After unveiling an epic sizzle reel for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at this year's D23 Expo, LucasFilm has released the video to the masses. The special look is all sorts of incredible, mostly due to its final few seconds, which gave us the first official look at dark Rey.
Dressed in a black hooded robe, Rey wields a double-bladed red lightsaber, which she flourishes downward to snap into a battle-ready position. Her skin appears far paler than normal, and her eyes look sunken into her head. Suffice it to say, this isn't the Rey we're used to seeing.
But what's actually at play here? Judging by the clothes Rey wears and the red saber, one could argue that she has officially turned to the dark side, joining Kylo Ren and the First Order. Study her face and her posture a bit more, though, and you'll see some signs that suggest dark Rey isn't the real Rey. Dark Rey is stiff when she handles the double-bladed saber, whereas normally, Rey is swift when working with her weapons. Additionally, dark Rey is practically emotionless, her face barely moves a millimeter, which isn't typical of Rey's usually hyper-emotive mug.
So, what does it all mean? Well, there are a few possibilities.
This dark Rey shown in the new footage from The Rise of Skywalker could be a clone of the regular Rey, one of several that were created at the time of Rey's "birth." Considering The Rise of Skywalker will feature a brand-new iteration of Stormtroopers, the red-armored Sith Troopers, some theorize that dark Rey and the entire fleet of Sith Troopers are Rey clones. This could tie into The Last Jedi, during which Rey entered a cave and saw dozens of copies of herself.
The idea goes that these multiple Reys weren't just visions, they're real, which would help explain why the Star Wars saga hasn't yet fully explained Rey's parentage. Sure, Kylo Ren snapped at Rey and told her that her parents were nobodies who sold her for drinking money, but perhaps the First Order edgelord made it up to upset her. Maybe, just maybe, Rey doesn't have any parents at all…because she's one of a whole bunch of clones made for the purpose of fighting in the galactic war. Perhaps her "sisters" are all evil, while Rey is the sole clone who malfunctioned and joined the light side.
Or maybe she's not a clone. Maybe she had a twin, with Rey's parents having sold her sister immediately after their birth. The abandoned twin might have grown vengeful and turned to the dark side, and the evil Rey we see could be that scorned sister.
Another theory is that dark Rey isn't real in the slightest, and that what we're seeing in the Rise of Skywalker clip is part of a sort of dream sequence. Just as Luke Skywalker saw himself as his father, Darth Vader, while inside the Dagobah cave in The Empire Strikes Back, Rey could have a similar vision in The Rise of Skywalker, facing her biggest fear in watching herself turn to the dark side. This could give her the push she needs to continue fighting against the First Order when the temptation to turn dark grows too strong.
There are about a billion possible explanations for what's going on here, and the same can be said for what looks like an evil version of C-3PO in the newly released Rise of Skywalker footage. The protocol droid, known for his etiquette and intelligence, is seen here with glowing red eyes. That's the only physical attribute of his to suggest that the upcoming film features a dark C-3PO, and while we hate to make sweeping generalizations in saying that every character with red eyes is evil, there's evidence to suggest that this could be the case here.
In February 2015, Marvel Comics rolled out a new Darth Vader series, which revealed in issue number three that the heavy-breathing dark-sider had in his entourage droids that have the same design as C-3PO and R2-D2. There's 0-0-0, essentially an evil version of C-3PO from a design perspective, and BT-1, an assassin droid that recalls the design of R2-D2. These robots are battle droids designed to kill, which is a far cry from how helpful 3P0 and R2 generally are.
Speculation has it that the red-eyed C-3PO shown in the Rise of Skywalker footage could actually be 0-0-0, and that the Skywalker who rises in the new movie is Anakin, who may return as a Force ghost with his literal killing machines in tow. Since additional footage from The Rise of Skywalker shown at a Disney shareholders' meeting in March 2019 reportedly featured Kylo Ren opening a container that holds Darth Vader's helmet, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility that the villain formerly known as Anakin Skywalker could play a part in the upcoming film.
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