Rey's Lightsaberby Todd King, contributing writer
This time last year, it was "All Quiet on the Galaxy Front" because we were six months after the previous movie and six months before the next movie. That's where we are again now in 2017. In addition to that, we're two years away from the opening of Star Wars whatever-it's-called Land in Disney parks; that's assuming it will open in May like Disney has done with Pandora: The World of Avatar. The 40th anniversary of Star Wars has passed—although there are some very interesting articles at the official Star Wars website—so, now is a time of going-back-to-business-as-usual. For fans, that means some healthy speculation, anticipation, and evaluation, but a couple of little stories have come up recently.
A short time ago, the marketing and public relations at Disney and Lucasfilm stated that the lightsaber featured in The Force Awakens, the one Rey touched in Maz Kanata's "watering hole" and used in her duel against Kylo Ren, is now officially hers. Merchandising has already been referring to it in this way.
This new ownership has brought up some questions from fans and, in some instances, heated discussions.
This lightsaber, the most iconic and recognizable of most all Star Wars props, has a very interesting history on-screen. We know it was originally Anakin's lightsaber, although at the time it didn't seem all that special. In Attack of the Clones, where it first appeared, he kept losing it—once, dropping it in the air during a city speeder chase. Obi-Wan Kenobi implausibly retrieved it in mid-air and handed back to Anakin with the words, "This weapon is your life!"
Anakin later used that same weapon to slaughter a tribe of Tusken Raiders in a wrathful act of revenge for having kidnapped and tortured his mother. Later in the story, the same lightsaber was sliced in two pieces while he was avoiding obstacles in a droid factory. "Obi-Wan's going to kill me," said Anakin, making his supposed carelessness a running joke. Overall, there wasn't much of a bond between Anakin and his Jedi weapon.
We assume he built a new lightsaber (with the same design) soon after the events of Episode II. Anakin lost this one, too, but in a different way; and it was retrieved by Obi-Wan, but in a different way as well. This newly built one is the very saber he wielded in his fight against Obi-Wan Kenobi at the climax of Revenge of the Sith. Kenobi came out of that fight the better and took the lightsaber with him while leaving Anakin (now as the person of Darth Vader) for dead.
In a simple way, it was no longer in Anakin's possession. In a more complex view, it didn't belong to him anymore since at this point he rejected everything that was Anakin. If it was Anakin's lightsaber before, it wasn't Darth Vader's after that. Vader would build a new lightsaber again with a similar design but added a darker style and a red blade. The old blue lightsaber then could be considered a symbol of his old persona, a reminder of the time when he still had the potential for good in much the same way the japor snippet he gave to Padme served as a reminder of his young and generous nature. Padme took it with her to her grave.
Obi-Wan Kenobi passed the lightsaber on to Anakin's son, Luke, and it then presumably became his. This transferreflects the passing down of the sword Excalibur in Arthurian legends. Arthur's father was often a rash and egocentric king. But his heir would get the sword and hopefully use it for good. Luke was the heir of this laser sword and it was the one he wielded in his fight against Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. But Vader was the one who came out of that fight the better and cut off Luke's strong hand sending the lightsaber tumbling down a pit. It was only after it was gone that Vader revealed Luke's true parentage. So far, that lightsaber hasn't brought much good fortune to its owner. Luke did have a connection to the saber but only because of his father, and that connection was fairly shaky from the outset.
Somehow, by the time of The Force Awakens, this same lightsaber, thought to be gone forever, came to be in Maz Kanata's possession. How did that happen? This question had better be addressed in The Last Jedi.
The lightsaber by now is all but cursed. It mysteriously calls to Rey, and as soon as she touches it she has a nightmare vision of death and abandonment… again, this vision is something that better be addressed in The Last Jedi! When Maz prompts her to take it, it's because it has called to her and the Force is awakening in her, it should be hers. She doesn't want it. After that vision, who would?
If it's now more than just a relic and carries with it some other form of memory or power, then that could be traced to all the events and hands that it has touched. Even though Rey refuses to keep it, Finn tries to use it—twice—and both times, nearly gets sliced in two pieces. Perhaps it is cursed. Eventually, Rey calls it to her and even though Kylo Ren attempts to get it using the Force, it seems the lightsaber will only answer to her—and finally, someone comes out of a fight the better for using it. She summons the Force, injures Kylo Ren, saves Finn, escapes from Starkiller base in the Millennium Falcon, and finds Luke Skywalker. Mostly good things have happened since she accepted the mantle of the Jedi. So yeah, it's hers.
We see Rey training with this lightsaber in the trailers for The Last Jedi so it seems she will be continuing to use it. It's also possible that upon offering back to Luke Skywalker, as at the end of The Force Awakens, he refuses to take it back. Perhaps he wants nothing to do with his past. Perhaps he realizes the object has a mysterious power to itself that will now only answer to the commands of Rey. If these ideas play out in the next movie, it will make me think that it is leading to some kind of ownership/connection to the weapon in a similar way that wands choose the wizards in the realm of Harry Potter. In those stories, witches and wizards have a magical connection to their wand and that only their wand will respond to them in positive ways. When a character wields a wand that isn't theirs, it doesn't work properly and doesn't truly obey the spellcaster.
In fact, true wand ownership is an element of Voldemort's eventual downfall. He relied too much on the material object to bring him power when he could never achieve such a power, because the nature of magic in this world wouldn't allow it. It was his folly, his backward belief that simply having the best wand would ensure his immortality.
For a moment in The Force Awakens, it seems Kylo Ren believes in such ideas, since he greatly desired the lightsaber that Rey managed to acquire. Kylo Ren even kept Vader's old charred mask, believing a power to emanate from it to help lead him to the dark side. But the nature of the Force in this world wouldn't allow it. Maybe that's what the balance of the Force is all about. Those who seek ultimate power will simply lose it because it cannot be obtained. Funny, I think Emperor Palpatine himself said something like that to Anakin at some time.
One point that fans bring up about this being Rey's lightsaber is that the construction of one's own lightsaber in the world of Star Wars has been thought of as a rite of passage for a Jedi. This idea may have some merit, but being a Jedi involves much more than building one's own weapon. In Empire Strikes Back, Yoda never really trained Luke with it; he trained Luke in the most important ways of the Jedi such as mindfulness, defense, passivity, and knowledge. Rey may have her own lightsaber now, but if The Last Jedi has Luke passing on the vital tenets of the Jedi, and it seems like that will be the case from the trailer, then possessing this legendary lightsaber will only be part of what will make Rey realize her full potential for good.