade doll fashioned after an X-Wing pilot and she has an X-Wing pilot's helmet. On the side of the helmet is the word Ræh in Aurabesh. That's because it belonged to Captain Dosmit Ræh of the Tierfon Yellow Aces, according to the The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary. Because Ræy is pronounced Rey, this could be where Rey gets her name? . Im suggesting that when Rey was left on Jakku she was named Kira, a name used to reference the character in production materials early on in the film's development. So who is Kira?
The Skywalker Lightsaber
During her time in Maz Kanata's castle, Rey hears a child's cries from a lower level of the building. The cries lead Rey to a room, and in that room is a chest containing the Skywalker Lightsaber. Initially I wondered if the cries were the cries of the younglings slaughtered by Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith, but after a second viewing I'm almost certain those cries are Rey as a child, the child we see during Rey's Force vision. So let's talk about the vision.
The Skywalker Lightsaber calls to Rey, is this a sign that she has a connection to the weapon, a connection that exists through the Force. A heritage of sorts? When Rey touches the weapon she sees things that she could never have witnessed. The Cloud City corridor on Bespin, where Luke duels Vader. She hears the voices of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Yoda, and she hears Luke scream, "No!" after that reveal. All of these experiences are Luke's, with the exception of Obi-Wan's dialogue. He addresses Rey directly, first Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan says, "Rey" followed by Ewan McGregor stating, "These are your first steps..." Rey is connected to the Force in a similar way to Luke. Her connection brings her into contact with Luke's mentors, who have learned how to become one with the living Force. Are these Skywalker genes at work? Let's avoid any midichlorian talk, shall we?
Shortly after we see the Bespin corridor Rey is transported to a rainy planet where she collapses on the ground. This is what remains of Luke's Jedi Academy. All around her are the slaughtered bodies of young Jedi, killed by the Knights Of Ren. Then we see Kylo Ren, their leader, Lightsaber ignited, turn to witness Rey.
Here's my take of this section of the vision. I believe Kylo Ren, who is actually Ben Solo, is sent by Snoke to destroy Luke's students whilst Luke is away from his school. The idea being that the Knights Of Ren leave no one alive. We see the Knights Of Ren in the rain, and we see a mysterious figure struck down by a red Lightsaber. This, I think is key, and we will circle back to that in a second. We also see Luke reach up and touch R2-D2's dome. I think it's safe to assume that this is Luke discovering the slaughter of his students and finding not one single survivor. Although I believe there was one. The vision then shows a young Rey, being abandoned on Jakku. We can clearly see Unkar Plutt's arm in the shot, as Rey cries out to the ship as it leaves. The light in the sky forms the shape of Kylo Ren's mask. We will come back to that in a moment.
The Knights Of Ren
Let's talk about the Knights Of Ren. We don't know much officially but I think it's safe to assume that the Knights Of Ren were put together by Snoke the way the Emperor put together the Inquisitors in Star Wars Rebels. I suspect the idea is that Snoke (who may or may not actually be Darth Plagueis, although I won't go into that here) wants Force sensitive, capable and aggressive warriors to do his bidding, but does not want the threat of being overthrown. Ergo, no Sith apprentice, but we will get to that in a moment.
So with Kylo Ren commanding a hit squad of deadly assassins, Luke's students wouldn't stand a chance. Except that one of two things happens. The mysterious figure I mentioned earlier, who is about to strike out at Rey in her vision, before he was struck down by a red bladed Lightsaber; I suspect this mysterious figure is one of the Knights Of Ren and that he was about to kill a very young and terrified Rey. That's when Kylo Ren takes him out and then murders the remaining Knights Of Ren. His reasons depend on who was really in control at that point. If it was Ben Solo, it may have been compassion that lead to his sparing Rey. Kylo Ren talks to Darth Vader's helmet and claims he feels the pull of the lights side, was it a similar pull that leads to his rescuing Rey? Or maybe it was the Kylo Ren side of Ben Solo who destroys the Knights Of Ren. Perhaps the young Sith wannabe, saw a juvenile Rey as a promising apprentice and decides to hide her away until, such time as he can call upon her to overthrow Snoke and claim his position as master. This is, after all, the way of the Sith, and Kylo Ren has patterned his entire being after Darth Vader, his grandfather, and former Dark Lord Of The Sith.
Whether it was Kylo Ren or Ben Solo calling the shots, I'd suggest that the result is the same, that it was he who dropped Rey off on Jakku and that it was he Rey was calling after as he took off is a space craft that leaves the silhouette of Kylo Ren's mask in the sky during Rey's vision.
