Rey: Why Not a Palpatine?

POP-CULTURE OPINION

What if Rey were a Palpatine?

Think about it. Let it simmer in your mind a little. Search your feelings, “you know it to be true. . .”

At least it makes for a good story. It even fits well with the recent trilogy’s notion suggesting that the force is reemerging, awakening, and that this most recent film will be about the “Last Jedi.” Rey can’t be a Solo, Rey has an English accent. She can’t be a Skywalker, Luke is chaste. Nor can she be a Kenobi, Obi Wan went into hiding and died well before any possibility of Rey being his daughter. If she were to be a descendent of any of those, it would be a seismic error in the storytelling of Star Wars. It would also be a sad day for Disney, as most fans are awaiting a real cathartic twist, the same kind that hit movie screens during The Empire Strikes Back. If Rey were to discover she were Palpatine’s descendent, it would make for a unique and interesting introspection of her characterization, putting her at the center of it all. It also allows for the Saga to grow beyond the Skywalker family, especially since the Star Wars saga is expected to build on beyond Episode IX.

Given the theme of red throughout the marketing of The Last Jedi, including the dark themes being cultivated in the trailers and merchandise, how can we not expect some sort of dark side take-over. Or perhaps, the rise of the Sith may befall the resistance, making it difficult for them to overcome the struggle to defeat the First Order. This is not to say that Rey will become the Sith, but that she could discover her origins being that of Sheev Palpatine himself. Why not? This isn’t too far from the “Luke story,” his father was Darth Vader. He too had to deal with the coming-of-age truth that his father was the dark lord of the Sith.

Some have argued that Kylo Ren’s constant “pull to the light” may eventually take over him, leaving an open transition to becoming a Jedi while Rey becomes the Sith. This swap could be a plausible scenario. Not to mention, an entertaining one to say the least!

But even if Rey were to merely face the harsh reality of her Sith origins due to Luke disclosing this truth to her, it will directly mirror Luke’s relationship with Obi-Wan (Luke’s teacher), an older and more experienced Jedi who knew of his father’s origin. Therefore, Luke (now Rey’s teacher) should know of Rey’s parentage. Whether Luke tells Rey the whole truth or a truth from “a certain point of view” is up for grabs. But the main idea is that Luke has seen Rey’s “raw strength only once before,” he wasn’t scared then, but he is now.

If this “fear” were to be regarding Kylo Ren’s raw strength, it would be baffling. It is highly doubtful that Luke has an extraordinarily high level of fear for his little nephew — we’re talking about Luke Skywalker, here. This “raw strength” has to be someone more powerful. Besides Snoke — who appears to be some new mystical villain that we don’t know too much about — Emperor Palpatine (or Darth Sidius) is the only one that we can logically conjecture to be of Luke’s recollection. Especially given Luke wasn’t scared to face the Emperor in Return of the Jedi until he was electrocuted by his dark force powers. It was Anakin Skywalker who came back to save his son from the Emperor nearly killing him.

To further prove this, many have noted Rey’s theme song. I believe this is one of the most strongest theories out there in the cybersphere. The flute and string motif follow the same notes as Emperor Palpatine’s theme, rearranged in a slightly different pattern. Listen closely to Rey’s theme and then listen to the Emperor’s theme. You will hear the same notes, modified with a different pattern, a difference in tempo, and obviously the Emperor’s theme is darker containing the choir as the lead, not strings or flute as heard in Rey’s theme. Nonetheless, the main motif progression is almost identical to the Emperor’s infamous dark chant.

Likewise, there have been theories regarding Rey’s force-jab fighting style. This is very reminiscent of the Emperor’s (then Chancellor) use of the same fighting style when he faced Mace Windu and the Jedi Council with a lightsaber in Revenge of the Sith. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Don’t forget, the actor who plays Emperor Palpatine, Ian McDiarmid, oddly attended Star Wars Celebration 2017 where The Last Jedi was the main focus.

Also, more recently, people have considered her name as an indication of her origin. Since Vader’s germanic origin is “father,” which holds familial significance for Luke Skywalker, Rey is being associated with “Rex,” with its Latin root denoting “King.” Who else to consider but the Emperor? After all, what is the difference between emperor and king? This also sets her up with a destined goal. Just as Anakin was the “chosen one,” Rey is meant for something greater too.

If this theory turns out to be the truth, one must admit, Star Wars audiences will be in for a real surprise if Rey is a Palpatine. The depiction of a female Sith empress would be quite the achievement for Star Wars. The conventions of the light side and dark side will be tested in unique ways that challenge us through altering gendered expectations. Emphasized by the new trilogy’s competing dichotomy between Rey and Kylo, we will question what it really means to be a Jedi and/or a Sith. Both sides seek to use the force for what they believe to be for the betterment of humanity.

With Rey at dark side’s helm puts her front and center in the films just like Darth Vader was a central figure for both trilogies. Rey’s character is complex, mysterious, and leading our thoughts by prompting us to question her significance. Being a Palpatine makes her that much more interesting, maybe that much more stronger — always keeping us guessing and excited to see what is going to be in store.

Artist rendering of Rey as a Sith

“I know you would… It gives you focus… makes you stronger.”

~Chancellor Palpatine, “Revenge of the Sith”

Just as we grow and evolve as human beings, so does the Star Wars saga. So why can’t Rey be a Palpatine?

Vi veri universum vivus vici: politics, history, and the occasional pop-culture.

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