SW:TFA – 6 Big Clues To Rey’s Identity

Okay, folks. This one is under a cut for spoilers for a highly anticipated movie that came out last week. If you don’t want to read key plot details for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, give this one a pass until you do. For everyone else, click through to read more (or click back on the original article link if you’re seeing this crossposted somewhere).


We were sitting in the theater last night watching The Force Awakens during the first scene where Rey is piloting/mid-air repairing the Millennium Falcon when Jack leaned over and said, “She’s Han Solo’s daughter, right?” I hadn’t actually thought that before. I assumed that her patch-on-the-fly expertise was a matter of her life as a scavenger.

Once he said that, though, I kept noticing little—and not-so-little—things that led me to believe he was right on the money. I’m not even talking about the line about Han being “the father she never knew”, as that’s a bit too on the nose. Even ignoring that, you’re still left with a lot of things like…

6. Lor San Tekka’s Presence

Max von Sydow’s doomed character, Lor San Tekka, is described in the opening text crawl as an “old ally” of General Organa. So, what’s he doing out in a sand pit like Jakku? Possibly the same thing Obi-Wan was doing out in a sand pit like Tatooine: hiding from the bad guys. But of course, Obi-Wan’s hiding place wasn’t random. He was there because Luke was, watching over him from a distance.

It’s Lor San Tekka’s presence in this particular place that not only kicks off the plot but brings our new triumvirate of heroes together. If he hadn’t been on Jakku, Poe Dameron wouldn’t have been there. Stormtrooper FN-2187 not only would not have been sent to shoot up a village on Jakku, but might not have been part of the detachment sent to retrieve the map from Lor San Tekka, if troop logistics changed. The only one of our heroes whose presence was independent of his existence and actions was Rey.

On a purely objective basis, it does not logically follow that if he didn’t bring her there, she must have in some sense brought him… but narratively, this is a pretty tight movie.

5. She’s Heir To The Falcon (And Chewbacca)

A lot of people who think she’s a Skywalker made a big deal out of the idea that she’s “heir” to the light saber of Ankin Skywalker, lost by Luke over Bespin. I think that’s much ado over not that much. First, the last shot of the movie is her offering the saber back to Luke. Second, Jedi make their own weapons as part of the process of becoming Jedi, so it’s not likely to be a lifelong (or even trilogy-long) part of her heroic arsenal, even if Luke tells her to keep it.

Also, it must be noted that she’s equally the heir to Anakin’s legacy if she’s Leia’s daughter as Luke’s. Leia was not any less Anakin’s child than Luke was. Given how much of a big deal the movie makes over the fact that Ben/Ren is Darth Vader’s grandkid, it’s weird how many people miss this point.

And while the light saber calls to her, fate itself seems to take a direct hand in putting her in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, which becomes a part of her from the moment she set foot in it. When Han Solo steals it back, he progressively warms to her after seeing her in action (and hearing some of the few details of her life, but more on that later) and was even “thinking about” offering her a job as a ship’s mate. Given that his original plan was to dump them somewhere, that’s quite a turnaround.

At the movie’s end, there’s absolutely no discussion about what happens to the Falcon now that Han’s gone. Notably, Chewie doesn’t claim it and offer her the co-pilot position, nor does he show any interest in leaving the ship even though Han’s gone.

4. Han’s Reactions

Han explains how his rogue freighter happened upon the Millennium Falcon: they have been watching for its nav signal to come back online ever since they lost it. Makes sense to me!

Except they found it almost immediately, yet Han was surprised to learn that the ship had ended up on Jakku.

If he didn’t think the ship was there, why was he even operating in the area? The fuzzy nature of hyperspace travel might mean that he wasn’t, but still, he’s a bit Johnny on the spot, isn’t he? And while his reaction to hearing the name “Jakku” might simply be indignation that the Falcon was effectively tossed out, it could well be that he already had another reason for shock and disbelief, which he tried to hide.

He has no visible reaction to the name Rey, but it struck me that it was a bit too no visible reaction. If she is his daughter, it might also be that he didn’t know her under that name. We don’t know how she ended up on Jakku either way.

