There’s no question that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is the focal point of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. She sits at the epicenter of everything, figuratively and literally: both new posters for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feature the character prominently. Despite the character’s growth over the course of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, some still see Rey as a “Mary-Sue” to whom her skills come too easily. She’s not; in fact, she’s all Kylo Ren’s fault.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rey first became aware of her Force abilities the moment she laid hands on the Skywalker lightsaber. Now, admittedly, I can see why some would trend towards believing her to be a Mary-Sue. The visions she experienced when she touched the saber were the result of her latent psychometric power. Thus far we’ve only seen one other Force user who could wield such strong power (the ability to see through the Force visions generated by touch): Jedi Master Quinlan Vos. But… it wasn’t until Rey encountered Kylo Ren and his hubris that her powers truly awakened.

Kylo Ren is responsible for Rey

Rey; Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren unwittingly unlocks Rey’s Force abilities in The Force Awakens. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Kylo Ren, in is arrogance, determined that he didn’t need a droid to find the map to Luke Skywalker. He’d extract it directly from “the girl.” Little did he know. Rey’s connection with the Force became readily apparent, to Ren and to Rey, when he tried to probe her mind. She, in turn, immediately discovered that she possessed the same skill. The floodgates opened from there, and Kylo Ren was responsible for opening them.

That led directly to Rey’s ability to manipulate the Stormtrooper’s mind to free her. Her duel with Ren on Starkiller Base also triggered something within her. His misguided offer to teach Rey in the Force unlocked a Force-driven, meditative state. That allowed her power to surge, and ultimately allowed her to defeat Ren before the planet tumultuously tore apart.

Ren enables her growth in The Last Jedi

(Image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

In some ways Kylo Ren did become a teacher. Their connection, and his continued efforts to lure her to the Dark Side, propelled her forward in the Force. Her desire to do good, to redeem him, only focused her power even more. And his claim that she was a “nobody” only seemed to strengthen her drive to find herself in the Force all the more.

Lastly, their battle in Snoke’s throne room gave Rey a glimmer of hope of his return to the light. Ren would, of course, shatter that hope by mimicking his grandfather’s words and asking her to join him at his side to rule the galaxy. That was the final push the would-be Jedi needed to fully embrace her abilities, for the galaxy’s sake. Expect her to only hone her skills up to and including the final, anticipated battle between Rey and Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker.

Rey; Rise of Skywalker; Kylo Ren
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

So Rey really isn’t a Mary-Sue at all. To the contrary: Kylo Ren is directly responsible for her rise in the Force… from a certain point of view.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives December 20.