Rey Kenobi: A Star Wars Theory

Charlotte Mandy, Editor

In the aftermath of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer release, I thought it only proper that I throw my hat into the ring regarding the ever-argued ancestry of our protagonist, Rey. I have been a longtime Star Wars fan theorist, so if some of these points look familiar, you may or may not have read them from an anonymous blog…run by me.

Although Rey Skywalker is the most commonly accepted Rey parentage argument, my best-loved theory, which was once the dark horse of Star Wars speculation, is Rey Kenobi; that is, Rey is the granddaughter of the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

“Impossible,” the lore-familiar among you cry, “You must be joking! Obi-Wan Kenobi was a committed Jedi, he couldn’t possibly have had a child (Rey’s parent)!”

Because of course, Jedi are forbidden to love, so none of them ever do right? (Ahem. Anakin Skywalker.) To that I say, look no further than Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animated series that expands the breadth of the infamous prequels. Obi-Wan did, in fact, have a love interest, the Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore, who he confessed he would have left the Jedi Order for. It seems likely that even before (spoiler alert) her untimely demise, Kryze would never have told him if she did have a child, knowing that the Order could not afford to lose a Knight, nor the Republic a General.

Point being, this theory cannot be at once discredited with the old ‘Jedi don’t have kids’ card, because the entire foundation of Star Wars hinges on this. Would that make Obi-Wan Kenobi a hypocrite? Perhaps. But he is, after all, by no means the perfect Jedi.

Now, a great deal of Rey Kenobi is built off of the incredible parallels, which under close observation are stronger than superficial Rey Skywalker imagery and storytelling.


The Desert Outsiders

Daisy Ridley, who plays the scavenger-turned-warrior, said that the key to Rey’s history is her solitude on Jakku, the planet she grew up on. The only other (human, not green) character we see in complete isolation is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Both he and Rey spend years upon monotonous years on a desert world, waiting, living a very hand-to-mouth lifestyle as a hermit and a scavenger.

Anakin and Luke Skywalker had family and friends during their desert internment, but Rey and Obi-Wan had no one.

There is an air of secrecy around both of them. When asked who she is, Rey replies, “I am no one,” or, wryly, that it is classified. When Obi-Wan Kenobi became Ben, watching over Luke during the twenty years he was hidden from the Empire, none of the villagers knew anything about who he was beyond his name.



The Character Profiles

A British accent in Star Wars is known as a Coruscanti accent, originating on the city world of Coruscant. It is no accident that Rey and Obi-Wan and the only good protagonists to share this accent.  John Boyega, playing Finn, the stormtrooper who defected to the Resistance, is every bit as British as Daisy Ridley, but is not allowed to sport his natural accent.

Rey’s weapon of choice before she got her hands on a lightsaber was a staff. She and Obi-Wan both fight with poles or staffs, in her case against desert thugs, in his against an insectoid acklay opponent and the evil General Grievous. While we are on the subject of weapons, Obi-Wan and Rey display distaste of a blaster (initial horror, in Rey’s case) when they use it, despite being more than effective blaster wielders.  

Obi-Wan and Rey are both multilingual. Obi-Wan could speak Galactic Basic, the binary language of droids, Shyriwook, Twi’leki, Amani, and understand hand signals; Rey speaks Galactic Basic, droid, Shyriwook, and Teedo, as well as the languages of other offworlders that came to Jakku.


Rey and Kylo Ren: Kenobi and Skywalker

“Star Wars tells the story of the Skywalkers.”

Then, Rey must be a Skywalker, she’s the new main charact—hold up! We already have our Skywalker. He loomed as the enigma of The Force Awakens even before we began to speculate about Rey’s family. All in all, Kylo Ren, son of Leia Organa daughter of Anakin Skywalker, is carrying on the tradition of Skywalker’s dooming the entire galaxy.

Sure, Rey could be another one, but a sparsity of Kenobi’s in this trilogy makes this unlikely. A Skywalker without a Kenobi as an antithesis has never occurred. After all, as General Grievous once said, 

“Where there is Kenobi, you will always find Skywalker not far behind.”

If so, our newest Skywalker, Kylo Ren/Ben Solo spent a better part of TFA pursuing, not far behind, Rey Kenobi.

Allow me to draw your attention to the astounding parallels between the Kenobi-Skywalker duels.

