Part of the allure of the Star Wars saga is the speculation in which fans get to partake in the downtime between installments. Many questions remain after each movie. Most are eventually answered either on film or in supplemental media. But many of the smaller details are overlooked. These are the details that intrigue me. Perhaps in analyzing these smaller details, in developing a story behind them, we can begin to form a narrative that would reveal, in part, what's in store for us in the future. This article will attempt to answer the following questions, and piece together a comprehensive theory about the revitalized and reimagined Disney franchise:
- Who is Lor San Tekka, and why is he more important than we know?
- Who are Rey's parents, and why is she so naturally gifted?
- How did she end up in the "care" of Unkar Plutt?
- Why is Luke so eager to abandon his friends and the New Republic?
- Who is Snoke, and how did he rise to power?
I think in order to answer these questions, we first need to explore the origin of the map seen at the end of The Force Awakens. Just as it was the catalyst to kick off the events in Episode VII, so, too, I believe it is the key to unlocking this theory.
The Origin of the Map
For starters, let's take a look at the complete map showing the route to Ahch-To and Luke Skywalker. In this completed map, we are shown a point of origin, a navigable chart, and a termination point. Just like a pirate's treasure map, all three of these elements are necessary in order to find the final destination. If I buried a treasure, it would be pointless to tell you to walk north 20 paces, turn northeast 40 paces, turn south 10 paces, and then start digging, unless I also told you, "Start at the giant boulder near the mouth of the river." All good treasure maps need a point of origin, a navigable path, and an X to mark the spot. And that's exactly what we see here.
This is an important point because it shows that this map is very specific to finding Ahch-To. It's not just a general star chart of a remote region of the galaxy, of which I would assume there are thousands. Chances are it is the ONLY navigable route to get there. Now the map that Artoo has shows the point of origin and part of a route, and the map that BB-8 has shows the rest of the route and the final destination. The two maps are a perfect match, and either would be useless without the other — they are two halves of a heart-shaped pendant. Likewise, both of these partial maps would be useless with any other chart. As mentioned above, we need all three elements of the completed map in order for it to work.
This also applies to the First Order. The map inside BB-8 would only be useful to the First Order if they had in possession a partial map identical to the one inside Artoo. That implies that the map possessed by the First Order and the map stored in Artoo's memory originated from the same source. Now we already know from various sources that the partial map in possession of the First Order was recovered from old data left by the Empire. So why did the Empire have an incomplete map?
My theory is that the map was not of Imperial origin, but was recovered by the Empire from the Jedi archives on Coruscant after the execution of Order 66. To date, the most complete map of the galaxy that we have been shown is the one Obi-Wan researched in his hunt for Kamino. Remember when Jocasta Nu said, "If an item does not appear in our records, it doesn't exist?" The Jedi had every confidence that their information was comprehensive. Even Master Yoda was puzzled when he realized at least one record had been deleted. So if we assume that the Jedi records were complete, except the deleted Kamino files, we can safely bet that Ahch-To had an entry in the Jedi archives as well. Did the Jedi know what was there? Probably. The fact that there was a specific route illustrated on the completed map implies that the planet had been explored. So why was the map recovered by the Empire fragmented?
After the execution of Order 66 and Anakin's subsequent massacre at the Jedi temple, the first people to arrive were Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Bail Organa. We never see it in Attack of the Clones, but there are numerous examples throughout history detailing what to do when your organization is defeated by a powerful enemy: destroy all intel. Yoda and Obi-Wan are no dummies, so I imagine they would follow a similar protocol. The issue is they didn't have a whole lot of time. They would have had to prioritize. So the question now is, why would the Ahch-To file be a priority? Why would they have preserved the record, albeit fragmented, instead of simply destroying it? What could be so important about the Ahch-To that would cause Obi-Wan and Yoda to retain it and Luke to seek it out decades later? We'll revisit that later.
An Old Ally
Before we delve any deeper into the importance of Ahch-To and the first Jedi temple, I feel we should discuss a little about Lor San Tekka. Two things lead me to believe Lor San Tekka is more critical to the story than we know, other than the fact that he made the opening crawl and is played by the great Max von Sydow: Rey and the map. Star Wars is chock full of coincidences that are hard to accept without suspending disbelief. One can argue that the Force has been guiding things along, but the fact that Poe, BB-8, Lor San Tekka, the map fragment, Rey, the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo, and the First Order all converge at the same place at the same moment in time is a stretch, even by Star Wars standards. So let's assume that these things have all happened for a reason. What could that reason be?
