Since the D23 Special Look for The Rise of Skywalker released, the majority of questions and theories have been relating to one moment at the end: Rey appearing in dark clothes and with a folding red double-bladed lightsaber!
What is happening here?! Is Rey going evil? Is this more misdirection from JJ Abrams? Today, I am looking at the possible theories that I have either come up with myself or heard discussed elsewhere.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: Rey is actually going to turn dark in this film. While she has been a champion of the light side, Rey has had her darker moments in the canon. In The Last Jedi, during her first lesson with Luke she was tempted by the Mirror Cave, which was strong in the dark side of the Force. As Luke said, “It offered something you needed. And you didn’t even try to stop yourself.” She went straight to the dark in that moment. The novelisation of The Force Awakens also has an interesting moment, just after she injured Kylo:
Kill him, a voice inside her head said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion. So easy, she told herself. So quick.
She recoiled from it. From the dark side.
Rey has been tempted, perhaps this will be the time that she falls. This theory can then go in 2 directions:
- The first is that Rey will turn and be redeemed. I have felt for a while that Kylo will likely be redeemed in this movie (though I would rather he remained a villain throughout). Perhaps Rey turns to darkness and this helps redeem Ben Solo as he also pulls Rey back to the light. In the Legends comic Dark Empire, Luke Skywalker encountered the resurrected Emperor (sound familiar) and became his apprentice as he was put in such a difficult situation, before being redeemed by Leia and going on to start a new Jedi Order. Many characters, places and events from Legends have been adapted into the new canon. This could be the case here, with the story moving from the Skywalker twins to the new generation.
- The other option here is that Rey will turn and remain turned, becoming the villain in the second act and having to be destroyed when her friends realise they can’t redeem her.
Personally, I would rule out the second option here as Rey has been shown as such a champion of the light side and made into a role mode for so many children, that to have her become the villain would be very hard to do well. A redemption would make it possible, but in both cases I worry that it would be hard for this film to wrap up everything it needs to, introduce and reintroduce some characters and turn Rey to the dark side while doing everything justice. I also think that something as huge as Rey turning to the dark side would be left out of the trailer to make it more of a shock when it happens in the movie.
It’s an illusion
The next theory is that this is not actually real, and is in face part of a vision Rey or Kylo is having. This would not be a new thing to fans. Luke faced off against “Darth Vader” in the cave on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, only to find that it was him in the armour. Yoda faced a dark side version of himself when learning from the Force Priestesses in The Clone Wars. Rey had a vision when she first touched Luke and Anakin’s lightsaber in Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens and her experience in the Mirror Cave in The Last Jedi could also be considered another vision. Could it be that when the group go to the remains of the Death Star, the Emperor’s evil has left enough of an echo of the dark side there for her to face some test or vision in the form of her darker self? Or perhaps it is a vision for Kylo, the Force showing what could happen if he carries on down his dark path and helping push him back towards the light.
What makes me think this could be possible is that Rey’s lightsaber blades are both shown to be unstable. The only time we have seen that before is with Kylo, so it seems highly unlikely that another character would find themselves using cracked red Kyber crystals – especially as Rey’s lightsaber probably needs 2 crystals, making it unlikely that she is just using the crystal from Kylo’s weapon.
Conversely, if this is just a quick sequence in the movie as a vision, there is a fear that making it such an important part of the promotional footage could lead to people being disappointed by it being a vision. After such a divisive reaction to The Last Jedi and a poor box office showing (by Star Wars standards) for Solo: A Star Wars Story, that seems a big risk for Lucasfilm to take in the marketing, while it is also one of the most common theories I have seen suggested by fans, so it could be too obvious to be true.
Rey’s a clone
This is going to be 2 separate theories that both come under the same general premise: Rey was artificially made as a clone, either of some former Force-user or a combination of Force-users. The 2 theories go as follows:
- As a clone, Rey has some form of inhibitor chip in her brain similar to the clones during the Clone Wars. Coming face-to-face with Palpatine, he will give some order that will trigger the chip to turn her to his side, turning her to the dark side.
