Rey fulfilled Anakin Skywalker’s mission, serving as his chosen champion, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. When Qui-Gon Jinn discovered the young Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, he swiftly realized he was dealing with a child who had a unique destiny. Qui-Gon correctly deduced Anakin was the Chosen One, the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy. The exact text of this prophecy was a mystery until last year, when Claudia Gray’s novel Master & Apprentice finally revealed it. “A Chosen One shall come,” some ancient Force-user foretold long ago, “born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored.“
Fortunately, that isn’t the case. Anakin Skywalker may not have been mentioned by name, but in truth the sequel trilogy can be interpreted as the battle to define his legacy – and Rey is his chosen champion.
Kylo Ren Believed He Was Fulfilling Darth Vader’s Mission
It all begins with Ben Solo, who was brought up ignorant of his true ancestry. Ben grew up believing he was the grandson of Anakin Skywalker, with no idea his grandfather had gone on to become Darth Vader. He did, however, become increasingly aware the dark side of the Force had a profound influence on him. His sleep was often haunted by troubling dreams, and he was aware of voices whispering in his mind, guiding him down a dark path. Though he did not know it, this was actually Emperor Palpatine, subtly working in the shadows to corrupt him. Then, finally, the secret exploded into the open when Ben was in his early 20s. As seen in Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline, a Republic Senator publicly played a recording from Bail Organa, a message Bail had left for his daughter to tell her the truth about her parents. Ben Solo’s self-identity was thrown into doubt; he had believed himself to embody a legacy of heroism, but now that was cast into shadow.
Ben Solo fell into Palpatine’s trap, imprisoned by the dark side rather than ever freely choosing it, and in Star Wars: The Force Awakens he made it clear he believed himself responsible for completing his grandfather’s mission. In Ben’s view, Darth Vader had come close to fulfilling his destiny, but he had been unable to do so because of his sentimental attachment to his family. This is why Ben believed he needed to kill Han Solo; to break off those familial attachments and ensure he could not fail as Darth Vader had done. Of course, it’s unclear what exactly Ben believed Darth Vader’s Force-assigned mission to be in the first place; neither the films nor the tie-ins have really explained that yet. Certainly it involved ensuring the dominance of the dark side, though.
Rey Was Chosen… By Anakin Skywalker
Anakin Skywalker is never mentioned by name in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he is present nonetheless – from a certain point of view. When a Jedi constructs a lightsaber, they bond with it on a mystical level. As Luke Skywalker notes in the recently-published in-universe guide Secrets of the Jedi, “When you’re attuned to the Force, your thoughts and actions all become part of the same flow of energy, which is then directed through the kyber crystal and into your lightsaber’s blade.” This is why Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber is so important; it was bonded to Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, and his spirit could potentially continue to exert itself through it.
This has profound implications for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, because the lightsaber is literally key to Rey’s journey as a hero. In narrative terms, it is the lightsaber that calls Rey to adventure, and it is when Rey picks up the lightsaber that she receives Forcebacks – Force-inspired visions of the past – hinting how she fits into the Star Wars story. But it is entirely possible the lightsaber itself was not what was calling to Rey; rather, that it was Anakin Skywalker’s spirit doing so through it, summoning the girl he knew was destined to serve as his champion, to truly embody his legacy. Such a perspective transforms the sequel trilogy, and the conflict between Rey and Kylo Ren is reinterpreted as the battle over Darth Vader’s legacy. “That lightsaber,” Kylo Ren snarls, “it belongs to me.” He lays claim to his right to define what his grandfather stood for – but he is not the one Anakin has chosen.
The Last Jedi Reframed This Story
That brings us neatly to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the climactic duel between Rey and Kylo Ren on the Supremacy. This culminated in a desperate battle for possession of Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, with each attempting to draw it as their own weapon. At this point, symbolically Rey has sworn herself to the light side of the Force, and thus she attempts to define Anakin’s legacy in terms of goodness and hope. In contrast, Kylo Ren has finally committed himself to the dark side, even slaying Supreme Leader Snoke in order to take his throne. He defines Anakin in terms of the dark side, embodying the anger and bitter fury of Darth Vader.
But Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, an agent of balance, which is best viewed as a distinct aspect of the Force. His legacy is more complicated than either Rey or Kylo Ren understood, and any attempt to sum Anakin up as exclusively light or dark is a drastic oversimplification. Thus neither Rey nor Kylo Ren could rightly lay claim to Anakin’s lightsaber at that moment, in that duel, and instead it was torn apart by their competing claims.
Rey Finally Fulfils Anakin’s Legacy – And Serves As His Champion
Matters came to a climax in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, when Palpatine returned, having cheated death through ancient Sith sorcery. Rey was the only one who stood in his way, and at the moment she was close to giving in, she was encouraged by the voices of the Jedi who had gone before her. Most important of all, they included Anakin himself. “Rey,” Anakin Skywalker called out. “Bring back the balance, Rey, as I did.” He was reaffirming the call Rey had heard in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, finally confirming her mission was the fulfillment of his. Anakin brought balance to the Force by killing Palpatine, and now he had chosen Rey as his champion to restore the balance by doing the same. What’s more, he was with her in that final fight, when she used Anakin’s repaired lightsaber as one of two blades to deflect the Emperor’s lightning back at him.
In the end, a triumphant Rey looks set to restore the Jedi – but one inspired by the ancient texts, dedicated to balance rather than to light or dark. This is symbolized by her constructing a new lightsaber of her own, a yellow one muted from Jedi blue and Sith red, and claiming the surname “Skywalker” for herself. She has correctly interpreted the legacy of the Chosen One, and in doing so she will transform the galaxy.
Viewed from this perspective, the Star Wars sequel trilogy is actually all about Anakin Skywalker – and the battle to define him. The Chosen One was not merely a good man who fell, nor was he a bad man who once stood for something good; rather, he was an agent of balance, subject to both the light and dark sides of the Force, impossible to reduce to one aspect or another. As the star of the sequel trilogy, Rey is Anakin’s unwitting champion, gradually being positioned so she can accurately represent him and complete his mission. “A Chosen One shall come,” the prophecy foretold, “born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored.” Anakin fulfilled this prophecy in his death, when he sacrificed himself to save his son, and he fulfilled this after death as well, when he chose Rey as his weapon against the resurrected Emperor.