Warning: MAJOR Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
I’m not going to make many friends by saying this, but I kind of love the ending of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As some fans have lamented since the episode 9 spoilers leaked, it’s true, Rey is a Palpatine who renounces her family name and calls herself a Skywalker in the film’s final moments. And while it’s easy to see why that might irk some fans, it’s actually a beautiful, wonderful way to end Rey’s story if you look at it through the right lens.
Before we get too far into the details, it must be noted that Rey’s parentage being revealed to be no one in The Last Jedi had a beautiful meaning all its own. By making Rey just some girl, rather than a member of some hallowed bloodline, The Last Jedi was saying that the Force doesn’t belong to a privileged few; it belongs to everyone. Making the most powerful new Jedi someone outside of the known bloodlines was bold, and it’s a little disappointing that The Rise of Skywalker undoes that.
But it does. So we have to assess the story we were given, not the fan fiction in our hearts.
And considering that Rey being Palpatine’s granddaughter is now a stone cold fact, having her renounce her bloodline for her found family, the Skywalkers, is actually as close as we can get to perfect.
In a way, it still works to undermine the idea of blood rights and inheritance. Palpatine tells Rey that because she’s his granddaughter, it’s her place to strike him down and become the new ruler of the Sith, despite the fact that doing so is not even slightly who she is.
She’s often been tempted by the Dark Side — as we saw in The Last Jedi, Luke (Mark Hamill) is terrified when she goes straight to the dark when he’s teaching her to harness the Force on Ach-to. But despite that temptation, Rey has always sought the light. She’s always been a messenger of hope and rebellion, not control and aggression. She may have been born a Palpatine, and that may make her question what that says about her true self momentarily. But by killing her grandfather and effectively removing herself from that family line, Rey is living proof there’s no prescribed blueprint for anyone — not for Ben Solo, the grandson of Darth Vader, and not for her, the granddaughter of the most terrifying presence in the galaxy. You have to choose light over dark. It’s not predestined.
Furthermore, the act of her becoming a Skywalker should help the loss of Ben Solo, formerly Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) sting a little less. After Kylo leaves the Dark Side and becomes Ben again, he transfers his life force to Rey. After his sacrifice brings her back from the dead, he and Rey share the long-awaited kiss the entire trilogy has been teasing. In a way, this moment makes her a Skywalker — Ben is a part of her now. And Rey taking on his grandfather’s name not only honors her teachers, Luke and Leia (Carrie Fisher), but Ben, whom she loved.
It may not be an ending that will please everyone, but it was moving, it heralds the concept of found family (the Skywalkers, Finn, & Poe), it manages to keep the heroine we’ve followed for three movies at the center of the story, and it’s full of the most important emotion in the Star Wars galaxy: hope.