Once, Obi-Wan Kenobi clashed blades with Anakin Skywalker on a hellish planet amid fire, and now, Rey Kenobi clashes blades with Kylo Ren on a dying world amid snow. Once, Obi-Wan and Anakin locked arms in fierce battle, grappling on a precipice; now their descendants do again, carrying on the fight where their grandfathers left off. Once, Obi-Wan closed his eyes and surrendered to the Force, meditating even as he prepared to meet his death; now, Rey closes her eyes with two sabers locked before her–but opens them, and fights on as her grandfather did not.

Once, Obi-Wan looked down at the ruination of his closest friend, burning; now, Rey looks down at the ruination of her enemy, bleeding. Neither of them strike the Skywalkers a killing blow. They look down from their high ground in pity and disgust.



Building off of this scene is also the backwards parallel that Kylo, impressed and awed by Rey’s unrefined power in the Force, offers to be her teacher. A Skywalker offering to teach a Kenobi? It was always Obi-Wan who taught Anakin, and then Luke.

And yet this striking role reversal is again clear in the trailer for The Last Jedi, when Rey says, “I need someone to show me my place in all this,” and the audience is offered a shot of Kylo Ren holding out his hand. A sharing of knowledge between the Kenobi’s and Skywalker’s is another time-worn trait of Star Wars.

If Luke Skywalker does not honor it, perhaps Rey and Kylo will.


Clues in the Force

Rey’s Force Vision, when she gets a glimpse of wider world, is pivotal to an understanding of her character. There are shots of her being abandoned on Jakku, of a long Imperial hallway, of a confrontation with Kylo Ren…most important, and most difficult to catch, is the audio. Obi-Wan is the only person to speak directly to Rey in her Force Vision. Scraps of dialogue and sound from Darth Vader and Yoda are also present, but interrupting the stream of fragmented events is Obi-Wan’s call of “Rey!”–stolen from Sir Alec Guinness’s “afraid” in one of the earlier films.

They went to quite a bit of effort to extract her name in Obi-Wan’s voice, not to mention prequels-era Ewan McGregor saying…

Rey, these are your first steps.”

…and another point in the vision released in the Star Wars comics where Obi-wan says, “You will be tempted, but you can learn. The Force will be with you. The Dark Side. The Jedi.” Then, “You will do it alone.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Force spirit was involved with this vision. Within the novelization of The Force Awakens, when Rey hears him call her name, she thinks, “That voice.” A voice she had heard before. A voice she recognized.

A connection is undeniable.



A Further Case Against Rey Skywalker (or Rey Solo)

It would be lax of me to ignore the other predominant theories about Rey’s history. At this point, Rey Solo has lost a great deal of popularity, but after all many of the truths we cling to depend upon our point of view.

Leia Organa, though she never became a Jedi, is strong with the Force. She has a powerful link to her brother Luke and knows when he is in trouble, she felt her lover Han Solo die at the hands of her son, and she almost succumbed to the Dark Side in the novel Star Wars: Bloodline.

How, then, would she not wonder what happened to a daughter she gave birth to? And if Leia thought her daughter died, why would she not still be in her thoughts regarding her child/children in introspective Bloodline?

If Han Solo was Rey’s father, how could the diminutive pirate Maz Kanata, who could read Finn’s very intentions in his eyes, ask who Rey was when her ‘father’ is sitting next to her?

J.J. Abrams, director of The Force Awakens, said we did not see Rey’s parents in The Force Awakens. As we saw Leia, Luke, and Han, it cannot be any of them, unless Abrams means we did not see both of Rey’s parents in the movie, in which case Leia and Han are ruled out anyway.



Which brings us to the last Jedi himself, Luke Skywalker.

Aside from the fact that making Rey the daughter of Luke requires another conveniently-deceased-or-absent-fictional mother (i.e. Schmi Skywalker and Padme Amidala), let us consider the implausibility of Rey’s abandonment. Perhaps, you say, Luke hid Rey away from the galaxy on Jakku out of fear, but it would take an awful amount of explaining as to why Luke, who never knew his parents himself, would abandon his child on a barren world to be exploited by criminals.

If it was out of fear of her powers, Luke would never have attempted to create his own Jedi Academy for powerful young force-wielders, as we know he did. If it was out of fear for her safety, what about the years before the First Order was at large? Would Han and Leia have never heard about the existence of their mysteriously Coruscanti niece?

