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Rise Of Skywalker Finally Answered Fans' Biggest Question

Contains spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Force Awakens left fans of the franchise with one burning question about the main heroine, Daisy Ridley's Rey. It's now four years later, and that question has finally been answered with The Rise of Skywalker.

Every time Star Wars enthusiasts have met a new Force-sensitive hero, they find out how they came to be that way. Little Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) obviously had Jedi potential in The Phantom Menace, and his mother Shmi (Pernilla August) explained that he was conceived from nothing — although we know it to have been through the Force. (Strange as this immaculate conception may be, it's revealed that there's a prophecy of one conceived by the Force to bring balance.) And in the original Star Wars trilogy, we learn that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the son of Anakin, thus explaining his Force sensitivity.

The first film of the Star Wars sequel trilogy introduced us to Rey, an obviously Force-sensitive scavenger girl living alone on Jakku. Early on in The Force Awakens, Rey is seen keeping track of something by etching marks into a wall, and it turns out she's noting down the days since her parents left her behind on the remote desert planet. To Star Wars fans, Rey's keenness to the Force seemed to indicate that her parents were sensitive to it as well. 

Throughout The Force Awakens, fans waited for an answer as to who Rey's parents might be. At the time, the overwhelming theory among fans was that she must be Luke's daughter, or perhaps even Leia Organa's. That speculation stemmed largely from the fact that not only did Rey have the power of a Jedi, but she was also a naturally gifted pilot, much like the rest of the Skywalker clan. Considering the severe lack of Jedi following Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, there weren't exactly many options for Rey's parentage aside from the Skywalkers. 

In The Last Jedi, fans were dealt a blow when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) told Rey her parents were "nobodies", and after searching her feelings, she found she couldn't disagree with him. It was a surprising outcome — and disappointing for those who had been hoping for a big connection to be revealed to link Rey to the Jedi — but it did set Rey aside from the Star Wars tropes seen in prior films.

Still, this revelation didn't stop fans from hoping for a more definitive answer about who Rey really is — and that's exactly what they got in The Rise of Skywalker. The film, co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams, finally offers up the truth about Rey's parentage.

Spoilers are ahead!

An unexpected twist to Rey's parentage in The Rise of Skywalker

The Rise of Skywalker takes what Kylo Ren said about Rey's parents in The Last Jedi and changes the meaning — from a certain point of view, of course. As the film reveals, Rey's parents weren't "filthy junk traders" who sold Rey off "for drinking money." Rather, they escaped to Jakku to pretend like they were nobodies, because they had to keep Rey hidden from people who wanted to manipulate her. The person Rey's mother and father wanted to protect her from was... her own grandfather.

While it's never even hinted at that the infamous Star Wars baddie had any offspring in the first place, it turns out that Rey's father was actually the son of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). It's a twist that seems to have no foundation whatsoever in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, and one that makes Rey the descendant of the most feared Sith Lord in history. It's no wonder she's Force-sensitive!

Similar to what Luke did after discovering that Darth Vader is his father, once Rey has discovered her (grand)parentage — and that Palpatine is somehow somewhat alive despite having been tossed down the reactor shaft by his apprentice right before the Death Star explodes in Return of the Jedi – Rey learns she must face and defeat him.

Rey ultimately rejects her parentage

Speaking after a screening of The Rise of Skywalker (via CinemaBlend), J.J. Abrams explained the decision to make Rey's father the son of Emperor Palpatine and what that choice says about a character's bloodline defining who they are. 

"Though I completely understand 'you're nobody' is a devastating thing, to me the more painful, the more shocking thing was 'you're from the worst possible place,'" said Abrams. "And is your destiny, is that thing you feel, that you know is part of you, somehow, that you're haunted by, is that your destiny? The idea that choices — there are things more powerful than blood, as Luke says."

Despite having always fought on the side of the Resistance, Rey immediately begins to question herself, her strength, and her ability to fight against what she perceives to be that very destiny. It takes an appearance from Luke — who emerges as a Force ghost after dying at the end of The Last Jedi — to show Rey the light and remind her that she has a choice in who she becomes for her to realize her strength.

By the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey has made an important decision and impactful declaration. With the Force ghosts of Luke and Leia looking over her on Tatooine, Rey has a fitting answer when she's asked by a local who she is: Rey Skywalker.