We’ve finally seen new footage from Rise of Skywalker, and if you’ve spent about 2.5 seconds on the internet since then, you’ve probably already been tipped off to that moment — the one where we see Rey wielding a double-bladed red lightsaber, in Sith garb no less.
This, needless to say, is pretty big, and it’s got the internet in a frenzy. Is Rey actually going to join the Dark Side in Rise of Skywalker, or are we being misled? It’s a great question, but we’re going to ruin the fun and give you the answer: No, Rey is not going to join the Dark Side in Episode IX.
Why Dark Side Rey Won’t Be a Thing
I already know what you’re thinking. “Alright, Mr. Smartypants, what do you know that I don’t?” The answer is that I don’t. I don’t have insider information, I haven’t read any leaks, and my dad isn’t close buddies with George Lucas. But there are plenty of reasons why it’s overwhelmingly unlikely that Rey will break bad in Rise of Skywalker.
There Are Real-World Reasons to Keep Rey a Hero
First of all, let’s jump outside of Star Wars lore for a second, because there are real-world reasons to consider. Like it or not, this is Disney, and it’s also 2019. Rey has become an inspiration for countless girls and women all over the world, and it’s highly unlikely that Disney would turn that on its head and turn Rey into a bloodthirsty Sith Lord. Sure, the adults would be able to handle it, but it’d be a nasty shocker to all the little girls who see Rey as a hero and a role model.
People might point to characters like Daenerys Targaryen as a counter-example, but Game of Thrones this is not. Disney has carefully cultivated the image of Rey being a stalwart defender of what’s good and right, and they’re not just going to throw that away in Rise of Skywalker.
They Wouldn’t Give it Away In a Trailer
Let’s just assume for a second that Rey actually does turn evil. If that were the case, it’d be a major game-changer, and you can bet they wouldn’t just be showing it off in a trailer, much less promotional footage like the sizzle reel that was revealed at D23. This would be a major bombshell moment in the film, akin to “I am your father,” and given that Star Wars is iconic for its major twist in Empire Strikes Back, it would be extremely tone-deaf for executives to blow this reveal in sizzle footage.
The Sequel Trilogy Has a History of Marketing Misdirection
Somewhat related to the point above, the structure of the trailer itself is a major giveaway. I would argue that we’re very intentionally being misdirected, and this isn’t exactly a tin-foil theory because Disney has a track record of doing just that.
The Force Awakens marketing materials hyped up Finn to be the de-facto Jedi instead of Rey, and The Last Jedi trailer was specifically cut to imply that Kylo Ren and Rey would join forces. The latter was quite intentional, using a line spoken to Luke, but cutting it to look like Rey said it to Kylo Ren instead.
Disney has a history of misdirection in its marketing, primarily with Marvel and Star Wars movies. On several occasions, certain scenes have been explicitly edited for trailers. The Infinity War trailer, for example, showed Hulk fighting in the Wakanda battle instead of Bruce in the Hulkbuster suit. Make no mistake, folks — Dark Rey is a very intentional choice for this new footage, and it’s probably not what it seems.
So, What’s the Explanation?
Like I said, I’m not an insider with exclusive information. I don’t know any more than you do, but there are plenty of reasons for a Dark Side Rey to exist in The Rise of Skywalker, even if Rey herself never goes bad. Here are some of the prevailing theories:
It’s a Force Vision
Force visions are nothing new to Star Wars, and there’s direct precedence for this in The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke fights a Darth Vader apparition in the Dagobah cave. The faux-Vader’s helmet explodes, revealing Luke’s face, but the audience knows that none of it is real; it’s some weird Dark Side voodoo magic that’s testing Luke. Who’s to say something similar won’t happen here?
Furthermore, Force visions have been used much more liberally in the sequel trilogy, so it’d be no huge surprise to see it happen again. Rey is taken through a literal tour-de-Force in Episode VII after touching Luke’s lightsaber. In The Last Jedi, she goes through a weird, definitely-not-real vision in the Dark Side Cave, and she claims to see glimpses of Kylo Ren’s future when they touch hands.
It’s really no stretch to believe that this Dark Side Rey is not entirely real and is instead part of some greater test — one facilitated by the Force itself. It could be a vision of what is to come if Rey doesn’t play her cards straight, or it could be a trial that pits Rey against herself. It’s my opinion that this evil Rey looks slightly aged-up and a bit more gaunt, so I’m inclined to believe this is a “what-if” scenario played by the Force.
She’s Faking It
A Force vision is ostensibly the most likely answer on this list, but the second most simple one is this: Dark Side Rey is real, but she’s faking it. In this scenario, Rey would probably find a compelling reason to infiltrate the enemies’ ranks and convince them that she’s turned. Perhaps she does this to “ally” herself with Kylo Ren or even Emperor Palpatine, and perhaps she’ll undo her facade when the time is right.
I tend to doubt this is the answer, if not only because of the other footage we’ve seen. Every other scene in all of the Rise of Skywalker footage shows Rey in a white outfit with the blue Anakin saber. It’s implied that she has this look for most of the movie, and I don’t think we have the run-time for her to defect to the Dark Side, change her look, build a new saber, and undo it all in a single movie. This also lends credence to the Force vision theory; presenting a “fake” Rey would only require a single scene without major buildup, whereas something like this would need a lot more setup.
Rey Gets Possessed
We know for a fact that Palpatine is playing a role in this movie, and from what we’ve seen in the movie, it might be a pretty big one. One popular theory is that Palpatine has effectively figured out how to “Force Ghost” himself, but because his Sith nature is not balanced with the force, he’s tethered to his place of death, AKA the Death Star II ruins. Because our heroes are going there in Rise of Skywalker, that’s probably where ol’ Palps will have his fun.
We have no idea what Palpatine is going to do in Rise of Skywalker, but if he’s a disembodied spirit, it’s not entirely out of the question that he could take control of Rey. Surely, this is something that wouldn’t last, and she would no doubt gain control back eventually, but it would certainly be an interesting direction. I kind of doubt this is what will happen, since Rey is sporting a fancy new lightsaber and cloak, but hey, anything is possible.
Dark Rey is a Clone
Alright folks, put your tinfoil hats on now, because we’re about to get weird. What if this Dark Rey is actually a clone? While this sounds ridiculous, there are actually some theories circulating which suggest the idea isn’t as crazy as you might think.
- Palpatine Has (sort of) Done it Before: If you weren’t already aware, Anakin was essentially the product of a Force experiment carried out by Palpatine and his master, Darth Plagueis. By influencing the Force, they caused Anakin to be conceived, essentially resulting in a Force super-being. So, while Anakin isn’t a clone, it’s no secret that Palpatine kind of has a history of being a mad scientist. What if he was experimenting with Force-using clones before he passed?
- Rey Might Be a Clone Herself: JJ Abrams has stated in recent interviews that there’s “more to the story” of Rey’s parentage, while also making clear that it wouldn’t contradict The Last Jedi. The answer may be that Rey herself is actually a clone or a Force creation similar to Anakin. This would lend new meaning to her vision in The Last Jedi where she sees endless copies of herself, and it would also support the idea that her parents were “nobody, nothing.” What if Rey is just one of many? What if this Dark Rey is a souped-up, more powerful version of her genetic material? What if Palpatine made new Skywalkers out of Luke’s disembodied hand?
It’s possible that I’m wrong, and if I am, I would definitely be interested in seeing how they handle a Dark Side defection. But I have a strong feeling that Rey’s light-side allegiance isn’t going anywhere. Do you disagree? Let your opinion be known in the comments and let’s get a discussion going!