In case you’ve been living under a rock this entire time or have been existing as some sort of pop culture hermit, Disney has just dropped another teaser for its latest instalment in its new Star Wars trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker. During the trailer we see the Rebellion gathering their forces for one climactic battle with the First Order. We see Finn, Rey, Poe, Chewbacca and C3PO approaching a small village in the middle of a festival. We see Rebel ships flying in and an intimidating armada of First Order warships blocking out a stormy night sky. Then we see what looks like Rey training in the woods before scenes of Kylo Ren and Rey duelling atop a water-drenched ship as we hear the voice of the Emperor saying “Your journey…nears its end.” And then it happens
We see Rey draped in full dark robes rather reminiscent of the ones Siths used to wear as she ignites a double-sided lightsaber, like Maul’s in Phantom Menace! The internet has lost its collective shit and we are most definitely pumped for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Naturally, we went off with a million and one questions. Has Rey turned to the Dark Side? Why did we hear the Emperor’s voice near the end? Fear not friends, for we’re here to take a deep dive into how Rey could have possibly fallen to the Dark Side of the Force along with other exciting possibilities.
Rey’s Journey To The Dark Side
Before we put on our speculation hats, let’s examine Rey’s journey so far. In The Force Awakens, we get glimpses of Rey’s past. Life hasn’t always been too kind to her with her parents seemingly abandoning her on the planet of Jakku and Rey learning to survive on her own. Then we learn that she is no ordinary scavenger but rather a powerful Force-user with a strong pull to Luke’s lightsaber. We see that the First Order is pursuing Rey due to her great potential with the Force. She joins up with the Resistance, defeats big baddie Kylo Ren in a duel and goes on a journey of self-discovery by first locating Luke Skywalker on the planet of Ahch-To. Things are looking pretty steady for Rey right now. Her path seems mostly similar to that Luke’s and beyond that scene in the forest with her slicing through Ren’s face, there’s not much of a reason to assume she’s breaking bad.
Then The Last Jedi comes around and we begin to see Rey become more acquainted with the Dark Side of the Force. During a meditation, Luke has Rey pear into the duality of the Force on the island of Ahch-To so that she may find balance. She is doing well at first until she feels immediately drawn to a cavern with a strong connection to the Dark Side. Luke tries to snap her out of it but she presses on, believing that the answer she is looking for is within that place. The truth of her identity. After she awakens to reality, Luke immediately tells Rey “You went straight to the dark.” One theme that has marked Rey’s life is her search for identity, something she deeply longs to find.
When she enters the cavern, at last, all she sees is herself in an endless cascade of reflections. Disappointed and angry, she throws herself into a quest to redeem Ren, which ends up with Kylo murdering Snoke and the both of them butchering his Elite Praetorian Guards. When she refuses to join Kylo in taking control of the First Order, she battles him briefly before escaping. She has overcome her temptation to seize power and have now become a Jedi, right? Honestly, I don’t think so. The Dark Side of the Force is stronger in those with fear, rejection, pain and anger which are feelings Rey have known her whole life.
The pain of rejection from her parents, the fear of never truly knowing who she really is, and the rage and frustration of not getting her answers. Perhaps she finally reaches her boiling point in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and has decided that enough is enough. She’s not going to fight it, find balance in it or become Kylo Ren’s lackey. If the universe won’t give her an identity then she’s going to carve her own name out in the stars with blood and vengeance! It would definitely make thematic sense for her to do so. Another possibility is that she finds a new identity in one more powerful and darker than Ren and Snoke, the Emperor himself. She could be his next apprentice but then again, there’s is another theory we have that she could be his pawn.
Possession By Palpatine
Based on the multiple teasers released, it has been strongly hinted, if not flat out implied that the Emperor is set to return to the Star Wars universe. Which seems a little impossible at first glance, seeing that he was thrown in the energy core of the Death Star. Which by all means, should kill literally anyone but the Emperor isn’t just anybody. Throughout the decades, we’ve seen the films expand on the multiple uses of the Force. We’ve seen its application in combat, meditation, healing and even bloody life creation with Darth Palageius.
The list doesn’t stop there though. Before it was considered non-canon or as it’s officially dubbed “Legends”, there was a comic book series, Dark Empire that saw Palpatine return from the dead through a Force ability known as essence transfer. It’s basically possession. In the comics, the Emperor had possessed a clone body of himself and once again set about seducing yet another Skywalker to the Dark Side of the Force.
