– written by HanSpinel
Star Wars has always focused on family, and though the Skywalker Saga is unsurprisingly led by the Skywalkers, it is chock full of “found family” stories. In this article, I will highlight how unique the Skywalker bloodline story actually is to the saga, and how the concept of “bloodline” for the Skywalkers – in contrast to “family” – is presented as a burden each generation must overcome through choice, and not destiny. In other words, the Skywalkers themselves promote empowerment regardless of origin.
I will also argue that each trilogy has pitted Skywalker vs. Skywalker, and that the Sequel Trilogy is no different. Following, I revisit themes and narratives associated with Arthurian Legend as it pertains to the battle between Kylo Ren and Rey over the saber that belonged to Luke Skywalker, and his father before him – the Skywalker Legacy Saber. I conclude that several lines of reasoning all support the Star Wars Shadow Council’s Case of a delayed familial reveal for Rey Skywalker, Daughter of Light, and Heiress Apparent to Anakin Skywalker.
Found Families & Bloodline
If Disney and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL) have made anything clear regarding the Skywalker Saga and Star Wars, in general, it’s a focus on family:
“The importance of family runs deep in Star Wars storytelling, both in the sense of bloodlines and the found families that help so many characters reach their full potential.” – Official Star Wars Website
Certainly, Star Wars is comprised of several “found family” stories including (but not limited to): Finn, Poe Dameron, Paige & Rose Tico, Vice Admiral Holdo, BB-8, DJ, Padme Amidala Naberrie, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Jango & Boba Fett, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, Qi’ra, Enfys Nest, Beckett, Val, Yoda, C-3PO, R2-D2, Jyn Erso, Galen Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, Orson Krennic, Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus, Bodhi Rook, Senator Bail Organa, Saw Gerrera, Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Ahsoka Tano, Emperor Palpatine, Zeb Orrelios, Agent Kallus, Darth Maul, Kazuda Xiono, Jarek Yeager, etc. and with more to come (see: The Mandalorian). Indeed, ignoring these characters and their contributions, many of which sacrificed their lives for the Star Wars story to live on, would be to ignore the “Skywalker Saga” itself.
In contrast to the abundance of “found family” stories within the Skywalker Saga, only one “bloodline” story is being told – quite obviously, the Skywalker story. Altogether, the Skywalkers by name and birth total five: Shmi, Anakin, Luke, Leia, and Ben; and in the strictest and most objective sense, the parentage of Rey is still unknown.
The modern and negative associations of “bloodline” include elitism, entitlement, and special treatment. Some have suggested that this negative connotation of “bloodline” is argument itself for Disney/LFL to be writing Rey as a truly anonymous hero in the Skywalker Saga, and showing that a hero need not come from a family of significance is an important or somehow untold story in the Skywalker Saga.
Spring boarding from the plethora of “found family” heroes and legends above, fans of the origin of Star Wars itself will note that the intent of “bloodline” was never the driving Force (pun-intended) behind the decisions and actions of the heroes, much less the Skywalkers. Specifically, George Lucas wanted the focus of his stories, including the journey of Luke Skywalker, to be one of self-discovery regardless of family or origin:
“My films have a tendency to promote personal self-esteem, a you-can-do-it attitude. Their message is: ‘Don’t listen to everyone else. Discover your own feelings and follow them. Then you can overcome anything.” – George Lucas
It mattered not that Luke came from a family of legend, or that he was “the first-born child of the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker.” Luke Skywalker becomes a great hero not because of his bloodline; he chooses to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do – an essential characteristic of any true hero in storytelling.
Moreover, George Lucas, Disney, and the LFL Story Group emphasize that the Dark Side villains seek to exploit the potential of the Skywalker bloodline for power and entitlement to rule over others:
“To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi
“When I found you, I saw what all masters live to see. Raw, untamed power. And beyond that, something truly special. The potential of your bloodline. A new Vader.” – Supreme Leader Snoke, The Last Jedi.
