Rey Needs to Be Evil

SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

For the new Star Wars trilogy, Rey has been carved out as the main protagonist, and Kylo as the central antagonist. However, there are a variety of reasons I’d want to see these characters trade those positions through the middle of the trilogy. Kylo Ren should be a Resistance Spy, and there are several aspects that would make Rey’s transition into evil particularly powerful:

Rey:

rey-offering-lightsaber

If Rey is going to be evil, she needs to have good reasons why. While one inherent problem with understanding Rey is the fact that we have very little background on her, we can still find three things about her from The Force Awakens that could easily translate into fury and hatred:

  1. Loneliness: Rey was abandoned on a junkyard planet with no one but her boss to take care of her. This abandonment clearly takes a toll on her psyche, as Kylo Ren notes when he probes her mind and discovers that “[She’s] so lonely.” Though there might have been several motives for this abandonment (some of which are explained when looking at Kylo Ren’s possible transformation) this solitude on unruly Jakku still exposed her to harassment, exploitation, and abuse that she dealt with by beating her fellow desert-dwellers, like those trying to steal BB-8, into the ground. Over a decade of survival on this harsh planet would give Rey plenty of time to grow angry and resentful to her situation on Jakku. If part of the reason she seeks the people who left her on Jakku was because of a harmful rage against her abandoners, this could provide a thought-provoking internal conflict for Rey to come to terms with throughout the rest of the trilogy.
  2. Luke: Along with enduring utter loneliness for the majority of her life, waiting on a person that’s “never coming back,” Rey could also question something else that deepens her turn into evil—Luke’s hiding. There are a number of explanations for why Luke would hide, but at the end of the day, Luke left the galaxy for years, and he probably knew about Rey. For Rey, who just watched Han Solo die and helped take down Starkiller Base, she might perceive Luke as a useless figure wasting his time standing on a rock. Even if Luke didn’t know about Rey, she could still feel betrayed by a Jedi Master who wasn’t seeking to find and train other Force-sensitive beings like her, fueling a rage because Luke might have been “the father [she] never had” (yet another core fear Kylo Ren finds in Rey’s head). This perceived uselessness, even if Luke offers valid excuses for it, would be an interesting spark for a wide range of furies in Rey and, for a strange twist, could cause her to perceive the Jedi as hopeless or even harmful to the galaxy. Doing so would also help Rey connect to the audience—most of us also wonder why Luke would sit on a rock for years, as shown by multiple articles exploring his possible explanations here and here. If Rey were to turn evil because of any bewilderment or perceived abandonment, Episode 8 could use this confusion over Luke’s inactivity to explore just how desperately Rey desires the father she never had.
  3. Retaliation: Rey’s moment of retaliation comes when one of her few weaknesses are exposed (a concept that’s more thoroughly covered in the “Anakin’s Arc” section below). It arrives as Kylo Ren is preying upon Rey’s fears, searching her head and envisioning “the island.” Rey doesn’t respond defensively, but rather aggressively, to this rare feeling of weakness; instead of shielding herself, she invades Kylo Ren’s own head and states his greatest fear of failing to be as strong as Darth Vader until Kylo backs away, defeated. Writers could replicate and extrapolate on Rey’s reaction—immediately using Kylo’s own strategy against him—in later films by having her constantly utilize the same assaults used against her. She was willing to mentally invade Kylo and ultimately physically attack him with a lightsaber—it would be fascinating to see her eventually also resort to the same terror tactics used by the First Order. Rey’s abandonment and ruined view of Luke Skywalker, coupled with her retaliatory reactions, show that, if Rey were to turn evil, the audience would have plenty of interesting conflicts and characteristics to watch unfold.

 Weapon of Choice:

rey-taking-lightsaber

Another aspect of The Force Awakens that showcases how Rey could turn to the dark side is the weapon she embraces in the film. This weapon, Luke’s lightsaber, is tainted with the slaughtering of dozens of Jedi younglings and the destruction of an entire camp of Tusken Raiders. It also gives Rey a frightening vision that includes the sound of Vader’s breathing, an image showing Rey’s abandonment on Jakku, an apparition of Kylo Ren, and Obi Wan’s words, “These are your first steps.” Future films could focus on this lightsaber’s ability to conjure up and project dark visions and powers to hint towards Rey’s possible shift into evil.

