Star Wars is back. It's good again. It's brilliant again. It's alive. The Force Awakens has fixed everything. So now it's time to really get down to business and start exploring the true depths of this new story we find ourselves in, ahead of fresh info in Star Wars 8. There's already a lot to question. Between Rey's cloudy background, Luke's reappearance, and Snoke's mysterious origins, there are a great many mysteries to be solved, and that's before we even get into any hints that Rogue One might drop. Because don't you go thinking that it's not going to drop hints. Because it will. You'll see.
You'll all see.
But what can we work out right now? Well nothing for definite, but there are a few very enticing fan theories knocking around that are well worth exploring. They vary in plausibility and desirability, but explore them all we must, for how else will we have all bases covered when the invevitable reveals drop and we try to look beared-strokingly considered amid the tears and jaw-dropped disbelief? Let's start with the idea that...
Rey is Obi-Wan's grand-daughter
Look, let’s get real here. There’s no way that old Ben Kenobi just sat in a cave on Tatooine for 20 years after dropping Luke off with Owen and Beru. Is he a wild-eyed hobo when the young Skywalker catches up with him? Is he a man of questionable body odour, with a large circle of (dead) animal friends? No. Obi-Wan is doing fine. Better than ever, in fact. He’s well-kempt, civilised, and actually wiser, more insightful, and exemplifying more zen-like decorum than he ever did in his younger days. In every way, it makes sense that he’s had a life of his own, alongside his duties in watching over Luke.
As part of that life, there’s no reason he can’t have had a family. With the formal Jedi order collapsed, and Obi-Wan himself having seen the trouble the Jedi’s strict dogma over romantic relationships can cause, it’s entirely possible that his own opinions on the matter have relaxed. Could Rey be the product of his fuller life? Undoubtedly. Jedi lineage would make a great deal of sense, given her powerful Force sensitivity. And considering the revelations of The Empire Strikes Back, such a discovery would give her a strong thematic parallel with Luke’s journey.
On the subject of Luke, yes, he could be her father, but that’s a little too on-the-nose, especially given Rey’s own abandonment on a desert planet. Skipping a generation would also give Rey a strong parallel with Kylo Ren, making them both the grandchildren of the saga’s most powerful elder Jedi.
GR+ verdict: Very, very plausible. Even more so, when you take into account that both young and old Obi-Wan’s voices can be heard during Rey’s Force hallucination after she picks up Luke’s lightsaber for the first time.
Snoke is Darth Plagueis
This is a biggie. Given his enigmatic presentation in The Force Awakens, it’s a pretty safe bet that the true nature and intent of the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke are being held back as a significant reveal. But who is he? Well the big money is currently on Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s previous and long thought-dead Sith Lord. There are a few good reasons for this.
First up, Plagueis feels too big a deal to not be further explored. Referenced in Revenge of the Sith as a dark side-user so strong he could create life and cheat death, he’s more powerful and unique of abilities than anyone we’ve ever seen before. It’s also possible that he’s entirely responsible for the existence of the whole Skywalker line. It’s implied in The Phantom Menace that Anakin is the product of an immaculate, Force-powered conception, and that sounds like something Palgueis would plausibly be capable of. A long-term gambit, perhaps? If so, it would make total sense that he’d return later to continue to screw with the Skywalker line, via Kylo Ren and the destruction of Luke’s new Jedi Order.
Okay, he’s supposed to be dead, murdered by Palpatine after the erstwhile Emperor had learned everything he could, but Plagueis’ powers could theoretically have made light work of a matter as small as that. In fact, beyond that, the Rogue One teaser trailer seems to show Palpatine kneeling at the foot of a bacta tank, one of Star Wars' life restoring goo pipes. Who else would the Emperor bow to but his own master? Snoke is very old and seems to know a lot about galactic history and the nature of the Force, so it would make a great deal of sense if he'd quietly watched the rise and fall of the Empire while convalescing behind glass.
GR+ verdict: We like this one. It’s a nice piece of cross-trilogy continuity that doesn’t pander too hard to the prequels, but which runs interesting threads through many different areas of Star Wars lore. Though given that he was Plagueis’ apprentice, don’t count out Palpatine as an outside Snoke bet either. Admittedly, we like that idea much less.
