Warning: There are MAJOR spoilers ahead for The Rise Of Skywalker. Big. Huge.
The Force works in mysterious ways, and it seems like Star Wars always has some new tricks up its sleeve. But weirdly enough, Rey's use of Force healing in The Rise Of Skywalker is actually not the first time that this power has manifested in Star Wars in 2019. It was introduced just days before the film's release by way of the little green sensation sweeping the nation: Baby Yoda.
That's right, The Mandalorian teased this new way to use the Force in episode 7, which aired less than two days before Rise of Skywalker hit theaters. The Child used their Force magic to heal Greef Karga's (Carl Weathers) arm wound, thereby gaining the trust of the otherwise shady character. After healing him, Baby Yoda was wiped out — but that's typically what happens after the fifty year-old infant uses the Force. It's nap time!
In The Rise Of Skywalker, Rey (Daisy Ridley) first uses Force healing on an alien snake who is guarding an artifact she needs. She does the same thing to save Ben Solo's (Adam Driver) life later in the film. And unlike Palpatine's sparky speciality or Darth Vader's Force choke, Force healing is a much kinder power — but one that's not without limitations. Rey explains to Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewie (Joonas Suotamo), and C3PO (Anthony Daniels) that doing so drains some of her own life energy — but it's worth trading to help someone in need. Those stakes reveal themselves, however, when Ben uses all of his energy to bring Rey back from the dead and then dies. He trades his life for hers. (Side note: If you were wondering why Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker couldn't have used that power to bring Natalie Portman's Padme back to life, that might be your answer. Doing so probably would have killed him.)
But one big question is how did Rey know to do this? (The even bigger question is how Baby Yoda knows how do any of this, but that's kind of The Mandalorian's job to explain.) It has been suggested that Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) used Force healing on Luke (Mark Hamill) in A New Hope, when he placed his hand on Luke's head after the Tusken Raider attack. But outside of the films, Force healing has actually been a part of the expanded Star Wars universe (which was de-canonized by Disney) for years in books, comics, and video games. It also seems like it's a pretty difficult skill and as we've seen, Jedi don't just learn the Force and suddenly they can do every Jedi trick in the bag. So there's another, more likely, possibility that it was documented in one of the Jedi texts that Rey took from Luke and that Rey's superior connection the Force allowed her to master it. Yoda said they weren't page turners, but being able to fully heal a dying man who's been gored with a lightsaber is a pretty big twist.
Let us also address the bantha in the room: Does Force healing have anything to do with midi-chlorians? The symbiotic, microscopic (disconnected, not respected) life forms found in the bloodstream were introduced in The Phantom Menace as a way to measure Force sensitivity, or worse explain magic using science. They are a major source of Star Wars debate and disappointment, depending on who you ask. While nobody says the word "midi-chlorians" in the sequel trilogy, you have to wonder if that's what Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams and The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau are implying with Force healing — that matter has to come from somewhere, right?
But the long and short of it is that it's not quite as random as it may seem. And bringing it up now is sort of akin to the way Force lightning was first introduced in Return of the Jedi. It's another way to use the Force that will undoubtedly feed other, future Star Wars stories throughout the galaxy.