Even Maz hints toward the power of this lightsaber, saying, “That lightsaber was Luke’s and his father before him. And now… it calls to you.” However, Maz isn’t just pointing out that the lightsaber was used by a father and son—she’s naming the two other people who used this saber and also went from full-fledged Jedi to flawed warriors (even if that transformation was only for a moment). She’s also showing that the lightsaber has the power to call to another person—and this dark, powerful object has chosen Rey.

Most important to consider, however, is how Rey treats this tool: she only uses the lightsaber as a weapon, a means to an end, and shows that she’s more than willing to hack away at Kylo Ren. She refuses to take it when Maz tells her to, and only reaches for the weapon when she needs it to combat Kylo—a stark difference from Luke, who took the weapon as a noble artifact of his father’s and didn’t even use the weapon until Episode V. Each of these details could be used to offer intriguing explanations as to why or how Rey would turn evil—and her turn could also offer interesting implications on any future use of this weapon.

Changing the Power Struggle:

lightsaber-struggle

Yet another facet of The Force Awakens that would make Rey’s dark future more interesting is the power struggle over her. In the film, Rey is desired by both Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren—Snoke asks for her to be brought to him, and Kylo tells her that he can be her teacher. This desire for Rey, displayed by both of the main antagonists, isn’t a new concept in Star Wars, however; it clearly reflects a dynamic seen in the Original Trilogy.

Kylo Ren makes an offer that is similar to Darth Vader’s in Episode 5. Both of the villains tell the heroes that they can essentially join together and grow in the Force. Rey’s reaction, however, is wildly different from Luke’s—Luke instantly steps away and says, “I’ll never join you!” Rey, on the other hand, only hears Kylo’s offer, repeats the word “Force,” and then keeps her mouth shut, never verbally addressing the proposal.

After this moment of pondering, Rey suddenly combats Kylo and defeats him. This reaction only displays that, if they were to join together, she’d be the one training him. But Rey never shows any malice towards the idea of a partnership, let alone clearly rejecting it immediately like Luke. Her response, only attacking Kylo instead of his shutting down his offer, clearly isn’t as decidedly noble, and, even if she decides to decline Kylo’s offer, Rey still has yet to face the power of Snoke, much like Luke had yet to face Emperor Palpatine. If Luke, who immediately refused Vader’s offer, seemed so tempted by Palpatine’s words that he actually chopped off his father’s hand before regaining control, then it’s clear that Rey—who didn’t even clearly reject Kylo Ren—could easily fall under Snoke’s temptations and offer a captivating contrast to the power struggle Luke once overcame.

 

Anakin’s Arc:

rey-and-at-at

A final detail filmmakers should consider for Rey’s possibly evil future is the fact that Rey is extremely similar to Anakin: none of her struggles are external. She’s a competent scavenger, mechanic, pilot, and combatant. Not only does she repair the Millennium Falcon and destroy several TIE fighters in a ship she’s never flown, but she also defeats the Supreme Leader’s right-hand man with a weapon she’d previously refused to hold.

Because she has no external opponents, the only conflicts Rey actually faces are internal—coming to terms with her past, accepting the future, and deciding how and when to fight. Given that Rey’s struggles are internal, it would make little sense for her to remain on the Light side—in doing so, she’d have less conflict for the rest of the Trilogy, just like Anakin would if he had no qualms with the Jedi in the Prequels. Rey’s already faced the equivalent of Luke’s external conflict throughout the entire Original Trilogy by defeating the leading antagonist’s right-hand man; now she has to decide what is morally right and which side she should join.

Again, this conflict is extremely similar to Vader’s. In the Prequel Trilogy, Anakin Skywalker is an ace pilot, an overpowered Jedi, and an unstoppable warrior—the only true problems he faces involve his sense of morality. He, too, has traumatic events that he experiences flashbacks to—like his mother’s death—and they fill him with self-doubt and anger, all of which help shatter his moral façade and turn him to the dark side. After seeing the beginning of this overpowering pattern reflect in Rey, it would be incredibly fascinating to watch her complete the same arc, possibly even counseling with Vader like Kylo did in The Force Awakens in an attempt to be like him. And if this parallel was explored by Rey turning evil in Episode 8, she could, with the right training, become even more powerful (and heart-wrenching) than Darth Vader ever was.

Rey’s turn to the dark side in Episode VIII should occur for a variety of reasons. The motivations, weapon, power struggle, and reflected arcs and choices are just some of the many facets that would be intriguing to explore with Rey’s evil transformation. And the possible results from this shift—from a fight between Luke and Rey to a betrayal of Rey against Finn—would be both horrifying and incredible.