Rey is Snoke's descendant
An alternate spin on Rey’s lineage is that she’s actually the descendent of Snoke. If Snoke is Darth Plagueis, and Plapatine’s stories of Plagueis in Revenge of the Sith are to be believed, then he has the power to create life using the Force, it’s no great stretch to imagine that he did the same for Rey as well as (possibly) Anakin.
The reason? Insurance, perhaps. His initial plan of creating an uber-Sith in Anakin ultimately failed (admittedly after a long period of success), and he’s clearly aware that Kylo Ren’s awareness of his own family ties makes him a risk. There is, however, an interesting exchange in The Force Awakens in which Snoke references the appeal of power acquired through embracing both the dark side and the light, which possibly explains his eagerness to nurture a conflicted soul like young Ben Solo. If that’s his gambit, then it would make sense to allow Rey some time in the outside world to develop a sense of goodness.
And his abandonment of her on Jakku? As well as being a great superficial parallel to what Obi-Wan did with Luke and Leia, it’s entirely possible that he did so for similar but opposite reasons: To ‘protect’ her from Luke’s influence until it was time to begin her training. And while we’re talking parallels – hey, Star Wars is all about them – this would make Rey a great mirror image of Kylo Ren, both having switched sides from their families’ alignments, he turning dark from light, and she becoming a hero spawned from evil.
GR+ verdict: Also a great and well-considered origin for Rey, though its likelihood of being true will very much depend on Snoke’s identity.
Luke has veered close to the dark side
Bit of a Jedi chicken and Force-powered egg situation, this one. Did Luke lose his morale after Kylo Ren turned dark side, or did Kylo Ren turn dark side after Luke’s fortitude weakened? Some fans reckon that Skywalker’s inability to stop his student’s Sith seduction could have been the result of a wavering of his own, and his self-imposed exile not the result of existential fallout, but a safety measure to quarantine himself at the Jedi temple until he was sure of his own resolve.
Does this set the scene for mutual learning between master and student, with Rey helping Luke regain his confidence and sense of self as they train together in Episode VIII? It would be a very nice subversion of Star Wars’ traditional trainer/apprentice hierarchy.
GR+ verdict: This one doesn’t sound too likely. Does anyone really want to see Luke Skywalker go bad? And besides, if the combined persuasion of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine couldn’t turn him…
Luke’s students are alive (and are probably the Knights of Ren)
Do we know that Luke’s young Jedi Order are dead? Do we really? We’ve been told that Kylo Ren ‘turned on’ them in the name of Snoke’s grand plan, and it’s generally assumed that they’re deceased as a result, but have we seen actual bodies? No, we have not. And hey, even if it were explicitly stated that Kylo slaughtered the lot of them, there’s a big Star Wars precedent for falsely stating that a character has been murdered by another character, when in fact it was just a dark side switch. Darth Vader. It was kind of a big deal.
In fact, taking that further, there’s a strong argument for the a idea that, just like Anakin was not killed by Vader, but rather became him, Luke’s students might not actually be mortal victims of Kylo Ren, but rather his dark side brethren. How about if he didn’t murder them, but turned them, making them the Knights of Ren we see in Rey’s Force hallucination? Because logically, Luke and Rey can’t be the only potential light-siders around.
Why would Snoke be so scared of Luke’s return otherwise? What’s the big threat? That Luke will come back to the New Republic and take down the Knights just as soon as he’s had a decade to train up a new academy? But if Luke’s apprentices are still alive, with potential for ‘reactivation’ as Jedi, then Skywalker’s return could easily represent a killswitch for Snoke’s larger plan. And if that reactivation were to instantly deprive the First Order of its primary, Force-using hit-squad? Big problem. Big problem indeed.
The GR+ verdict: Love it, love it, love it. Being so vaguely explained and enigmatically presented, the Knights of Ren have to be a big reveal later in the trilogy. And this would be a killer twist, being plausible, but with deep dramatic impact and repercussions, and entirely in-keeping with Star Wars’ existing themes and sensibilities.