The Rise of Skywalker brought the trilogy to a grinding halt, meaning we have witnessed the (hopefully brief) conclusions to these characters’ stories. It’s a chance to look back and see which character had the most concise and moving journey. So, with no further delay, here’s how their stories turned out.
(This will be a very, very long read.)
When we first met Poe Dameron he was immediately established as a friend of General Organa’s in the opening crawl, allowing us a distinct understanding that he is the true blue good guy. And there was nothing to dissuade that fact.
When he could’ve run to save himself he stayed behind to fight the First Order, would get captured because of this brash decision, but he would be rescued by a stormtrooper with a conscience. A stormtrooper that would ultimately become his best friend, Finn.
Being rescued by Finn, he would end up finding his way back to the Resistance where he led an attack on Takodana when the location of BB-8 was discovered. Here, we got to see Poe Dameron in his element as a leader and an impressive Resistance pilot.
We also were afforded the chance to see him reunite with his best friend, Finn, the man that saved his life and would help complete his mission. It was at this moment that their friendship was ultimately solidified.
And this is Poe’s story throughout The Force Awakens. It’s nothing fancy or overly complex. He was just the charming pilot who was the clear good guy and a tremendous leader of the Resistance. It was The Last Jedi, however, that would give his character depth.
In The Last Jedi, we see Poe Dameron in a different light. He’s still a phenomenal pilot with those jaw-dropping skills of his but there’s also a recklessness to him that can cause bad things to happen. This inability to lead wisely led to the destruction of the First Order Dreadnaught but it also resulted in the unnecessary death of dozens of fighters as well as the loss of four Resistance bombers.
In retaliation, General Leia would demote Commander Poe Dameron to Captain, highlighting her fury with his actions. Suddenly, he’s not the squeaky clean Resistance hero that we thought he was but instead a flawed individual who craves action over sensible leadership.
After Leia’s near-death, his distrust in the Resistance’s de facto leader, Vice Admiral Holdo, led him to make even more dangerous decisions as he authorized the secret plan to sabotage Supreme Leader Snoke’s flagship and led a mutiny. Such actions would lead Finn and Rose to be captured, hence the First Order learned of the Resistance’s brilliant escape plan to Crait and would nearly wipe them all out in the process, an occurrence that was only prevented by Holdo’s brave sacrifice.
His brashness was an issue that he would have to overcome and it took him almost losing everything for him to figure that out.
After realizing the brilliance of Holdo’s plan which would result in the now-infamous “Holdo Maneuver” we began to see Poe treat things in a different way. He understood the responsibility of leadership as well as the importance of living to fight another day.
It’s why he told his forces to retreat rather than to face their deaths by entering the maw of the First Order on the sand flats of Crait. By the end of The Last Jedi, the viewer has been taken on a personal journey that showcases Poe shedding his seemingly-flawless skin to become a very flawed individual that would eventually blossom into a powerful leader.
When we catch back up with Poe in The Rise of Skywalker it’s very apparent that he’s still as reckless as ever. He flies the Millennium Falcon in a way that we haven’t quite seen before as we watch him perform “Lightspeed Skipping” through different planets in a thrilling manner.
It also becomes very clear very quickly that his patience is even more worn thin than it was before the tragic events of The Last Jedi. The Resistance is still very much in shambles and even though they have managed to somewhat regain their forces the plan to defeat the First Order seems far from being realized.
His impatience lashes out mainly against Rey, the newcomer who shares his mutual friendship with his best buddy, Finn. Rey is a mystical warrior who can float and wields one of the famed lightsabers of his childhood legends but despite the fact that she’s always the most powerful person in the room she seems reluctant to aid the Resistance in their fight against the First Order. That is until word arrives that Palpatine has returned.
Suddenly the time to act has come and Poe must embark on a thrilling adventure with his best friends.
Along the way, we learn a little bit more about Poe Dameron as they find themselves forced to go to Kijimi after a briefly tragic outcome in losing Chewbacca. It is here that we meet an old acquaintance of Poe named Zorii Bliss and we also learn that Poe was once a spice runner. If you don’t know what that means, he was essentially the Star Wars equivalent of a drug dealer. (No wonder he became such a good pilot.)
