Star Wars Holocron

Why the Sequel Trilogy is About Rey’s Search for Belonging

Welcome to the Star Wars Holocron blog! This is a place where we’re going to share some of our thoughts on the latest in everything that is Star Wars. Amidst The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian season 1, Jedi: Fallen Order, and a slew of announcements and canon novels and graphic novels, 2019 was a hallmark year for Star Wars, introducing new characters and tales into canon, while expanding on previously established adventures. One of the things we liked the most from the past year in Star Wars were the themes explored in The Rise of Skywalker. In particular, how this film firmly felt like it was Rey’s story. The marketing material for The Force Awakens purposefully kept who the protagonist of the new trilogy was a little bit of mystery (Finn, Rey, maybe Poe?), and the film is largely dedicated to both Finn and Rey’s stories. The Last Jedi, conversely, emphasizes the dynamics between Rey and Kylo, with Luke’s influence on the both of them being integral to the story. The Rise of Skywalker, however, affirmed that this story of the sequel trilogy is firmly Rey’s story. Some people have found issue with Rey’s parentage reveal in The Rise of Skywalker and we completely understand and empathize with these concerns. However, we think that Rey’s parentage fully fleshes out her character in a truly unique way. Rey’s entire arc in the sequel trilogy has been about belonging, a theme not as emphasized in the previous two trilogies. In The Force Awakens, Rey desperately seeks belonging from a family who would never return. This belonging shifted to Han Solo temporarily as a father figure and mentor, but his passing concluded that. In The Last Jedi, Rey desperately seeks belonging from Luke, a mentor she hopes will not only save the Resistance from certain defeat in the face of the First Order, but will provide her with the support and guidance she longs for. However, his disillusionment with the involvement of the Jedi in galaxy affairs and ultimate sacrifice to save the Resistance stunted any chances of this belonging. In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey finally finds some of the belonging she has hoped for in her master, Leia. Once again, however, this belonging is seemingly short-lived. She feels a dark presence within her that she can’t quite define, or that she doesn’t want to define, and needs to go on a mission with her friends to prevent Palpatine’s second takeover of the galaxy. This pursuit of belonging culminates in the reveal that she is Palpatine’s granddaughter. Rey desperately sought belonging in some longstanding, enduring, supportive way, but this is not the belonging she envisioned. The Last Jedi provided a difficult answer to Rey’s issue of belonging, that her parents are no one, but The Rise of Skywalker takes this a step further and questions Rey’s belonging to an even more disturbing, frightening degree. This is why the ending of The Rise of Skywalker is so poignant, as it not only resolves the more surface-level conflict of the sequel trilogy (The Resistance vs. The First Order), but it resolves the core conflict of the trilogy’s protagonist – a lack of belonging. In choosing the Skywalker name, Rey is not letting what came before her (her parents’ decision and Palpatine himself) or what has happened to her in her life shape who she is. Rey’s autonomous, unilateral decision to claim the Skywalker name and, finally, find the spiritual belonging she has always sought with the spirits of Luke and Leia supporting her is why The Rise of Skywalker is so powerful. The Skywalker bloodline may be eradicated with the death of Ben Solo and Leia in the film, but Rey is as much a Skywalker as Anakin, Luke, Leia or Ben ever were as this is a family she chose and a family that chose her. It is important to note that this is just one perspective on The Rise of Skywalker and the sequel trilogy more broadly. People are free to hold their own opinions on the different facets of Star Wars, which is why Star Wars is so interesting. If you ask 100 people what they enjoy most in Star Wars, you’ll get a 100 different answers, emphasizing how diverse Star Wars is relative to other franchises. This is just one of many interpretations of Rey’s arc in The Rise of Skywalker. Thanks for taking the time to read this! Always interested in fellow fans’ thoughts about different aspects of Star Wars. May the Force be with you all!