-Everything in my first review I said about how there were a few too many echoes of Episode IV is rubbish. Those echoes (starting off in the desert; Resistance/Rebellion vs. First Order/Empire; Giant mega weapon blowing up planets needs to be blown up) exist to set a specific context and tone for our heroes’ journeys and to serve as a backdrop for how DIFFERENT they are than the OT heroes. Finn, Poe, and Rey are NOT Luke, Han, and Leia, and that makes all the difference.
-The problem I had with too many open questions at the end of my first viewing quickly evolved into having a great time speculating. Why does it seem Han knows Rey? Why does Kylo Ren take such interest in a “girl” helping Finn and BB-8 to escape? What power does Snoke still hold from Kylo, only offering to “complete his training” AFTER Kylo commits patricide? JJ’s Mystery Box has me harkening back to days in grade school puzzling over Yoda’s declaration of “No, there is another.” Subsequent viewings have become an archeological dig for clues and red herrings, and it’s really a great time.
-Rey is as surprised at her progress as anyone around her, right down to discussing briefly with Finn how she’s not even sure how she was able to pilot the Falcon through the Graveyard of Giants. It also seems she is seeing the future; when Kylo Ren interrogates her he sees an ocean with an island; this is after she has already touched the saber, so is it a blast from the future and the film’s last scene…or is it a memory and she has been to Luke’s hideout before? For that matter, is the vision of Kylo and the Knights of Ren standing in the rain a flashback to the purge Kylo led against Luke’s Academy, or a view of the future where Rey will stand against them all?
-The sun above Starkiller Base going black as Kylo snuffs out the light within himself to kill Han is a beautiful dramatic moment. Indeed, is Starkiller Base an allegory for Ren himself? It destroys the Republic (kills Han), fails to kill the final target (Rey), and collapses into a burning ball of rage when defeated.
-Given that though, I am now quite convinced that Rey is Ben Solo’s sister, daughter of Han and Leia (whom they believe is dead, but begin to suspect has returned), and that when the Knights of Ren destroyed the Jedi Order, Ben could not bring himself to kill his sister, and HE hid her on Jakku as she suppressed her memories of what had happened. Ben/Kylo wants to hide the fact he left the girl alive from Snoke, and it is why he becomes so very interested in both the mysterious “girl on Jakku” before he captures her, and in converting her once he has.
-Folks who can't deal with Rey defeating Kylo in a saber duel: SHE IS THE HERO AND HE IS THE VILLAIN. IT IS HER MOVIE. THE TITLE IS ABOUT HER. Enough said.
I will have another viewing Monday night; we shall see if any more clues emerge! In the end though, multiple viewings really do improve this film, and it wiggles its way into the Star Wars canon very well. It is not like episodes I and IV however, films that stand alone; this is the 7th in a series, and perhaps that is exactly how it should be.