And as a cautionary tale to Rey about having too much pride regarding the potential of Ben Solo’s gifts:
“My nephew with that mighty Skywalker blood. And in my hubris, I thought I could train him, I could pass on my strengths.” – Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi
Additionally, we learn from the not-so-subtly-titled novel, Star Wars: Bloodline, that Luke and Leia choose not to share the lessons of failure from their family history, namely Darth Vader. When Leia’s family secret is made public, she loses everything that she had worked for including her prominent status among the New Republic’s Galactic Senate. Worse still, the ripple effect of hiding the Skywalker “bloodline” extends well into the Sequel Trilogy, and the door to repeating history is left wide open for Ben Solo.
In this same vein, it wasn’t that Luke couldn’t pass on his strengths to Ben, it was that he did not also share his failures. Indeed, a central theme of the Sequel Trilogy, and perhaps of the Skywalker Saga itself, is the lesson that Yoda waxes poetic to Luke on Ahch-To:
“Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.” – Yoda, The Last Jedi
Essentially, the concept of “bloodline” for the Skywalkers – in contrast to “family” – is presented as a burden each generation must overcome; it is not a blessing of entitlement to spoiled little children. We do, however, see the potential pitfalls of “bloodline” through the choices of Anakin Skywalker, and now following in those footsteps, Ben Solo. We see also the redeeming qualities of the Skywalker “family” through the choices of Luke and Leia, and as I will argue below, now following in those footsteps is Rey.
The Skywalker Saga teaches us that we each have an opportunity to redefine the legacy and mistakes of our bloodline. It is the Skywalkers themselves that represent a message of choice, a lesson of empowerment regardless of origin. In other words, an “anonymous hero” is not necessary to convey this type of personal meaning – it is the message of the Skywalkers.
The Duality of the Skywalker Saga: Skywalker vs. Skywalker
According to the official Star Wars Visual Dictionary, Supreme Leader Snoke believes that the Skywalkers are so powerful that only those from the Skywalker bloodline can challenge another. In other words, and akin to Emperor Palpatine’s desire to seduce the Skywalkers, the potential of the Skywalker bloodline serves as the primary motivation for Snoke’s seduction of Ben Solo. Snoke also believes that Ben Solo’s full potential in darkness is curbed and weakened by having too much of his father’s heart in him (i.e., too much of his father’s heroic bloodline).
“Take that ridiculous thing off. Yes, there it is. You have too much of your father’s heart in you, young Solo.” – Supreme Leader Snoke, The Last Jedi
The significance and focus of the Skywalker bloodline within the Sequel Trilogy is anything but new. The Prequel Trilogy (PT) is founded on the virgin birth of Anakin Skywalker – born from the Force itself (and no, the finale of Vader 2017 #25 is not confirming otherwise, nor was it meant to even comment otherwise). The Jedi Order believes Anakin is the Chosen One and will bring balance to the Force: an ultimate savior. Darth Sidious sees the same greatness in potential, but instead seeks to seduce and weaponize Anakin to become the ultimate agent of evil, Darth Vader.
Here, the duality of the Skywalker Saga is born, and the PT retells the battle for good and evil through the conflict raging within Anakin Skywalker himself. Anakin Skywalker walks to the edge of Darkness, and ultimately chooses to act on his fears, allowing for his betrayal by Darth Vader (from a certain point of view).
Prequel Trilogy: Skywalker vs. Skywalker.
The Original Trilogy begins with Darth Vader firmly established in darkness, and we see a new hope rise to face him: Anakin and Padme’s first born child, Luke Skywalker. Similar to Anakin, Luke walks to the edge of Darkness in Return of the Jedi, but ultimately turns away, and in so doing, opens the door to redemption for his Father. A door Anakin chooses to walk through.
Luke: No. You’re coming with me. I’ll not leave you here, I’ve got to save you.
Anakin: You already… have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister… you were right.
Original Trilogy: Skywalker vs. Skywalker.
