Annlyel continues her series focussing on the defining moments of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe.
Rey‘s story has been fraught with mystery. We thought we’d finally get some much-needed answers to her lineage and her place in the story in The Last Jedi but it turned out to only give us more questions that will need to be answered in The Rise of Skywalker.
Until then, here are the defining moments that have made Rey who she is leading into The Rise of Skywalker.
1. When Rey Refused To Sell BB-8 To Unkar Plutt
When we first meet Rey in The Force Awakens we don’t exactly know if she’s the good guy or not. We quickly learn that she is but there is no guarantee. And then when you see her save BB-8 from the clutches of the vile Teedo you get a sense that she is definitely, at least, a kind person. This is explored even further however when she is given a serious choice. She could have sold BB-8 for sixty rations which would’ve been great for herself but she instead chose the selfless act by giving herself only one-half portion of food to keep BB-8 from the grubby hands of Unkar. It immediately relayed her benevolent character to the audience and established her as this trilogy’s seemingly clear-cut new hero.
2. The Jakku Chase
The moment that made me an immediate Rey fan was when she and Finn had to escape the stormtroopers. At the moment when Finn spotted the stormtroopers, he took Rey’s hand and pulled her into a run because he felt that he had to protect her but Rey quickly squashed that idea as she wiggled free of his grasp. She established, at that moment, that she wasn’t going to be a damsel in distress. She was going to be the Luke of this trilogy and the men were going to have to follow her lead.
It puts a smile on my face every time I see it.
RELATED: Star Wars | Defining Moments: Finn
3. Discovering Luke’s Lightsaber
Rey had no idea that running into Finn and BB-8 on Jakku would change her life in the way that did but it set in motion the Force awakening within her. The Force led her to Luke’s lightsaber locked away in a box deep within a castle which, of course, led her eventually to the man himself, Luke Skywalker. The vision she received as she touched the lightsaber also blatantly hinted at her connection to Kylo Ren by showing him a couple of times even though she had never seen him before. At one point it shows him saving her from a mysterious person about to attack her as she lay vulnerable upon the ground (I believe this is referenced to him saving her from Snoke) and at another time poised to fight her in the snowy forest of Starkiller Base which did eventually take place as well.
This is a powerful moment for Rey that sets her on the path of her destiny.
4. Rey Resists Kylo Ren’s Interrogation
I remember watching this scene for the first time fearful of what was about to happen to Rey. She had just been captured by Kylo Ren, a frightening individual who was already established in the movie as the enraged and confused son of Han Solo with a tendency to kill people without hesitation. The scene was incredibly powerful, for not only did it reveal Kylo Ren’s shockingly appealing features for the first time but it also revealed Rey’s immense power with the Force.
All she knew of the mystical power were stories she had heard on Jakku and yet she was able to not only resist Kylo Ren’s probing fingers within her mind but she was able to see into his mind and reveal his darkest, deepest fears. That’s so awesome. She was already a ridiculously cool heroine but she became a mega heroine at that point in the movie.
5. Rey Force Pulls Luke’s Lightsaber To Her
I loved watching Rey’s journey throughout The Force Awakens. It was part of the reason why the movie was so enjoyable and why it garnered $2.3 billion, placing it as one of the highest-grossing films of all time. The first time I watched The Force Awakens I was an emotional wreck by this point in the movie. Han Solo had just been murdered by his son, Kylo Ren had nearly killed Finn, it seemed like all hope was lost. Then, as Kylo Ren tried to Force pull Luke’s lightsaber to him it shook in the snow, seeming to not want to go to his outstretched hand. When it did eventually fly out of the ground it flew, not to Kylo Ren, but instead to Rey.
I still get emotional at this part because of the immense power of that moment. When that lightsaber flies into Rey’s hand she’s not standing there as a confident hero. Her expression instead emits extreme fear. At that moment she’s petrified but she knows she has no other choice than to face Kylo Ren. It’s her, I think, the most defining moment so far and it ultimately established the beginning of her larger destiny as the future of the new generation of Jedi.
6. Finding Luke
The end of The Force Awakens was utterly impeccable for so many reasons but Rey finding Luke was the perfect ending for her arc in the movie. At the beginning of the movie she was just a scavenger scrapping for food every day. By the end of the movie she still doesn’t exactly understand what her role in this story is but she knows, or at least she thought, that Luke would have those answers for her. She might not have learned the truth about herself in the way that she had imagined but she did and going to the planet, Ahch-To ultimately led to those answers being revealed.
