What Luke Having a Daughter Meant to Me

Written by robotical712

Most who know me in the Star Wars community have long known me first and foremost as a proponent of Rey Skywalker (as in Luke’s daughter). So, why was it important to me?

Rey being Luke’s child was also a bit more personal. Family has always been an important part of my life and I had grown up in a supportive household with loving parents. So, even though my homelife bore no resemblance to the relationship between Luke and his father, it still resonated. Further, Luke was the character I most identified with. As I got into the EU, my identification with Luke naturally carried over into a desire for him to have a family. 

Alas, that didn’t happen before I had stopped reading the EU, although I was aware of Ben Skywalker. By the time Star Wars captured my interest again, I was married and had two children of my own – a son and daughter. As I already had the Luke/Vader relationship to share with my son, the potential of a new trilogy focused on a father/daughter relationship was deeply alluring. It’s said the Star Wars films are made for children, but what’s unsaid is that those children inevitably grow up.

By the time the Sequel Trilogy was made, an entire generation had been born and entered adulthood since the release of the Original Trilogy. For us, the Original Trilogy had always existed, there had never been a time without Luke, Han and Leia. We were introduced to these heroes as children and had grown up identifying with them. Thus, while watching The Force Awakens in the theater, I found myself not identifying with Kylo Ren on the bridge, but the father pleading with his son to abandon his dark path before it was too late. It wasn’t the prospect of Rey finding her father that stirred me, but the father being confronted by the daughter he had thought lost and the dawning horror that he had left his child to survive on her own all those years. For a parent, both scenes touch our most primal hopes and fears.

To me, The Force Awakens didn’t simply setup a coming of age story, but one about parenthood.

10 comments

  1. That’s all well and good, but it’s clear that you were a bit too obsessed with the idea, and were desperate to see something that (after Last Jedi at least) clearly wasn’t going to happen.

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    • Investing so much in it was indeed more of a recipe for disappointment than anything else… but it was also holding LFL to a higher standard than they themselves wished to meet.

      I mean, post-TLJ, Rey being retconned/revealed/reconfigured as a genuine Skywalker would fly in the face of TLJ… but it also wouldn’t be nearly as much of an effrontery to the Saga’s story or nearly as hard to work canon around as, say, Palpatine coming back.

      And then the brought Palpatine back.

      In terms of storytelling cohesion for the overall Saga and honoring The Last Jedi’s story decisions, bringing back Palpatine after we watched him explode, had Snoke doing his role, and set-up Kylo as the new main Big Bad, is a far more radical and table-upturning response than it would be to, say, have Kylo and Rey be revealed as wrong and have Luke, upon death, find out an inconvenient truth that might inject drama into Rey’s story and make it clear it’s *hers* and not Kylo’s.

      …But it would also be a maneuver that would be almost impossible to “save face“ over in regards to TLJ, and would of course require taking a hard look at Kylo and realizing he was inadequate as a sympathetic character, and I don’t think LFL could bring itself to do that.

      Bringing back Palpatine is insulting, dismissing, and overriding not just George Lucas’s work on Palpatine, but also his ideas about the future. But it’s *Lucas* who would be dismissed and who’s work would be undone after *decades*, and it was Kylo who was supposed to benefit from having the inconvenience of his set-up as the new Big Bad forgotten so he could get redeemed. LFL would feel a lot safer trying to pretend they were honoring TLJ and obfuscating an making excuses with Palpatine than they would be if they did something that would require saying “listen, we let Rian Johnson do the pretentious art-student thing, and critics say loved it, but it was a mistake that screwed over Rey and the Skywalkers and didn’t gain them anything, and this is just the better option.”

      I mean, LFL, Johnson, professional critics and professional influencers all went to bat to defend what is a much less rewarding idea than Rey Skywalker, and spent all their time trying to argue it. Rey Palpatine is just as much of a rejection, but it’s not as bluntly so as Rey Skywalker, and it would still provide them cover for fawning over the Kylo Ren.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “Frankly, I wish they hadn’t rejected anything, and just kept Rey a nobody.”

    The problem with Rey being a “nobody” was that TLJ made that a liability; not only didn’t Rey gain anything from the idea as a concept (because frankly, it wasn’t revolutionary as an idea in Star Wars at all and already kind of applied to the Skywalkers, and the film didn’t actually develop her enough for it to mean anything), but it was actually a HANDICAP for Rey as a character and main character that was exacerbated and made dangerous by TLJ’s focus on Kylo and Luke. And it became downright *cancerous* when merged with the film stripping her of character and personality for the sake of trying to make Kylo a pseudo-love interest and co-protagonist with her.

    TLJ is a film that is ultimately predicated on being a Skywalker story; it’s more Luke’s story in terms of main focus than Rey’s as she acts more as an audience spokesman than the new character, while frankly, all of Rey and Kylo’s scenes are ultimately more about him than her as well.