- If Rey is a clone, why should there just be one of her? The Rey that we know is as usual, but the Dark Rey is another clone that has fallen to the dark side and is working for Palpatine. This could lead to a battle between the two Reys.
Both these clone theories have some merit. It would give meaning to the Mirror Cave vision showing multiple Reys and why she could not be show her parents – she has none! Kylo even made mention of the possibility of using a clone army in The Force Awakens, so it appears that cloning is still a viable option, while also a great way to tie in the Prequel Trilogy. It could also tie back to some of the books as Rey was found on Jakku, where one of the Emperor’s Observatories was found. Bringing in the inhibitor chips could also explain to fans who only watch the movies why the clones turned against the Jedi, while also being a great nod to those who have watched The Clone Wars and Rebels. As Kristian Harloff of Collider Live and Collider Jedi Council has stated, The Force Awakens was at one point going to begin with Luke’s right hand (that he lost on Cloud City) floating in space and though this was cut from the final movie, the fact that JJ Abrams has returned for Episode 9 could see a return to this.
While there are certainly things I like about both of these theories, my only issue here is the same as for Rey turning dark: that is a big concept to bring into the last movie while trying to wrap everything else up.
Another theory is that Rey has been possessed by the Emperor. Though we have heard Palpatine in both trailers, we have not seen him in physical form. This theory is that Palpatine is a spirit within the remains of the Death Star, but will possess Rey when she encounters him. This will end in Rey either managing to force (no pun intended) him out of her body or the rest of the heroes – including potentially a redeemed Kylo who has seen the true evil – finding a way to save her from Palpatine’s grasp.
This will make her the vessel for the main villain, without ever technically turning Rey to the dark side herself, so she can do evil deeds without it harming the fan perception of Rey herself. There is also precedence for it from the Dark Empire comic again, where Palpatine would transfer his essence to clones of himself in order to cheat death.
While it would be easy enough to pull this off without needing too much exposition, my feeling is that this will not be the case as this theory gives no reason for Rey having a new lightsaber.
Before discussing the final theory, I just want to throw out a spoiler warning for the story of Knights of the Old Republic for those who don’t know it and want to avoid any knowledge due to rumours of a film adaptation.
This final theory can also go down 2 routes but stems from the same idea: Rey is not turning to the dark side, but instead turning back to the dark side. In Knights of the Old Republic, the protagonist is a Force user who has lost their memory, but as the story goes on it is revealed that they are in fact Revan, the Dark Lord of the Sith, who had been betrayed by his apprentice Malak and had his mind wiped by the Jedi who found him. Could it be that Rey has a similar background? The two theories I have surrounding this are:
- Rey was one of Luke’s very first students, however fell too far towards the dark side as a child. Luke managed to stop her fall by taking away her memories, before having her taken to Jakku in some form of exile, thinking that she would never be found there. This could give some weight to the moment where Maz asked Han who she was in The Force Awakens – Han could know and have been part of arranging her exile – while it could show that Luke felt his first apprentice and then also Ben falling was too much failure.
- The Emperor has been hiding for years and biding his time. He trained young Rey as his apprentice, before wiping her memory and having her left on Jakku. Palpatine has been shown to have some degree of foresight and play the long game before and has planted her in a position to become a big part of Galactic Events, helping to weaken the First Order along with the Republic/Resistance, reducing any resistance to him taking back control of the galaxy.
In both these cases, finding the Emperor will lead to the revelation, which will push her back to the dark side, but by the end she will be redeemed to show that good triumphs over evil.
The biggest issue I have with this one – other than bringing in mind wipes – is the rumour that Knights of the Old Republic is being adapted to film, so I can’t imagine them using the same twist in 2 films so close together.
Do you think any of these are right? Or do you have your own theory? Let me know, cos I’d love to hear it!
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…