Since we are close to the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16th, 2016) and the first anniversary of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 18th), I want to tackle a point of strong discussions in this new era of Star Wars: Rey’s parents.
During this year many discussed and tried to guess who are the parents of Rey: some says she is the daughter of Luke, other say Obi Wan is the father/grandfather and other speculate she is the descendant of Palpatine.
To me this question is second to another question that must be answered first: is she really the daughter of some famous Force sensitive??? Not necessarily since Force sensitives can frequently come from non Force sensitive parents.
Disclaimer: while I am very passionate about Star Wars, I don’t claim to be an expert of its lore; the following points are just my personal opinions on elements I personally noticed; on top of that, this article is meant to be just a personal “thinking out loud” and not a formal treatise on the subject. Therefore be mindful if you find parts that you don’t agree with or error/missing information (and since I am not a professional writer, the fact that some paragraph is a little bit … “convoluted”).
If you are familiar with the Harry Potter’s franchise the TL;DR version of this post is: being a Force sensitive is like being a pure blood, half blood, muggle-born wizard: a wizard is a wizard regardless of his/her parents. Parentage simply influence the probability of birthing a wizard (pure bloods usually birth a wizard and rarely a squib and viceversa muggles birth other muggles and rarely a wizard).
To understand why it is not obligatory for Rey to be the daughter of another Force sensitive we have to evaluate few points.
The ubiquity of the Force
As often mentioned in the first six movies, the Force is everywhere and in every one. For example take the following quotes:
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
Yoda – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back: For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.
The fact that all life is connected to the Force is confirmed also when the infamous midi-chlorians got introduced in Episode One.
Qui-Gon Jinn – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace: Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells.
Now you may wonder why not all people are Force sensitive if the Force touches everyone.
The requirement of the Force
The movies never explicitly stated why some people are born Force sensitive and many not, but in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace it is strongly implied that is due to the midi-chlorians count.
For example take in consideration this scene:
and later on the following quote from Qui-Gon:
Qui-Gon Jinn – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace: His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I have seen in a life-form. It was possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians.
From the above two scene we learn that midi-chlorians are not just a generic part of life that acts as conduit to the Force, but that they are actually countable. Considering that Anakin Skywalker is the Chosen One and his midi-chlorians count is compared to Yoda, another extremely powerful Jedi, it is strongly implied that there is a correlation between the midi-chlorians count and how powerful a Jedi can become.
Now, if an high concentration of midi-chlorians can potentially make a Force sensitive great, it is reasonable to assume that the less the count is the hardest it is for a Force sensitive to master the Force and eventually that there is a given count that can act as boundary below which the individual is not considered Force sensitive.
The Old Republic’s harvest
There is another point as potential proof that non Force sensitives can birth Force users: during the Old Republic era Jedi were forbidden to have families (and therefore children) to avoid sentimental attachments and spikes of emotion that could lead to the dark side, but still the Order had a constant flow of new conscripts (the various younglings shown on the prequels). In this point I consider only the … “natural” births – I don’t count Anakin’s mother as proof because Anakin’s conception is a … “particular” one and therefore the fact that Shmi was not a Force sensitive is collateral.
Regarding the forced celibacy, we have the following quote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones: Be mindful of your thoughts Anakin; they’ll betray you. You made a commitment to the Jedi Order – a commitment not easily broken.
and the following scene in Episode 2 (the title of the video is wrong since the dinner happened while they were still traveling to Naboo):
The reason for the celibacy is that the Jedi Order believed that family attachments could lead to various swings of emotions and those could lead to the Dark Side. As a matter of fact the Jedi Order had a policy to conscript only infants exactly because they had yet to develop emotions for their families; Anakin Skywalker, despite being the Chosen One, almost didn’t make into the Order because he was too old and attached to his mother:
There is a last point to close the circle here and it is something that it is often given for granted since the movies do not give any information otherwise (warning: I am basing this only on the movies and therefore I may be missing information contained in Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and eventual canon books); considering that:
- the Star Wars saga is strongly based on the Jedi/Sith duopolistic conflict;
- in Episode 1 the Jedi admitted that they have been blind to the return of the Sith;
- the Jedi consider any deviation from their teaching a path to the Dark Side;
- In Episode 1 Qui-Gon Jinn tells Shmi that if Anakin was born in the Republic, he would have been recruited sooner.
