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Warning: Massive SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead. Turn back now if you haven't seen the film yet.
After two years of fervent and meticulous theorizing, Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally gave us the answer to the question of who Rey's parents are. Now it seems we will be spending the next two years debating that answer and questioning whether or not it is true. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren, who could have been lying, reveals to Rey that her parents were nothing but scavengers who sold her for drinking money. This revelation is incredibly important in what it says about Rey as a character and how it fits in with The Last Jedi's overall themes. But it turns out that despite how conclusive this truth seems to be and how important this revelation is to the film, the situation may still be fluid. With one film left in this trilogy, the answer to Rey's parentage could still change, as director/writer Rian Johnson explained:
Anything's still open, and I'm not writing the next film. [J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio] are doing it.
Bravo, Rian Johnson. Those words alone are more than enough to power two years of internet debate, analysis and speculation. When Episode IX needed a new director to replace Colin Trevorrow, many were hoping Rian Johnson would close out the trilogy (this was before the polarizing response to The Last Jedi), but he instead opted to move on to his very own Star Wars trilogy. So, while for Rian Johnson's purposes the matter has been settled, by not directing Episode IX, he cracks open the door of possibility. As Rian Johnson told The Huffington Post, J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio could decide to go in a completely different direction and change the answer about Rey's parents. J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm may have known the broad strokes of where the trilogy would go, but they clearly didn't have firm answers on Rey and Snoke and that allowed for Rian Johnson's subversive take. Part of what makes this so interesting is that it was the way Rian Johnson answered questions raised by J.J. Abrams in the first place that has fans so divided on The Last Jedi.
This is truly a fascinating issue to unpack. Now Mr. Mystery Box, J.J. Abrams, the man known for raising questions without knowing the answers (cough Lost cough), is coming back to put a bow on a trilogy. Will he feel the need to alter what Rian Johnson did? The Last Jedi is still cleaning up at the box office, so it has clearly resonated with the average moviegoer, but the vocal minority of hardcore Star Wars fans is divided. Disney is not a reactionary studio, but will this public backlash force Disney's hand to change Rey's parentage? I can't imagine J.J. Abrams wants to spend half of the closing chapter dealing with questions that were already answered.
While I understand that some fans feel cheated, in my opinion, changing the truth of Rey's parentage would devalue everything Rian Johnson was trying to say with The Last Jedi. We know that for Rian Johnson, making the choice he did about Rey's parents was about forcing her to face the most difficult reality. Hearing that she is not a chosen one or part of some storied family was the hardest thing to hear for someone who has been waiting their whole life to find out that they are special and are destined for a greater purpose. This truth forces Rey to choose her own path and not one that was assigned by birthright or prophecy. Unlike the prequels, where everyone was connected and related, this choice expands the galaxy instead of contracting it. If J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio are to change Rey's parents, they will need to have a good reason for doing so.