This article contains spoilers for Ahsoka.


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Summary

  • Sabine and Rey both experienced an unlocking of their Force potential after initially being restricted, suggesting a similar process at work.
  • The ‘unlocking’ or ‘awakening’ of the Force is like a dam breaking, unleashing a flood of power that settles at a slightly lower level.
  • Rey’s Force-awareness may have been ‘locked’ due to her traumatic experiences and her subconscious desire to repress her dark side legacy.

Star Wars has finally explained one of the greatest mysteries about Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In 2015, Star Wars returned to the big screen with a brand-new hero – a mysterious woman named Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), who had grown up on the junkyard planet Jakku. Rey’s story deliberately paralleled that of Luke Skywalker; she was a so-called “Everyman Hero,” an ordinary person who found herself plunged into a galaxy of adventures.

But Rey was also something enigmatic. Not only was she powerful in the Force, she had a surprising degree of aptitude for it, swiftly performing Jedi mind tricks and successfully defeating Kylo Ren in a duel. It was initially unclear how the Jakku scavenger could become so proficient with the Force, at such remarkable speed. Now, though – eight years later – Star Wars has finally cleared up The Force Awakens‘ great Rey mystery.

Sabine’s “Unlocking” Must Be The Same As Rey’s “Awakening”

Sabine uses the Force to push Ezra in the Ahsoka finale.

The Ahsoka Disney+ TV show has introduced viewers to the live-action version of Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian character previously introduced in Star Wars Rebels who is now played by Natasha Liu Bordizzo. In a surprising twist, Sabine had become a would-be Jedi – albeit one with a remarkably low aptitude for the Force. It wasn’t until Ahsoka‘s finale that Sabine finally managed to call on the Force in a moment of need, summoning her lightsaber to help her kill a zombie stormtrooper.

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Dialogue in Ahsoka‘s finale explained what had happened. Sabine had Force-potential, but it had somehow been “locked” within her – likely a result of her Mandalorian upbringing, or of trauma experienced during the Dark Times of the Empire’s reign, when anybody who sensed the Force would have feared being tracked down by Inquisitors. Ahsoka had sensed Sabine’s potential, but she had been unable to work past this block. It was only in a moment of need that Sabine’s Force-potential erupted to the surface (“unlocked,” as Ahsoka put it). Remarkably, Sabine’s first act with the Force was to summon her lightsaber; her second was to perform a staggering telekinetic feat. Sabine is clearly quite strong in the Force now she has unlocked it.

There are interesting parallels between Sabine and Rey. Like Sabine, Rey had lived most of her life apparently unaware of the Force; it was only when circumstances took her off the planet Jakku that she began to tap into it, and her power was great enough for her “awakening” to be sensed by Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke. Like Sabine, when Rey did access the Force, she became surprisingly powerful. It’s reasonable to assume Sabine’s “unlocking” and Rey’s “awakening” are two different glimpses of the same process, because the similarities are so marked.

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What Does It Mean To Unlock Or Awaken The Force?

Rey Force Awakens Artwork

Assuming Sabine’s unlocking the Force and Rey’s awakening are indeed the same phenomenon, it’s becoming possible to understand how this works. The best analogy is that, for people who have somehow become “locked” or “asleep” to the Force, their Force potential is like a mighty river held behind a dam. When the dam breaks – the “unlocking” or “awakening” – the river pours out in a powerful flood. It’s even possible the fact it has been held in check for so long means it flows even more forcefully at first. If this is the case, unlocked or awoken Force-sensitives may initially have a higher power-level that settles to a slightly lower status quo.

This account fits perfectly for both Rey and Sabine. In both cases, it explains why these two women were initially so restricted in the Force before suddenly becoming so powerful. But it does, of course, raise some very interesting questions about Rey’s Star Wars story.

Why Rey Became “Locked” To The Force

Star Wars Rey First Senses Force

How did Rey’s Force-awareness become “locked” in the first place? A likely answered is offered in Charles Soule and Will Sliney’s The Rise of Kylo Ren #4, which completes the origin story of Kylo Ren. This issue shows the moment when Ben Solo embraced the dark side, and it also shows other beings across the galaxy – Supreme Leader Snoke, Princess Leia, Palpatine, and Rey – sensing it. For Rey, who is just a child at the time, this is probably her first real experience of the Force. She senses the coldness of the dark side somewhere deep within her, and she could be forgiven for being afraid of that cold touch.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker adds further meaning to this. This revealed Rey is a Palpatine, heir to a powerful dark side legacy; when she sensed Ben’s fall to the dark side, it surely called to something deep within her, something that would have terrified her. In those circumstances, it’s easy to understand why a child would subconsciously choose to repress her Force-awareness, simply because she didn’t want to feel this coldness again.

Rey Only Became Fully Unlocked Thanks To Kylo Ren

Rey being interrogated by Kylo Ren in Star Wars The Force Awakens

When viewers first meet Rey, she is reluctant to leave Jakku – supposedly because she hopes her parents will one day return, but in truth it’s quite clear she feared leaving because she did not know what she would discover. Her decision to leave the planet is in itself an unlocking of sorts, and it is sensed by Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren. But, ironically, it isn’t until later in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that Kylo Ren himself unlocks Rey completely.

The key moment came when Ben Solo attempted to use his dark side Force powers to peer into Rey’s mind. According to Jason Fry’s novelization of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, doing so had a strange and surprising effect; Rey found herself looking back, and many of Kylo Ren’s secrets flooded into her mind. This is probably because there was already a bond between Rey and Ben Solo, the Force Dyad, which had been suppressed all this time. It is how Rey learned the Jedi Mind Trick, and how she gained a certain degree of proficiency in the Force. Fully unlocked by Kylo Ren, Rey’s Force powers flooded to the surface, and she became a tremendous force to be reckoned with.

How Powerful Will Rey Be In Her New Jedi Order Movie?

Rey Skywalker on Tatooine next to the symbol for the Jedi Order

Daisy Ridley is returning as Rey, starring in an upcoming Star Wars movie that will explore her leadership of a new Jedi Order. It remains to be seen how powerful Rey will be at this point in the timeline; she may well be diminished simply because the Force Dyad has been broken by Ben Solo’s death. It’s also quite possible her powers have settled at a lower level; again, to use the analogy of a dam, the first flood after a dam has broken is a powerful surge of water, and it takes time for things to settle down. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for Rey as her Star Wars story continues.

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