Why does Rey think her family are coming back? In the audio book version of the novelisation of The Force Awakens, a choice was made to give the person dropping Rey on Jakku a female voice. I'd suggest that this isn't yet canon, because we haven't yet seen this play out onscreen. My guess is that when Kylo Ren leaves Rey in the care or Unkar Plutt, he is familiar to her as Ben Solo, and he may use his Force abilities to suppress her memory of that event, and the events at the Jedi school, and leaves her with the promise of his return. This would be his plan, but it's a plan to collect his Sith apprentice, not a simple scavenger.
A Quick Side Bar
Ben Solo would have had access to one item that makes an appearance on Jakku; the Millennium Falcon. We learn that a character named Duquesne stole the Falcon from Han Solo, and then made its way into the hands of Unkar Plutt. what if that's only partly true and that Ben Solo managed to get the Falcon, use it to smuggle Rey to Jakku and then give it to Unkar Plutt as payment, perhaps with the help of a mind trick, to 'care' for Rey. That would explain why the ship is on Jakku right? Anyway, just a thought.
I believe that when Kylo Ren takes Rey back to Starkiller base an interrogates her using the Force, he unlocks something within her. He seems to suspect that this is the little girl he left on Jakku. That she is his cousin (possibly Kira) and now he is proving her mind to find out more. This is when he sees her dreams of an ocean with an island, and that is when he realises who she is, and what her reappearance means. By the end of the movie when the two duel during the assault on the Starkiller base, Kylo Ren reveals his 'hand' to Rey, suggesting that her become her master and train her in the ways of the Force. This is all Rey needs to focus and dig down deep into the Force and use it to vanquish Kylo Ren, although it seems to take her dangerously close to the dark side. Immediately after Snoke instructs General Hux to leave the base and join him, with Kylo Ren, so that he (Snoke) can complete Kylo Ren's training. Is Snoke sensing that things have escalated? Rey's reappearance will be followed shortly by Luke's, suggesting it's time to change approach. The Sith are about to return...
Han Solo Recognises Rey
At certain points in The Force Awakens it seems as though Han might have realised who Rey is. There is a moment where Maz Kanata asks Han who the girl is and we cut away. Could the answer have been, "I think she might be Luke's kid." Han starts making plans to keep Rey on the Falcon as crew and then he witnesses his son carrying Rey's body onto his ship. Does Han realise that Rey is actually Luke's daughter, who may or may not be named Kira?
Luke's Secret Island
When Kylo Ren is reading Rey's mind he picks up, on the fact that she is seeing visions of Luke's island that we visit in the final moments of the movie. He sees and ocean and an island in the middle of it. I think Rey is having visions of her future, when she finds her father on that island. I'm certain Luke can feel this too.
Perhaps when Luke went into hiding he believed Rey to be dead, slaughtered by The Knights of Ren along with the other students, but maybe he hoped she might have survived. This might explain why R2-D2 is in low power mode. We know R2-D2 has the map, to which BB-8 has the missing section. Maybe Luke told R2-D2 to stay powered down to protect his map until such time as Rey emerged. R2-D2 reactivates when Rey arrives at the base. Did he sense her presence? Not through the Force, but simply her DNA arriving at the base?
In the final moments of The Force Awakens Rey climbs the steps on the island she has been seeing in her visions. She, Chewbacca and R2-D2 have followed the directions to Luke's location. When she reaches Luke he is standing at the edge of a cliff, at his feet is a small tombstone. Is this marker something he placed to memorialise his deceased daughter, Rey (Kira?). When he turns to see her, grown up, behind him. Is that look on Luke's face a mix of surprise and despair. All those wasted years. Rey extends out the Skywalker Lightsaber to him, it's the call to action he got in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope at the home of Obi-Wan Kenobi. This time it's his daughter inviting him onto the heroes journey once more.
So that's my Rey is actually Kira Skywalker, daughter of Luke, heir to the Jedi legacy. That she was spared by Kylo Ren, actually her cousin, Ben Solo, who had designs on training her as his apprentice when he was strong enough to challenge Snoke's position as master.
I think we will see Luke training Rey in Episode VIII, as Snoke trains Kylo Ren in the ways of the dark side. Expect to see Force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin Skywalker who will hopefully spell out some of what I've predicted above. I hope you've enjoyed this first Star Wars Insights of 2016. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments below.
Thank you for reading,