It is extremely reasonable to assume that, excluding isolate defections like Count Dooku, the Jedi Order have the monopoly of the Force users and knowledge of the Force within the Republic territories and therefore that there is no space and knowledge for many non-Jedi-affiliate force sensitives.
Now, if we correlate this last point to the fact that Jedi cannot have families, but the Order still have influx of younglings, the question is obvious: from where these children come from? The answer is inevitable: they do come from from non-sensitive parents.
As I tried to illustrate in the above points, it is perfectly possible for non Force sensitives to have Force users children and therefore Rey may easily be the daughter of someone who is still very important in the Rebellion/new Republic, but who is a normal person.
Of course this is not sure either and maybe Rey is indeed the daughter of a Force sensitive (and personally I think it would be a nice tie-in to the previous movies if she is indeed the heir of Luke/Obi Wan/Palpatine).
I just wanted to point out that it is open to debate so you will not be shocked if the parents are revealed to be just common people.
There are a couple of extra topics that came to mind. They are not strictly related to inheritance of the Force, but still they are relevant to the Force connection with all life.
The first point is: how the Jedi Order kept finding all the Force sensitive babies within the trillions of citizens of the Republic – especially since they could not sense the Force sensitivity of Palpatine in front of them?
The most obvious explanation lays on the blood test that Qui-Gon and Obi Wan performed on Anakin’s blood; the most probable scenario is that the Jedi Order shared the test procedure with the Republic that in turn included it on the routine tests made to any newborn. If the test returned positive (the newborn had a midi-chlorians count equal or higher than the minimum quota set by the Order), the hospital would pass the contact information to the Order, which in turn would send a representative to speak with the parents.
This would explain why Qui-Gon told Shmi that if Anakin was born in the Republic, he would have been found earlier. It could also explain a couple of issues on how Padmé handled the pregnancy:
- the fact that apparently she never had an official ultrasound – it would have detected sooner that she was carrying twins, but probably (as it already happen now in real life) the medical staff could have performed some standard test on the fetus (to check for other issues normally investigated during a pregnancy) and accidentally discover that the twins (or single child on Padmé mind) were Force sensitive;
- the fact she wanted to have the baby on the Lake county on Naboo where “no one will know”; probably she wanted to have the baby outside the official medical network (but still somewhere she felt safe, hence Naboo) so to avoid the blood test.
Personally I don’t know how the events unfolds once the Jedi Order sends the representative to speak with the parents ; as indicated earlier, it is heavily implied that the Jedi Order had the monopoly on the Force sensitive within the Republic, but on the other end I don’t think that the Order force the parents to give up the child without consent; it is not in the Jedis character.
The second point is about midi-chlorians count within the non-Force sensitives. As mentioned earlier the midi-chlorians are countable and everyone has a different number, therefore it is safe to assume that the “normal” people will inevitably range between those who have the absolute minimum (that will still be more than zero since midi-chlorians live “inside the cells of all living things”) to those with an high count whom missed the opportunity to be recruited for just few points below the minimum quota.
Personally I think that those … “near miss” are interesting because, while they still lack the ability to perceive and control the Force, they will probably have a higher “empathy” and connection to their surrounding compared to those with a much lower count. For example I would dare to claim that Padmé may have been one of these “near miss”, especially when at the end of Episode 3 she claims that she is sure that there is still good in Anakin (of course the main reason of that claim was that Padmé was in denial about Anakin turning bad – I am just saying that that denial may had a boost from a subconscious feeling that is mildly Force sensitive).
Of course it would be strange that the existence of the “near miss” never got mentioned if it was true, but you have to consider that:
- beside being a curiosity information in general and a basic justification for Padmé’s knowledge of Anakin goodness, it serves no other purposes in the plot;
- many fans didn’t like the idea of midi-chlorians as explanation of the Force in Episode 1; mentioning that one character (and potentially many other Republic citizens) didn’t get to become a Jedi for just few points in a blood test would have been infuriating;
- it is conceivable that, for obvious privacy reasons, the Republic shares with the Jedi Order only the results of those who pass the test and not all the results of trillions of people; considering that they had already enough problems spotting the Dark Sith Lord in front of them for years (even if it is mainly due to “the Dark Side clouds everything”), I doubt they bother trying to detect near misses; and beside, if they set a minimum midi-chlorians count to be considered a Force sensitive, I doubt they care if some non-Force sensitive has a little bit more “strange feeling” compared to the other “normal”.