How long has this been going on?! A closer look at moments between Rey and Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi might reveal that the artist Jedi formerly known as Ben Solo has been aware of Rey’s possible dark turn for quite some time.
The newest Rise of Skywalker trailer may have shocked us all, but is Kylo Ren surprised? Below is evidence supporting the idea that Kylo Ren has known about Rey’s possible Sith future from the get-go.
Speculative spoilers ahead.
When Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20, one thing seems likely: We’ll likely know a lot more about Rey’s future than her past. Though the sequel trilogy has been oddly burdened by missing backstory (three decades in between Episode VI and Episode VII!) neither The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi have lingered on flashbacks for that long. Anything we learn about Rey’s secret origins in The Rise of Skywalker probably won’t be as important than where she’s headed.
Star Wars may all be happening “a long time ago,” but the relative present is really what makes the story move.
The biggest Rey reveals won’t be about brand-new revelations, but instead, moments that have already been foreshadowed.
Since her introduction in The Force Awakens Rey has outright frightened and shocked Supreme Leader Snoke ad Kylo Ren. Over on Star Wars Speculation subReddit, a user called 4thBG, says that “Kylo Knows what Rey is.” Their theory goes on to posit that Rey is a sleeper agent of Emperor Palpatine and that Kylo Ren is aware of this because he has seen her future and seen into her mind.
Now, the Emperor Palpatine sleeper-agent business is fun, but let’s put it to the side for a moment, and worry less about connecting Rey with yet another legacy character, and instead focus on what I think is the more interesting part of this observation: the idea that Kylo Ren has always had advanced knowledge about Rey, and the existing films support that in very obvious ways.
When Rey first sees Kylo Ren’s real face in The Force Awakens, he tries to read her mind in order to extract the information about the infamous Skywalker map. And, one of the first things Kylo Ren says, is “I see it, I see the island.”
This can only refer to Luke Skywalker’s island on the planet Ahch-To. Like, this can literally not refer to anything else.
But, here’s the rub: At that point in the movie, the audience — and Rey — had not yet seen the island, nor did we know Luke Skywalker lived on it. Rey only gets to that island at the end of the movie, and then, spends a good chunk of the next movie — The Last Jedi — hanging out there, having more mind-chats with Kylo Ren.
Okay, so score one for Kylo Ren’s clairvoyance! The island prediction is kind of enough to declare him Goth Nostradamus right there. But there’s more. In the same Force Awakens scene, Kylo says “Don’t be afraid, I feel it too.”
Some would argue that this is the moment where Reylo shippers got their first morsel of fanfic inspiration, but from a plot perspective, this comment is slightly prescient, too. In The Last Jedi, Rey and Kylo Ren form a strange link between their minds. This is later revealed to be the dirty work of Snoke, but it seems like Kylo Ren was maybe already aware of this in The Force Awakens. Keep in mind, in terms of time that passes, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi probably all take place during the same week.
Literally zero time has passed between the end of Force Awakens and the beginning of The Last Jedi; meaning, it seems reasonable that Snoke could have linked Rey and Kylo Ren’s minds well before The Force Awakens began, which opens up a whole can of space worms. Like, when did Snoke decided to link Rey and Kylo Ren’s minds? Thirty minutes after Starkiller Base was destroyed? Before that? After? How did that decision-making process go down?
Here’s what it’s like in Snoke’s head sometime during The Force Awakens: “Oh wow, there’s some new Jedi out there. Weird. OK, what should I do. I KNOW. Maybe I’ll link her mind with Kylo Ren to fuck with them. That would be funny. When should I do that? I guess I’ll just do it right now.”
But I digress. Snoke acts like he’s never heard of Rey in The Force Awakens. In retrospect, we can dismiss that as him just screwing with Kylo Ren. Snoke probably knew about Rey ahead of time, but the idea that we’ll get an answer to how and why that’s true in The Rise of Skywalker seems really unlikely, and also slightly dull.
All these dark lords — Snoke and Palpatine — always seems to have advanced knowledge of crazy shit going down. That’s not new. But, the idea that Kylo Ren knows more about Rey than anybody else is much more interesting, and from a story perspective, kind of essential.
I’ve written before about how Kylo Ren has more agency than seemingly any other character in Star Wars insofar as he has the ability to actively fight against the tropes of the saga, and actively pushes the story into a psychologically more realistic direction. Consider that same interrogation scene. When Rey pushes Kylo Ren out of her mind, he looks really freaked out. The look on his face says, “holy shit this amateur just totally mind-blocked me,” but also, possibly, “I’ve just seen a vision of this person’s future and she is really fucking badass.”
Now, this isn’t even all of it. Because in The Last Jedi, both Rey and Kylo tell each other that they have seen each other’s futures; which on some level is like confirmation bias city. Rey is sure Kylo will turn good and Kylo is sure of the opposite. Here’s how it plays out in the most awkward elevator ride ever.
“Ben, when we touched hands, I saw your future. Just the shape of it , but solid and clear. You’ll turn. I’ll help you. I saw it.”
“I saw something too. Because of what I saw, when the moment comes, you will be the one to turn. You’ll stand with me. Rey, I saw who your parents are.”
Okay. So, obviously, the “I saw who your parents are” could be taken literally, because several minutes later, after very memorable lightsaber fight, Kylo Ren is like, “your parents are nobody.” So, if we take his comments at face value, and not as a Red Herring, then Kylo Ren is telling the truth: He saw into Rey’s mind, found a repressed memory about her parents, and then, later, “revealed” it to her in the Throne Room.
So far, Kylo Ren has not lied at all. He’s been a giant asshole, but he’s never lied. He didn’t lie about Luke trying to kill him in his sleep when Luke was his teacher, he didn’t lie about seeing the island in Rey’s future, and he probably didn’t lie about the repressed memory of her parents.
Maybe He Saw Dark Rey.
Which brings us back to the other “something” Kylo Ren saw. Maybe he saw Dark Rey. Maybe he saw a future in which she seems to go to the Dark Side. This doesn’t mean that Rey will go to the Dark Side or stay evil or anything, but it could simply mean that the image of Rey going bad — even briefly — is something Kylo Ren did see in a future vision, and he’s not lying about having seen it.
This is how self-fulfilling prophecies tend to work in Star Wars. In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin saw a future vision of Padmé dying in childbirth, which, sent him on a path to accidentally making that happen. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke saw a future vision of Han Solo being tortured by Darth Vader, which accidentally led to a sequence of events in which Han was frozen in carbonite and everything went to hell for a while.
Even if Kylo Ren has seen a future vision of Dark Rey; if he tries to help make it happen, that might backfire. Rey could go evil for a bit. Sure. And maybe Kylo Ren even saw a future vision of it. But, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work out the way he wants. Because, for the Skywalkers, seeing the future and having the future suck anyway is a proud family tradition.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s Psychic Hotline opens everywhere on December 20, 2019.