This absolutely contains some spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven’t seen it, you probably want to abandon ship.
In things that will surprise no one, I really loved Rey.
Based on early trailers and still photos, I suspected I would, but yes, I super-adore her.
What may surprise you is this: I don’t give a fuck whose kid she is. It will be fascinating, I have no doubt, but beyond her genes, Rey is her own person. She doesn’t have to be Someone Special’s Daughter for her to be interesting. She doesn’t need a last name to be smart, quick, and capable.
I love that our first glimpse of her is when she’s wearing a mask. Masks have a long and storied history in Star Wars, concealing identity as well as physical condition. Vader wore one to hide himself away — and then in order to live. Kylo Ren wears a mask because he longs to follow in Vader’s footsteps. Boba Fett was masked. Of course stormtroopers are masked — no sense in your army having faces or humanity! And even Leia was masked, when she donned the disguise of Boushh. And now, so too Rey. Rey wears hers for exceedingly practical reasons, given she lives in a desert.
Even with her mask on — and her last name unknown — we are shown who she is. She is a scavenger who seems to go where others dare not, into the bowels of the great ships that long ago crashed on Jakku. She eats in the shadows of fallen AT-ATs (was she living inside an old frame? I don’t remember.) , and rescues droids from annoying traders.
Having only seen the film once as of this writing (gasp!), I am unclear on whether she was left with someone when she came to Jakku as a kidlet. I am presuming yes, but when we meet her, she’s living on her own. She isn’t making an ideal living, turning metal and parts into the local dealers for hydratable bread (how cool was that), but even when presented with a wealth of food in exchange for the random droid that’s befriended her, she refuses. You don’t need to know her last name to learn something about her from these actions.
We see her envisioning her life to come, watching an older scavenger work through the same tasks Rey herself does. And just as she wonders is this all there will be, will I always be waiting, she is given cause to not wait. When the opportunity to Do Something arises, she goes, without question.
She has spent her life scavenging, learning what is valuable, and how to make what is broken into what may be valuable. I want to know how she learned to fly, I want to know what it felt like to go into the fallen ships for the first time; I want to know if she built her speeder. I don’t immediately care whose kid she is.
She befriends a panicked Finn and a lost BB-8, offering Finn her hand when she was vexed by him taking her own. I wonder if she’s ever had friends — and I suspect not, based on her wonder when Finn et al, come looking for her. She was only ever left — no one came back — until now.
And that’s when we get to see some of that desert mask fall away.
We get to see Rey be Rey. And Rey? Is pretty damn wonderful.