Taking all this together with the aforementioned job offer scene (in which Han comes off a bit sweet and bumbling, very much the father figure), and I’d say that not only is Han probably her father, but he likely knows or suspects it from very soon after they meet.

3. Ben’s Reaction

It needs to be said first that Kylo Ren is not a man in control of his emotions. Everything about him screams that, including his huge-but-unstable custom light saber rig. He’s like a moody teenager who keeps trying for Darth Vader and ending up more in the vicinity of Dark Helmet. NOBODY GIVES HIM THE RASPBERRY!

Even given that, from the moment that he learns of Rey’s existence, everything changes. He gets unhinged when learning that a girl on Jakku was involved in the droid. When he encounters her, as soon as he has an excuse to take her on board the ship he forgets about the droid and everything else. This could be seen as simple arrogance or his ongoing desire to one-up General Hux’s troops, but the interrogation scene supports a deeper connection.

What does he say to Rey when he’s mind probing her? Something like, “Don’t be afraid, I feel it, too?” Do you suppose he says that to everyone whose mind he touches? We already know he doesn’t. It could be argued that he’s just noticing that she’s more-than-usually Force-sensitive, but it seems odd that he’d tell J. Random Jedipotential not to be afraid. What I suspect is that he was feeling a connection, possibly one he’d suspected earlier when he first learned about her.

Ben is deeply conflicted about his place in the world, and this leads to him being less decisive in general, but he consistently holds back with her. He reminds her that he could read her mind before trying to talk to her, he takes off his helmet when she comments on it, he holds back from pressing the advantage and offers to teach her to use her powers. It can’t be that he and Snoke put any particular premium on having more trained Force-wielders for the First Order, as their previous M.O. was to wipe out the competition, as Darth Vader once did. When Vader broke from that pattern and tried to recruit instead, it was because of his connection to Luke.

2. Han Solo’s Death and Kylo Ren’s Survival

From a narrative standpoint, the fact that Ben/Ren survives his fight with Rey near the end of the movie is the biggest thing that argues a deeper connection between the two of them and between Han and her.

If Han Solo is just, as Ben put it, “the father she never had”, then they do not have equal stakes in his death and she does not have the proper standing for it to have much emotional resonance if she later is pulled to seek vengeance on him. If she’s not Han Solo’s daughter, then Ben only killed his own father, a man she had only just barely met.

Without that tie between Ben and her, there’s also less pulling her towards trying to redeem him, creating tension to be resolved.

In essence, this sets up the equivalent of the first trilogy’s “I AM YOUR FATHER” moment. And yes, Skywalkerites, I know that if Luke is her father he could literally say those words to her, but it wouldn’t have much impact beyond giving her a facile sort of happy ending to her dreams of family. It wouldn’t have nearly the same drama as the equivalent moment in the first trilogy, or as a (thus far) hypothetical scene where she learns that her sworn enemy is her long-lost brother, but the man he killed in front of her was her father.

Essentially, for Rey’s desire to find her family lead to conflict, there must be some twist when she finds them.

1. Leia’s Ring

In the scene when our heroes come back from the Starkiller mission, there’s a moment when Leia and Rey embrace each other over their grief at Han’s death. By itself, this isn’t a clue. Rey is there to deliver bad news that Leia, Force-sensitive and emotionally bonded to Han, already knows. Rey watched him die, and Leia felt it. The wordless expression of shared emotion would make sense even if there was no greater connection than that.

But when the camera zooms in on the pair, the focus of the shot is a wire-wrap ring on Leia’s finger. In this ring there are two stones. It could mean a lot of things. It could be meant to symbolize her bond to Han, even. It could even conceivably mean nothing.

I expect that it’s a hint, though. Two stones, one for each child. A lot of mothers in this galaxy get birthstone rings with a stone for each of their children. If I’m right, then the general’s ring illustrates a similar sentiment.

None of this is conclusive, of course, and it might be that the moviemakers themselves hadn’t completely settled on an answer for the questions involving Rey’s family at the time this movie was written and shot. After all, no one knew that Luke and Leia were siblings when Episode IV was new.