Suddenly the squeaky clean hero with a bit of a temper that we know as Poe Dameron gets a slightly dirtier facade. Go figure.
The story then continues to establish his recklessness as well as his unwillingness to help Rey on Kef Bir as he rightfully chooses the plight of the Resistance instead. He and Finn even have an argument at one point in the movie in which Poe Dameron yells, “I’m not Leia!”
And Finn responds indignantly, “That’s for sure!”
It’s a burgeoning theme that Poe has to live up to the expectations of Leia’s leadership but he’ll never be like her. He’ll never have her calm attitude or her inspiring ways of knowing how to handle certain individuals. He’s hot-wired for action and that can make him hard to bear with at times.
Later in the movie, when Poe, Finn, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and BB-8 return to the Resistance base they learn that Leia has passed. It’s a heartbreaking blow to the Resistance and a particularly hard pill for Poe Dameron to swallow. Suddenly, there’s no one left to hide behind. He must rise to the occasion and be the leader Leia always knew he could be.
Unsure of himself and the responsibility resting upon his shoulders, he turns to Lando, the ex-General of the Rebellion, for direction.
“How did you win?” he asks Lando pertaining to the Rebellion’s win over the Empire. (I’m not sure if that’s exactly what he said but it’s close enough.)
“We had each other,” Lando tells him.
Earlier in the movie, while talking to his ex-girlfriend, Zorii Bliss, she told him something that would strike the heart of his story: “They win by making you think you’re alone.”
Suddenly Poe Dameron had the inspiration to lead the meager forces of the Resistance against what would be a mighty army. And he did just that too.
He led the Resistance into battle against Palpatine’s “Final Order” and with his leadership and his friends at his side, the Resistance would ultimately win.
Talk about a great ending for General Poe Dameron.
Kylo Ren’s introduction in The Force Awakens was powerful, to say the least. Hidden behind a terrifying mask and wielding a blood-red crossguard lightsaber, Kylo Ren exuded authority as well as true menace. He was not one to be trifled with and you understood that immediately.
Throughout The Force Awakens, we are shown how unstable Kylo is as he destroys monitors when angry and doesn’t hesitate to choke lesser men. But we also learn something even more interesting. He is the son of Han and Leia. Suddenly, this Darth Vader wannabe is very special. Very, very special.
Later in the movie, Kylo has his second confrontation with Rey. It’s an important scene for several reasons. One, like I said before, it’s the first time we get to see him without the mask (nice.) Two, his infiltration into Rey’s mind would inadvertently turn her into his greatest enemy (and eventual greatest ally.)
This young man, struggling with his identity as Kylo Ren a.k.a the new Darth Vader is also fighting internally with his true self as Ben Solo. Here he is, trying to be this evil guy who follows his Supreme Leader blindly yet deep inside he knows what he is doing is wrong and he wants to turn back with all of his might.
However, at this time in his life, he believed there was no one to turn to. Snoke was the “only” person who actually cared for him so he made a choice. He killed his father, Han Solo, seeking power and the ability to sever his ties to the past but instead only furthered his eventual path back to the light.
At the beginning of The Last Jedi, we see Kylo Ren at his most vulnerable yet. He hides behind his mask as he tries to dampen his broken spirit but it’s impossible. The death of his father has haunted him and he can’t do anything about it. To prove his loyalty to Snoke and the dark side he sets out on a mission to kill the other half of his former self, Ben Solo in ending Leia’s life. We know how this ends.
With the finger on the trigger he had every chance to kill his mother, hence fully embracing the dark side of the Force…but he couldn’t. He had a special love for his mother. A love that could and would not be broken. A love that would play an instrumental part in his redemption later down the line.
Broken and confused at where he stood in the roiling tempest of his emotions, he would be thrust into a strange connection with his greatest enemy, Rey, and unbeknownst to both of them, they would form a bond, unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Star Wars.
Through a few heartfelt conversations and a lot of staring into one another’s eyes, it’s very clear what happened. Kylo Ren began to fall in love with Rey.