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9 thoughts on “Rey Needs to Be Evil

  1. Hey, man! My name is Ray Aguiar, I’m from Brazil and I read your texts on TheForce.Net. Really good man! I gotta say that I don’t really agree with Rey going to the dark side though LOL. So I wrote this reply to each topic of your text about Rey. Take a look and tell me your opinion about it. Keep up the good work, man!

    Rey’s loneliness: In no moment on TFA do we see any motivation in Rey to become evil for being abandoned. If this was enough reason for a character change, she would have already become evil, acting just like the other scavengers she faced to rescue BB-8. She would have even sold BB-8 when her boss made the offer.

    Luke: If this were true, she would have yelled at Luke when she first met him. Of course they would never make a final scene in Star Wars like that. But why didn’t Luke turn to the dark side for the same reason? After all, Obi-Wan had “betrayed” him by lying to him that Vader killed his father. Even so, Luke understood that Obi-Wan didn’t tell him the truth because he knew Luke wasn’t ready for it. Rey also demonstrates a maturity way beyond than Luke’s when he first knew about the Jedi and the Force (girls mature faster than boys, right?), and because of that, she would be able to keep it together and remain on the light side.

    Retaliation: Rey is not getting revenge from Kylo Ren, she is protecting herself. There was a connection between their minds. It’s through that connection that Kylo Ren is able to read Rey’s mind. And if you are Force-sensitive, you can read the mind of the one who is reading yours. It’s a two-way street. She was simply facing Kylo with his own fears so that he would stop torturing her.

    Weapon of choice:
    1- In the Star Wars universe, inanimate objects have no will. They are not like the wands in Harry Potter, nor the “One Ring” from “The Lord of the Rings”. Although there are the holocrons in the official canon, and even the Sith holocrons, these objects do not affect the person directly, only the person’s will to let oneself be affected by the dark side when one uses it to open a Sith holocron, for example. That being said, a lightsaber is not an object with a will of its own, much less an evil will. If that were true, the lightsaber would have gone to Kylo’s hand when he was trying to pull it in the end of TFA. Although it went to Rey’s hand, it was not by the will of the lightsaber, but by the will of the Force.
    2- There is another mistake here. The lightsaber was indeed used in the slaughtering of Jedi younglings in Episode III. But the slaughtering of the Tusken Raiders was with another lightsaber, with an identical design, in Episode II, that was destroyed later when Anakin was in the droid factory on Geonosis. He built another one later, and it’s this new one that was passed down to Luke. It was used for evil, indeed. But not against the Tusken Raiders in Episode II. And it was also used for good, which invalidates the idea of being a dark object.
    3- Here, it is said that Rey used the lightsaber only as a weapon, as that was reason enough for her to be violent and become evil. The lightsaber IS A WEAPON. Obi-Wan makes that pretty clear in the movies. In Episode IV, he says: “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight”. In Episode II, he emphasizes: “This weapon is your life”. What other reason would Rey use the lightsaber for if not as a weapon? Using it as a weapon does not make one violent or evil. She uses it to defend herself from a threat, which is Kylo Ren.

    Changing the power struggle: Rey doesn’t reject Kylo Ren’s offer verbally because she is on the edge of a cliff, fighting for her life. Would you start debating during a situation like that? I don’t think so. The fact that she defeats Kylo Ren does not mean she is the one who can teach him. Kylo Ren was injured from a blaster shot from Chewbacca, and from Finn’s lightsaber attack during their fight. Clearly he wasn’t at his best when he fought Rey. He was physically exhausted. Combined with the fact that his mind was too overwhelmed from being torn apart between the light and the dark side, and also from killing his own father, this resulted in Kylo Ren not being properly ready for a duel. Rey attacks him because she is angry. True. Because Kylo Ren killed Han Solo. Because Kylo Ren hurt her only friend, Finn. Just like Obi-Wan was angry because Darth Maul killed his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. But what makes someone a Jedi is overcoming this anger and keeping it in control. Rey is not a Jedi, but by not killing Kylo Ren, it already shows us that she will remain on the light side. She had the chance to do it even before the floor opened up, separating her from Kylo.

