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Rumor report: Is this how Rey is connected to Palpatine in Rise of Skywalker?

Will the Skywalker Saga end by finally putting to rest questions over a certain character's parentage?

According to Jason Ward at MakingStarWars.net, there's a chance that The Rise of Skywalker will do just that. 

The MakingStarWars editor-in-chief recently ran a story — and published an accompanying video — diving into the rumors and theories concerning how The Rise of Skywalker will begin. Ward claimed that the film takes audiences to a tree-covered planet immediately after the opening crawl finishes. There, it's said that a pair of Jedi wearing white helmets are seen dueling — a green lightsaber against a blue lightsaber. It's then revealed that the two Jedi are Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa, appearing as the younger versions of themselves as seen in Return of the Jedi

Rumor has it that this flashback sequence not only demonstrates how Leia was able to summon the Force and save herself from certain death in space in The Last Jedi, but also sets up a plot in which Leia trains Daisy Ridley's Rey throughout The Rise of Skywalker — which leads Rey to make an important decision following a major revelation: she's a member of the Palpatine family. 

Ward indicated that he and the outlet's staff have reason to believe that The Rise of Skywalker reveals Rey to be a Palpatine — a descendant of Emperor Palpatine, the villain otherwise known as Darth Sidious who destroyed the Jedi Order, led the Galactic Empire, and served as the apprentice to Darth Vader. Apparently, there's a chance that Rey discovers she's a Palpatine and decides to reject her parentage, renaming herself as a Skywalker at the end of the film — thus explaining why the movie is titled The Rise of Skywalker

Rey's parentage is still a mystery

As far as rumors go, this one doesn't set off a whole lot of alarms, in that it could end up happening. Rey's parentage has always been a point of discussion (and of contention) amongst fans, most of whom aren't satisfied with the idea presented in The Last Jedi: that Rey's mother and father were nobodies who sold her for drinking money. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) may have snapped that explanation at Rey in the most recent Star Wars movie, but a large subsection of the fandom is convinced that he either didn't know what he was talking about, or did know that she has important parentage and was purposely trying to make Rey feel worthless and unimportant. 

The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson has said that the mystery of Rey's parentage hasn't been entirely resolved, revealing in January 2018 that "anything's still open" since he isn't involved with The Rise of Skywalker. It was reported in April 2018 that J.J. Abrams, who wrote and directed The Force Awakens and has done the same with The Rise of Skywalker, actually had a different plan for Rey's identity than the one presented in The Last Jedi. Simon Pegg, the actor behind the Jakku junkboss Unkar Plutt, said during an appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that what Abrams had intended to eventually reveal about Rey's parents was "undone slightly" by The Last Jedi. He added that there was talk of Rey having a "relevant lineage" — being the daughter or granddaughter of a character fans already know — rather than being the child of two alcoholic traders from Jakku. 

All that considered, it seems the door is indeed open for The Rise of Skywalker to reveal that Rey is a Palpatine and that's how she's connected to the Emperor. Ridley herself has mentioned that Palpatine plays a pivotal role in the upcoming movie, going so far as to say that the infamous baddie is "very instrumental to the plot of the film" and that there's an important reason for his return. She told IGN in August 2019, "It's not just like he appears again; it's all explained."

A Palpatine by blood, a Skywalker by choice?

Could The Rise of Skywalker explain that Palpatine returned to lure his daughter/granddaughter Rey to the dark side of the Force, leaving the Resistance that much more vulnerable and the First Order that much more powerful? Maybe! After all, it could help shed light on why recent footage from The Rise of Skywalker showed Rey wearing a dark robe and wielding a double-bladed red lightsaber. Perhaps Rey gets entangled in a moral quandary, pulling away from the light side and potentially considering converting to the dark side when possible temptation proves too strong. 

The interesting part of this rumor is that it claims Rey will brand herself a Skywalker at the end of the film, indicating that she'll rise above whatever struggles she faces to take control of her identity and forge her own destiny. Perhaps after meeting the Emperor, Rey discovers that she's a Palpatine by blood. Maybe her time with the Resistance, training under Luke in The Last Jedi and then possibly under Leia in The Rise of Skywalker, and the friendships she's forged with Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) will be stronger than the pull of Palpatine and the dark side — and thus she becomes a Skywalker by choice, as MakingStarWars.net speculated. 

Should this rumor wind up true, it would offer a pretty touching message: your past doesn't define your future — something Kylo Ren alluded to in The Last Jedi when he said, "Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It's the only way to become who you were meant to be." (We know he meant something much more sinister by that than we're discussing here.)

Is Rey actually a clone?

Still, this is far from the first "Rey is a Palpatine" rumor we've heard over the years. Fans have been speculating for quite some time now that Rey is connected to Emperor Palpatine, with some even believing that Rey is technically both a Skywalker and a Palpatine with the idea that Palpatine made Rey as a clone of Luke from the hand he lost in The Empire Strikes Back. That theory details that two junk traders on Jakku — the people Rey has always thought are her parents — discovered the cloning lab, kidnapped Rey, then sold her to Unkar Plutt. And if Palpatine wasn't who cloned Rey from Luke's hand, then it may have been Supreme Leader Snoke, whom many believe is (was) secretly Darth Plagueis, the master of Darth Sidious, a.k.a. Emperor Palpatine. It's a wild theory for sure, but it could explain why Emperor Palpatine returns in The Rise of Skywalker: to retrieve the stolen clone and bring her to the dark side, a mission that may or may not be successful. 

The Rise of Skywalker might reveal someone else as Rey's parent(s)

There's also a high chance that this rumor isn't anything of consequence, and that what actually ends up happening in The Rise of Skywalker is nothing that anyone has theorized thus far. There are infinite possibilities for Rey's parentage (the galaxy far, far away is vast and filled with all sorts of people and creatures), and Palpatine is only one person the fledgling Jedi could be related to. She might be a true-born Skywalker or Kenobi, or she could be the child of someone else entirely, perhaps even of Keri Russell's character Zorri Bliss. Or it could simply be that Rey really is a nobody, that her parents were low-lifes, and that any power she obtains was earned not by her genes but by her determination and skill. Perhaps the Skywalker who rises in the upcoming film isn't Rey or even a single person, but a new generation of Force users now known as Skywalkers. 

While idea that Rey is a Palpatine could be true, it might also be a bunch of baloney and not at all close to the story Abrams and his co-screenwriter Chris Terrio tell in the new movie. We won't know for sure until, well, we know for sure — when The Rise of Skywalker reveals all on December 20.