Star Wars: Emotion Drives Rey’s Journey in ‘The Last Jedi’

While Finn and Poe are defending a Resistance “on its last legs,” Rey thankfully has some breathing room.
The Last Jedi Rey
By  · Published on December 11th, 2017

While Finn and Poe are defending a Resistance “on its last legs,” Rey thankfully has some breathing room.

Speaking at the press conference for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Daisy Ridley confirms that, at least for her part, Rey is rather affected by the death of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Yeah, spoiler alert, right? One of the more unforgivable things that The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams brought to the table with the Star Wars sequel trilogy is openly killing one of the core three in the originals. For us as fans, it was a gut-wrenching experience to watch. But a more pressing question remains overhanging: how will the characters, old and new, cope with Han’s untimely death?

“I think we’re just keeping it moving…the pressure’s on man, you know, there’s no time,” opines John Boyega, who plays Finn. “I’m sure we all feel sentimental if someone was to sit Finn down or sit Rey down, but Rey’s off training, she’s got stuff to do. I’ve got back injury, I’ve got stuff to do. I can’t think about Han at the moment.”

Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), definitely agrees: “it is like war, where you go to just keep moving to try to survive, and so you feel I think the momentum of everything that happened in The Force Awakens just pushing and getting to a critical mass in this film.”

Ridley, however, chimes in to clarify that while her character is going through plenty on her own, Han was undoubtedly a big part of her self-discovery.

Rey, as a character has been alone for a really long time and she’s really open to like love and friendship, so Finn and BB-8 come along and it’s like this amazing adventure. And then Han, like without trying to, she seeks something from him because there’s an intimacy and there’s a sort of figure of something she’s never dreamed of for her, that gets, you know, snatched away, and she’s understanding everything’s new to her, so she’s understanding things in a different way.

Rey’s easy ability to extend love and friendship was definitely one of my favorite aspects of The Force Awakens. Her good heart enabled her to save BB-8 and essentially kickstarted her journey into a new life that led to her discovering the true power in herself. Star Wars has often dealt with the importance of found families and how they go up against the undoubted significance of bloodlines.

The battle of Rey’s sense of self has been mapped out from the beginning. As Ridley states, we meet her when she’s completely alone and has been for quite some time. Rey latches onto the first people to show her concern almost immediately, and they just so happen to be good, caring influences — thankfully.

But by the end of The Force Awakens, the first hint of the tug the darker side of the Force happens when it threatens to overtake Rey’s goodness as she is overwhelmed by her untrained potential during the final battle with Kylo Ren. It makes everything we’ve seen from The Last Jedi all the more compelling, because even if this was just Rey’s story, we’re led to believe that she encompasses the core conflict within Star Wars as a whole.


The depth to which The Last Jedi is able to explicate these themes in a manner that feels as intimate as the cast makes it out to be will definitely have to include some rumination over Han’s death, especially from Rey. Fathers and children play a big part in the franchise and with a relationship between Rey and Han cut short, there is a renewed gap to fill in Rey’s life. Many are currently assuming that the fatherly mentor role will be taken up by Luke Skywalker. However, during the press conference, Mark Hamill and Ridley were also particularly coy about the nature of Rey and Luke’s relationship:

PRESS: My question’s for Mark Hamill. With Luke training Rey in this movie, it seems like he’s in the position Yoda was with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. Is it sort of like when your parents say you’ll understand when you’re older? Does he finally learn some of Yoda’s lessons now that he’s the teacher?

MARK HAMILL: Well, you’re assuming that I train Rey.


While this was likely played for laughs rather than any kind of spoilery inside scoop, there are implications in the Last Jedi trailers that Luke’s own demons are as-yet unresolved and he too will be on a path to self-realization in his own right. Whatever the case, it is fascinating to consider how The Last Jedi will balance both aspects of war and close interpersonal relationships. These were themes that Rogue One crucially began to tap into last year, but the potential of seeing them at play in a non-anthology film with further-reaching narrative consequences makes The Last Jedi inevitably more exciting.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)