A few years back, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy famously said that the episodic Star Wars “saga” films are and always will be the story of the Skywalker family. From Episode I on, we’ve followed Shmi, Anakin/Vader, Luke, Leia, and now Ben/Kylo Ren.
In The Last Jedi, it’s revealed that the new trilogy’s heroine, Rey, has no connection to the Skywalker lineage. She’s not a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi, a Windu, or even a Palpatine. She’s “no one” from “nowhere,” a development that worked narratively and emotionally for the character; it was the worst news Rey could have possibly received, yet she managed to rise above it and persevere. That’s what being a hero is all about.
But fans were kinda disappointed. Because logically speaking, how could the newest Jedi of the Star Wars saga not be a Skywalker? Not only did it break with the narrative pillars of the rest of the saga, it also meant that the evil Kylo Ren is the last of the Skywalker line — a development that doesn’t bode well for the line’s future.
I suppose it’s not entirely true that Rey has no link to the Skywalkers at all. She seems to have a mystical connection to Kylo Ren through the Force. I’m not talking about their Force-powered heart-to-heart conversations as seen in The Last Jedi. I’m talking about what Snoke meant when he said that “the darkness rises, and the light to meet it.” He told Rey that he’d warned Kylo Ren that as he came into power, his opposite in the light would rise as well. So it’s pretty clear that Kylo and Rey are equally matched as the new avatars of darkness and light, just as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker once were.
But that doesn’t address the Skywalker question. What is their legacy if Kylo Ren is the last of their line? The current state of affairs suggests that he won’t ever be having children, though if he were to turn back to the light side in the end, anything’s possible. But he made his choice and redemption doesn’t appear to be an option. So it’s likely he’ll only be defeated in death. If there are no other Skywalkers — aka, if Rey isn’t one, and neither is anyone else, and Luke and Leia are both dead — then Episode IX will showcase the end of their lineage.
That puts a nice little button on the final episode, since the saga started with the rise of the Skywalker clan and will end with its conclusion. There are no current plans for anymore Skywalker episodes, but cutting off the Skywalker clan entirely would be commercial suicide for the saga. That’s not the Disney way of doing things.
So how do you keep that door open, even if it’s just a sliver? And how do you make Rey a connected part of the franchise, without losing the poetry of her rising from “no one” to becoming the galaxy’s last best hope?
Here’s what I would do.
Halfway through Episode IX, or maybe closer to the end, Rey is working with Poe, Finn, Rose, and the rest of the Resistance, coming up with one of their usual desperate, last-ditch plans. At one point, during a moment alone, she’s surprised by a visit from Force Ghost Luke.
“You will face Ben Solo once more,” he tells her. “Whatever the outcome, he is already lost.”
“I know,” Rey replies sadly. “He’s too far gone.”
“You can’t save him, Rey,” says Luke. “Even Leia had to let him go.”
Rey nods, sadly. It’s hard to accept, but she knows it’s true.
“Is that why you came, Master Skywalker?” she asks. “To absolve me of responsibility for Ben’s fate?”
“No,” says Luke. “I wanted you to have something.”
She turns to look at him fully, now curious.
“It’s a small gift, but if you want it, it’s yours,” he says. “Although I would understand if you don’t. This galaxy will not leave you in peace once you possess it.”
Rey is even more curious. “What is it?”
“The only thing I can give you,” he says. “The one thing you’ve never had: a heritage.”
Rey offers a very slight smile, just starting to catch on.
“I realize the gift of family is a little late at this point,” he jokes. “But I think you’ve earned it.”
Rey considers this, grinning. “Really? You want to make me a–?”
“Rey Skywalker,” he replies. “It has a ring to it.”
Rey stares at him in disbelief, mulling over what he’s offering. A name, a family, a place of belonging. Things she’s never, ever had, and longed for all her life.
“Just like that?” she asks, still smiling. “You can do that?”
“I am one with the Force,” he replies, a kindness in his eyes that was missing when the two of them were together while he was alive. “Do you really think anyone could stop me?”
There you go. Luke can’t legally adopt Rey; he’s dead, after all. But he decides that in every way that counts, she’s a Skywalker. That name is not an easy thing to have, as he points out, because it comes with baggage both good and evil. But with all of the Skywalkers dead, their heritage needs a custodian.
Thus, Rey Skywalker is born.
Not that anyone asked… But that’s how I’d keep the Skywalker saga alive.