To begin with, let's try to figure out how the map fragment came to be in Lor San Tekka's possession. What do we know as fact about Lor San Tekka? Based on information from the official site's databank, Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, and Episode VII itself, we know that Lor San Tekka:
- was a legendary adventurer and traveller.
- explored the most remote fringes of the galaxy.
- helped Luke recover secret Jedi lore after the Battle of Endor.
- was a follower of the Church of the Force.
- was familiar with the royalty on Alderaan.
- witnessed the Jedi Knights before the Clone Wars.
- uncovered much of the history of the Jedi Knights that the Empire wanted destroyed.
- was not Force sensitive, but had witnessed its power firsthand.
- believed that the Jedi would return.
- valued an antiquated data storage unit worn inside a plain leather pouch.
- helped the Republic and Resistance.
- knew Ben Solo well enough so that Solo also remembered him.
And that's pretty much the extent of our knowledge. We can guess that he was born around the same time as Anakin Skywalker in order to remember witnessing the Jedi in action before the Clone Wars, so he is probably about 75 when he is killed by Kylo Ren. Based on the fact that the Knights of Ren massacred the Jedi about 14 year prior to the events in The Force Awakens, when Rey was only five, we can assume that the last time Ben Solo and Lor San Tekka saw each other, Ben Solo was at most 15 years old.
So how did Lor San Tekka come to be in possession of such an important piece of data saved by the Jedi and never recovered by the Empire? Three possibilities come to mind:
1. Yoda and Obi-Wan hid the map fragment somewhere in the galaxy that Lor San Tekka later found. Problem with that is that we want to eliminated wild coincidences, and finding essentially a thumb drive in the middle of a galaxy of billions of systems is about the biggest coincidence there is.
2. Obi-Wan or Yoda kept the map fragment and handed it down to Luke. Luke then traded the map fragment to Lor San Tekka in exchange for the other half that eventually ended up inside Artoo. Earlier in life, San Tekka could have recovered the same map data from Imperial records the same as the First Order. This, however, does not explain why San Tekka ended up on Jakku with Rey, the Falcon, etc. so we still have issues with unlikely coincidences. Plus with Luke's resourcefulness, it is likely he could have recovered the Empire's portion of the map on his own.
3. Obi-Wan and Yoda gave the map fragment directly to Lor San Tekka, and he's been keeping it safe all along. I believe this is the most likely scenario. But wait! Why would the Jedi give the map fragment to Lor San Tekka?
If we consider that the complete map originated in the Jedi archives, we might also ask where the Jedi obtained such complete records. So here is the first part of the narrative:
After witnessing the power of the Jedi as a boy, San Tekka hopes to become a Jedi himself. But unfortunately, he is not Force sensitive. Lor San Tekka still admires the Jedi and lives a similar lifestyle. As he gets older, he offers his services to the Jedi, which they are happy to accept. The Jedi commission San Tekka and others to scout and explore unknown regions of the galaxy. In this capacity, San Tekka discovers Ahch-To and reports his findings to the Council. He is, after all, familiar with the Jedi and has witnessed the power of the Force firsthand.
The Jedi decide to set up Ahch-To as a last refuge should the Sith emerge victorious. Despite their arrogance, the Jedi are at least smart enough to create a redundant system. They copy all their records and store them in the first Jedi temple on Ahch-To. And what better place to keep a backup than a secret island that is the birthplace of your Order? This is why Yoda and Obi-Wan consider Ahch-To a priority. After the execution of Order 66, Yoda and Obi-Wan scour the Jedi archives, removing as much important intel as possible in their limited time. Since Yoda is presumed dead, forcing him into exile, and Obi-Wan has godfather duties to Luke, and since Lor San Tekka is loyal to the Jedi and already knows its location, Bail Organa hires San Tekka to return to the first Jedi temple with a few trusted followers to stand watch over the Jedi lore stored there and prepare for the eventual return of the Jedi. This is the origin of a literal Church of the Force of which San Tekka is a follower. This is the same lore San Tekka later helps Luke recover, and the map fragment is obviously the antiquated data storage unit he has kept safe for years.
Return of the Jedi
Let's go back for a moment to Artoo's map. What we're told in The Force Awakens is that after the Empire is defeated, Luke takes it upon himself to rebuild the Jedi Order. Several years after his work begins, his nephew Ben Solo arrives to begin his training. About 14 years prior to the events of Episode VII, Ben Solo and the Knights of Ren destroy Luke's academy from within. Luke isolates himself from the rest of the galaxy and tells those closest to him that he has gone to search for the first Jedi temple.
