I said many times before The Rise of Skywalker that there are some things I didn’t want to happen, but I would get over it if they were done well. One of those things was Rey being from a powerful family, especially Palpatine’s. Luckily, it was done well.
She had to be a Palpatine.
For starters, we were warned that if there’s a powerful light rising there must also be a powerful dark to meet it. Snoke and Luke both made sure to remind us. We just all took it the wrong way. For years, we assumed that Rey was the light rising, but she wasn’t. She was the dark. When Ben’s power in the Force was growing, it was the Skywalker blood, not Vader’s. He just didn’t understand that. The Force knew, though, and to balance itself out created a dyad in Rey Palpatine.
This is why Kylo starts to feel a pull to the light when Rey’s powers are awakening.
Her darkness was always right under the surface, never taking much to show itself. Rey has taken ever bit of bait to be aggressive in small moments, but never when it matters most so it was easy to turn a blind eye. When fighting, she’s a hostile opponent who is always on the offense. She picks up on Dark Side tricks as soon as her mind is connected with Kylo’s in the interrogation room. Instead of using her new lessons to calm herself and take in her surroundings, she goes for a mind probe instead. On Ahch-To, she goes directly to the cave without even putting up a fight against it. She even seeks it out later.
In her ultimate challenges, we see that Rey seems immune to any manipulation. Good-guy Ben doesn’t stand a chance. He falls prey to Palpatine the same way Anakin did. He believes the voices in this head to be Snoke and Vader, falling right into Palpatine’s final machinations. Manipulation seems to be second nature to the Sith, especially Palpatine. Part of the Rule of Two implies that an apprentice isn’t just physically superior to their Master, but they’re more cunning. We watch as Palpatine manipulates an entire galaxy over the course of 20 years. Rey’s innate ability with the Dark Side makes her immune to these tricks.
It’s so clear now that Rey was the powerful dark all along. Palpatine knew how to manipulate everyone to see the reverse.
Luke and Leia still figured it out. When Ben drops the mantle of Vader and takes up the Skywalker lineage again, he still knows the truth. But Star Wars is about redemption and forgiveness. Up until now, we’ve only really seen it within the Skywalker family. Now, they extend this outside of their own blood and to their greatest enemy. They’re even able to adopt her as one of their own. Rey (formerly) Palpatine has found a way to make the Skywalkers even more virtuous and stronger.
Of course, there’s the argument that this cheapens the Force. Anyone should be able to use it, regardless of bloodline. But that’s why we have Finn. That’s why we have the stableboy. While anyone can be a Jedi, Sith, Guardian, etc., The Force chooses Rey to be more than that.
This wasn’t just a needed element of the story, it was executed beautifully. And I mean that in a very visual way. We have our first Force Skype session of this movie in the Pasanna desert. This one has a subtle difference from any of the others we’ve seen. For the first time, Rey isn’t confused or scared. She’s angry. She’s lost hope that he’ll be Ben again; because of this anger and hopelessness, everything around her goes dark. This is a first.
Kylo Ren is clad in black with a clean white background. Meanwhile Rey wear he pure white robes while surrounded by darkness. They’re surrounded by what they were born into, but have each made their choices of what to be.
When they meet face-to-face in the hangar bay, they circle around a red floor lamp, unsure of what to make of each other. They only stop when Rey is flooded in the blue light. She made her choice. However, on the ruins of the Second Death Star, she can’t control herself. Her anger takes over and she uses Kylo’s red blade to kill him. She protects the blue lightsaber from that action, keeping it pure. She runs into Kylo’s cockpit, which glows with both red and blue. They don’t blend together to create some new purple glow, but stay separate and even.
Rey Palpatine was handled with care. Not only in how it was shown, but in how and why the pieces were there from the beginning. Her being a Palpatine brought the Skywalkers to new heights.