SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains potential spoilers for footage released from The Rise of Skywalker, as well as speculation as to what might happen in the film. Proceed at your own risk.
In just a few months, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will reach our eyeballs. One of the most anticipated movies of the year, Episode IX — as it’s also known — will close the sequel trilogy and, with it, draw the curtain on the entire Skywalker story.
At D23 this weekend, Disney presented some brand new footage to an expectant crowd. This ‘Special Look’, meshing together shots from the beginning of the saga right through to previously unseen Rise of Skywalker footage, eventually made its way online.
And predictably, fans can’t stop talking about it. Most notably, they’re speculating about what that parting image of Rey could possibly mean. You know — the one where she’s looking considerably evil, holding a double-bladed red lightsaber and wearing a hooded cloak.
We polled our Star Wars fan community – Wookieepedia – to gather their thoughts.
A Vision to Behold
We asked: What’s the deal with ‘Dark Rey’ in The Rise of Skywalker [D23 Special Look]? And this is what the Wookieepedia community said:
It’s a Force Trial – Rey fights her Dark Side 31%
Kylo’s or Rey’s vision of what could have been 24%
Rey gets possessed by Darth Sidious 16%
Rey is a clone – one is a dark version of her 16%
Rey turns to the Dark Side herself 10%
The highest proportion of respondents – 31% — reckon that the shot in question is taken from a ‘Force trial’ that Rey is engaged in. During it, she’d be forced to confront her Dark Side. With Luke Skywalker having notably faced himself during a Force trial on Dagobah under the tutelage of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, it makes perfect sense that fans would get behind this theory.
Indeed, Streak2121 points out, “One of the Jedi trials is facing your own darkness.”
Tuckdaddy admits that realistically, “it’s most likely a vision, like the one Luke experienced on Dagobah”. Some fans, however, aren’t so sure the vision is part of a ‘Force trial’, with 24% believing that it’s actually a look at what could have been had Rey chosen to follow the path to the Dark Side.
JohnKelty33 says, “I think it’s a vision Kylo Ren has, I think it’s a vision of him seeing that if she were in his position, how much better a job she would do. This motivates him to make sure there’s no way she can do that, so he has to fight her.”
We do see this pair going head to head in the released footage. Fivstaver, however, thinks it’s Rey’s vision: “Rey has already had 2 of these sequences. One in TFA and the other in TLJ.”
ArchieKE, meanwhile, raises the notion that some kind of body takeover is in progress: “As cool as dark side Rey looks, I really don’t think this is much more than a vision. I’d go as far as to say Rey may have been possessed in some way but…”.
In Star Wars lore, it’s possible to transfer consciousness into a new vessel. It’s a power associated with the Dark Side – Sith Lords and extremely powerful Darksiders specifically. With Darth Sidious previously considered vanquished, and confirmed to return for Episode IX, it figures that he could be utilising this power to colonise Rey’s body – it’s a technique that allows the user to cheat death.
16% of respondents are behind this turn of events, with Tuckdaddy pointing out “[Palpatine is] very fond of that in Legends.”
A Stolen Weapon
Many fans seem to have neglected to consider — or, indeed, dismissed — the possibility that Rey has simply appropriated the very cool-looking lightsaber to use in the absence of her own. Among the 3% who aren’t on board with any of the listed theories, there are fans who believe she’s lifted it. Of course! She doesn’t have to be bad in order to wield a red lightsaber!
There’s definitely canonical evidence to suggest she hasn’t gone over to the Dark Side at all here – we’ve seen good guys use red lightsabers before. In Star Wars Rebels, Kanan grabs one to use against the Temple Guards (whose own lightsabers are very much like the one we see Rey using in the footage, albeit not red).
And we’ve witnessed Rey use Kylo’s – seen not only in The Last Jedi trailer footage below, but also in Star Wars Battlefront II.
Some of the 3% of fans who voted ‘Other’ reckon that the Dark Rey we see is to do with her journey to becoming a Gray Jedi.
“It’s not just a Force Trial, it is a step on her path to becoming the first of the new “Grey” Jedi,” says Cormac Silverhand.
While Nicolo De Guzman says, “Maybe Rey turns to the dark side herself but only due to the realization that it is only by making use of both light and dark side powers that she is able to defeat Emperor Palpatine. This doesn’t mean that she has to lose her humanity or turn her back on her friends; but merely a means to a greater end.”
Gray Jedi are defined, on the one hand, as Force users who walk the line between Light and Dark without fully succumbing to the Dark Side. While there was plenty of speculation about Rey’s standing as a Gray Jedi ahead of the release of The Last Jedi – visitors to the Gray Jedi page on Wookieepedia shot through the roof back then – there’s been no discernible difference to the numbers of visitors this time around. Could this mean that fans are ready to drop this theory?
A good number of fans believe that the Dark Rey we see could be a clone. 16% to be precise.
“Pretty sure it’s another clone or force transference from Sidious,” says SCIFIGUY89.
“Picture this: Rey is fighting the Knights of Ren and they take their masks off and reveal they are all Rey clones so this “Rey” we are seeing is just another Knight of Ren,” says Swmdc.
King Bendix, meanwhile, suggests, “Maybe Dark Rey is the daughter of Palpatine and Rey is just some backup-plan clone…”
Axelfennex expands on this theory: “I agree ^^^, what if Dark Rey was a reinforced clone of Palpatine, and the visions in the trailer (SPOILERS) of her and multiple clones of herself was something leading up to a somewhat of a clue for your theory?
Rey Could Turn
Perhaps the most interesting theory, however, is arguably the most obvious – that Rey does indeed turn to the Dark Side.
Tuckdaddy says, “I do love the idea of Rey turning to the dark side though. Think about it, it would go along with the whole kill the past thing, Rey could kill chewie and leia as her sacrifice to fully commit to the darkside. It would also cement the First Order’s victory, making them available to be the villains again if Disney plans on making more movies. It would also be a huge twist if the trilogy ends with the good guys losing. Her fall would also redeem the fact that she’s had so little training, if she’s been unwittingly tapping into the darkside, and if she has she would have no training to resist its lure.”
The other major talking point in the footage is the red eyes of C-3PO – which interestingly caused a 6000% (yes, 6000 PER CENT) increase in visitors to Wookieepedia’s 0-0-0 page. Triple-Zero, as he’s known, is a protocol droid from the wider Star Wars universe built to mete out torture, and has the same red eyes as C-3PO has in the footage.
Similarly, the page for C-3PX – a protocol droid, reprogrammed as an assassin – featured among the Top 10 most visited Wookieepedia pages in the immediate aftermath of the footage dropping.
That C-3PO could become ‘dark’ himself supports the theory that we’ll see some favourite good guys turn bad in The Rise of Skywalker – Rey included. Which also gives credence to the notion that Palpatine is her father.
The Rise of Kylo?
By contrast, there’s speculation that Kylo could rise to the Light Side. Meaning the film’s title could actually be a reference to him, since as well as being the son of Han Solo, he’s also the son of a Skywalker.
“I think it’s all about Ben Solo/Skywalker.. and his rise to the light side of the force. So essentially Rey goes to the dark side,” says Srader6.
Wookieepedia user Ben $olo cites symbolic evidence that this could be the case, referencing the sound of Darth Vader’s breathing heard in the trailer: “I mean, Vader’s dead, and it’s unlikely that he’d come back. But maybe it’s symbolizing his story arc and pairing one of the characters (perhaps Kylo,) with it? In other words, the light-dark-light transition that Vader went through is represented by the breathing, and, if what I’m thinking is correct, then maybe Kylo is in the middle of that same thing?”
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