SPOILERS FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS INSIDE!
The Force Awakens is finally here, so cue speculation for what the film’s many teases mean for its characters and Episode VIII.
Prime among said speculation is an interesting theory about why Rey is so fixed on returning to Jakku for most of the movie, and why she seems to have trouble articulating just who she’s waiting for there, or why.
Simply put, the theory says that someone (most likely Luke) used the Force to suppress Rey’s memories from her early childhood.
Sound crazy? There’s some really compelling evidence for why this might be the case.
Rey’s fixation on Jakku sounds like brainwashing.
Guys, in case you didn’t realize, there’s no good reason Rey should want to stick around Jakku. Let’s remind you of Luke’s feelings about Tatooine in A New Hope: “Well if there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”
Compared to Jakku, Tatooine is the bright center to the universe.
I mean, seriously. She lives by salvaging scrap from a battle fought decades ago in order to barely have enough food, but when offered the chance to leave she repeatedly says she has to go back despite having no meaningful attachment to anyone there. Rey has no social life, so much so that it’s almost like he’s been programmed to be a hermit, not just by the harsh reality of her existence, but by some external force. She has almost no reason to go back there, but she has an inexplicable, visceral drive to return.
She can’t describe the family she’s waiting for.
Ok, so there is a reason Rey gives for wanting to return to Jakku, and at least at first it sounds like a reasonable one: She’s waiting for the return of her family.
But dig down a little, and that’s about all anyone seems to know about the situation, including Rey. To be fair, she’s not pressed – no one really talks to her about the family that supposedly is returning to Jakku for her – but she’s not offering any details, either. Doesn’t it seem like she’s call some of these people by name, or offer anecdotes about why it’s so important she’s there for them. “Oh, my brother Jannek fell ill, so my parents had to take him to Thyferra for treatment. But they said they’d be back in a year, and I can’t miss them.”
That doesn’t happen. And in fact, we see when Rey was left on Jakku during the sequence after she first touches Luke’s old lightsaber. This whole sequence seems to be a mix of locked away memories and visions of the future, and we see a Rey who can’t be older than six or seven left in the “care” of the guy she sells scrap to. It’s either a bad memory or one that’s been forcibly repressed. In either case, we can’t take her claim that her family is returning at face value.
Luke seems to recognize her, so do Han and Leia.
This one’s reading a bit into some pretty small facial expressions, but it’s key. The entire time Rey is interacting with Han, it seems like he’s holding back on her. He immediately offers her a permanent job with him on the Falcon after barely meeting her. He and Leia both seem to be leaving something unspoken whenever Rey comes up. And when she finally sees Luke at the end of the movie, he doesn’t seem surprised to see her.
PLUS, when Kylo Ren goes into her thoughts during the interrogation scene, he says something about her dreams of oceans and an island – exactly where Luke is found. Now, since they’re both strong Force users, we have to account for the possibility that Rey had prophetic dreams about meeting Luke and vice versa, but most Star Wars visions have been about people the characters already know. The simpler answer is just that Luke, Han, and Leia had all met Rey before, and that she can’t remember them because, on top of the years between their meetings, her memories are being repressed by a Force-hold on her mind.
She’s weirdly adept at a wide variety of languages.
There’s not a lot of precedent for this in the Star Wars universe, but Rey’s dexterity with languages (we see her speak two or three and understand a couple more) hints at something paranormal. Remember what’s established about her character – she’s a hermit who lives on a backwater planet with few travelers coming in from off-world. When did she learn Shyriiwook (the main Wookiee language) or how to translate the beeps and boops of BB-8. Finn can’t do it. All through the original trilogy, Luke and the others needed C-3PO or a ship’s computer to understand R2-D2.
Something doesn’t add up here. There’s some seriously crazy Force business going on here, and/or Rey spent her early childhood, when it’s easiest for people to pick up multiple languages, in the company of Wookiees and astromech droids.
She’s remarkably capable in the Force and with a lightsaber.
Think for a moment about Luke’s journey in the ways of the Force. When he’s first taught by Obi-Wan, he’s capable of small achievements, like blocking blasts from a test drone or making a great shot from an X-Wing. After some practice, by the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, with focus he’s able to pull objects like his lightsaber to himself. After training with Yoda, that sort of thing becomes easy, and he’s acquired some good basic lightsaber skills. By the time Return of the Jedi rolls around, he’s an accomplished swordsman and Force user wh0’s able to mind trick his way into an audience with Jabba the Hutt.
Now look at Rey. She discovers she might have force abilities after pushing Kylo Ren out of her mind – quite the task, given that we’ve witnessed him extract key information from Poe – then successfully attempts a mind trick on a stormtrooper. A couple hours later, she’s overcoming Kylo Ren to pull Luke’s lightsaber to her, and she bests him in a duel. Even though he’s injured, Kylo’s been trained. This is quite an accomplishment.
All that points to having some training in the ways of the Force, even if it’s been long forgotten. Those kind of raw skill don’t, as a rule, suddenly manifest themselves a-la-X-Men mutant powers.
Does any of this prove that Rey has had her memory tampered with? Well, no. And a trauma in her youth – such as her parents abandoning her – could easily account for a lot of what we know about her obsession with Jakku. But that won’t account for all the evidence in The Force Awakens about just how special Rey – supposedly just some scavenger from the armpit of the galaxy – really is.
Finally, think about this. The use of the Force in The Force Awakens is all about mental control. Kylo Ren freezes people in place and then extracts the information he wants. The first time Rey exhibits Force powers is when she turns the tables on him. And the title – Awakens – could be a reference to Rey waking from an imposed suppression of her Force abilities.
But why would someone do it? Good question, but we now know that Luke once had a new Jedi academy that was somehow destroyed by Kylo Ren. We know from Han and Leia that Kylo fell due to the influence of Snoke. We know that Snoke and Kylo want to find Luke and exterminate the Jedi. If Rey had been a young padawan at the academy (possibly even Luke’s own daughter), he might have gone to great and extreme lengths to protect her from a threat he felt he couldn’t counter directly, much like Obi-Wan did with him.
What do you think? Have Rey’s memories been artificially suppressed by the Force? If so, who did it? Or is she just what she seems – a backwater scavenger thrust on the galactic stage? Let us know your theories in the comments, or tweet them to us at @NewRockstars!