One of the most admirable aspects of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens was how the director managed to skilfully integrate a new generation of stars into cinema’s biggest franchise. Co-existing seamlessly alongside established galactic heroes Han Solo, General Leia and Luke Skywalker (well, for 30 seconds at least), The Force Awakens brought us new stars such as Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), John Boyega’s Finn and last, but by no means least, Rey (Daisy Ridley).
Inevitably, our enjoyment of the film was tempered with a tidal wave of questions that simply need to be answered in the following two films in the new trilogy. The most pertinent question is; who exactly is Rey? In Star Wars, family has always been a driving force and continues to be. The Force Awakens essentially centred on Leia searching for Luke, while Han and Leia attempted to salvage their son Kylo Ren from the tempting clutches of the Dark Side and Supreme Leader Snoke.
With that, one of the burning questions came to be who Rey’s family was. In the film, it was alluded to that Rey’s family left her on the planet Jakku when she was young and subsequently spent her entire life up to the point of the movie’s beginning waiting for them. Indeed, when Rey first encounters the loveable android BB-8, she says she’s waiting on her family returning.
The obvious conclusion to what unfolds before you in The Force Awakens is that Rey is Luke’s daughter. Everything points to this, from the inheritance of the lightsaber, Maz Kanata’s cryptic insights and that dialogue-less final scene.
However, it’s easy to get sucked into the obvious narrative clues. Hold up for a second because, it’s more convincing that Rey, is in fact, the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, there are several clues and hints peppered throughout The Force Awakens, and they’ve been picked apart by Ben Ostrower from Medium.com.
Ostrower makes an extremely convincing argument for the “Rey Kenobi Theory,” starting off with the accents. Interestingly, the only British accents heard throughout the Star Wars films that are good guys are Obi-Wan and Rey, with the exception of C-3PO, but he’s a robot, so doesn’t count.
While you might think that is a weak strain of the argument, it gets better and better. Moving on to the memorable Jedi mind trick scene where Rey persuades a particularly famous Stormtrooper to open the cell door and drop his weapon echoes Obi Wan’s similar use of the Force in previous films. He then proceeds to highlight the name of ‘Ben Solo.’
“The only reference to Obi Wan in The Force Awakens comes with the reveal of Kylo Ren’s real name: Ben. That climactic moment serves to highlight two key things: 1) a reminder of the overall importance of “Old Ben” Kenobi to the broader Star Wars story, and 2) the notable absence of any references to Obi Wan up until that moment — the only major A New Hope character not to get a prior visual cameo or major plot point (so we think). This omission looks like a filmmaker’s “sleight-of-hand,” guiding us away from a reveal about Obi Wan later in the new trilogy.
“The deeper strain of this “Rey Kenobi theory,” however, is rooted in the concept that Star Wars has always had a certain narrative symmetry: good versus evil, light versus dark, small versus big, faith versus technology. Characters even refer to bringing “balance to the force.” These patterns abound in the Star Wars universe, appearing again and again in both minor and major ways. Many have even been critical of how closely The Force Awakens mirrors earlier narrative patterns and beats. That criticism is fair, but it’s being used for intentional effect to both guide and misguide and play with our assumptions and expectations.
Symbolism of the lightsaber
The next clue is related to the lightsaber Rey finds in Maz’s castle-bar.
“While the movie seems to imply that Rey’s inheritance of Luke’s blue lightsaber is a ”passing of the torch” from one Skywalker to another, we shouldn’t forget who gave Luke that lightsaber in the first place: Obi Wan. The lightsaber had been in Obi Wan’s possession for 20–30 years or so between Episodes 3 and 4, and is even presented to Luke from a wood chest similar to the chest later seen in Episode 7 in Maz Kanata’s castle-bar (yet another clue). It is Obi Wan’s passage of the lightsaber to Luke, along with encouragement to learn the force that propels the entire story forward. This key scene in Episode 4 (arguably the most important scene in all seven movies) even includes Obi Wan’s misdirection about Luke’s father, a narrative trick repeated in The Force Awakens. All that being said, think about how much more poignant Episode 7’s final scene of Rey handing Luke his own lightsaber becomes if it’s again a Kenobi reuniting a Skywalker with their weapon, compelling them back to the fight. Of course we all know that the burden of the lightsaber is now Rey’s whether she wants it or not…
Depth of Obi Wan as a character
One obvious question that grows from the “Rey Kenobi theory” is: with whom would Obi Wan have had a child? When? Like monks, aren’t Jedi’s supposed to resist attachments? Despite Obi Wan’s significant role in the first six movies, we know surprisingly little about him and what makes him tick. A backstory (uncultivated in I, II & III) about a forbidden love, perhaps, can enrich and deepen his character in surprising ways. It might answer another question: what was Obi Wan doing while in hiding for those 20–30 years before finally connecting with Luke on Tatooine? Maybe he wasn’t the lonely hermit that we thought.