She was the first person in his life who treated him not as a monster to be feared or as a tool to further the power of a tyrannical regime but as a person. And as a man who desperately needed love, she pierced his heart in a way no one else could.
However, the man she cared for, the man whose fingers she touched in that stone hut on Ahch-To, that man was Ben Solo. Not Kylo Ren; a fact that he would discover very quickly.
Seeking companionship from the first person he could legitimately say he loved, he murdered Snoke and the Praetorian Guards only to give Rey an ultimatum; join him in the dark side. See, he still wasn’t ready to let go and embrace Ben Solo rather than the monster that he had become and it backfired.
She, of course, didn’t take his hand. Instead, she fought him and once more, they were enemies.
Scorned and desperate for revenge, he decided to bring an end to the Resistance and was determined to kill Rey. (Geez man, calm down a bit.) But he would ultimately fail as he came face to face with the man who he believed tried to kill him so many years ago: Luke Skywalker.
The diversion would allow the meager forces of the Resistance to get away and Kylo Ren, now Supreme Leader, would find himself more alone than ever.
Fast forward to The Rise of Skywalker and it becomes very clear that Kylo Ren’s story takes a turn. He’s now trying to maintain control over the galaxy but when his power is threatened by Palpatine’s return his mission becomes clear. He must end Palpatine.
On Mustafar, he finds a Sith Wayfinder that takes him to Exegol, the dark lord of the Sith’s perfectly creepy evil lair. His goal is to end Darth Sidious but instead is seduced by the Zombie Emperor as he gives him a chance to end Rey.
But Kylo has other plans. He has his helmet rebuilt (for some reason) and then starts to torment Rey throughout much of the rest of the movie, urging her to take his hand so that they can destroy Palpatine and be together as co-Supreme Leaders. (Because he’s in love with her, remember?)
It eventually boils down to an “epic” fight between Rey and Kylo Ren on the wreckage of the second Death Star that concludes in a shocking way. One, he nearly kills Rey, much to my surprise considering that she’s always managed to beat him in their previous bouts. And then two, there’s the obvious reason why this is one of the best moments in The Rise of Skywalker.
Just before he can deliver the killing blow on Rey, he hears Leia call his name, “Ben.” He turns as if expecting to see her and then feels her die in the tremor of the Force. Suddenly, his whole world is turned upside down and he is utterly distraught. So distraught that he can’t even focus enough to notice Rey take his saber, which she then thrusts into his abdomen, hence practically killing him.
Kylo Ren doesn’t care though. He’s lost his mother. It’s as if all of the anger, all of the strength that he had accumulated over the years, was gone and he was left a broken man.
Rey, feeling Leia’s death and knowing how much she meant to Ben Solo, heals him, thus saving his life.
And then she says to him, with every fiber of truth, “I would’ve taken your hand. Ben’s hand.”
Boom! Kylo Ren pretty much dies at that moment. Remember. He’s in love with Rey and he wants to be with her for the rest of their lives. It’s why he keeps practically begging her to take his hand in metaphoric marriage. So when she tells him that she would’ve joined him if he had let Kylo Ren die and become Ben Solo it isn’t long before he makes a choice.
A choice helped by none other than a vision of his father, Han Solo. Awesome!
Suddenly, Kylo Ren is no more, replaced by the rather heroic (and *cough cough* alluring) Ben Solo who has nothing on his mind other than rescuing Rey from a terrible fate.
Together, they manage to beat back Palpatine’s forces (the Knights of Ren and those cool warriors protecting Palpatine) before uniting to defeat Palpatine. But, Palpatine is seemingly far stronger than both of them and as Ben tries to stop Palpatine’s reign of power he gets tossed into oblivion.
He, however, doesn’t die only to find that Rey, in defeating Palpatine, has given her life. Suddenly, the woman he loves more than anything else in the world is gone and there’s nothing he can do about it. He was too late. But wait! Rey healed him earlier and in doing so inadvertently taught him how to do the same thing.
He transfers his life force into her, bringing her back from the dead. He did what Anakin never could which was to keep the woman he loved from dying, or in this case, resurrecting her. (Why is writing this getting to my emotions?!)
