SPOILERS FOR ‘STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER’
For anyone that has already seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in theaters since it’s release, you’re aware that certain revelations were controversial at best. Tasked with juggling decades of fan expectations and speculation, The Rise of Skywalker was essentially cursed to not please everyone. With one controversial decision being the reveal of Rey’s family bloodline, to very mixed reception. Writer Chris Terrio provided some details into this controversial decision during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
On the decision to make Rey the granddaughter of Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine:
“You can leave Episode VIII and say, ‘Well, now, Rey is content. She’s discovered her parents aren’t Skywalkers, or whatever, and that’s fine.’ Although she did get some answers in Episode VIII, we didn’t feel that that story was over. We felt that there were still more questions in Rey’s head about where she came from and where she was going. So, that was the other big idea that we had to address in this film. Rian’s answer to, ‘What’s the worst news that Rey could receive?’ was that she comes from junk traders, and that’s true. She does come from junk traders; we didn’t contradict that. But when J.J. and I spoke, he said, ‘Well, what’s an even worse answer or elaboration of that news?’
“And we thought the worst answer was that she descended from the family who are the enemies of her new family, her adoptive family. Discovering that you actually descended from your adoptive family’s greatest enemy, the same enemy who corrupted Anakin Skywalker and is responsible for the destruction of the Skywalker family in the first place, felt most devastating to us. Based on that, we were very moved by the idea that Leia would have known that from the very beginning, but since she still saw such hope, heart and spirit in Rey, she decided that she was going to take a chance on putting all the hope of the galaxy into the hands of a descendent of her greatest enemy. As Luke says, some things are stronger than blood. That felt like a really strong story point to us.”
On controversy surrounding Rey’s origins in TROS retconning The Last Jedi:
“[The] galaxy is full of Force users, and you don’t have to be a Skywalker or a Palpatine in order to be strong with the Force. But Luke does say very explicitly in Return of the Jedi, ‘The Force is strong in my family,’ and we know that there is an inherited element to Force power. So, considering that this was a story of the Palpatines and Skywalkers, at least these nine movies, we decided to focus on the family part.
“Rey descending from a Palpatine doesn’t negate the idea that kids with brooms, Finn and any other number of people in the galaxy can be strong with the Force. It just so happens that this young girl that we found in Episode VII — which really has the structure of a fairytale — is royalty of the Dark Side. What we discover in this movie, and hopefully in retrospect, is that she’s essentially a princess who’s being raised as an orphan. The idea that this royalty of the Dark Side would be found as a scavenger in the middle of nowhere, literally living off the ruins of the old war that was created by her ancestors, felt really strong to us.”
On Rey’s controversial decision of going by “Rey Skywalker” instead of her real name:
“[During] the end of the movie, when Rey declares herself a Skywalker, that felt like the end of that conversation, which is to say that you get to choose your family, and really, you get to choose your ancestry…Rey rejects the blood ancestry that she has inherited, and instead, she chooses the ancestry of the Jedi. When all the Jedi come to Rey at the end, one of the Jedi lightly says, ‘We are your ancestors now,’ in the background, and I think that’s true. She chooses the spiritual ancestry of the Jedi instead of the blood ancestry of Palpatine.”