So how does Kylo Ren know Rey, anyway?
As the door to one fan theory closes, another opens.
We’ll get back to our usual programming of deep dives into Star Wars history and ephemera later this week, but for right now, who's up for some more mindless speculation?
JJ Abrams dropped his long awaited commentary for The Force Awakens last week, and in the process, he shot down a lot of fan theories with one line.
When describing the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, Abrams dropped this bombshell: “They’ve never met but he’s heard of this girl.”
This is a big deal, because one of the most pervasive fan theories about The Force Awakens is that Rey was present when Kylo Ren turned on Luke Skywalker.
The theory goes that Rey was Luke’s daughter, or one of his students, and Kylo Ren couldn’t quite bring himself to kill the youngling (once again, failing to live up to his grandfather’s dark deeds). Instead, he wiped her memory and left her on Jakku.
But if Kylo and Rey have never met, this theory goes out the window.
Rey definitely wasn’t there when Kylo massacred Luke’s students — and in her ‘Forceback’ vision, she was probably just seeing an event she hadn’t actually been present for, in keeping with her glimpse of Cloud City.
Kylo still seems to have some knowledge of Rey, though. Not only did JJ Abrams just flat-out tell us that he’s heard of her, but there’s Kylo’s over-the-top reaction to being informed that Finn and BB-8 were accompanied by a girl — “WHAT GIRL?”
Ren’s reaction to Rey seems like it can be interpreted in one of three ways.
- They’ve already met in some capacity, most likely through Luke’s Jedi Academy. Since the director has just told us that’s not true, we have to assume this option is off the table, even if we are talking about JJ ‘John Harrison’ Abrams.
- Ren has been told about Rey already. But by who? Snoke seems completely unaware of Rey, and we aren’t given the impression that Ren is privy to any knowledge about First Order operations that Snoke isn’t. (This is why, to accept the theory that Rey is a clone created by the late Empire or the early First Order, you have to assume that the project was carried out without Snoke’s knowledge.)
- Kylo doesn’t actually know anything about Rey, and he just feels threatened by women in general. Given the way Kylo carries himself like an entitled YouTube commenter on a Ghostbusters reboot trailer, this is not beyond the realm of possibility. But, again, Abrams has just told us that Kylo has heard of her, and the movie seems to be implying that heavily as well.
So then, how does Kylo Ren know about Rey?
Well, there’s another option. One that doesn't require any mind wipes, and that might tie Rey and Kylo together a little more elegantly.
Think about it — how did Rey first become aware of Kylo?
She saw him in a Force vision.
Why couldn’t Kylo Ren have seen Rey that way, too?
Remember the moment in Rey’s ‘Forceback’ when she sees herself being stalked by Kylo Ren in the forest? Of course, that hadn’t actually happened yet — it was a vision of the future, not a flashback.
What if Kylo has had visions of his own of a climactic confrontation with Rey — and what if they haven't come to pass yet?
No matter which potential backstory Lucasfilm and writer/director Rian Johnson have decided to run with for Rey in Episode VIII — be it Skywalker, Kenobi, Palpatine, clone, reincarnation, personification of the Force, whatever — all they have to do to explain Kylo’s prior knowledge of Rey is establish that he had seen her in a Force vision.
Not even Rey, specifically — just a girl, strong in the Force, that he knew he'd have to face down the line.
If Episode VIII is going to follow the Empire route and be darker than The Force Awakens, it makes sense that we might learn more about Kylo's motivations. Personally, I'm hoping the next chapter in the saga will go the Godfather Part II route, and mix prequel with sequel as we flash back to Kylo's path to the dark side.
Maybe that's when we'll see what Kylo saw.
Think about how these lines read differently if we find out he’s been having Force visions of his own about a showdown with a powerful female Force user.
“Show me again… the power of the darkness.”
“The girl I’ve heard so much about.”
“She is strong with the Force. Untrained, but stronger than she knows.”
“Don’t be afraid. I feel it too.”
And, of course, that infamous and seemingly inexplicable line from the novelisation that didn’t make it into the film, as that lightsaber flies towards Rey.
“It is you.”
I don’t know what any of this means, but I know one thing.
If you’re going to tell a story about Force visions and destiny and causality, Rian Johnson — the writer and director of Looper — is the right man to tell that story.
We shall see...