But he’s not done there though. The main crux of his argument is that Rey being Obi-Wan’s granddaughter ultimately brings “balance to the force” and would serve as the ultimate narrative twist.
Don’t forget too that The Clone Wars animated series introduced the character of Satine Kryze. Satine, while obviously not in the running to be Rey’s grandmother, was proof that Obi-Wan was a man as well as a Jedi, with it being more than hinted at that the two were in love at some point in her and Obi-Wan’s past. It was even hinted at that at one point he considered, much like Anakin did in the prequels, leaving the Jedi Order for love… Anakin even refers to her as Obi-Wan’s ‘girlfriend’.
Here’s her description from the Star Wars Wiki: “Duchess Satine Kryze was the pacifistic leader of the New Mandalorians and the planet Mandalore during the Clone Wars. She also had a sister Bo-Katan and a nephew Korkie Kryze. Kryze was an ambitious and powerful woman, allied with several high profile names in the Galactic Senate such as Orn Free Taa, Kin Robb and Padmé Amidala. Satine was close friends with Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who protected her during the Mandalorian Civil War, she later allied herself with Ahsoka Tano. Kryze died in Kenobi’s arms during the Battle of Sundari.”
The twist of the series
Assuming that Rey isn’t just the hero of this new trilogy, but also the character that ultimately brings “balance to the force”, the reveal that Rey is a Kenobi and not a Skywalker, as we’re being led to believe, would be the twist of the entire nine episode arc.
We’re told at many points in the Prequels that Anakin Skywalker was “the chosen one” — the Jedi who would bring balance to the force. Not only was this obviously false, but in Episode 7 we’ve essentially learned that Luke has also failed miserably in his attempt to bring peace to the galaxy. Luke’s Jedi training of Ben Solo (a Skywalker descendant) was clearly such a disaster that it turned him to the dark side. In all, the Skywalkers are a pretty mixed bag: powerful, but emotional, petulant and frequently tempted by the allure of evil. It’s Ben Kenobi in the earlier episodes that is truly virtuous, noble and pure of heart. He’s our true hero. He’s incorruptible. He sacrifices himself at the end of A New Hope to show Luke the power of faith in the force, saving him and the galaxy in the process. Wouldn’t it then make complete narrative sense for a Kenobi (Rey) to be the true hero of the saga — perhaps even saving the soul of another conflicted Skywalker (Ben Solo/Kylo Ren) later in the new trilogy? How satisfying would that be to learn that the nine episode arc is really, underneath it all, about the Kenobi family and not the Skywalkers?
My favorite moment in the series comes in Episode 5 when Luke has abruptly and hastily cut short his training and Force Ghost Obi Wan laments, “That boy is our last hope.” Yoda replies, “No…there is another…”
Written originally to be a reference to Leia, how dramatic would it be for the “another” to ultimately mean a Kenobi? After all, we do learn pretty quickly in Episode 7 that Leia never becomes a Jedi. If Rey is a Kenobi and if by the close of Episode 9 she’s brought “balance to the force,” then all of the previous movies take on a new meaning. Even Obi Wan’s Force Ghost from Episodes 5 and 6 takes on a much more spiritual purpose than to just provide convenient story exposition. If Rey is revealed as a Kenobi, it changes the entire paradigm of the series.
So, what do you think? Are you convinced by the evidence? Read the full post on Medium for other nuggets of proof that we didn’t include. It certainly seems plausible that Rey is Obi-Wan’s granddaughter and, to be honest, we think it would sense thematically and narratively for it be true. But let us know your own thoughts!