In the past, Disney has been willing to incorporate certain elements of Legends into its new clean canvas with characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn appearing in Star Wars: Rebel. We’ve also seen Disney lifting plot beats from other works in Legends. A prime example being, the story of Jacen Solo turning to the Dark Side and betraying his family in a novel titled Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice, not unlike that of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. Right so with all this in mind, it isn’t impossible that Disney might lift some elements of Dark Empire for their finale with Emperor Palpatine possessing Rey’s body. Perhaps as she enters into the ruins of the Death Star II, she begins to feel a dark presence within the structure. A spirit lingering on, waiting for a worthy host to make himself, or herself known.
Think about it, in all the teasers, we only ever hear the Emperor’s voice in the background, we never actually see the guy. Could this be Disney hinting at the fact that Palpatine’s spirit is still alive? Will Rey fall victim to the Emperor’s corruption? Only time will tell.
Throughout The Last Jedi, we see Luke teaching Rey a rather unorthodox version of the Force. He has long abandoned the rigid dichotomy of the old Jedi Order and its concept of the Light Side being purely benevolent and the Dark Side being an utter aberration of the Force. During her time training with Rey, we see her tapping into an island on the planet of Ahch-To. There she begins to peer into the ebbs and flows of the Force. She sees that both death and life, peace and violence are not separated but coexist in a Yin-Yang sort of balance. And when asked by Luke “And inside you?” regarding the nature of the Force within Rey, she acknowledges that very same push and pull.
Rey is someone who is both acquainted with the Light and Dark Side of the Force. We have seen her use it to protect her friends and loved ones like when she cleared some rocks to pave a path for the Resistance. Other times, she has utilized her darker passions to defeat her opponents as seen in her duel with Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base and her battle in Snoke’s throne room. Both instances, we have seen great ferocity in her but is it only aggression that drives her?
Is it not possible that she has been slowly learning how to master the Dark Side of the Force to her advantage without being corrupted by it? I mean the whole point of The Last Jedi was to kill the notion of the old way of thinking with regards to the Force. The reason why Kylo is well…an evil, fascist asshole has less to do with the Dark Side than it does his inability to reconcile the Light and the Dark, which causes him to lash out at around him, enemy and ally alike.
Instead of Light and Dark, perhaps it’s now Balance and Chaos. So perhaps Rey donning her black robes and wielding a traditionally Sith-like lightsaber isn’t her being seduced by the Dark Side. It’s her mastering it to her advantage to accomplish her goal of saving her friends. Maybe it isn’t so much a “fall” to the Dark Side, so much as it is her dipping her toes into the waters? Right but for all this excitement and speculation, there’s one possibility we have yet to rule out.
And frankly, it’s quite a disappointing one…
Dreams And Visions
It is quite possible that the scene with Rey igniting a double-sided red lightsaber was merely a dream sequence or vision of a future that may only pass. That would really, really piss a lot of people off but hey, we like to prepare for the worst here. Personally, I sincerely doubt that the scene is a dream or vision for a few reasons. First off, it would be totally counterproductive for Disney and director J.J. Abrams to do so. It would alienate their fanbase with such a cheap, blatant bait-and-switch, killing any momentum and excitement for Johnson’s new trilogy.
Secondly, it’s the specificity of a double-edged lightsaber that’s throwing this whole theory off. Unless Rey has spent a lot of time studying various lightsaber designs or thinking up “cool” versions of the weapon, it seems highly unlikely that she dream or envision herself with such a weapon. The most likely scenario is that she either found said weapon or it was given to her by somehow who is aware of the history of the weapon.
Thus making the dream theory highly suspect and if I may break away from analysis for a moment. If they did decide to pull that move, it would be a grade-A-jackass-cock-and-bull switch that would have me calling this entire trilogy a prolonged dream sequence that Mickey Mouse had while on the shitter. Alright, I’m done. Again, not saying it’s confirmed to be that but it’s best to check all your bases off.
I won’t lie, I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of The Last Jedi. There were a lot of things that made me unhappy as a longtime Star Wars fan but this right here has got me excited again. There is a lot of ways, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could go terribly wrong but if JJ Abrams pulls this off, it could make cinematic history!