Welcome to a special edition of Flickmuncher.com. I LOVE STAR WARS! One of the greatest and most enduring cinematic sagas to ever grace the silver screen, George Lucas’ space fantasy has informed the last three generations of America and its influence is present everywhere. This is especially true with the arrival of a new cast of heroes in the recent film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The main character, a scavenger girl named Rey, has been a subject of much interest in both geek and non-geek circles due in large part to her mysterious parentage. While a number of candidates have been put forward, Luke Skywalker chief among them, a new contender has come forward in the form of Jyn Erso, a young woman played by actress Felicity Jones (as seen below on the left), who is the main character of the new Star Wars film, Rogue One coming out this December. A lot has been made of the possibility of Jyn Erso being Rey’s mother and having a larger significance to the Star Wars galaxy as a whole. However, some people don’t seem to like this idea and one blogger at Bustle.com provided a list of reasons that Jyn is NOT Rey’s mother.
If you’d like to read the full reasons in the list; click the link here.
I personally am a major advocate of this theory so I would like to offer my two cents as to why these 11 reasons aren’t necessarily valid and why the theory makes sense. This is my personal take on why Jyn Erso is Rey’s mother:
- Their Ages. While Felicity Jones is indeed 32 years old, she has played multiple roles where her character is much younger, ranging from teens to early and late twenties. Given that fact and also that Disney seems to like keeping their heroes in the tweens demographic it’s not impossible that Jyn could have had Rey while in her thirties, a common thing nowadays. The entire argument is predicated on the assumption that an actress always plays her age and, as we all know, assumptions just make an ass out of you and me.
- The Timeline. Just because Jyn is not present in the original trilogy doesn’t mean she wasn’t involved in the rebellion through that time. Furthermore, it was made clear in Canon material (e.g. the novelization of The Force Awakens) that Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order is borderline obsessed with Darth Vader’s lineage, the most powerful force-sensitives in the galaxy, which is why he corrupted Ben Solo. If Rey was in fact Luke’s child, and a good deal of evidence (circumstantial as it is) points in that direction, it’s possible that Snoke was after Rey even before he corrupted Ben into Kylo Ren, and that Jyn had to take extreme measures to protect her.
- We don’t know if Jyn survives Rogue One. This is the only point that I don’t have a direct answer for because…we don’t know if she survives and we won’t until Rogue One comes out in December. That being said this is still Lucasfilm under the Disney banner. I’ve never known Disney to go for downer endings in any of their movies, or to kill off their main characters regularly. This isn’t Game of Thrones here, so I honestly don’t expect Jyn to die by the time the credits roll. While I do think most of her team will be wiped out (probably by Darth Vader himself)I believe she’ll survive to the end credits.
- Jyn is not force-sensitive like Rey. This is conjecture and based on the logic that being a Jedi and being force-sensitive are the same thing when…they’re really not. It’s like this: all Jedi are force-sensitive (that’s kind of a necessary trait for that line of work, like how people who can see make better snipers), but not all force-sensitives are Jedi. Jedi are a philosophical, quasi-religious order, sort of like Shaolin Monks. They aren’t born as Jedi. They have to be trained to become that. Furthermore, Rey’s amazing force-sensitivity could just as easily be answered by her being both Jyn and Luke’s daughter where her ability comes from her Skywalker lineage.
- No Skywalker Connection. This one’s pretty silly by most standards. As far as Luke and Jyn meeting, it’s possible that they did meet during the Rebellion years and we were just never shown it. I’ve heard of couples who got together, got married and had kids, years, even decades, after they first met. Plus, war is a crazy time and who knows where Luke and Jyn’s lives were at after Endor and the fall of the Empire. Luke had the responsibility of rebuilding the Jedi and Jyn may have been off doing all sorts of special ops work for the New Republic. Also this point seems to be operating under the assumption that I already addressed in point 1 and is invalid for the same reasons. Even if Jyn is older than Luke that doesn’t count for much. Padme was five years older than Anakin when they were married. Just sayin’.
- Rogue One is a Standalone movie. Technically, yes, Rogue One is a standalone movie but to use the Marvel universe as an example: Ant-Man is a Standalone movie, Captain America was a Standalone movie, Iron Man was a Standalone movie. Yet they all are part of the same universe and you see that connecting tissue in how they reference each other. They all showed their own stories with their own characters without being directly adherent to a larger story. By that logic Rogue One isn’t a standalone at all. It’s completely dependent on the narrative that’s already been established in Episode IV to give it the weight it needs. If Episode IV didn’t exist, this movie wouldn’t be about a group of rebels stealing the plans to this world-destroying weapon. It would be about them actually, you know, DESTROYING the damn thing (pardon my French).
The other thing is that all the other Star Wars ‘Standalone’s’ that have been announced are tied directly to the Episodes. Han Solo, Boba Fett, an Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy(where they go with that I have no idea); they all deal with subject matter and characters that are connected to the Saga. No movie is an island, especially not in a galaxy far, far away.
- It’s too expected. This is grasping at straws and personally I’m sick of this particular argument. Just because a story beat is expected doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting or fun to see play out. As for Rey and Jyn looking alike, yes. Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones do look a lot alike. Eerily so in fact. Star Wars casting directors seem to have a habit of casting brown-haired, brown/hazel-eyed actresses in the female leads. They’ve even done it with some of the side characters.
