Merry Christmas, Star Wars fans! We’re back after reviewing The Force Awakens to bring you more theories about the movie that we saw, and to begin theorizing about what comes next. If you haven’t yet, check out our reviews of TFA here and here.
The Force-vision that Rey has is one of the most interesting scenes in The Force Awakens, partly because it gives many tantalizing hints about the events before TFA, but also because cinematically it is different from anything else in Star Wars. That said, it does bear some similarity to “the cave” scene in ESB, but beefed up extensively.
You may notice that I’m not calling it a “Force-back” or “Force-flashback” because part of the vision was in the future. Forceback may be the proper term, but it is a bit of a misnomer due to her seeing the future as is revealed by the movie.
Why it happened
We know from some of the old Expanded Universe, and from the Clone Wars and Rebels that lightsabers hold “kyber crystals” that are used to amplify energy to produce the plasma blade. Part of a Jedi’s path is to attain his or her own crystal in a ceremony called “The Gathering”. In many ways, the crystal chooses the Jedi just as much as the Jedi chooses the crystal. There are the suggestions that the crystal calls the Jedi to it in the Clone Wars episode (Season 5 episode 6) “The Gathering”. So the crystal itself is imbued with Force-power much like the Jedi. So it was very much the saber that “called” to Rey when she heard those voices and went down the stairs below Maz’s castle.
The other aspect of the Force-vision was “psychometry“, a Force-power that allows one to see the history of a physical item by interacting with it. For example, in this image we see Quinlan Vos using psychometry on the ground to hunt down Ziro in the Clone Wars.
So part of Rey’s Force-vision is due to psychometry with the saber, and seeing its history. If this is true, then it reveals quite a lot because it says something, perhaps a lot, about where the saber has been. It’s unclear what parts of the vision are from the saber’s history, and what parts of the vision are from Rey’s history, but if you approach the vision from the point of view of psychometry, then it says some very interesting things about the saber.
What isn’t clear is how much of the vision is due to psychometry. It is very possible that a significant portion of the vision is recovering a repressed memory of traumatic events in Rey’s life. The Force-vision may have uncovered these memories that have nothing to do with the saber itself. I was inspired by a recent discussion in the TFA review at Star Wars Underworld podcast (a crossover with IPC). In this podcast they considered the possibility that the whole vision was related to psychometry, and that the saber was present for all of the events that the vision revealed (in addition to Rey in the other ones). If this is true, it is very interesting in what it reveals about the history of the saber. I will explore the vision with both theories:
- The vision was purely psychometry, and everything was related to the saber.
- The vision was both psychometry and recovered memories. The recovered memories don’t have to do with the saber necessarily.
What in means
Let’s go through the Force-vision and see what it means. The first scene is Rey being transported by her vision to the halls of Cloud City on Bespin. We see a corridor that is identical to this one in ESB:
Furthermore, if this image wasn’t proof enough, we have from the Novelization:
Peering harder, farther, she saw in the distance a section of the famed Cloud City. Two figures were locked in combat, distant, distant.
Clearly Rey was not there on Cloud City, so this vision represents the history of the saber, and the fact that it was used in the fight with Vader. This is also the place where the saber was lost. The question is, how and when was it recovered?
Next, we see Luke’s hand touching R2D2. This could be right after Kylo Ren killed the other Jedi trainees that were part of Luke’s new Jedi order. It’s even possible that this was during a funeral pyre for the Jedi that were killed. Their bodies were burned just like Qui-gon and Anakin before them.
Under the point of view of psychometry, this part of the vision could mean that Luke had recovered the saber and had it with him during this event. There is more evidence of this, although it is a bit shaky. That is because Kylo Ren appears to also be holding something in his left hand that could be a saber. In this shot (props to SWU for the image). Some people had thought that Kylo was holding a lightsaber hilt, but others think there is nothing in his hand.
We see the Knights of Ren standing in the rain over the bodies of the slain Jedi. Did he recover the saber of Anakin/Luke when he killed the Jedi? This could explain why he later says it belongs to him. Rey is also in this shot, and it appears that she might be re-experiencing events that traumatized her way before the events of TFA. We believe that Rey was once a Jedi padawan or youngling and was present at this event. One tantalizing idea is that Luke gave the saber to Rey, the padawan, and it was taken by Kylo from her at this moment. It could be that Luke gave it to Rey because she is a Skywalker (Luke’s daughter) and perhaps the jealousy associated with this could have seeded the anger that led to Kylo’s actions. This is a bit of speculation on my part, but I think it is an interesting idea and could be part of why the saber calls to Rey. Again, all this is assuming that the first theory that the vision is all connected to the saber. It could also be the second theory that this has nothing to do with the saber, and it is purely a repressed memory of Rey.
We next see what looks like could be one of the Knights of Ren being killed by Kylo Ren. We see a character that looks a bit like the Fifth Brother from Rebels being stabbed by a red saber. I don’t actually think it is the Fifth Brother, but the resemblance is worth pointing out due to the speculation that some have had that the Knights of Ren emerged from Vader’s Inquisitors. Now this scene says something amazing because it suggests that Kylo actually saved a young Rey from this guy. It could be part of Kylo’s struggle with the light/dark balance and the fact that the light side of the Force impacts him. Did he save Rey because he recognizes her as family, like his cousin (or sister)? Or was he just saving a young padawan that he felt compelled to?
Next we see Rey as a child standing next to Unkar Plutt, and being held back by him as she calls for whoever dropped her off to come back. It is the same crying that calls to Rey to go down the stairs and find the saber. I’m pretty sure this is the same crying after my fourth viewing of the movie.
Finally, we have a vision of the future, with Rey standing before Kylo in the snow. This is of course the end of the movie on StarKiller base. Now this event is both connected to Rey and the saber. There has never been a case of psychometry being used to predict the future, so it seems like this vision is completely precognition on the part of Rey. There might be some precognitive psychometry mixed in there too.
If the first theory is true, then we have the interesting idea that Luke recovered the saber from Bespin, and had it at the start of his academy. Kylo may have taken it back from Luke (or young Rey?) and claimed it as his birthright as the grandson of Anakin Skywalker. Maz then somehow stole the saber from Kylo Ren. How could she have done that? If the vision of young Rey on Jakku was psychometry, then it suggests that whoever dropped her off had the saber with them. This seems like a bit of a stretch, but I don’t want to reject it yet.
The second theory may be more likely, that the vision was a combination of repressed memories and psychometry, and once the vision got going, Rey started on a stream of consciousness that opened up her own past. If the vision of Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren was a repressed memory, then clearly Rey was once a Jedi trainee and subsequently blocked all that out once she got to Jakku. We had theorized about this in a past article, and to me, so many things in the movie point to this.
Either way, it appears that Rey was present during the slaughtering of the Jedi in Luke’s academy. One piece from the novelization that makes this intriguing is during the fight between Kylo Ren and Rey, Kylo Ren says:
it IS you
to Rey. To me, this suggests that in the end he figures out that Rey is the girl that he let live. Time will tell if this also means that he figures out that Rey is his cousin or relative or just another padawan. We may find this out quite early at the beginning of Episode VIII.