Saturday, January 02, 2016

Who Are You?

{Spoilers abound, of course.}

The new Star Wars movie is out and it is wonderful. One of the major lingering mysteries though is who is Rey? They mention multiple times that she's waiting for family to come back for her and she's clearly very strong in the Force, but we don't know much about her.

That is, until I saw the movie a second time and was better able to process what I saw. Putting together some bits and pieces I missed the first time around, I think I figured out Rey's backstory that I can only assume we'll see in flashback form before the new trilogy is done.

Some key observations from my second viewing are:

  • Kylo Ren seems to know Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow), mentioning how old he's become. They clearly have a history together. Tekka even mentions that Leia is royalty to him, so that firmly places him among surviving Alderaanians, linking him also to Leia, Kylo's mother.
  • When Kylo is trying to pry information from Rey's mind, he mentions seeing an ocean and an island. It's made very clear that Rey has only known the desert...but has she? This bit of dialogue is key to Rey's past.
  • Once Rey tells Han her name, he immediately offers her a job on the Falcon (to stop her from perhaps fulfilling her destiny of becoming a Jedi).
  • When Rey touches the lightsaber, she has a number of flashbacks, among them Yoda and Obi-wan talking to her, as well as Kylo and the Knights of Ren standing over a field of dead bodies. Most telling to her backstory though is when we see Rey as a little child, handed off to someone as she is abandoned on Jakku. The hand she is holding is that of Unkar Plutt, the junk trader.
  • Plutt's is generally stingy with the "portions" he offers Rey in exchange for junk but the moment he sees BB-8, he offers an obscene wealth for the droid. When Rey rejects the offer, he sends men to steal the droid. I feel he's not doing this out of malice but in an effort to separate her from this droid he perhaps recognizes and knows that it might lead her off into greater, dangerous, things.
  • When we finally see Luke at the end, it looks like he's standing next to a gravestone.
Piecing all this together with more straightforward bits of dialogue from the movie, I think I've come up with a timeline of events that fill in the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens (TFA).
  1. Luke starts a Jedi school on the planet we see at the end of TFA, training Force-talented people of all ages, including his nephew, Ben Solo (child of Han and Leia).
  2. Luke takes a wife (perhaps even one of his older students) and has a daughter, Rey. Having a wife is against Jedi code but would Luke even know that? Even if he did, who'd enforce that rule? This is a new Jedi order and he could change the rules for a new generation. If his wife is also a Jedi, it would likely account for Rey's seemingly off-the-charts Jedi powers.
  3. Snoke singles out Ben Solo as weak-minded, the most likely to turn to the dark side. Snoke knows he must nip the Jedi school in the bud before a new army of Jedi could stand in the way of the New Order.
  4. Ben Solo turns evil, joins the Knights of Ren, Snoke's elite death squad. He takes the name Kylo (sKYwalker/soLO? I dunno, just guessing there.)
  5. Kylo and the Knights of Ren slay everyone at the Jedi school, except Luke and Rey. Luke's wife is among the dead, hence the gravestone we see at the end of TFA.
  6. Luke realizes that he failed as a teacher and a Jedi and hides out. He gives Rey to Han and Leia to place her on a deserted dead-end planet, just as he was. He's scared that if his daughter knows who she is, she'll insist on being trained as a Jedi, something Luke is scared of, given his failure at training his nephew.
  7. Han, through his past as a smuggler, has an existing relationship with Plutt and trusts him. He gives Rey over to Plutt and leaves the Falcon there as Plutt's payment for watching Rey. Han is accompanied by BB-8 at this moment, meaning Plutt knows the droid before the events of TFA.
  8. TFA tells us that Han put a tracking device in the Falcon to notify him if it ever takes off. Plutt also put some kind of compressor on the ship to keep it from going into Hyperspace. This is all in an attempt to stop Rey from leaving if it ever comes to that.
  9. Plutt is to keep a watchful eye on Rey (as Uncle Owen did to Luke) while Tekka also watches from afar (as Obi-wan did).
  10. Luke perhaps had a vision of the future where the only possible scenario that Rey and Leia would meet would be under the worst possible scenario of the New Order becoming a major threat. In the event of this worse case situation, Luke entrusted a portion of a map detailing his hiding location to Tekka, leaving the rest of the map with R2-D2. R2-D2 is left specific instructions to reactivate only if his daughter meets his sister, which would exclusively happen in the most dire of times. (In TFA, R2-D2 only wakes up once Rey reaches the base and meets Leia.)
So what do you think? The only thing I can't figure out is how Kylo wouldn't know the location of Luke's planet if it's the same planet where his school was located. Maybe there's some planet hopping going on or some other excuse for him to forget it. I'll think about that aspect a bit more. Anyway, I can't wait to see the next installments to see how off-base or on the nose I am.

Addendum: A couple random observations from my second viewing:
  • The first spoken line of the movie feels like a direct shot at the prequels. Tekka says "This will begin to make things right." Zing, George Lucas!
  • When Kylo Ren takes off his helmet, he sets it down into a box of ashes. Darth Vader's perhaps?
  • When Kylo and Han are on the bridge, with Rey and Finn watching (in a direct parallel to Luke watching Obi-wan fight Vader), Kylo is going on about his conflicted he is, that he knows what he has to do but doesn't know whether he has the strength. As this moment, half his face is lit in blue and half in red. Then, it cuts to Poe Dameron in an X-wing above, talking about how "as long as there is still light, we have a chance." On the surface, he's talking about the Starkiller base's ability to suck the energy from the sun, but that line is also the screenplay telling us that there is still light in Kylo, that there is a chance to redeem him before the end. This line sticks out even more clearly when you remember Leia told Han that she knows there is still light in him.

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