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Recently, Daisy Ridley expressed her desire to move on from Star Wars after Episode IX. As the possible Chosen One in the sequel trilogy, Rey’s departure would surely be rather detrimental to the Skywalker saga. Or would it?
Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi brings with it a great deal of uncertainty, both for the franchise’s development and nature of the Force itself, although it’s Episode IX , the potential finale, where things will really change. And that’s why Rey’s rumored departure is so important. We don’t know how things will go down in Episode VIII, let alone J.J. Abrams trilogy-capper, but the loss of its lead would definitely feel like a resolute end. However, even if Rey does exit the series, Luke and his bloodline don’t necessarily have to take their final bow.
First and foremost, Ridley’s intended departure might not stick. She’s a 25-year-old actress recently catapulted into stardom and is looking to define herself beyond Rey, understandable given her critique of her own performance and the stigma associated with other Star Wars actors’ (such as Mark Hamill) career paths, which didn’t always work out right away. She could also change her mind if given more of a breather between Episodes IX and X (especially as a tenth entry wouldn’t be expected until at least a decade has passed). UPDATE: Ridley has suggested that may be the case, although she remained coy about any return.
Ridley’s only under contract, as far as has been revealed, through Episode IX for the moment. After that, Disney’s key players might already be heading for a hiatus. Her admission could also be a contract negotiation tactic: clearly, fans want to see more of Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), so her lip service departure sends a message right to Disney’s studio heads (and their wallets), who may have big plans for her character. Plus, eBay recently named Rey the most popular female movie character in the United Kingdom – something which could push Lucasfilm to compensate her handily for her further cooperation.
Of course, disinterest in further storylines might also be a contractually obligated way of avoiding spoilers. It certainly takes the suspense out of the next two films if we know Rey survives… even though Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy’s announcement about further chapters in development sort of constituted just that.
Even if Ridley genuinely wants to leave the series, it certainly doesn’t mean the end of the Skywalker story. Indeed, Rey hasn’t even been positively identified as a member of the central clan, much less as the Chosen One – although there’s a possibility she’s both. Johnson insists her parentage might be less-important than fans assume it is, though, which means one of two things: the young scavenger’s personal connection to the Force has little to do with the storied first family of Star Wars or the
Episode VIII director is putting up a smoke screen.
If she isn’t related, it could be the first major shift away from the central narrative. Her tale certainly mirrors her cinematic predecessors of Anakin and Luke: a desert-raised child pushed into a pivotal role in a galactic conflict due to her incredible abilities. It certainly suggests a seismic shift in the nature of the Force – much less the Jedi-Sith dynamic – as implied by Luke’s research into the Jedi origins and his concession that “it’s time for the Jedi to end, ” as well as the establishment of nonaligned Force beings (such as the Bendu) or Maz Kanata.
Recent plot threads in the Poe Dameron comic also suggest that Jedi documentarian Lor San Tekka – who held the missing piece of the literal puzzle to Luke’s whereabouts and appears to be a cohort of the exiled master – was researching a grayer concept of the mystical energy field before his demise. References to balance and
Snoke’s purported non-Sith status also suggest the sequel trilogy will step outside the gravity well of previous monochromatic concepts of the Force, possibly even cutting a proletarian relationship between the mysterious energy source and its users – something Rogue One touched upon with the Church of the Whills.