Now that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters, fans are dissecting and contemplating the film's various twists and turns. But for those who are still coming to terms with the reveal of Rey's (Daisy Ridley) parentage, director Rian Johnson is here to help.
Major spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below!
As Star Wars fans know, the topic of Rey's heritage (and how it links to her connection to the Force) has been debated about since The Force Awakens' first trailers. During The Last Jedi's second act, fans seemed to get their answer during a conversation between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). As Kylo explains, Rey's parents were nobodies, who sold her off for drinking money and are ultimately dead in a pauper's grave.
While this might not be the answer that fans (especially those on the Rey Skywalker or Rey Kenobi train) expected, Johnson explained that his plan was for the reveal to make an impact.
“I was thinking, what’s the most powerful answer to that question?" Johnson told Entertainment Weekly. "Powerful meaning: what’s the hardest thing that Rey could hear? That’s what you’re after with challenging your characters. I think back to the ‘I am your father’ moment with Vader and Luke, and the reason I think that lands is not because it’s a surprise or a twist but because it’s the hardest thing Luke and thus the audience could hear at that moment. It turns someone into a bad guy that you just hate and want to kill into suddenly, Oh my God, this is a part of our protagonist. We have to start thinking of this person in more complex terms. We need to start thinking in terms of a redemption arc."
According to Johnson, subverting audience's expectations was a pretty major goal, as well as adding a whole other layer to Rey's arc.
“In our movie, it’s kind of the opposite,” Johnson continued. "The easiest thing for Rey and the audience to hear is, Oh yeah, you’re so-and-so’s daughter. That would be wish fulfillment and instantly hand her a place in this story on a silver platter. The hardest thing for her is to hear she’s not going to get that easy answer. Not only that, but Kylo is going to use the fact that you don’t get that answer to try and weaken you so you have to lean on him. You’re going to have to find the strength to stand on your own two feet and define yourself in this story."
Even then, some have already begun to speculate about the future of this plot point in the Star Wars universe - and whether or not it could be retconned in Episode IX. While Johnson doesn't know what's in the cards for the JJ Abrams-directed film, he feels there is no reason to assume that Kylo is lying to Rey.
“I can’t speak to what they’re going to do." Johnson revealed. "And there’s always, in these movies, a question of ‘a certain point of view'. But for me, in that moment, Kylo believes it’s the truth. I don’t think he’s purely playing chess. I think that’s what he saw when they touched fingers and that’s what he believes. And when he tells her that in that moment, she believes it."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now.