    Kylo calls her nothing, then she gets banished from the main POV of the film. That’s what happens… and thta pretty much defines the problem with TLJ’s “salesmanship” fo the idea; it comes off more as a con job than an actual story idea

    TLJ is a movie of regression and subtraction for the new cast of characters; TFA literally does pretty much everything TLJ wants to, but better, with the main key difference being prioritization of characters by the directors. Rey being a “nobody” honestly works *much better* in TFA than in TLJ: she has a more definable personality, more dynamic and visceral character arcs, and clearly becomes the main star by the end, all while her parentage mystery is a small background idea. And Kylo in TFA actually kind of works with that; there’s no pretentious he’s “the Skywalker” of the story, because he’s really just the monster who renounces his claim on that title via his actions.

    TLJ is the film that took its own idea, and screwed it up. Rey Skywalker as a retcon in TROS would have ended the worst problem of the Sequel Trilogy – the crippling of Rey as the main character by clear favoritism and exceptionalism given to Kylo because of his heritage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Can’t say I agree with you at all. Rey doesn’t need to be a Skywalker in order to work as a protagonist.

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      • She would have needed to be a Skywalker to actually be the protagonist in TLJ, because ultimately that was the deciding factor there for her not being at ground zero of the actual final confrontation or to have her POV matter as much as Luke and Kylo’s; seriously, their perspective and backstory matters to TLJ, and Rey’s doesn’t – more importance, focus, and time is spent on their history than on, say, Rey having her mind violated by Kylo, having her best friend eviscerated by him as well, and losing a father figure to him *on top of all that.* She doesn’t get a real arc in the film, and is mostly used as a prop and tool for their stories and not hers.

        Though to be frank and honest, Rey indeed didn’t need to be a Skywalker to work as a protagonist in TFA, so her character didn’t really need that on a conceptual level at all, so you’re right… as long as the films didn’t privatize or treat the Skywalker as more important and special than her. That’s why Rey being partnered with Finn as her protagonist partner and having Kylo strictly serve their stories as and antagonist while Han acted as a supporting character worked exceedingly well.

        But it needs to be acknowledged that places her story in a situation where there’s an element of “mutual liability” with the Skywalker family story – because *Kylo* is a simply loathsome bad guy and antagonist for her story, and because his existence terminates any chance of the Skywalker family having a happy ending.

        Either Rey is treated as the main protagonist, and Kylo remains treated as the scum he is, in which case the Skywalker family story has been upended and sullied, but she’s still written well… or Kylo gets treated as sympathetic and important because he’s a Skywalker, and the resulting damage screws Rey over as a main character.

        The latter is what TLJ did.

        Rey, as someone who’s only possible co-protagonist is someone non-Skywalker like Finn, and who gets Kylo as her foil, is fine. Rey, as someone forced to be a co-protagonist with Kylo because of his legacy, is basically parasitically deprived of her significance and storytelling potential because of his story.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with the author. I would have preferred Rey as a Skywalker. I don’t have any eloquent psycho analysis as to why some characters are poorly written or badly represented. I just think that if you are continuing a saga about a Skywalker family drama, Rey and Kylo as 2 opposite forces in the same family would have really worked In my opinion. We still could have had a character coming from nothing (Finn) and becoming a hero. Disney wasted an opportunity to highlight and capitalize on Finn’s uniqueness and potentially interesting back story. For all this talk about being progressive, you still were left with two predominantly Caucasian “gangs” that ran around the galaxy trying to destroy each other. As others have said, the Disney universe seems quite small. Disney did not have enough budget for more aliens and better world building? This sequel was just a horrible, terrible mess…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll be honest; I don’t think that Rey is the main character, Finn even exists, or Kylo kills Han in The Force Awakens if that film was conceived of and written without Rey being at least considered *highly likely* to be a Skywalker or Solo.

      There’s too much of a counterintuitive thought process behind having the *only* new Skywalker family member be a patricidal Fascist and mass murderer no one can cheer for with ignoring as much of his substance as possible.

      There’s no real reason to keep that new Skywalker character distant and strictly antagonistic and evil towards the main female lead, as in The Force Awakens, if he’s the only Skywalker. There’s not even much reason to introduce a different male companion to the female lead, have him be given depth, a sympathetic backstory, and great chemistry with the female lead, if their eventually going to have her relationship with the Skywalker be more important.

      I think the Sequels started out strong, then were fundamentally undermined and crippled by a one-two punch: Abrams creating a mystery box about Rey’s parentage he refused to establish a strong answer for… and then Rian Johnson choosing both the wrong answer, then proceeding to show why it was bad by focusing so much of the series on the villain who seemed custom made to be a vaguely sexist and racist alt-right intel in a post-2016 world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I get the distinct impression there was a huge fight over Rey’s lineage BTS until the last possible moment.

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