Ever since Star Wars found its way back into theaters with “The Force Awakens,” fans have been clamoring over the vast, and very deep, pool of unanswered questions the films left.
Above all the mysteries we’re left to ponder, however, is one that has started arguments from the most popular Internet boards to debates between friends over coffee. Who is Rey?
The film never fully addresses her origins. The only glimpse we see into her past is via her vision, when she’s small being left on Jakku. Other than that, the only clues we get are that she’s force-sensitive to a large degree, she has a connection to Luke’s lightsaber, and both Kylo Ren and Han Solo seem to be clued in to who she is throughout the film.
The moment people left the theaters, theories began flying, from Rey being Han and Leia’s daughter—possibly Kylo’s Ren’s twin—to being the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker to the most popular theory of being Luke’s daughter.
But one theory has surfaced that has really been turning the collective Internet’s head of late, and to be honest, as crazy as it sounds, it really makes a lot of sense. It’s a theory that no one would have seen coming, which makes the idea seem all the more appealing. The theory? Rey is Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter.
From what I can gather, the theory started with a post on Medium that explains the idea in detail. Since then, endless YouTube videos and articles from various websites have popped up, all thoroughly convinced this theory is the correct answer to the mystery of Rey’s origins. The theory throws in a lot of evidence, and the best way to absorb it all has come from this video by YouTube user Vincent Vendetta, who does a great job in breaking it all down, and providing some audio and video clues.
I’ll highlight some important aspects.
First and foremost is Rey’s lightsaber fighting style. While many people may not catch it—I didn’t—Rey’s technique is actually very unique. Her go-to move is a forward thrust with her lightsaber. While this might sound like a very basic move, none of the lightsaber fighting styles include this move.
Only one other person in the Star Wars universe uses this move, and that’s Emperor Palpatine, who is seen using it several times in both of his major fights. In fact, everything from her stance down to her facial expression is the same as Palpatine’s during her fights.
It Perpetuates Old Familial Rivalries
There has always been a Skywalker versus a Palpatine. Whether it’s Anakin, Luke, or Leia, they have always found themselves—from the beginning, or eventually—on the opposite side of the emperor.
If the theory is true, then “The Force Awakens” perpetuates this rivalry. Thing is, we already have our Skywalker, and he’s turned out to be on the side of evil. This leaves the opposite part of good, already established as Rey, to be the Palpatine of this story. It would be a poetic twist to the story, where all the established good and evil roles have been swapped.
Rey’s Music Is Similar to Palpatine’s
A YouTube user noted that Rey’s theme and the emperor’s theme are eerily similar. Of course, Kylo Ren also shares a lot of similarities to Palpatine’s music—it’s an inversion of the notes—but all of this seems to imply that all three characters have some sort of relationship to the emperor. We’ve established that Ren’s relationship is one of his connection to the dark side, so what’s Rey’s?
Watch the video analyzing the musical connections below.
Rey’s Position On the Poster
Some have pointed out that Rey is on the dark side part of the poster, alongside Kylo Ren, and opposite her friend Fin. Her facial expression seems to be a tone of anger as well, further giving off a very dark side-ish vibe.
This is open for argument, since Starkiller Base and a line of Storm Troopers accompany the light side of the poster. Regardless, her positioning is interesting, especially as both of their weapons aren’t crossing, but perfectly side by side.
Rey Hears Dark Voices
In the official novel released alongside the movie, a disembodied voice tells Rey to kill Kylo Ren when she has him at her mercy. “Kill him a voice inside her head said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion.” We’ve seen this phrase uttered before, when Anakin had Count Dooku beaten and kneeling before him.
Could this be the force spirit version of Palpatine following Rey around? If so, why her?
While there are other parts of this theory to consider—and I advise you to watch the theory video to get the full weight of it—one can punch a few holes in.
For one, it was never established that Palpatine had a child. According to backstory, he did have physical relationships with some women, but he was never married. Canon says he doesn’t have any children, but then again, a lot of the expanded Star Wars universe was thrown out the moment “The Force Awakens” was announced.
Then again, as the theory states, this could be explained away in a whole host of ways. In a universe where a woman can become pregnant due to the force itself getting frisky and clones are made en masse, it’s possible there are a myriad of ways Palpatine could sire offspring.
Another hole in the theory comes from Luke’s lightsaber sequence. Once Rey touches it, it seems to reveal fragments of her past, while you hear words from both iterations of Obi Wan Kenobi and one from the emperor saying “any Jedi.” While it’s interesting that the emperor would pop up in the vision, Luke’s—or, more accurately, Anakin’s—lightsaber seems to often deal with things Skywalkers experience. Why would the lightsaber react in such a way, showing her history along with Skywalker history, if she were a Palpatine? It’s true that Skywalker and Palpatine have always revolved around each other, but the sequence seemed very specific to the Skywalker family.
This Certainly Makes Star Wars More Interesting
Despite some of the holes, I’m actually more willing to embrace this theory than not. Even the bits of doubt I have about it can be explained away with a bit of good storytelling. Good storytelling is one of the reasons I want to believe this theory is real. It’s a twist that, without the Internet, nobody would have seen coming. The idea just seems so good and poetic in its twist that it rivals the “Jon Snow is a Targaryen” revelation.
Furthermore, it seems like a total J.J. Abrams move to bait us with his left hand as he sneaks in story elements with the right. If this theory is correct, then this is his greatest plot twist to date, and will be hard to top for the rest of his career.
When I heard this theory, I found myself very enthusiastic about it. I wanted it to be real, because this opens up the new Star Wars movies for so many more twists and turns. Will Rey stay good, or will she succumb to the dark side, in keeping with the Palpatine legacy? Does this mean Kylo Ren, who has such deep roots in the light side and struggles to maintain that darkness, will revert back to the light to become the prodigal son and hero of the story if she does fall? Will Rey find herself stuck between dark and light, and put an end to the light-dark cycle of war?
Rey’s relation to Palpatine opens up so many possibilities, and further leaves behind the well-established groove many have feared the Star Wars universe has fallen into, after seeing “The Force Awakens” was really an updated “A New Hope.” Time will tell whether the Internet’s new favorite fan theory is correct, but if it is, then the Star Wars universe just got a whole lot more interesting.