The Sequel Trilogy also opens with Kylo Ren firmly established in darkness, and we see again a new hero rise to face him in the midst of a broken Skywalker Legacy: Rey, who is intentionally and purposefully left anonymous. Again, similar to Anakin the Slave and Luke the Farm Boy before her, Rey the Scavenger follows George Lucas’ vision of making something of yourself from nothing. Indeed, Rey walks a hauntingly familiar path to the edge of Darkness as the Skywalkers before her, both visually, and in the novelization, but ultimately chooses the Light, and all within the first act of the ST.
“Kill him,” a voice inside her head said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion. So easy, she told herself. So quick.
She recoiled from it. From the dark side. – The Force Awakens Official Novelization
Sequel Trilogy: Skywalker vs. Skywalker?
To first order, the “Skywalker Saga” is centered on the Skywalker family and their struggle, therefore the simplest solution is that your heroine protagonist of the Sequel Trilogy is also a Skywalker. The visuals of Rey’s journey parallels Luke and Anakin’s in striking fashion (see gif above). However, the visual similarities are not the only lines of evidence pointing to Rey being a Skywalker by blood, and it is worth exploring further the narratives chosen for and surrounding Rey’s introduction to the Skywalker Saga – namely, the Sword in the Stone motif.
Revisiting the Sword (Saber) in the Stone (Snow)
The story of Merlin is the origin of the “sword in the stone” motif, which posits that, “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born,” or “the true King” and “heir apparent” to the British throne. In Disney’s adaptation, little orphan Arthur unknowingly claims his rightful position as King by pulling the Sword out of the Stone; all in an attempt to help his step-brother who is himself about to partake in a jousting contest that will decide who is to become King. As an orphan, Arthur obviously did not know of his bloodline or rightful claim; thus, he didn’t have any feelings of entitlement to the throne. In fact, Arthur feels completely unprepared for the responsibility when the moment comes. Merlin assures King Arthur that he will be a great king, and even one day lead the Knights of the Round Table.
We witness an extremely familiar motif play out during the events of Disney’s The Force Awakens. Just like Arthur, little Rey is also an orphan, and her bloodline and family lineage is purposely written and directed to remain unknown to both her and the audience. In contrast, Kylo Ren carries an air of entitlement to the Skywalker legacy:
“That lightsaber. It belongs to me!” – Kylo Ren, The Force Awakens
Whereas little orphan Rey appears destined to the Skywalker Legacy, yet initially rejects it – she, also like Arthur, appears unprepared for the burden.
“That lightsaber was Luke’s, and his father’s before him and now it calls to you!” – Maz Kanata, The Force Awakens
“I’m never touching that thing again. I don’t want any part of this.” – Rey, The Force Awakens
Note that Maz Kanata did not mention Kylo Ren/Ben Solo as a prior owner within the lineage of the Legacy Saber – only Anakin, Luke, and now Rey. Kylo Ren appears, instead, to believe that he is entitled to the Legacy Saber by right of blood alone (as he apparently hadn’t owned it previously).
During the duel within the snowy forests of Starkiller base, Kylo Ren bests Finn, and the Skywalker Legacy Saber is flung into the snow with the hilt sticking out akin to the Sword in the Stone in snowy London. Kylo Ren reaches to the saber through the Force and cannot pull the Saber from the Snow. He tries and tries again and again to no avail, just as Kay (Arthur’s step-brother) does repeatedly in Disney’s adaptation of the Sword in the Stone.
Finally, the saber springs up from the snow in a flash, and whistles past Kylo Ren’s face and into the hands of Rey:
Taken aback, he whirled-to see the weapon land in the hand of a girl standing by a tree. Rey appeared equally shocked that her reach for the device had exceeded his. She gazed down at the weapon now resting in her grip.
“It is you,” Ren murmured.
His words unsettled her: Not for the first time, he seemed to know more about her than she did about herself. – The Force Awakens Official Novelization
This sequence of events is almost a one-for-one retelling of the magical Sword in the Stone story. In both accounts, it is the unknown orphan that pulls the Sword/Saber from the Stone/Snow, and both feel unprepared for the burden to follow. From a storytelling perspective, why was this specific motif chosen for the Sequel Trilogy? And how does the Sword in the Stone motif inform events and characters within the Sequel Trilogy?
