The new trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ends with what would seem to be a big twist – Daisy Ridley’s young Jedi Rey dressed and equipped like a dark lord of the Sith, complete with wicked double-bladed (and adjustable) lightsaber.
Immediately fans began wondering if this means that Rey has been tempted to the Dark Side by the returning Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) – but can it really be that simple? Surely LucasFilm wouldn’t give away its biggest plot twist in a trailer, months away from release, unless there was more to it?
And with that in mind, we’ve assembled a few possible theories for why exactly Rey has gone all Darth Maul in the new teaser. Because frankly, if the whole Skywalker saga ended with her merrily cutting her way through the remaining Resistance it’d be a bit of a downer to the whole thing.
So, theory number one…
It’s a complete misdirect
Look, it’s not like movie trailers haven’t done this before – remember when Rey also held a red lightsaber in The Last Jedi trailer, and it turned out she’d just borrowed Kylo’s? Or when all the Force Awakens trailers and posters hinted that Finn (John Boyega) would be the new Jedi in the franchise?
Well, with those examples in mind who’s to say that this new weapon is actually Rey’s lightsaber, and not one that she just picked up? Maybe it’s a prototype designed by the First Order that she grabs mid-battle, or even takes from the Emperor?
In other words, maybe the whole “Rey turns evil” shot is taken from a tiny portion of the film where she wears a hood and happens to pick up a red lightsaber, and isn’t actually an important part of the story at all.
And in a similar vein…
She’s just pretending
Remember when the trailer for Rogue One showed Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso in Stromtrooper gear, and we all worked out pretty quickly that she was just infiltrating an Imperial base? Well, maybe that’s what’s happening here too, and Rey is just posing as an evil-doer to get closer to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) or the Emperor.
Sure, it’s hard to hide your good intentions from powerful force-users and it does seem like a BIT of a commitment to have an articulated lightsaber made, but hey – it makes about as much sense as the friendly, loving Rey turning full Space Nazi.
It’s a Force Vision
A lot of the coolest moments in the modern Star Wars movies – Rey’s hall of mirrors, flashbacks to the Empire Strikes back and the burning of Luke’s Jedi school – have come from the use of Force visions, so who’s to say that Dark Rey isn’t another?
After all, remember Luke’s encounter in the Dagobah cave in Empire Strikes Back? He finally killed Darth Vader, only to find that it was his face within the mask, foreshadowing his relationship to Vader and his future temptation by the Emperor.
Maybe, then, this is just a vision of what Rey could become, if she lets the Dark Side into her heart, shown to her by an outsider. Though if that is the case, we’ll be a little disappointed not to see that new lightsaber in action…
It’s a clone!
Back in the days of the Expanded Universe Star Wars novels, clones were a surprisingly big part of the story, including clones of the dead Emperor (which could explain his return in the Rise of Skywalker) and one grown from Luke Skywalker’s severed hand called Luuke who served the remnants of the Empire (yes, really).
Sadly, those storylines are no longer canon – but who’s to say that JJ Abrams hasn’t decided to bring them back into the fold?
In other words, what if this isn’t actually Rey turning evil, but an already-evil Reey? And once you start pulling on that thread, all sorts of other ideas start to present themselves.
Remember Rey’s Force Vision in the cave on Ach-To, where hundreds of versions of her stretch out? Well, what if there was a hint that Rey herself was a clone, one of many who were all designed to be perfect Force-users by an unknown figure, possibly the Emperor?
After all, we know the technology existed decades before during the time of the Clone Wars, and if Rey was specifically designed to work with the Force it could explain her natural aptitude for it, as well as her ability to best a powerful Force user like Kylo Ren so easily.
And with that in mind, Rey’s acknowledgement that her parents were “nobody” really would ring true, the junk-traders who abandoned her nothing but caretakers who looked after her for a while after she was somehow cut loose from a training programme.
In other words, yes, this could technically mean we see a battle royale of good Rey vs various evil Reeys with their own unique snazzy lightsabers. If nothing else, it’ll be easy to make the action figures.
She turns, but turns back
Probably the simplest (and thus most or least likely depending on your personal level of conspiracy nutdom) is that we’re seeing exactly what it looks like – Rey turning evil and accepting the Dark Side.
However, just because she does get tempted doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll stick. We could imagine Rey turning to the Dark Side and going on a mission for the First Order (or the Emperor) before snapping out of it when she runs into her friends or has to carry out a truly evil act.
Overall, whatever the details – whether it’s a clone, a misdirect, an infiltration of a brief temptation – we can’t see Episode IX concluding with the Dark Side reigning supreme and Rey as a Lord of the Sith.
Frankly, after nine movies that began with ‘A New Hope’* it’d be pretty depressing to end without any at all.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in UK cinemas on the 19th December
*Yes, we know, technically that was episode four. And even more technically, it wasn’t called ‘A New Hope’ until four years after it was first released. Overall, Rey’s lightsaber might be the least confusing thing about this franchise.