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Why Rey Deserves Your Respect

Why Rey Deserves Your Respect

rey
Even though we never heard it in the movie, I wonder if some Star Wars fans never forgot a certain line from the last trailer for The Force Awakens – “I’m no one.”  We heard Rey say that right after Maz Kanata asked her, “Who are you?”  Despite those lines never being said in the movie, we’re still trying to figure out more details about her.  I think that’s what we’re supposed to be doing after seeing the film.

What baffles me are the fans who seem to be running with the idea that Rey is “no one.”

*Spoilers* from this point on.

If you didn’t like The Force Awakens, that’s fair.  There aren’t many people running around saying it’s a perfect movie.  There are plenty of legitimate things in the film that I can understand fans not liking or accepting.  However, it’s comments like these that I don’t get at all:

How did Rey just get aboard the Falcon and just fly it?  That’s not possible!

How did Rey just pick up that lightsaber and use it well enough in a fight against Kylo Ren?  It’s unrealistic!

How did Rey just out of nowhere understand how to use Jedi mind tricks?  That makes no sense!

Many of these arguments tend to be rooted in what people didn’t see in the movie (such as Rey getting flight or lightsaber training).  What seems to be forgotten is that this is a Star Wars episode.  You really haven’t seen the whole movie yet, and you still have 4-5 hours left to go.  Plus, we’ve seen this sort of thing happen in the past.

So, if you’ve never watched a Star Wars movie before The Force Awakens…then MAYBE you have an excuse to say these things.  Otherwise you might remember these extraordinary feats:

Little Anakin’s Heroics
Anakin piloting

Despite living life as a slave on a planet where the Republic doesn’t exist,  little Anakin pulls off some pretty amazing feats in less than 2 hours of running time, including:

Winning a podrace (even though he started off way behind) and had to pull of some miraculous engine maintenance while driving.  Yeah, there were no pit stops for him.

Showing to Ric Ole his knowledge of the controls to the Queen’s ship, even though he had never been on it.

Flying a Naboo Starfighter into a war zone where experienced pilots are getting blown out of the sky. While he’s there, he manages to fly in, crash the ship into the enemy’s hangar, get it running again, blow it up from the inside, escape and land safely.

Do we question the amount of flight experience he has?  Are we angry that we didn’t see him get mechanical or pilot training?  I didn’t hear much of that.  I think it’s because we all just accepted that since he was a Skywalker, that he could just do it!  Even though he was just 9 years old!

Luke’s lightsaber “training”
lightsaber derp

When Luke was handed his father’s lightsaber, he had never even heard of such a weapon!  Yet just minutes later (in the same movie) he’s on board the Millennium Falcon using it to block laser blasts while BLINDFOLDED.  After that, we see him use it to break his feet away from ice and fight a fake version of Vader in a cave before holding his own against the Dark Lord of the Sith himself.  Did we ever question how much training he’d received?  Did we ever question how much training we SAW him get before facing Vader?

Not really.  Mainly because he’s a Skywalker.

Granted, it helps when Vader doesn’t really want to kill Luke.  However, while that is a legitimate consideration, I don’t hear similar points made about the fight between Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren.

Was Kylo Ren wanting to kill Rey?  Is Kylo Ren the master force user or swordsman that we know Vader to be?

Better yet…

Don’t we know Kylo Ren is an emotional basket case that has the pressure of being the hand-picked replacement for what the First Order HOPES is to become the NEXT Darth Vader?

Don’t we know there’s a mixed bag of training he currently possesses from Luke and maybe some from Snoke that he needs to complete?

Yes.  We know this.  We know all of this.

So, why is it so hard to give Rey the same respect?  Let’s look at what we know about her:

Her presence on Jakku “classified”. Her face lights up when she hears the name, “Luke Skywalker,” and she’s even familiar with the Jedi temple that Han Solo speaks about. when discussing the possible whereabouts of him.  She’s heard stories about “what happened” back in the original trilogy days that have been validated by Solo.  Maz Kanata told her there was a connection to her and the force.