They kiss because geez, why not, and just when it seems like it’s truly a happy ending he keels over from utter lack of strength and freaking dies. I am so freaking upset right now. This isn’t right, J.J! I need more Ben Solo. Not prequel-Ben Solo when he’s internally in turmoil and doomed to go the dark side. I need sequel-Ben Solo that kicks butt alongside Rey and saves the galaxy. It’s not fair!
Anyway, in death, he fades away into the Force, hence rejoining his mother and father as they always wished. (Tragic! 😭😭😭)
Finn’s story begins alongside Kylo and Poe’s; in a small village on Jakku. He is ultimately on the side of the bad guys as he charges into battle in the classic armor of the stormtroopers but it’s after losing a comrade that he suddenly realizes the horror of the situation.
It was theory before but now it’s been solidified. He was struck by the Force which awakened in him at that moment and suddenly, he couldn’t pull the trigger that would end the lives of the innocent villagers.
The Force would also lead him to Poe who would give him his first human name, Finn, and meeting Poe would lead him to find Rey, the girl who he would embark on an incredible adventure with.
While they were together he pretended to be a soldier for the Resistance but deep down he knew he was lying. His only goal was to run to the farthest corner of the galaxy but he didn’t want to do that without Rey, the woman that he garnered as his best friend in the whole wide world (or galaxy.)
He told her the truth about his upbringing as a stormtrooper and asked her to join him (why are people always asking her to be with them?) before going to head to the Outer Rim where he would be far away from the First Order. But the Force had other plans for him.
He would remain on Takodana where he would wield a lightsaber for the first time. (Yep, we should’ve known he was Force-sensitive. Actually, I did know.😊) Rey would get captured, leaving him once again heading facefirst into the fray.
He would be reunited with his best bud, Poe Dameron, and would help lead an assault on Starkiller Base, ultimately to find and rescue Rey, which he did. Together they would sabotage the Oscillator and witness Han Solo, who had become their foster father over their time together, being killed by his own son.
It was a heartbreaking development (and yet another testament to why he left the bad guys) behind. In trying to escape Starkiller Base, he and Rey would confront Kylo Ren.
This is the moment that very well could foreshadow Finn’s storyline later down the line in future stories, as he wields a lightsaber into battle against the evil Kylo Ren. He, of course, is defeated, but it’s just another showcasing of his bravery.
When Finn returns in The Last Jedi, his driving force is still very much his love for Rey and his desire to escape the big fight pertaining to the First Order and the Resistance. This all changes when he meets a new character that will change his life forever. Her name is Rose.
Rose is one of the sweetest people he has ever met as she gushes over his achievements on Starkiller Base and his urge to leave the First Order behind. But he soon mistakes her kindness for lack of toughness. As she discovers his mutinous plans she finds herself disgusted with his cowardice, but they soon come together when they discover a plan to stop the First Order.
It is on Canto Bight that he began to understand what it means to be a part of the Resistance and to be that ray of light for those who may not be able to fight for themselves.
Another character he would end up meeting on his adventure, however, would be DJ.
DJ would be the character to try to persuade him that it was okay to not choose sides and to be selfish. Finn, at first, was willing to take the selfish play but after meeting Rose he realized what it meant to be on the side of the good guys. Specifically, after he was forced to watch the Resistance get destroyed before his eyes by the actions of the scoundrel, DJ. Suddenly, he realized what he didn’t want to be.
He would return to the fight against the First Order more determined than ever to see the bad guys fall. He was so determined that he was even willing to sacrifice himself to save the people that he had grown to love, his new family, the Resistance.
Of course, that wouldn’t happen as Rose prevented him from doing so but in the effort to save his life would nearly lose hers in return. When he reached Rose he would experience the first truly romantic moment of his entire life as Rose confesses her love for him and kisses him on the mouth. It was at this moment that his determination to defeat the First Order became all the more solid.
Throughout this adventure, however, he has never stopped thinking of Rey. When he was reunited with her, the love is palpable, for they started their journey together and would always be there for one another.
In The Rise of Skywalker, we get to see Finn in a different element as a full-blown agent of the Resistance. Together, he and Poe go out on important missions that’ll help the Resistance. Missions of which are clearly wrought with danger. It’s a fascinating development seeing the two best buds in action.
