Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the evolution of Rey


The Force Awakens introduced us to a brilliant protagonist, but The Last Jedi builds Rey’s character even more as it explores her struggles and strength.

Because of the success of The Force Awakens and what it meant to/for women everywhere, expectations were higher going into Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There was so much teased and many ambiguous answers to sort through ahead of the film’s release that it was impossible to know where her journey was headed.

However, now that I’ve seen the movie, I’m rather satisfied with how she processed her next steps. Moreover, I’m delightfully impressed by how Daisy Ridley has grown into the role. She delivered so much depth and humor with the character that Rey’s role as the audience’s proxy in understanding the Force and what happened before The Force Awakens was elevated to an unprecedented level in The Last Jedi.

Before we go any further, there will be spoilers ahead as we discuss her role in the film. Only read on if you don’t mind spoilers or just want to gush about the best Star Wars character:

Still from Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer. Image via Disney/Lucasfilm.

A girl who needs answers

Personally, the Rey parentage conversation became exhausted about six months ago and I stopped wondering what the truth was. However, Rey did not. In fact, it’s a major source of conflict for her and when she finally comes to terms with it, it’s sad. Especially when compounded with Kylo Ren’s words, “You’re nothing.”

But she’s clearly not “nothing.” She’s a person who will rise to the occasion. Early in the film, when Luke seems to be too resistant to be worth the trouble, she says she won’t return to Leia until she has a reason why Luke’s being such a coward. Then, she goes on to ask questions about the Force, too.

There’s also a moment where Luke’s asking her to meditate and she envisions the darkness calling out to her and sees a dark hole beneath her. Instead of cowering away like Luke does, she dives in — but only so she can understand more. She’s not afraid of uncertainty and she’s certainly not the woman who gave the lightsaber back to Maz Kanata claiming she didn’t want any part of this.

It’s so cool to see her work through the trauma, and become less and less afraid to feel things.

Kylo Ren

Thanks to Snoke, her questions form a perfect gateway to interactions with Kylo Ren. In her effort to understand her role in this epic battle, she begins to sympathize with Kylo Ren’s decisions. Although, not to an extent where she joins him.

Though their chemistry may be fascinating as The Last Jedi explores who is more powerful and which one of them will draw the other to their side, Rey remains very clear with her feelings throughout. She begins the film calling him a snake and a monster, but as she comes to understand Luke’s role in Kylo Ren’s betrayal, she also decides that Kylo Ren can be turned back.

And when he doesn’t, she leaves. Snoke used them both as pawns, and it ultimately failed. Without knowing whether she can sense how much Kylo Ren wanted to kill her afterward, I still think it’s safe to say that she’s not going to be small-talking with the galaxy’s number one threat anytime soon.

Becoming the last Jedi / legend

Now, I think Rey’s special because of her ability to see the bigger picture. In The Force Awakens, she knew that getting BB-8 to the Resistance was more important than waiting on Jakku. Likewise, she resolved to hear both sides of the story from Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker as to what happened to the Jedi school. I mean, she likes to make an informed decision and I respect that. Plus, she gets past her abandonment and Han Solo’s death knowing that she can be a part of a brighter future.

Obviously, the title of the film prepared us to explore the impending extinction of the Jedi. And though Rey doesn’t necessarily undergo serious training or find herself in front of a council, she definitely comes to understand that there must be a balance. As Snoke explained, light rises to meet the darkness and Kylo Ren’s very dark.

However, there’s more symbolism behind it than just being a Jedi, which The Last Jedi also explores as the Rebel Alliance’s symbol once again becomes a beacon throughout the galaxy.

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When Rey finally reunites with the Resistance and meets Poe, she introduces herself as Rey and he answers, “I know.” I took this to mean that her story, like Finn’s, is being told through the galaxy and the more she continues to be a willful example to those around her, the more her legacy is cemented in history.

And I’m so happy to be a part of it and watch it unfold.