7. Rey Training With a Lightsaber
One of my favorite scenes in The Last Jedi is when Rey has a little exercise with her quarterstaff which is then followed by her self sparring with Luke’s lightsaber. The last time she had held the ignited blade she had fought Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. At the time she was afraid of the weapon but after seeing its power it became her friend and this scene highlights that.
She swings the lightsaber around and realizes that she likes the way the weapon feels in her hands. She likes the way it makes her feel powerful, invincible, and she realizes that it’s kind of, well, great to be a Jedi. It was wonderful seeing her grow from an unsure individual with a lightsaber into one very comfortable with the ancient weapon.
8. The Cave
The scene with the cave on Ahch-To was also a turning point in Rey’s story. That cave beneath the island revealed Rey’s darkest fears; that she was truly alone. As she looked at those two silhouettes walking towards her in the mirror she just knew that she would see her parents but instead, she saw her own hopeful face. Not only was it a slightly creepy part but it was also a stunning non-reveal.
The mirror, even before Kylo Ren did, was telling her that she was going to have to face the galaxy without the support of her parents. It was a shocking truth that not only elevated the story in general but accelerated Rey’s story immensely, for now, that she knows that her parents will never come back for her she has to continue on and find out what her destiny is on her own.
9. The Choice
When Rey and Kylo Ren united to fight the Praetorian Guards after Kylo Ren murdered his former master, Supreme Leader Snoke, it seemed like they would become the ultimate duo but unfortunately, that awesome concept was short-lived as Kylo went back to his old ways. At that moment after Kylo told her the “truth” about her parents she was presented with a serious choice. Even though Kylo didn’t go about it right he basically, in a weird way, told her that he loved her and that’s why he wanted her to join him and that was a pretty shocking revelation enough as it was. Throughout the movie, Rey and Kylo Ren began garnering feelings for each other as they shared intimate scenes through their Force connections. In those connections, they realized they had a lot more in common than they would’ve ever imagined and that’s why they ended up teaming up.
At that moment when Kylo outstretched his hand and asked for her to join him, she could’ve easily joined him but she didn’t. This established two things about her character. One: it reiterated the fact that she isn’t a follower or a damsel in distress. In most movies, the woman would always join the man in that situation, especially if they have romantic feelings for them but they didn’t do that in this movie. Rian Johnson kept her as an independent, strong woman and even after Kylo basically told her that he loved her! she still chose what she thought was right, which was not joining him.
Secondly: it fully established her as this trilogy’s protagonist. Now of course, who knows how things will turn out in The Rise of Skywalker but as of now she is the hero in this story.
10. Saving the Resistance
After Rey escaped Snoke’s ship, The Supremacy, she went to save the Resistance from the First Order. This was a defining moment in her story for several reasons.
One, when she Force lifts the massive boulders from the tunnel where the remaining Resistance members are waiting it’s a powerful scene because it displays that her power and her confidence in her power have grown tremendously.
Two, for the entire movie she was looking for someone to be the new hope of the Resistance, whether that was Luke Skywalker or Ben Solo but the truth of the matter was the Resistance’s new hope was her all along. She was the Jedi who would bring that spark of life to the Resistance and that’s a stunning revelation in the film. This scene’s incredible impact is in the realization that Rey truly is the Last Jedi and that she will be the one to prolong the Jedi Order. I love it.
And the third great moment in that sequence is when she sees Kylo Ren for the last time during their final Force connection. Their eyes lock and for a split second, you don’t know what she’s going to do. His eyes are pleading for her to change her mind and to come with him to bring “peace” to the galaxy. Her expression is steely and full of blatant distrust. When she shuts the ramp on him not only is it one of the greatest disses I have ever seen but it also, once again, speaks to the strength of her character. She will not fall for his seductive ways again. She gave him a chance to renounce the dark within him and become a good person but he became the exact opposite. It’s a shame the way things turned out but she has to move on and the next time they meet it will not be under a very different circumstance.
These ten moments are the moments that I believe have defined Rey as the benevolent, powerful heroine that she is and because of her story she will inspire girls, like Leia did, to become strong, independent heroines in their own lives and that’s why I love Star Wars.
It’s not just a sci-fi flick. It’s a real story that mirrors the conflicts within our own lives and how we can overcome them. In 1977 A New Hope impacted people unlike any other franchise has in movie history and Star Wars is still impacting individuals to this day as it brings progressive stories, like The Last Jedi, filled with people of color and led by women to the big screen. Rey is the ultimate role model in this day and age and I can’t wait to see how her story ends in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m confident in this though. It will be worthy of the fantastic arc she has had so far.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!