It’s even greater to see Rey, Finn, and Poe on a mission. However, Finn’s romance with Rose is practically eradicated for some particular reason. I don’t know why!
What is highlighted, however, is his friendship with Rey and Poe and the outstanding chemistry between the three of them. They would go on a mission first to Pasaana where he yelled to Rey, just before thinking that they were about to die, a secret something. Apparently what he was going to tell her was that he’s Force-sensitive. (I’m being stubborn and believing that what he really was going to say was that he loved her.)
This is a development that was hinted at in The Force Awakens, abandoned in The Last Jedi, and brought back to life in The Rise of Skywalker as we see him sensing things and understanding the power of certain circumstances via the Force. And it is ultimately the most telling development of his storyline in this film.
His love for Rey is also very beautifully presented in the film but she ultimately sidelines him as she finds herself more preoccupied with Kylo Ren and other more pressing matters. But the Force would bring him to meeting Jannah, an ex-stormtrooper who helped lead her fellow stormtroopers in rebellion against the First Order. He would forge an immediate bond with Jannah and together they would do incredible things.
As General of the Resistance (yeah, he’s now a general, yay), he and Jannah would help lead an assault against the First Order in an effort to stop Palpatine’s forces once and for all. Throughout all of this, we get to see Finn be as awesome as ever as an incredible leader of the Resistance. It just goes to show how far he’s come as a character. In The Force Awakens, he was a scared individual who feared to choose a side and wanted to run from the fight. In The Rise of Skywalker, he was a warrior equipped with a blaster, a sense of the power of the Force, and the determination to see the bad guys lose.
And he, along with his friends, would prevail against the mighty forces of evil.
He would be reunited with the people that he loved, Poe and Rey, and the tears he shed as he held them both is honestly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I’m telling you, as much as I disliked various elements in the film, this scene made me cry like a baby.
Finn’s story would end not only in triumph but with great implications for the future.
Unlike Poe, Kylo Ren, and Finn whose storylines began in the same village on Jakku, we find Rey the following morning in a Star Destroyer scavenging. Looking back on it, it’s an incredible reflection to the end of her storyline in The Rise of Skywalker, for she is distant and apart from the other main characters at the beginning of The Force Awakens and remains this way at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. But the juxtaposition to her storyline in The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker is a simple fact.
At the beginning of The Force Awakens, she has no family and is truly alone. By the end of The Rise of Skywalker, she has more than just a family, she has found her identity. Cue the tears.
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s continue.
We find Rey scavenging in the arid landscape of Jakku, performing her daily routine as she trades metal scraps for food. She handles her loneliness with determination and class as she returns home to scratch another line to the long list of lines that make up the days of her existence on Jakku.
And then she meets BB-8.
At the time she did not realize it but this would be the beginning of her journey into the strong, powerful Jedi that she would ultimately become at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. This orange-and-white astromech droid would lead her to meet Finn, who was on the run from the First Order, and together they would escape Jakku on the Millennium Falcon, which would send them into a collision course with Han Solo, and so forth and so forth.
Aboard the Millennium Falcon, it is the first time that Rey learns about the Force. She’s, of course, heard the tales but she always thought all of it was a myth. Han dissuades that fact by assuring her that it’s true, all of it, and the wonder in her eyes says it all. Rey, mystified by this power, is unknowingly taking her first steps into a larger world.
These first steps would culminate in her first encounter with the Force highlighting the extent of her power via a startling vision when coming into contact with the Skywalker Lightsaber. She would end up finding the saber, however, due to a sudden sense of abandonment.
You see, Finn was the first friend she had ever had and because of this, she attached to him quickly. When he decided to go to the Outer Rim and she refused to leave in hopes that her parents would return for her on Jakku, she was suddenly alone again. This desperation, this yearning for love and companionship led her to the saber that would lead her on the path of her destiny.
After the startling vision, she would confront Maz Kanata who would help her understand what she was going through.
“The belonging you seek is not behind you, it is ahead,” Maz Kanata tells her.
