Rey Skywalker/Palpatine/whatever executives felt like that year is the unlikely hero of the Skywalker Saga’s final leg. Thrown through the wringer by different directors with opposing ideas, one thing remained constant: she wanted to find her place in the galaxy.
Doing that is hard with little knowledge of your lineage and a strange calling to the dark side — but Star Wars‘ character philosophy has never been simple. New movies eventually provided answers to her Force sensitivity, so here’s the backstory of one of our favorite Star Wars characters.
Rey in Star Wars explained
Rey Skywalker/Palpatine is a human Jedi who joined the resistance in The Force Awakens. She was the main protagonist of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
A former scavenger from Jakku, her path changed when she stumbled across Poe Dameron’s droid BB-8, who was transporting a map containing the location of Luke Skywalker.
She helped BB-8, which led her to discover her Force sensitivity. Amidst a longing to discover where she came from and difficulty accepting unanswered questions, her strength grew as she fought against The First Order and Kylo Ren.
Rey’s backstory in Star Wars explained
Rey’s earliest memories were of being abandoned on Jakku by her parents. We later found out she is the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine.
In The Last Jedi, at her most unmoored and validation-seeking, she was told she was a “nobody” whose parents were drunks. Kylo, being an asshole, did his damndest to make her feel she didn’t have a rightful place in this story.
The truth was revealed in The Rise of Skywalker: Palpatine had survived the events of Return of the Jedi and had a son, Rey’s father. To hide her, he and Rey’s mother left her on Jakku.
Rey in the Star Wars movies explained
Rey appears in all three of the Star Wars prequel trilogy movies, and her story is about overcoming the idea of predetermined destiny.
The Force Awakens paints Rey as someone desperate to expand her horizons and find a chosen family. Struggling to sell enough scavenged parts to feed herself, she parallels Luke in A New Hope: she wants to explore the galaxy, doesn’t know her origins, and there’s a sense she’s headed for something greater.
After she teams up with Poe, Finn, Han, and Princess Leia to destroy Star-Killer Base (ie. Death Star #3), she sets out to find the missing Luke. When she does and extends an olive branch, Luke’s old lightsaber, he petulantly throws it off a cliff.
He begrudgingly trains her, hoping to dissuade her from breathing new life into the Jedi order. But her growing link to the dark side and Force dyad contact with Kylo kept cropping up, scaring Luke. He warns that the tumultuous emotions are pulling Rey towards darkness.
She then worked with Kylo to kill Supreme Leader Snoke before refusing his offer to rule the galaxy together. What’s the deal with Skywalker-blooded men thinking their crushes want to become tyrannical dictators? That’s not romantic.
Things are dyer in The Rise of Skywalker after Palpatine’s much-memed return, but she feels more powerful than ever. Her innate Force sensitivity is explained away by the Emperor’s reveal.
This was devastating for her, but ultimately Rey takes charge of who she wants to be instead of resigning to destiny. She calls on the Jedi of the past to help kill Palpatine once and for all and ends the movie calling herself Rey Skywalker. She takes off with BB-8, free from what everyone expects from her (and that’s a lot).
Rey’s powers and abilities explained
With a bloodline connection to the Emperor, Rey is one of the most powerful Jedi ever. She can use the Jedi mind trick, telekinesis, and has a unique Force-bond with Kylo Ren.
Ren and Snoke both took notice of Rey’s untapped capabilities, which echoed the natural talents of Padawans like Anakin Skywalker.
It’s raw in The Force Awakens, but Luke’s training and her connection with Kylo upped the ante later in the story. Because of how she used a quarter-staff prior to the events in the movies, she also takes to handling a lightsaber well with some practice.
Rey and Kylo’s relationship explained
Rey and Kylo’s relationship grows from one of hatred to shared emotions, then eventually becoming romantic.
Kylo resented Rey when they met. He was working overtime to prove himself to Snoke, but his imbalance created issues.
Rey, however, displayed potential that she didn’t know how to work with yet. That, and her alliance with the people Kylo felt rejected by, made him angry.
But in The Last Jedi, Snoke established a Force-bond between them, which allowed Rey and Kylo to empathize with each other and see vulnerabilities. Despite Rey refusing to join Kylo, she remained sympathetic towards him.
When Kylo eventually changed sides in The Rise of Skywalker, they shared a kiss before he passed on. Their romance was celebrated by shippers, but other fans would probably stage an intervention if given the chance — we’ll leave that up to you.
Who played Rey in the Star Wars cast?
English actor Daisy Ridley played Rey in all her appearances.
You can also see her in Chaos Walking, Murder on the Orient Express, and new Star Wars movies still to come.
The Star Wars cast is massive at this point, but we found Ridley in the movies incredibly endearing. She struck a great balance between the extremes of Rey’s personality and, despite all the inconsistency behind the scenes, never phoned it in.
That’s all for now, but we think Rey deserves a new movie and can’t wait to see it. For more good vs evil, take a look at the best Star Wars villains, the Star Wars movies in order, or our ranking of the Star Wars series. If you’re looking for a different flavor, check out the best movies of all time.