There are too many variables that lack easy explanations, and would characterize the original trio in a whole new light. Suddenly, Luke is a dead-beat dad, or at least an oblivious one, and worse still, we get an anticlimactic, “Rey, I am your father.”

This kind of repetition would amplify one of the most criticized aspects of The Force Awakens which was the fact that it shared a plot, more or less, with A New Hope.

Unless the Star Wars creative team gets a kick out of negative reviews and a gradual monetary decrease, the next two movies in the trilogy will probably be a more genuinely novel attempt at storytelling.

Now, John Boyega says the eighth installment is bigger and darker, and there have been hints that Rey will be tempted by the Dark Side. If Rey is a Skywalker, boom. Empire Strikes Back…mark II. Luke was tempted and tested by the Dark Side too. Skywalkers making poor life choices is a plot we have all seen before, time and time again.

But a Kenobi that actually dabbles in the darkness? This would be a new frontier for Star Wars.



Finally, let us not discount Rey’s connection to the Skywalker lightsaber, but the fact that it belonged to Anakin and Luke does not make her their descendant; in marketing, it is known only as ‘Rey’s lightsaber.’ For better or for worse, their ownership of it is being slowly erased and replaced by Rey.

The vision that she got when she touched it was probably not produced by the lightsaber itself; as far as we know, lightsabers do not have memories or any real power over the living, except in how they are wielded. As I mentioned before, the vision could only have come from the Force, and as part of the Force and the only one who spoke during it, it is more likely Obi-Wan orchestrated it.

“The belonging you seek is not behind you, but ahead.” 

If Luke was her father, he would be behind and ahead, her past and her future.


Some Lingering Parallels

  • The first scene we ever see Obi-Wan and Rey, their faces are hidden. They save a droid.
  • Rey and Obi-Wan summon a lightsaber dropped by a fallen ally to defeat their enemy.
  • Rey and Obi-Wan open analogous wooden chests to reveal Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber and, eventually, return to Luke.
  • Rey thinks Luke is a myth. Luke thought Obi-Wan was a crazy old wizard, or at least that’s what he was told. Star Wars is a cycle.
  • Rey and her friend Finn seek refuge on the Millennium Falcon, just as Obi-Wan and Luke sought refuge with Han Solo on that very ship. Rey, like Obi-Wan, gets Han Solo involved in a fight he otherwise would have avoided.
  • While Luke and other Jedi like Qui-Gon Jinn were capable of Jedi Mind Tricks, no one was/is as immediately proficient as Obi-Wan and Rey. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” “You will remove these restraints and leave this cell with the door open.”
  • The visual parallels of Rey sneaking around Starkiller base and Obi-Wan sneaking around the Death Star speak for themselves.
  • Rey and Obi-Wan were both in the midst of an Awakening. In Obi-Wan’s case, it was the Awakening of the Dark Side of the Force specifically as the Sith rose to power again; he defeated a Sith, an act that had not happened in thousands of years. In Rey’s case, she is a key figure in the Awakening of the Force in general.

The Force Awakens was condemned for being a repeat of A New Hope, but Rey Kenobi, in the distance between Rey’s character and Obi-Wan’s life over thirty years before, provides a balance between echoing the old and creating something new. That Rey is a completely new character with unknown parentage and history is a possibility, but like most of us, Disney loves continuity, and above all, marketing. Rey Kenobi is going to look a lot cooler on the end credits than Rey Nobody. Obi-Wan is still a relevant character, considering rumors of a Kenobi anthology film.  

Plus, whoever Rey’s parents are will supposedly expand the Star Wars universe. Having her be the granddaughter of a well-known character allows two new individuals to enter the narrative; Rey’s absent parents could remain a mystery or provide the link between her and the Jedi.

Whatever happens, Rey will undoubtedly be a bigger character than her backstory, fully capable of forging her own path. Nevertheless, in the final pages of TFA novelization, Rey held Luke’s lightsaber out as

“An offer. A plea. The galaxy’s only hope.”

Luke is probably the galaxy’s only hope here, with the reversed parallel of a Kenobi seeking out a Skywalker for aid. But perhaps it refers to Rey.

Perhaps Rey is, after twenty years of exile, taking her grandfather’s place as the only hope of the galaxy.