    Anakin’s arc: Luke is also similar to Anakin in those aspects, but he remained on the light side. So that is not a reason that makes us believe Rey will go to the dark side. (Note: Anakin failed as a warrior a few times, like when he was defeated by Count Dooku in Episode II.) Although Rey has many more internal conflicts to deal with, Luke also did, and it wasn’t boring to see him on the light side. There are a lot of things we need to see being solved instead of Rey going to the dark side, such as: “why did Kylo Ren go to the dark side?”, “who the heck is Snoke?”, Luke’s reason for going into exile, and others that might come in Episode VIII, like Benicio del Toro’s character, which will be a villain.

    Rey may even eventually go to the dark side. But if that happens, I don’t believe it will be for the reasons in this theory. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that will happen whatsoever. Having said that, through my convictions and my comments in this text, I affirm that…

    … REY WILL NOT GO TO THE DARK SIDE!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points! You’ve definitely thought this out, but I have to defend a couple things:
      Rey’s loneliness: We definitely don’t see Rey acting angrily because of her loneliness in The Force Awakens, and we do see her exhibit some kind of moral compass in protecting BB-8. However, we do see that she’s emotionally shaken by the abandonment (especially when Maz tells her “they’re never coming back”) and I think it’d be interesting for her grief in this regard to transform into anger in later films.

      Luke: Luke didn’t turn to the dark side because he’s a different person–as I’ve noted in in my article analyzing him, he’s a little more optimistic and naive when he’s younger. Rey, to your point, seems different (although, even if you wanted to say that girls mature faster than boys on average, we can both agree that she’s not an average person on any scale and could easily break a trend) but I would argue that she’s not necessarily more prepared for a feeling of betrayal than Luke is, even if she does seem calmer on the outside from the one film we’ve seen.

      Retaliation: We don’t know if this mind-connection with Kylo is a wide-open 2-way street. It could be, but I think it would be more interesting if Rey were forcing open a hole in Kylo’s mental barricades, and I think it would be more intriguing to see her use this retaliatory tactic again later.

      Weapon of choice:
      1- “In the Star Wars universe, inanimate objects have no will.” The Star Wars franchise is constantly introducing new concepts, and this could be one. And if the lightsaber had a will, perhaps it would only desire what it perceives as the more powerful warrior, not the one that’s currently most evil.
      2- Great point, I completely missed that the lightsaber used against the Tuskens was destroyed. Well done.
      3- “Using it as a weapon does not make one violent or evil.” You’re absolutely right, but I’m attempting to point out that Rey used it much more quickly as a weapon, with a much less formal introduction to the “elegant” object. I think it would be interesting if she learns later, not now, to use it with respect for others, but you are right in that using it doesn’t make one evil.

      Changing the power struggle: “Rey is not a Jedi, but by not killing Kylo Ren, it already shows us that she will remain on the light side. She had the chance to do it even before the floor opened up, separating her from Kylo.” Rey still could have at least shouted a rejection to Kylo when he gave his offer (“Never!”) and we don’t know if she wasn’t going to kill Kylo. She only had a few seconds to do so before the earth beneath her feet unexpectedly wrenched apart, and even the Emperor took longer than that to cackle and taunt Luke before electrocuting him.

      Anakin’s arc: “Luke is also similar to Anakin in those aspects, but he remained on the light side. So that is not a reason that makes us believe Rey will go to the dark side.” I think this shows that you might be missing a bit of my main point here. I’m not saying the similarities here will make us believe that Rey’s going evil–I’m saying these similarities would make her evil transformation extremely interesting. Absolutely, there are other conflicts and questions left for this trilogy, but each of these points show just how fascinatingly complex Rey’s evil transformation could be. So, whether you think she’ll be evil for these reasons or not, I would argue that these details provide interesting facets of the new films that could be explored with this awesome protagonist going rogue.

      Like

  2. I think this is a very intriguing idea and I would actually like to see Rey turn to the dark side and Kylo to the light, because it’s a reversal of what one might expect after watching the Force Awakens, and Rey seems “good” and Kylo seems “bad.” I’d love to see some unexpected twists in the new trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point–that complete reversal would make it more interesting to watch. Obviously, such an unexpected twist will have to offer a number of explanations for these characters’ actions in The Force Awakens (hence these two enormous posts dedicated to explaining it) but I agree, I’d love to see some unforeseen change like this in the new trilogy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good article, you make some really great points here. I believe Ren is truly good and trying to destroy the dark side from within (and failing with it), and that does support Rey falling to the dark side in turn. You could practically see it in the final fight, but unfortunately that could equally have been due to the incoherence of Abrams’storytelling. Episode VIII has a lot riding on it whichever way you slice it…

    Liked by 1 person

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