First, posit that the story is centered on little orphan Rey unconnected to the Skywalkers: one must concede that the retelling of the sword in the stone motif makes little narrative sense if she is an anonymous character. The sword in the stone motif, in particular, has but one implication: a lost heir to the throne returns or is found, and becomes the rightful King – a lost orphaned royalty trope. Indeed, the return of an orphan child pulling the Skywalker Legacy Saber from the snow, and in so doing exceeds the rightful claim of another known Skywalker by blood, begs the question:
“Who are you?” – Maz Kanata The Force Awakens Official Theatrical Trailer
“Who’s the girl?” – Maz Kanata The Force Awakens
“What girl?” – Kylo Ren The Force Awakens
Luke Skywalker: Who are you?
Rey: I know this place.
Luke: Built a thousand generations ago to keep these. The original Jedi texts. Just like me, they’re the last of the Jedi religion. You’ve seen this place. You’ve seen this island.
Rey: [whispering] Only in my dreams.
Luke: Who are you?
Rey: The Resistance sent me.
Luke: They sent you? What’s special about you? Where are you from?
Luke: No one’s from nowhere.
Luke: All right; that is pretty much nowhere. Why are you here, Rey from nowhere?
Rey: The Resistance sent me. The First Order has become unstoppable–
Luke: Why are you here?
Rey: Something inside me has always been there… but now it’s awake, and I’m afraid. I don’t know what it is, or what to do with it, but I need help.
– Luke & Rey in The Last Jedi
From the theatrical trailer of TFA to The Last Jedi, the audience and characters themselves are subjected to a resounding and recurring question in the Sequel Trilogy: who is Rey, and where does she come from? You will be hard pressed to name even one other truly anonymous character in all of Star Wars storytelling that receives the same inquisitive treatment through two episodic films worth of the “Skywalker Saga.” We, as the audience, are specifically meant to question and wonder who she is. And no, she is not speaking the “truth” about her parents being nobody, she is speaking her greatest fear.
Now, posit instead that the Sequel Trilogy is centered on little orphan Rey being connected to the Skywalkers by blood in some way: the lost orphaned royalty trope and sword in the stone motif is altogether an appropriate story to accompany the introduction of an orphaned Skywalker narrative. This theme and narrative provides context to Kylo Ren’s reaction “It IS you,” and also his mysterious sense of knowing more about Rey than she does of herself. This motif also strongly suggests that Kylo Ren’s perceived rightful claim to the Legacy Saber by blood – “It belongs to me!” – has been displaced by the surprise return of another Skywalker.
Now, some may be asking: even if she is a Skywalker, how could Rey the Scavenger displace Ben Solo for rightful claim to the Skywalker Legacy Saber? What gives her more right to the Skywalker Legacy than Ben Solo if they are both Skywalkers?
“My worthy apprentice, son of darkness, heir apparent to Lord Vader.” – Supreme Leader Snoke to Kylo Ren, The Last Jedi
It is curious that Snoke defines Kylo Ren as the “heir apparent” to Lord Vader – An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in a line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person. For example, if we define the Skywalker family succession based on primogeniture (gender aside, and defined as the rightful inheritance of the firstborn child), the line of successors to the Skywalker Legacy is as follows:
Ben Solo is the last in line of living Skywalkers named on screen to have rightful claim to the Skywalker Saber, such that Leia has more claim than her son Ben, and both he and Leia can still be displaced by the firstborn child of Luke Skywalker (who is the firstborn child of Anakin). In the strictest sense, Kylo Ren is an “heir presumptive” to Lord Vader – An heir presumptive, by contrast, is someone who is first in line to inherit a title but who can be displaced by the birth of a more eligible heir. It is possible that Snoke assumes Luke has abdicated his claim to the Skywalker Legacy. Nevertheless, and at the time of Snoke’s quote above, Luke and Leia are both still alive, and Rey’s origin is still unknown. Following the Sword and the Stone motif with in the context of family succession, Rey could displace Kylo Ren’s claim to the Skywalker Legacy Saber, be the rightful heiress and “true King,” if, and only if, she is Luke Skywalker’s daughter.
