When we first met Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there was plenty of mystery surrounding just who she was. Flashbacks showed her family deserting her on Jakku, and then there was the fact that she was able to yield the Force with great ability and strength. Immediately, fans began speculating: was she secretly a Skywalker? Of course, now we know the answer: No. She wasn’t. She was actually a Palpatine – a twist that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But was that always the plan? There are plenty of indications that the new Star Wars trilogy was assembled bit by bit, without a clear map indicating where the story would go. But according to the new art book The Art Of Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker, there was definitely some early discussion about Rey’s lineage.
In the recently released Rise of Skywalker art book there’s a quote from 2014 from LucasFilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo that caught our eye:
“I like the idea that she’s going to be our Skywalker, but she’s not a Skywalker. Then, for our purpooses, ‘the Skywalker’ is really a metaphor. It doesn’t have to be something that’s directly connected by blood.”
The quote is referring to Daisy Ridley’s Rey, and raises a few questions. Is this indicating that everyone knew from the jump that Rey would never be connected by blood to Luke and Leia? If so, does that indicate they still knew that Rey would take up the Skywalker name by the end of the saga? Was she always going to be a Palpatine? Or was that a last-minute twist dreamed up by J.J. Abrams when he returned to the series after The Last Jedi?
You can read this quote any way you’d like. To me, it sounds like the decision was made early on that Rey was a stand-in/surrogate for Luke, since she’s the main character of the film. That said, I do think it’s interesting that before The Force Awakens even opened, the decision was made to not have Rey be connected by blood to the Skywalker lineage. That effectively means all those fan theories were 100% incorrect from the jump.
Still, the idea that the Skywalker name becomes a metaphor – and something that’s not directly connected by blood – does fit into the eventual end to the series, where Rey abandons the Palpatine bloodline for good and adopts the Skywalker name. In fact, it almost makes it sound like there was a clear plan for how the trilogy would end from the beginning.
But that’s still hard to accept. The wild inconsistency in the storyline from Force Awakens through The Rise of Skywalker plainly suggests that the trilogy was lacking a throughline. Further complicating matters was the rejection of Colin Trevorrow and (most of) Derek Connolly’s original script for Episode IX, titled Duel of the Fates.
In the end, the bottom line seems to be that while the trajectory of the new Star Wars trilogy changed over time, Rey was never intended to be a Skywalker from the get-go. And honestly, that’s fine! It’s just too bad they ended up making her a Palpatine in the end instead.
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