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Rey’s Parentage: A Distant Cousin Theory

by Glenn Snow | March 11th, 2017

I read that at the most recent shareholder meeting, Disney released Luke’s first line from Episode VIII, and it’s “Who are you?” in response to Rey passing Anakin’s lightsaber. Whether it’s true or not or even actually happens, it’s kinda funny and it got me thinking again on Rey’s parentage.

I’ve never put stock in the Kylo’s twin theory. Too easy as a parallel, and at the same time too difficult to explain away how nobody, including her own mother, wouldn’t acknowledge it somewhere in the course of Episode VII. But it’s a good distraction for the masses.

I had been working on a theory that Rey was Luke’s unknown illegitimate child. The Heir To The Jedi novel (new canon) show’s Luke fall in love with a woman, but it doesn’t work out. The Expanded Universe (now Legends) actually married him off with kids. So, it’s not unreasonable to assume he wasn’t a complete celibate. The ages don’t seem to work out quite right (but do any of them really anyway), unless Luke hooked up with a younger woman. It’s still a strong possibility in my mind, but again, it’s almost too easy of a plot reveal. It’s another great distraction with the whole “I am your father” cliche, but I’m looking for something less obvious that still adds to the overall story structure.

But, then, the Obi-wan’s Granddaughter Theory is way too complex. Obi-wan has a history with the Mandalore Duchess Satine Kryze from Cone Wars (canon), so it’s a stretch–and significantly alters our view of “Old Ben Kenobi”–but not impossible that he strayed from the Jedi vows with a local on Tatooine. Kathleen Kennedy has stated that the Star Wars Saga is the story of the Skywalker family, so I’ve never put much belief in a Kenobi ancestry for Rey. But… If Obi-wan had had a daughter…, and she somehow made it out into the galaxy…, maybe the Force could have drawn her and Luke together to sire Rey. Ok, just kidding, that is way too intricate. And silly, actually. Nobody would be asking themselves why they didn’t see that coming. The ultimate answer has to be exciting without being structurally awkward. (Another possibility is that Rey’s completely unrelated to Luke or Leia. I reject this because it contradicts KK’s statement as well, but also because it would dilute the saga storyline in a way that breaks it along mythological lines. In this same way, I feel Snoke will have some kind of decendancy from Maul’s training, but that’s a post for another day.)

So, that leads me to my most recent thought. Shmi! I’m a voracious Star Wars fan and collect more than my share of minutiae, but I know hardly anything at all about Shmi. She’s never gotten much attention, except as a motivational plot device for Anakin. Ignoring, as we tend to do, the whole immaculate conception has led to ignoring Shmi all together. Maybe Shmi had a sibling or a cousin that had offspring, and Rey is subsequently a descendant of Shmi’s parents or grandparents, but not a descendant of Shmi. That could still make Rey a Skywalker, but she would be Kylo’s second, third, or fourth cousin, instead of first cousin. Now, maybe Obi-wan had approximately 19 years to kill on Tatooine, and he dug up these other Skywalkers and made it part of his mission to protect and groom one of them as well. Maybe he and Yoda were in on it together or maybe it was just Yoda’s plan, and that is the real meaning of Yoda’s line in ESB. Obi-wan says, “That boy is our last hope.” Yoda replies, “No, there is another…” When you watch ESB, you must assume Yoda is talking about Leia. But after TFA, we know she never pursued Jedi training. Yoda would be weak in the ways of seeing the future if he hadn’t seen that massive career path choice. That makes me doubt Yoda was talking about Leia as the “other.”

This “Distant Cousin Theory” is an elegant solution that goes back and casts new light on familiar dialog, giving us that “a-ha!” moment we’ve come to expect from Star Wars without completely destroying the original trilogy. It also allows Luke’s “The Force is strong in my family” voiceover from TFA to have real meaning. Finally, from a story structure view, it expands the Skywalker Saga by at least one generational factor and passes the baton to a new generation at the same time.

See you if I see you at Celebration!!