Darkness Rises, & Light to Meet It
The Last Jedi makes an extremely strong case that Rey is equal in strength and power to Kylo Ren.
“Darkness rises and light to meet it. I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise. Skywalker…. (laughs) I assumed, wrongly.” Supreme Leader Snoke, The Last Jedi
“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before in Ben Solo. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” – Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi
Does Rey the Random fit the narrative of being an equal and opposite light to face the darkness of Kylo Ren?
Note that Snoke’s words do not indicate that Kylo Ren’s rise in darkness is the “cause” of an equal light rising – for instance, many argue that the Force randomly selected Rey to challenge the darkness in Ben Solo. I’m personally with Han Solo on this one (meant as a friendly jab; I still love you guys):
“That’s not how the Force works.” – Han Solo The Force Awakens
Snoke’s words indicate correlation, not causation – Snoke himself admits that he wrongly assumed the light rising to meet Kylo Ren was Luke Skywalker. Certainly, it was not Kylo Ren’s rise in darkness that caused Luke Skywalker to also rise to power (see: the Original Trilogy).
Now, does Rey being a Skywalker, and more specifically, Luke Skywalker’s daughter, fit the narrative of being an equal and opposite light to face the darkness of Kylo Ren? Recall that it was Snoke who believes that only a Skywalker can truly challenge another Skywalker. But to fully answer, let’s review the themes associated with names given to Skywalkers relative to the name, “Rey,” and place them in the context of the sword in the stone motif.
It has long been known that “Vader” is the Dutch word for “father,” and “Darth” was originally used by George Lucas as a variation on “Dark.” Ergo, it makes perfect sense that Snoke would refer to Kylo Ren as a “Son of Darkness” since he sees Ren as a direct descendant of Darth Vader (Dark Father). What then is the simplest solution to describing the opposite and equal in power to the Son of Darkness?
Answer: Daughter is equal and opposite to Son, and Light is equal and opposite to Darkness – ergo, Daughter of Light.
Now, can we attribute the Daughter of Light title to the little orphan Rey through themes and narrative provided in the Sequel Trilogy?
In contrast to Dark Father, the Greek meaning of the name Luke is: “Light giving.” This phrase is particularly interesting when contrasting to the “Dark Father” connotation used to emphasize “Son of Darkness,” and also considering the name Rey’s phonetic similarity to “ray,” as in “ray of light,” and this phrase’s association with “hope” and Luke also being “A New Hope.” Ray (Rey) of Light (Luke, a New Hope), Daughter of Light, Daughter of Luke.
Perhaps most convincingly of all, the Spanish meaning of the name Rey is quite literally and simply: “King.” Placed into context with King Arthur, the lost orphaned royalty trope, the sword in the stone motif, and Rey’s ability to displace Ben Solo’s blood claim to the Legacy Saber – these lines of reasoning strongly suggest Rey is a Skywalker by blood, and is also the Daughter of Light, and Luke Skywalker’s first born child.
Here, I have compiled several lines of compelling and resonant parallels between Rey and the Skywalker Legacy Saber to the Sword in the Stone motif with King Arthur. As defined above in family succession, Rey is “rightwise king born,” “the true King,” and “heiress apparent” to Anakin’s legacy if, and only if, she is Luke’s first born child. Moreover, the sword in the stone motif is most consistent with, and implicates, Rey being a Skywalker by blood, not an anonymous hero. Following, it would seem that Ben Solo’s claim to the Skywalker Legacy has been displaced by the lost orphaned royalty trope, and that a delayed familial reveal for Rey is forthcoming in Star Wars Episode IX:
Rey Skywalker, Daughter of Light, & Heiress Apparent to Anakin Skywalker.