Any Rey cosplayer can tell you, that posting pictures or videos of your costume can sometimes attract the wrong attention. A loud minority who dislike Rey’s character love to troll anyone who seems to enjoy her. But ever since The Rise of Skywalker, one comment seems to be posted over and over again: “Rey is not a Skywalker.”
There seems to be such an opposition to the idea of Rey Skywalker, and from multiple parts of the fandom, that I wanted to write this opinion piece. As with any piece of this nature, I can’t speak for everyone. And if you disagree, that’s totally valid. But here are my reasons for why Rey Skywalker not only seems like the correct ending to me, but is actually important.
Within the story, Rey’s motivation since she was very young has been to find a family. She spent somewhere around fifteen years of her life waiting for hers to return. Even if that meant staying in a place that was terrible for her. And when she finally leaves, she adopts Han as a father figure extremely quickly. It is clear that she craves a sense of belonging. And a family of some kind to call her own.
Rian Johnson hit the nail on the head when he said that the worst thing Rey could hear was that she was “nobody”. There was no family or legacy waiting for her. She was alone. The very thing that kept her up at night on Jakku and haunted her. JJ Abrams ultimately decided to add to this that she was a Palpatine. Making her legacy one that was unwanted.
I believe there is an argument to be made that the Palpatine switch was unneeded. That the message that she didn’t need some powerful bloodline to be important was a good one. But one could also argue that that’s not as new theme to Star Wars as some would have you believe. All the Jedi in the prequels did not come from powerful bloodlines, as Jedi were not allowed to have children. And it is only the Original Trilogy and Legends that explores that theme. So ultimately while I understand the argument and I’m okay with Rey being born a Palpatine.
All that said, I don’t really understand the argument against Rey Skywalker. One side seems to being going hard that she didn’t earn the title. Or that she’s simply a Palpatine that stole it. Both of these things are shown to be false in the source material. Rey being born a Palpatine does not mean she sides with any of his beliefs. She was not raised by his family and was even hidden from him and fights against him. So certainly she didn’t take the name out of any malicious intent. And in the novelization of the movie Luke tells her that the name “is hers”. So clearly she had earned it.
Another camp seems to firmly believe that Rey Skywalker somehow undermines her character. I have to disagree with this. I think even if she had stayed Rey Nobody, that Rey Skywalker would have made sense. Family and legacy meant a lot to her. And the message and idea that someone can choose their own path, their own name, and their own family regardless of blood, I think is an important lesson that Rey Skywalker leaves behind.
I have also spoken with friends who were adopted who expressed their love for Rey Skywalker. Feeling represented in her choice to take the name and claim a family. I’ve seen people say they would have preferred Solo or Organa. My response to this is that Skywalker is the name that not only held the Jedi legacy that she is trying to uphold. But it is a nod to all of them. Luke, Leia, Han, even Ben, are all honored by her taking the name Skywalker. A name that all of them are connected to, not just a few.
As with any work that is extremely important to someone, people have very strong opinions about The Rise of Skywalker. But I truly believe that Rey taking on that name and carrying it on is a powerful message. That family does not have to be tied to blood. That no matter where we come from we can choose our own paths. And that anyone can be worthy of that name and legacy that we have all grown to love so much over these last decades.