And yes, it was. *screaming in delight*
At the time, Rey was afraid of her calling to the Light but she would eventually embrace it.
She would end up garnering the true extent of her power as she found herself in captivity with one of the most powerful individuals in the galaxy, Kylo Ren. She would one: discover that he wasn’t a monster beneath that frightening mask of his (hee-hee) and two: would tap into the reservoirs of her abilities.
The abilities that would make her powerful but would also hint at her affinity toward the dark side as she revealed his worst fears rather than defeating him through sheer will of goodness.
She would have to use her new power with the Force and her skills at surviving to evade Kylo’s grasp and in doing so would be reunited with Finn. It’s a sweet moment considering that he’s the first person in her life to come back for her.
It’s a beautiful testament to their friendship and the moment she realized that yes, the belonging she sought was not behind her but in the present and ahead.
Rey, later in the film, would come face to face with Kylo Ren again in a fierce battle that would showcase her as the capable Jedi that she could be. In a moment of self-reliance, she tapped into the deeper reservoirs of the Force, or the dark side, to defeat Kylo. But their battle would not end there. Not even close. In fact, it was only the beginning.
She thought she lost Finn but Chewbacca would save both of them just in time. She would go on to the Resistance base where she would meet Leia, her future master that would teach her in the ways of the Force and the father of Ben Solo.
This image is all the more powerful after seeing The Rise of Skywalker, for Rey had indeed found the family that she had sought for so many years. She just didn’t know it yet.
One thing she did know, however, was that her journey was just beginning. She would go on to Ahch-To where she would find Luke Skywalker and hope to bring him back to the Resistance in the fight against the First Order. Things would unfortunately not go that easily.
Rey would find recruiting Luke Skywalker a tedious task. But while on the island she would find herself attracted to the library of books containing the ancient wisdom of the Jedi. It is during these moments within the library that she began to open up to Luke Skywalker and her true reasoning for going to Ahch-To, which was, of course, to be taught how to control the power burgeoning within her.
Luke would turn her down at first, choosing to remain grumpy and secluded rather than at least trying to help, but after a change of heart, he decided to train her to let her know why the Jedi needed to end.
That following morning she would come face to face with her greatest enemy, Kylo Ren, during a startling occurrence of the Force. It would be the first of many encounters with the agent of the dark side.
She would then go on to have her first lesson with Luke Skywalker.
What started out as a fun exercise to understand the way the Force worked turned into a horrifying display of her powers as she B-lined her way to the dark side as the island began to tease her with forbidden knowledge. It made Luke only that much more fearful of her and reminded her just how scary the Force could be.
In her second Force connection with Kylo Ren, she continued to retain her hatred for Kylo Ren but there was something beneath his evil facade. She could see a sadness in his eyes, a true sense of despair for his actions that made her begin to question what had turned Kylo to the dark.
After experiencing a second lesson with Luke (and being betrayed by him at the same time as he tricked her into believing a town was going to be plundered and raided in an attempt to show her how worthless the Jedi were–this is from a deleted scene) she would find herself having yet a third connection with Kylo Ren, albeit a more awkward one.
With shirtless Kylo before her, she began demanding him to tell her the truth about why he had turned to the dark side and why he would kill his father. He deflected by reminding her how lonely she was and how desperate she was to find a father figure, first in Han Solo and then Luke Skywalker, a fact that he wasn’t wrong about.
He would then tell her how Luke tried to kill him and how he fought back. Already mad at Skywalker for tricking her, she wanted to believe Kylo was lying but couldn’t be quite sure. He urged her to let the past die and to become what she was meant to be. She took the initiative to take matters into her own hands and go against Skywalker’s teachings to find out what the island was trying to tell her.
She would enter the mirror cave and have a haunting vision that led to her discovering a horrible half-truth; that she really was entirely alone. Unable to tell Luke of her time in the cave since he had forbidden her to go there, she ended up explaining what happened in the cave to Kylo Ren. And surprisingly, he actually cared.
At this moment, she begins to care for Ben. Maybe even love him. Both have been abandoned in some sort of way and both have been mistreated by their master, Luke Skywalker because of his distrust in their power. Rey could sense the good in Kylo and suddenly she felt comfortable in his presence. They touched hands and she would end up getting a vision. One that showed Ben turning to the light.
