Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are ahead!
Rey’s come a long way since we met her in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While she definitely demonstrated potential then and was able to hold her own against Kylo Ren in her very first lightsaber duel, that was just the start of her Force-powered journey. Cut to The Rise of Skywalker, which takes place one year after the events of The Last Jedi, and Rey’s power had significantly increased under the tutelage of Leia Organa.
In addition to having refined abilities we’d already seen her use, like telekinesis and the classic Jedi mind trick, Rey also showed off some new skills during Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, some of which she’d already practiced and others she learned how to do as the story progressed. We’ve laid them out for you here, and let’s start with one that had already been teased in the Rise of Skywalker advertising.
In the Prequel Trilogy, it became common to see Jedi use the Force to propel themselves higher or further through the air. Rey showed off these enhanced acrobatics several times during the movie, most notably when she leaped backwards onto Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter to slice off part of it with her lightsaber. She also performed an incredible jump while dueling Kylo on top of the second Death Star’s wreckage. Even if Rey never ends up in combat again, that jumping will come in handy for hard-to-reach places.
Along similar lines as jumping, Rey used the Force to levitate herself in the beginning of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker during a training session. It called to mind when Luke was doing the same thing while deep in concentration as he Force projected himself to Crait at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In Rey’s case, she was levitating as she concentrated in an effort to get in touch with the spirits of deceased Jedi (we’ll get back to that later). Levitating may not be the most fancy Jedi skill, but it’s still fun to watch.
While Force lightning is a skill most commonly used by Sith and other dark side users, other are also capable of such power. Yoda conjured a bolt of lightning in The Last Jedi to destroy the tree that had contained the ancient Jedi texts, and Rey discovered she could conjure lightning herself. Unfortunately, the circumstances in which she learned this were less than ideal, as it was during a tug of war with Kylo Ren over the First Order transport ship that she believed was carrying Chewbacca. Rey unleashed the Force lightning accidentally, destroying the transport and making her believe that she’d killed her Wookiee friend.
Fortunately, Chewbacca was actually on another ship, so Rey was soon freed from that guilt. And while she later was met by a vision of herself having turned to the dark side and wielding a cool saberstaff, by the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey was still comfortably on the light side. So I wouldn’t count on her shooting out Force lightning becoming a regular thing.
While Force healing was frequently used in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, within the official canon, it’s only just now finally been shown off. When Rey and her friends fell into that quicksand-like substance on Pasaana and found themselves underground, they came across a creature who was ready to attack them. Then Rey noticed that the creature was badly injured, hence why it was so aggressive towards them. So she transferred some of her own Force energy into the wound to heal it.
It’s definitely a useful Force power, although it comes at the expense of the user’s vitality. Case in point, Ben Solo, having finally rejected the Kylo Ren moniker, used Force healing to resurrect Rey after she sacrificed herself to destroy Palpatine, but the effort drained him of all his energy, and he faded into the Force soon after she awoke. Interestingly enough, this ability was shown just a day before the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker preview screenings began in The Mandalorian, as Baby Yoda healed a wound that was close to killing Carl Weathers’ character, Greef Karga.
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Snoke enhanced the Force bond between Rey and Kylo Ren, allowing them to communicate with one another no matter where they were. But it was also hinted that there a physical component to the bond, as at the end of one of their conversations, Kylo noticed droplets of water on his glove, seemingly from the same rainfall on Ahch-To, where Rey was located.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker confirmed numerous times that there can indeed be physical interaction through a Force bond, like when Kylo Ren was able to rip a necklace Rey got on Pasaana right off her neck and when they later dueled each other through this bond. But during the movie’s third act, Rey kicked things up a notch by transporting Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from her hand into Ben Solo’s while they were far away from each other in Palpatine’s temple. Presumably the two of them having formed a Force dyad (the first such phenomena in generations) is what allowed Rey to pull off this trick, and it came in handy since Ben needed a weapon to use against the Knights of Ren. Since Rey also brought Leia Organa’s lightsaber with her, she remained armed.
Communicating With Dead Jedi
Finally, at her most desperate point in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey finally accomplished what she was trying to do at the beginning of the movie: communicating with the spirits of dead Jedi. We’ve gotten used to seeing Force ghosts in the Star Wars movies, and sure enough Luke Skywalker appeared as one when Rey returned to Ahch-To to talk some sense into her. But this was something different.
From Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu to Qui-Gon Jinn and Ahsoka Tano, these Jedi we know well from past stories lent their strength from beyond the grave to give Rey one last push and allow her to defeat Palpatine. It’s unclear if Rey becoming connected to all these Jedi was a one-time thing or if she’ll now be able to communicate with their spirits with ease now. Either way, their assistance was most appreciated, and it was unquestionably one of The Rise of Skywalker’s biggest pieces of fan service.