It was hard to not get wrapped up in the nostalgia drenched The Force Awakens when it debuted in theaters. New characters, the return of fan favorites, and the promise of a new future for the franchise. So how did it fall off the tracks? How did it become more hated than the Prequels? Where did it go completely wrong?
Well the easy scapegoat is Director Rian Johnson‘s The Last Jedi. Its attempt to flip the franchise on its ear was interesting but didn’t hit home with fans. Also, the mistreatment of Luke Skywalker and his end wasn’t just hated by fans, it will go down as the franchise’s biggest blunder.
But the real issues started at the top with Kathleen Kennedy cruising on a wave of nostalgia and Director JJ Abrams knack for starting a story and then not knowing how to properly finish it.
The biggest of all being the parentage of Rey. TFA set up the possibility that Rey would be the long lost descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, TLJ went out of its way to say she came from no one important and that she is simply just a new character in the story. Despite that idea that anyone could at some point become a vessel for the Force, most fans hated that idea. So by the time TROS came around, Abrams did away with Johnson’s plot threads and instead clumsily established she was the grand daughter of Emperor Palpatine whose mere reemergence spit in the face of the original trilogy, Vader’s sacrifice, and any hope Rey would ever be considered anything more than a Mary Sue.
And I loved the character of Rey. But the bottom line is there was no real concrete plans put in place to make this long awaited sequel trilogy more than just a cash grab.
In an interview with Josh Gad on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Ridley divulged the behind-the-scenes details of filming the Star Warssequel trilogy, which she revealed were constantly in flux. The biggest, most frequently changing detail? Rey’s parentage. The origins of the powerful Jakku scavenger were teased in The Force Awakens, but Ridley reveals that even after she was revealed to be “no one” in The Last Jedi, the filmmakers (i.e. J.J. Abrams) kept changing their mind on Rey’s parentage:
“At the beginning, there was toying with an Obi-Wan connection. There were different versions, and then it really went to ‘she was no one.’ And then it came to Episode IX and J.J. pitched me the film and was like, ‘Oh yeah, Palpatine’s granddaughter,’ and I was like, ‘Awesome.’ And two weeks later he was like, ‘Oh, we’re not sure…’ So he kept changing. Even while filming, I wasn’t sure what the answer was going to be.”
The idea that Rey might have been the descendent (Daughter? Granddaughter? Niece?) of Obi-Wan Kenobi is certainly not an unheard of idea, as the popular theorywas floated around back when The Force Awakens came out in 2015. It would have brought the Skywalker Saga full circle as well, with one Kenobi finally managing to save a Skywalker from the Dark Side after Obi-Wan had failed with Anakin.
Whether you like the reveal that Rey was a granddaughter of Palpatine via a failed clone is up to you, but the real frustrating thing to come out of Ridley’s comments is that Abrams allowed the actress to perform the role — especially the final scenes in which Rey grapples with being a Palpatine — without knowing the final decision on her origins. The lack of overall story arc planning has been a staple of Star Wars since George Lucas made things up as he went with the original trilogy, but this is just lazy on Abrams’ part.