Before all of that, she enthusiastically ran up to Finn saying she didn’t even understand how she just flew the Falcon.  If you connect those dots, it’s not hard to see why she starts to do things that are associated with force sensitives, like mind tricks and concentrating on the moment.  She’s essentially tapping into what she’s heard and what the force might be telling her.

Aren’t these reasons enough (for now) to understand how she’s able to pull of some cool stuff in the movie?  Is this any more information than we were given at any other time?

She clearly has a fundamental understanding of mechanics, flight and survival on Jakku. Since we didn’t meet her at birth, we don’t know how she gained such knowledge, but it isn’t a HUGE jump to say she’s learned a few things.  Again, we accepted that stuff with Anakin, and he’s HALF her age.

I think Finn is like the audience representative when it comes to Rey.  We’re with him when he meets her, and he knows as much about her as the rest of us.  He also knows there’s something special about her.  I think he will get to know her as we do in the next episodes.

Aside from all of this, why aren’t people like J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (who also knows a thing or two about Star Wars movies) given the credit as writers/filmmakers?  Don’t you think they’re smart enough to know the audience is going to watch Rey in awe and ask, “How does she do that?”.

Of course they are!  Just because you don’t have all the answers right now doesn’t mean you haven’t been given any and there won’t be more shared in Episodes VIII and IX. So, complaining about not knowing enough about Rey now is like getting frustrated that you don’t know everything after watching the first 30 minutes of a 90 minute movie.

Plus, as I’ve demonstrated, if you take what they give you…mix it with what’s happened in previous films…and remember that the whole story isn’t over…you have plenty of ways to give Rey the credibility and respect she deserves.

Let’s go back to those trailers one last time.  In the film, we also never heard, Luke tell someone, “You have that power too.”  So, we’re left to guess who’s hearing him say those words.  Who would you guess?  Many people are guessing Rey is a Skywalker.  If that’s true…then she has simply taken a path similar to others in Star Wars lore:

A perceived “nobody” who miraculously learns there’s more to their destiny and has extraordinary abilities that will help them fulfill it.

Contact Scott at Scott@AssemblyofGeeks.com or on Twitter @MrScottMurray.

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1 Comment

  1. Shay
    June 11, 2017 at 13:38 Reply

    Great article!
    I’m one of those doubters who had a bit of a hard time when I first saw TFA, and realized that Rey’s powers were so well-developed without any (know) training. I had no problem her being able to fly the Falcon so well (she had used a flight simulator and her ground-level speeder for years, plus she had as-of-yet unknown Force abilities: these two together made her an expert in flying even without extensive training.) I was even OK with her being able to use Anakin’s lightsaber to whop Kylo (he underestimated her, he was an emotional wreck, she only began to pull out on top once she opened to the Force, and plus she had trained with that quarterstaff for many years.)
    The one thing that threw me a bit was her being able to pull off an elaborate mind-trick on that guard when she had never even heard of the Force until the day before, much less ever seen someone do a trick such as that.
    And I think the main thing that made me question that was watching Star Wars: Rebels. I had finally begun to watch through the series the summer before TFA released, and I totally agreed with that show’s representation of Ezra’s Jedi training. We saw him struggle to even hold a saber correctly; he couldn’t levitate a simple bowl from a table; and it took him a lot of training and many failures to achieve a very low-level mind-trick. And we all know that Ezra is a very powerful Force-sensitive kid. (Ahsoka in TCW also struggled with that point in her training, and she had been raised under Force-ability training almost her entire life.)
    Now, Ezra Bridger is not related to the Chosen One. Many fans, including myself, tend to believe Rey is. So that could definitely have a part in it. Plus, we aren’t positive that Rey has NEVER received ANY sort of training throughout her entire life.
    The main thing that made me back away and give Rey (and the sequels in general) a full chance, is exactly what you said: we’ve only seen the first 1/3 of the story. Because she is a fantastic character, and as a female SW nerd it was awesome to finally get a prominent female Jedi character in the movies.

    That said, am I the only one a little concerned about Rian Johnson’s recent reveal that nothing at all was planned out past TFA itself for this very reason? If they never intended for Rey’s abilities to be explained out, it causes a few little warning flags to pop up in my mind…

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