I really like Star Wars Episode VII. I’ve actually seen it 7 times, which is both nice and referential, and more than twice as many times as I’ve seen anything else in theaters. (Discount Tuesdays have a lot to do with that.) I’ve watched a lot of reactions and theory videos, and while I don’t have any theories of my own*, I did want to comment on some of the more common ones out there, about Rey’s parents.
(*I actually did come up with a “Rey is somehow a clone of Luke” theory before I saw it elsewhere. So on the very off chance that works out, I’ll claim credit for that one. ;) )
First and foremost, the person whose arm you see grabbing child Rey in her flashback is Unkar Plutt (the guy who trades food portions for scavenged items). To be clear, this is not a theory, this is a fact: his arm and voice are clearly recognizable. This also confirms what we already knew, that she was left directly on Jakku.
When Rey tells BB-8 who she’s waiting for, she says she’s waiting for her family. She does not specifically mention parents, so we can’t assume she is actually waiting for both or even either of them. For all we know she could be waiting for her two brothers or her cousins or something. (But she still has parents. Probably.)
I am terrible at guessing the ages of children, but child Rey is pretty young. My wild guess is around 5. At that age, it’s possible she wouldn’t clearly remember anything from her past, though she’d likely remember pieces at least.
It’s clear from her flashback that she was very unhappy with being left on Jakku, screaming “No!” repeatedly. To me, this implies that the ship she sees flying off contains the people who left her there. What I mean is, it doesn’t seem likely she was stolen from her parents elsewhere, then dropped off at Jakku. This is what she remembers so it seems like it is the specific point of when she was left behind.
One more piece of note is that Rey has a British accent. Accents are of course not genetic, but the fact that John Boyega puts on an American accent for Finn and Daisy Ridley does not for Rey implies there may be intention behind it. It’s possible Rey had some other accent and developed her current one while on Jakku, but if you assume she got her accent from her parents and family, that narrows the list of suspects considerably.
Rey is Han and Leia’s Daughter
I’m putting this theory first because I think it’s the easiest to debunk. You probably could conceive of a situation where Han and Leia had a daughter, presumably significantly younger than Ben Solo (though their in-fiction ages don’t necessarily match their real life ages), and she ended up on Jakku without them knowing or recognizing her. However, no such theory fits the facts laid out above.
Han knows that Rey was on Jakku and dealt with Unkar Plutt, so if he had left her with him, presumably that would jog some memories. It’s also pretty likely that all this was communicated to Leia off-screen at some point. Even if not, her reaction to Rey doesn’t seem like she knows its her long-lost daughter (see the next theory for more).
Han and Leia Knew Who Rey Was but Were Sworn to Secrecy
I’m willing to reject this theory on the basis that it would be terrible writing. Yes, Han gives Rey some significant looks when she mentions not knowing there was this much green in the galaxy and whatnot, but that seems like a valid reaction to a hypercompetent scavenger who stole and can fly your super custom ship. And Leia does hug her as soon as they meet, though presumably the resistance communicated with their base on the way home so Leia would obviously know that a.) Han was dead and b.) Rey was the one person coming back that she didn’t already know. Her reaction was pretty logical, given that. None of this says they didn’t secretly know her, but there’s no reason to believe they did.
Rey is Obi-Wan’s Granddaughter or Other Relative
This theory is largely based on the fact that Obi-Wan talks to Rey in her vision (in two voices, no less), and that Rey has a British accent like Obi-Wan. But Yoda speaks in her vision well, so I’m not sure how much weight that holds. Also, Obi-Wan was a Jedi and swore off romantic attachments. We never hear about a former lover, siblings, or anything. The main problem with this story is that we’d have to introduce two generations of secret Kenobis for it to work, and that seems unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.
Rey is Luke’s Daughter
If Rey is related to anyone from the original trilogy, Luke is the logical choice. The main argument against this theory is that it’s “too obvious,” which doesn’t do much to convince me it’s not correct. Luke’s reaction to Rey certainly wasn’t one of “who the hell are you?” but that doesn’t necessarily prove anything. You can read a lot into a bunch of dramatic facial expressions.
The key to making this theory plausible in my mind is that this means Rey’s mother is someone we don’t know. (Someone who may have had a British accent which her daughter inherited.) I can’t imaging Luke ditching Rey with Unkar Plutt on Jakku for any reason, even her own protection, but I can imagine a mother we’ve never met being capable of such a thing. I can imagine a reason why Luke would want to hide Rey – Jedi can see the future, and age-wise he may have had to hide her around the time Ben Solo went evil. Maybe he told her mother to hide her somewhere. Maybe he did so himself and he was just a huge jerk about it. But it does seem plausible.
Rey isn’t Related to Anyone We Know
It’s perfectly possible that Rey is just what she appears to be: an orphaned scavenger. However, since they made a big deal about her being left behind in a flashback, it does seem like that’s important in the context of the movie. That doesn’t mean she’s related to anyone we know, though. It most likely does mean that she has some connection to someone we know. Maybe she was a student of Luke’s when Ben Solo went bad.
Aside: Was Rey a Former Student of Luke’s?
I do like the “Rey was a former student” theory, as it would explain why she was able to gain force powers so quickly, but there is one line in the movie that seems to contradict it. As mentioned above, Obi-Wan speaks to Rey in her flashback, saying “Rey” and then “these are your first steps” (emphasis mine). If those were her first steps, she can’t have been a student. And that is not likely to be a memory since Obi-Wan was dead long before she was born, let alone taught about the Force. He is a Force ghost now, though, so we can’t be certain.
There is another solid theory about why Rey was able to gain force powers so quickly: she seems to buy in to the Force at least from the moment she resists Kylo Ren. Luke’s big problem when training with Yoda was that he didn’t believe he could do things like lift his X-Wing out of a swamp. Rey doesn’t seem to have any such issues. (Though, cynically speaking, I think she learned force powers quickly because Episode VII was the Cliff Notes version of Episodes IV-VI.)
Rey is Anakin Skywalker Reincarnated
This is one of my favorite crazy theories. Basically, since Anakin was “conceived of midichlorians,” perhaps Rey was too. And perhaps this was because Anakin was the chosen one and failed, so he’s been born again. The main problem with this theory is that it does nothing to answer the questions about why she was left on Jakku. Plus, it relies on one of the dumber pieces of canon from the prequels, and I don’t see these new movies pulling much, if anything, from the prequels. (Except maybe Snoke being Plageuis. I could see that.)
Rey is a Clone of Luke Skywalker
I mentioned this one above. It has the same issues as the Anakin Reincarnated theory where it doesn’t answer our questions and is based on prequel ideas. But the rumored opening shot of the movie was Luke’s hand and lightsaber floating in space, so whoever found the lightsaber presumably also found his hand and had his DNA as a result. And they’ve mentioned modified clones, but gender-swapped and totally different would be unprecedented in the movies.
I am willing to bet Rey has a strong, preexisting connection to Luke. Because of Obi-Wan’s line in her flashback sequence, my guess is she is Luke’s daughter. But I may be putting too much weight on that one line. Her being an anonymous former student who escaped Kylo Ren’s wrath works too. But if she’s Kylo’s sister, I am going to need a great justification to accept that.