Whatever you think of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, you have to admit that Rey’s final scene is one of the coolest in saga history. Not only because it metaphorically encapsulates Star Wars as a 40-year story that rhymes, but because it’s so perfectly Rey, landing her arc that began all the way in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the most satisfying way possible.
Warning: Huge, huge spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ahead.
At the end of Rise of Skywalker, the First/Final Order is defeated. The Resistance emerges victorious, vanquishing evil to restore peace across the galaxy. Where 2017’s The Last Jedi took its characters to emotionally dark places, The Rise of Skywalker comes out soaring into the sun.
Well, two suns.
On Tatooine, in front of the planet’s binary sunset, Rey buries the lightsabers of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Holy smokes indeed: As revealed in The Rise of Skywalker, Leia trained as a Jedi with Luke on Ahch-To, but she abandoned her path when she saw visions of her then-unborn son (Ben Solo/Kylo Ren) turning to the Dark Side.
Rey used both lightsabers to defeat Palpatine, her grandfather (!!?!). With the dust settled, Rey goes to Tatooine, to the old moisture farm home of Luke to bury the sabers where they belong. That’s when Rey whips out her own lightsaber, a new yellow-bladed sword built out of her signature scavenger staff. It even has a “flick” switch, never seen on any other lightsaber onscreen.
It is, to put it mildly, the coolest thing ever in Star Wars history.
Rey, the Scavenger
The best characters in Star Wars can be summed up in three words or less.
Luke Skywalker: Small town hero.
Leia: Headstrong royalty.
Han Solo: Rogue scoundrel.
Finn: Reformed Stormtrooper.
R2-D2: Scrappy sidekick bot.
The Mandalorian: Lonesome gunslinger.
Darth Maul: Humanoid Meshuggah song.
Rey: Survivor scavenger.
Abandoned as a child by her parents (for what we learn in Rise of Skywalker is for her “safety,” or whatever), we meet the Force-sensitive Rey in The Force Awakens carving out a meager existence on the remote planet Jakku. She spends her days diving into fallen Star Destroyers, plucking out tech that can be salvaged, recycled, and sold.
To survive on Jakku, as evidenced by the everyday hostility on the planet, one must be tough, resourceful, and hard of heart. These qualities make Rey uniquely qualified for the Jedi — if they were still around.
But throughout the new trilogy, we see Rey become a Jedi, learning from Luke and Leia how to refine the abilities that exists within her. So by the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey is a Jedi. And not one to settle using someone else’s lightsaber, it is brilliant storytelling that Rey would transform her quarterstaff — a tool that represents her lifelong survival — into her own holy weapon.
Just reading the StarWars.com entry for “Rey’s Quarterstaff” shows how important that staff is for Rey:
Like nearly everything she owns, Rey’s quarterstaff is salvage from the wreckage that litters Jakku. Self-defense is a must for a Jakku scavenger, and Rey has won respect for her skills with her staff and her willingness to use it if crossed or threatened. That’s a lesson Unkar Plutt’s thugs discover the hard way when the junk boss orders them to take BB-8 from Rey. Rey’s years of practice at hand-to-hand fighting serves her well when she’s forced to use a lightsaber in combat.
It’s never said out loud that Rey turned her staff into a lightsaber, nor is there an actual scene of Rey building it. (These films have a history of never showing this ever.) But the proof is in the visuals. Compare photos of Rey’s quarterstaff from the official book, Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Visual Dictionary, to images taken by Reddit of Rey’s lightsaber in The Rise of Skywalker.
Here’s another comparison in case you need it. On the left is from Daisy Ridley’s “Rey” character poster for The Rise of Skywalker, flipped upside down to match how Rey wields her new lightsaber.
It totally lines up: Rey removed a segment of her staff, modified it into a lightsaber hilt, and placed a Kyber crystal to turn it into a bonafide Jedi lightsaber. While seeing this actual process (like, say, in a montage, or have it be pivotal to the actual film’s plot) would have been neat, just the fact that it’s now canon is enough. Rey is a survivor, and she has all the tools she needs.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.