Now smitten with the idea of Ben Solo returning from the darkness, she fought Luke Skywalker when he refused to tell her what happened to Kylo Ren and then left when he didn’t accept her offer to help the Resistance.
The drastic decision would lead her to go find Kylo, hence coming face to face with Snoke who would raze her mind for the location of Skywalker before having Kylo Ren kill her. But unbeknownst to Snoke, Kylo had other plans.
He spared Rey by ending Snoke’s life and then together they would have to fight off their red-armored attackers, the Praetorian Guards. After defeating them, Rey urged Kylo to order the fleet to stop firing on the Resistance but would soon learn that Kylo had not changed. In fact, his ambition had only grown larger.
In an effort to win Rey over to his side, he told her that she was a “nobody” who was sold off by filthy “junk traders” and lied dead in a “pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert.” Yikes! Harsh.
This information nearly broke Rey. To learn that not only had her parents never returned for her but that they had sold her for drinking money and were dead was almost too cruel. Kylo’s tactic, of course, was to make her feel so alone that she would have no choice but to join him. He didn’t realize that she had already found her family in Finn and Leia and the Resistance.
It made her defiance against him an easy choice.
She thought that Luke was the Resistance’s last hope but in actuality that “last hope” was her. She would go on to be reunited with the first person she could ever call a friend: Finn, and she would be the ultimate savior of the Resistance.
When connected with Kylo one more time she shut him out, revealing to him that she was done trying to save him from the light and was now ready to fight him at every turn to protect the people she loved.
When we were reunited with Rey in The Rise of Skywalker she had clearly come a long way. She was now far more powerful with the Force. Her attire, still very Jakku-inspired, was a pure white color, highlighting her affinity toward the light. Her master was now Leia who was teaching her to be a powerful and very capable Jedi knight.
But Kylo’s torments were far from over. He would continue to harass her and after one such harassment, she would endure a brief vision that showed her a flash of memories that contained the truth of her parentage.
Things only got more intense when it was announced that Palpatine a.k.a Darth Sidious, the cunning Sith that Luke had told her annihilated the Jedi, was creating a secret (not that secret, obviously) army that would take over the galaxy and thrust everything into further darkness. Rey, realizing the incredible danger of such an event taking place, took it upon herself to stop him.
She wanted to go on the mission by herself but she had friends that would be with her “’till the end.” These friends were, of course, Finn, Poe Dameron, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO.
Their first stop would be on Pasaana where they would run into First Order troops and other more natural obstacles such as quicksand. During their time on Pasaana, she would heal a wounded serpent, highlighting once again her growing power with the Force. She would also, in trying to rescue Chewbacca from the First Order, shoot lightning from her fingertips, showcasing her true lineage and the potential of her frightening power.
The lightning would result in the transport Chewbacca was supposedly upon getting destroyed, sending Rey even deeper into the fear of her own power. As she continues on this adventure surrounded by her friends, she seems to grow farther and farther away from them as the fear of the Force within her begins to swallow her whole.
It doesn’t help matters when she continues to see and feel Kylo everywhere she goes. Finn tries to be a part of her life, to help her through whatever she’s experiencing, but she chooses to shut him out and deal with her problems herself.
Aboard Kylo’s Star Destroyer he tells her the truth of her parentage, a fact that she didn’t want to know but he relinquished anyway. She would ultimately learn that she was a Palpatine and that her evil grandfather killed her parents who were “nobodies because they chose to be.” (I see you Kylo Ren walking back your hurtful statement.)
Trembling with rage and the desire to see Palpatine destroyed, she managed to escape Kylo’s urging to join him in defeating Palpatine and left with her friends for Endor where the wreckage of the second Death Star resided.
There, a whole lot of stuff would go down. One, she would head out to the wreckage by herself, reiterating that she’s still that independent girl that had to find a way to survive on Jakku. Two, she had to find the Sith Wayfinder but not without first coming face to face with a haunting reflection of her evil self. Three, she would find herself once again reunited with her psychotic stalker-boyfriend Kylo Ren who she would end up fighting in a powerful lightsaber duel beneath the crashing waves surrounding the Death Star wreckage.
