SOMEBODY: Hey Jay-Jay, I bet you can’t come up with a reason for Rey to turn to the Dark Side and actually have it work out in a way that fans will accept.
J. J. ABRAMS: Hold my Bantha milk.
That’s the name the Twittersphere instantly dubbed for Rey who, in the trailer’s final shot, appeared in a shocking Dark Side getup: a Darth-styled cloak, and wielding a foldable/expandable red dual-lightsaber. Major Sith vibes everywhere.
But what does it mean? What has J. J. Abrams wrought? Has Rey actually turned to the Dark Side?!
Fans resoundingly don’t believe that she has, quickly jumping to the most obvious theories (namely two) to explain the marketing blindside:
- It’s just a Rey clone, not the real Rey.
- It’s just a vision of Rey’s potential dark side, ala the same thing that Luke faced in the cave on Dagobah (see tweet).
Dark Rey is a vision, a Force version that Rey is fighting against because she doesnt want to become a sith, similar to Luke on Dagobah
The only allowance that some seem able grant for Dark Rey being the real Rey is that she must be doing it to deceive Kylo Ren and The Emperor…but, like, she doesn’t really mean it.
I hope all of those theories (and any others like them) are completely wrong.
More to the point: I hope this means that Rey has actually, legitimately turned to the Dark Side.
No, that hope does not derive from some weird Rey fan fiction I’ve had going on in my head, nor is it some macabre wish that the saga’s best hero (yes, I just said that) will end up being evil.
The reason I hope Dark Rey is legit is because it would be — by far — the most intriguing explanation possible.
No vision. No clone. No cop-out.
It’s the one explanation that I can’t predict a satisfying conclusion for. That’s when a story gets really interesting. It’s also a daring risk that I completely trust J. J. Abrams to pull off.
But how would he do it?
The instant skepticism to Dark Rey being real is that it’s too deep of a character arc to spiral down into for one, final movie while still having her be restored to the Good Side by story’s end.
Well, that’s because you and I aren’t J. J. Abrams.
But if I were, here’s I’d approach it.
Start the movie with Rey as evil. Bam. Right off the top. Episode IX did not come to play. It’s not jerking us around with fan service (not that there’s anything wrong with that…).
Time has passed. Since the episode isn’t picking up right after a cliffhanger, make the time gap a believable duration for something that dramatic to have happened.
Just imagine the beginning of that opening scroll:
The Rise of Skywalker
Rey has turned to the Dark Side.
We’d be all like “What the what?!” Even with this trailer sneak peak, jaws would drop just reading that.
And it’s totally a leap I could imagine J. J. Abrams successfully taking.
The opening sequence, then, would likely be Dark Rey in action, totally getting her Sith on. What a way to open the final chapter!
The whole thing would completely mess with our minds and what we thought was possible, but all in the best way, while also giving us the vicarious alt-Rey we never knew we wanted.
So how would she eventually turn back to the Good Side, and how long would it take? Possibly at the climax of that opening sequence, quite honestly, with some sort of Luke Force Ghost intervention or…something. I don’t know.
But JJ’s totally got this.
(To read my prediction of how J. J. Abrams could bring balance to the Force following the divisive episode The Last Jedi, click here for the piece I wrote immediately after that film was released: “THE LAST JEDI: The Protestant Reformation of the Star Wars Saga.”)