By now, you’ve probably seen the “sizzle reel” for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that was released at D23 Expo this past weekend. If you haven’t seen the footage, you’ve likely at least seen the gifs. You know which one I’m talking about – the one that seems to hint at Sith Rey.
This brief clip has spawned some debate. There were already people anticipating that Rey would turn dark after The Last Jedi. Her connection with Kylo, which culminated in a back-to-back battle against Snoke’s guards, may imply that she has dark tendencies. Her moment in the mirror cave beneath the Jedi temple on Ahch-To, a place heavy with the Dark Side of the Force, could indicate something deeper. Could Sith Rey be a possibility? Well, of course, in the sense that anything is a possibility (especially with J.J. Abrams). Is it likely? That’s where I’m not so sure.
Trailers are intentionally misleading. They’re meant to grab your attention and give you just enough information to make you want to see the rest of the movie to find out what happens. (And then sometimes they exist to just summarize the movie in three minutes.) So Sith Rey may or may not be a big deal. Perhaps she does go to the Dark Side to join Kylo. Perhaps this Rey with the red double-bladed light saber is a manifestation of her darker impulses, the way Luke faced himself as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps she didn’t get the memo that only Sith have red light sabers. Perhaps Rey is a clone, and she’s facing off against another clone. Perhaps this is a vision of Kylo’s. Perhaps this isn’t even Rey at all. We won’t know until The Rise of Skywalker premieres this December.
A dark!Rey storyline could be both awful and amazing. Amazing because a well-written descent into the dark side is something that Star Wars needs. We were expecting to see that with Anakin’s story in the prequels and instead we got the semi-coherent mess that was Revenge of the Sith. Villains who are evil for the sake of evil can be boring, and when you look at someone like Rey, who just comes across as pure and good and wholesome, it might be worth a look to see what could cause a person like that to turn. Is the Force sentient, manipulating humans to its will? Is it a trait a person is born with, as people suspect to be the case with Kylo? Not to mention, there tend to not be a lot of well-written female villains out there (primarily because there tend to not be a lot of well-written female characters period), and I do believe Daisy Ridley could pull off menace with aplomb.
On the other hand, Rey catches enough flack as it is for arbitrary issues like being a woman in the Star Wars universe, and I don’t think that making the first female Jedi in decades evil is the way to go. There were female Jedi in the prequels, but were there really? They weren’t named and they barely spoke and all of them died. Rey has been hyped up as a role model for young girls, and they’re not going to turn around and suddenly make her the villain. Similar to when Marvel decided to go, “hey, what if Captain America was a Nazi?”, taking a “good” character and making them “bad” just to see what would happen is neither original nor particularly all that compelling. It’s shock value for the sake of it. It’s “subverting expectations”, which isn’t always a good thing. And as I mentioned, we already had this spiral into darkness in the prequels, and I think studios sometimes underestimate the value of morally gray heroes. (Not that I really feel that Rey is morally gray.)
Personally, I would not be interested in dark!Rey. Regardless of how Rey “fits” in the Star Wars universe – whether her parents are important or not – I like her as a character. I defend her characterization from all the men in my life who dismiss her as a “Mary Sue”, and I am very much of a fan of the journey that she has taken. Rey was abandoned at a young age and raised herself; she taught herself to fight and fly. She’s fiercely loyal, believes in people, and still manages to have so much joy inside of her. I’d rather see a character that goes through everything Rey has and still comes out good on the other side of it than another character whose trauma makes them a villain.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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