She, however, would be on the verge of lethal defeat by Kylo’s hand until Leia arrived to save the day. Rey, taking the opportunity to end Kylo once and for all, runs Ren through with his own lightsaber only to heal him when she senses Leia’s passing.
Brokenhearted and utterly tired of all of the drama, Rey returns to Ahch-To in Kylo’s Tie Silencer to hide from the galaxy just like Luke Skywalker did. But Luke arrives to help her on her emotional journey by letting her know that the galaxy needs her and that Ben will also eventually need her.
She would be gifted with Leia’s lightsaber as a token of goodwill by Luke Skywalker, as well as his X-Wing which he lifted from the water. With his blessing, she would go to Exegol and face her grandfather, Palpatine.
She was determined to kill Palpatine but after learning his dastardly plan to have her become an heiress to the throne by killing him (he should’ve kept his mouth shut) she was determined to do the exact opposite. He, of course, gave her an ultimatum. If she didn’t kill him he would destroy her friends.
And then…she saw him. Ben Solo. He had returned to aid her in the fight against evil but this time it was not a trick. The man she had grown to care for, the man she glimpsed beneath the raging veil known as Kylo Ren, had come to the light and she couldn’t have been happier.
Together, they would fight off the enemies preventing them from defeating Palpatine but once they tried to attack Palpatine the ancient Sith had other plans. He extracted nearly all of their life force, leaving them for dead as he became more powerful than ever before.
Half-dead but knowing that her friends and the galaxy desperately needed help, she called upon all of the Jedi and they responded by lifting her from the ground and aiding her in the fight against Palpatine.
With the Jedi filling her with their strength and their words, she was able to defeat Palpatine once and for all but in doing so she would end up dying.
Ben Solo, however, had other plans. Upon finding her, he held her in his arms and brought her back to life.
Not only had Ben arrived to help her fight Palpatine but he loved her so much that he literally raised her from the dead.
She loved him. She loved him for everything that he was as Ben Solo and she made sure he knew it by kissing him. To some, this scene may be icky, to the Reylo shippers this moment is easily one of the best moments in the franchise, but to me, I find it both jarring and heartening at the same time.
At the end of the day, however, the two Force-wielders would find love, but it would be at the end of Ben’s journey. Just moments after finishing the embrace, Ben would pass out and die, fading away into nothingness in Rey’s hands. Talk about a bittersweet ending!
After Palpatine’s defeat and Ben Solo’s unfortunate death, Rey would return to the Resistance base to find that her friends had survived. With tears streaming from her eyes, she hugged Finn and Poe tightly, relishing the family she had earned and almost lost in her attempt to discover her longing, not realizing that she had already found the family that would always be there for her.
The Rise of Skywalker ends with Rey burying the Skywalker lightsabers by Luke’s homestead, hence ending a chapter in the Skywalker story. She brandishes a new fiery-red yellow saber and smiles at the beautiful sunset, knowing that their legacy, Ben’s legacy, will live on through her.
Her story began in solitude but by the end, she had found the family she had always been looking for.
So, after this very extensive post showcasing the story arcs of the trilogies’ four main characters, whose story arc is the best? I’ve given this a great deal of thought but the character who I feel has the most concise storyline from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker is definitely Poe Dameron.
Finn and Kylo are close seconds but Finn was a bit sidelined in The Last Jedi for Rose’s inclusion, plus his Force-sensitiveness was left in the gutter and had to be forced into the final movie in a clearly constrained way that felt a lot less natural than his Force-sensitiveness in The Force Awakens. And Kylo’s story throughout the first two films feels complete and whole and then The Rise of Skywalker took away the internal conflict that made him so interesting in the first place and turned him into a creepy stalker throughout much of the third film until he predictably turned good in the end. And Rey was dragged through the wringer as the writers tossed her story back and forth in an emotionally draining way.
All in all, the third chapter in Rey, Finn, and Kylo’s journies could’ve been so much better and it’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a marvelous day. May the Force be with you.