To use the words of the immortal Leroy Jethro Gibbs, “I don’t believe in coincidences”. That goes double for these massive film franchises where every detail is so scrutinized by the fans. The studios know this. They aren’t oblivious of the fans and Lucasfilm especially has proven that multiple times. So either someone really needs to diversify on their casting choices or something fishy is going on here.
As for it being a red herring, that’s always possible but is it good to play with the fans like this? Do it too much and you start to lose out on potential story opportunities that work with the narrative just for the sake of a shocking surprise.
- There are no clues in The Force Awakens. Why would there be? The Force Awakens is Rey’s story not Jyn’s and if you ask me “what about all that evidence pointing to Luke?” I will tell you this: The Force Awakens is Episode VII and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy has made very clear that the Episodes are a Skywalker story (this lends to the theory that Rey is in fact, Luke’s daughter, but I digress). Episode VII didn’t introduce Rey’s parents because we needed to get to know her, Finn, BB-8 and the other characters first. Jyn hasn’t been established as a character yet. If there had been clues, if there had been references to Jyn in the movie, it probably would have gone over all our heads or would have taken the focus off of Rey. So why put clues to Jyn in a movie that she really has no part of?
- Not Everyone has to be connected. This is another argument I keep seeing and you wouldn’t believe how much it irks me. It also connects into the whole “they’re making the universe smaller if they make Rey’s parents someone we know” debate and I’m calling bologna on both.
First off, not everyone is connected in these movies. In fact, almost no one is. For all the evidence and fan theories that are out there, Rey, Finn, Poe are, as of right now, unrelated to ANYONE from the original trilogy. It’s implied that Rey is somehow connected to the Skywalker lineage but the only person with confirmed blood ties to the previous movies is the villain, Kylo Ren. And making Jyn Rey’s mom is one connection. One. No one is arguing to make Chewbacca, Wicket the Ewok’s uncle, or Finn to be Lando’s son. Now, if there do turn out to be all these connections then I think this concern will be warranted. But in this case I think making that connection makes sense in the context of the overall story.
Second, making Jyn turn out to be Rey’s mother is not something that I think shrinks the universe. Much as the fans moan and groan about this, I’d rather have good stories with characters that I care about in a smaller setting than a massive galaxy with lots of characters I don’t know at all. More characters doesn’t necessarily mean better characters. In addition, if it were revealed that Jyn was Rey’s mom in perhaps, Episode VIII or XI then that reveal would be much more impactful to us as fans because we could see who Rey’s mom was beyond being just “Rey’s Mom”. It’s the same with Rey in Episode VII and why I’m glad they didn’t tell us who she was then. If they had told us that she was Luke’s daughter or Han’s daughter right from the get go, I don’t think she would have been as much of a hit with us fans because we’d all just see Rey as ‘the daughter of ___’ instead of a character in her own right.
- Other’s would know. Who said they didn’t? For all we know, Han and Leia might have known the truth about Rey’s parentage the whole time. It was definitely implied in The Force Awakens that Han had at least some idea of Rey’s identity. On the other hand, who said they did know? Running under the theory that Luke is Rey’s father, it could have been he never told anyone about his relationship with Jyn. He was rather reclusive after all (according to Star Wars: Bloodline at any rate) and it’s possible that if Jyn had Rey she might never even have told Luke about her. The fact is, we still don’t know. The circumstances of how and why Rey was left on Jakku in the first place remain unclear so this isn’t really a reason for Jyn being or not being her mom at all. We’re not shown or told everything in The Force Awakens so we don’t really know what Han and Leia knew or didn’t know. Until the aforementioned circumstances are revealed, this one’s off the table as an argument for either side so far as I’m concerned.
- Daisy Ridley said she’s not. This comes from a quote by Daisy Ridley at the MTV movie awards where she was asked about the Jyn = Rey’s Mother theory and her answer was, “just because she’s white and got brown hair…it doesn’t mean she’s my mom.” While many, including the original writer of this list, saw this as confirmation that Jyn is NOT Rey’s mother, I myself am a little more hesitant to accept this as a fact.
Daisy’s quote, while not encouraging the fan-theory, is not an outright denial either. This is something that you would expect her to say, especially given the attention to secrecy by the Lucasfilm PR department. Fan-theories keep people talking about the movie and its characters, whether they’re true or not. If Jyn is Rey’s mother they obviously wouldn’t want Daisy Ridley to spoil that reveal but if Jyn is not Rey’s mom then it cools down that fan-theory and likewise some of the excitement for Rogue One. Rogue One is definitely connected to Episode IV but the fact is that Episode IV, as much as we fanboys love it, is not the freshest thing on casual audiences minds. That would be Episode VII.
In addition the biggest demographic for Star Wars is kids and young adults who are probably more familiar now with Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren than they are with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader who they know primarily from their parents. If Rogue One is connected somehow to Episode VII then it will have a larger base to draw on and the studios know this which is why they wouldn’t deny this theory outright even if it wasn’t true. In that light, taking Ridley’s quote as gospel is not something I can do because it’s just neither here nor there.
So that is my personal, rather long-winded response to the question of “is Jyn Erso, Rey’s Mother”? I think I’ve made my feelings rather clear. But you know what? I could be dead wrong. It could be that all of this will be blown out the window when we finally see the movie in its full glory. This just makes it more exciting to see what happens next in that Galaxy Far, Far Away that we all love so much. What are your thoughts on this theory? Do you disagree? Why? Let me know in the comments below or on facebook and twitter.
Have a great weekend and as always, May the Flick be with You!