A couple things bother me about that. First, how does Luke even know about the existence of the first Jedi temple to know to go look for it? Second, what is so important there that he abandons his friends and the Republic to find? And third, why would he have to go search for the Jedi temple when he already knows where it is?
I believe the answer to all three questions is obvious: Luke started his Jedi academy at the first Jedi temple on Ahch-To.
Let me elaborate. Once the Empire is defeated, it is clear that Luke is instructed by Kenobi and Yoda to rebuild the Jedi Order, but what we don't know is where Luke's academy was located. So why couldn't he have gone to Ahch-To instead of any number of other places? What location would be better? This is the most secret place in the galaxy. It is arguably one of the most Force-filled locations in the galaxy. And it obviously has history with the Jedi Order since the original Jedi took root there. And after all, there is evidence Luke already knew the location of the first Jedi temple prior to his disappearance, despite the fact that Han said he had gone to search for it. The mere existence of Artoo's map implies Luke knew where he was going before he left. How does one have a map to a specific location if one does not know one's destination beforehand?
So if San Tekka is involved as theorized above, it's no stretch that Yoda and Kenobi could reveal the location of Ahch-To to Luke, that everything he will need is housed in the first Jedi temple, and that an old ally is there waiting for his return. Lor San Tekka assists Luke in recovering the Jedi lore there. During this time, San Tekka openly helps Luke and the Republic scout and recruit new potential Jedi. They bring the new recruits to the island blindfolded or otherwise sequestered so the location remains a secret. Not even Leia knows where Luke's academy is hidden. Since Artoo is Luke's navigational droid, the location is partially uploaded into his memory. Lor San Tekka retains the missing piece just in case.
In this capacity, San Tekka meets Ben Solo. The conversation between Kylo Ren and Lor San Tekka implies a very personal history. If we consider Ben Solo's age when he turns to the Dark Side (15), and assume Ben Solo's age when he first begins training with Luke (anywhere from five to 10), then it makes logical sense that San Tekka knew Solo during the time when Solo was in Lukes tutelage. San Tekka serves in this role until Kylo Ren massacres the new Order, escaping to Jakku in the process.
So How Does Rey Fit Into All This?
The origin of Rey is something that will be debated until we see something concrete onscreen. My favorite theory is that Rey is the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the daughter of Luke Skywalker. There are countless sites citing evidence that she could be related to either. I believe her proficiency with the Force is evidence that she is related to both. I understand reservations that Obi-Wan would never violate the Jedi code, but after Obi-Wan arrives on Tatooine with Luke, he is rebuked by the Lars family. Loneliness is a tough pill to swallow, and if The Clone Wars cartoons are to be believed, we know he's been willing to sacrifice his vows for love before.
So during Obi-Wan's time on Tatooine, perhaps four years or so after his arrival, let's assume he eventually tires of his isolation and seeks companionship. The Jedi are effectively extinct, plus he realizes that Anakin's turn to the Dark Side was facilitated in part by the Order's embargo on personal attachment, so he figures "why not?" After his wife dies in childbirth, a grieving Obi-Wan realizes that he can no longer fulfill his oath to watch over Luke and be a good father. He also fears for his daughter's safety if she is discovered no less than he fears for the Skywalkers' safety. So he decides to live the remainder of his life as a hermit, and send his daughter to the safest, most secluded place he can think: the original Jedi temple to be raised as an acolyte in the Church of the Force by Lor San Tekka.
Kenobi's daughter would then be about 18 years old when Luke arrives. At some point after his arrival, the two all in love. Rey is born on the island, which she remembers vaguely in her interrogation the The Force Awakens, about five years before Kylo Ren's massacre. She is a natural. But Ben is jealous of his cousin's natural ability. Ben decides to augment his own power by experimenting with the Dark Side, communicating remotely with Snoke (more on that later) to learn its secrets. He and his closest friends in the academy begin practicing the dark arts, eventually forming a fraternity known as the Knights of Ren. When the Knights finally decide to succumb completely to the Dark Side, as instructed by Snoke, Ben has second thoughts. Despite his misgivings, he assists his brothers in wiping out the entire New Jedi Order while Luke is away, even going so far as to kill Rey's mother, whose grave marker we may have already seen.
But just as one of the other Knights is about to deliver the death blow to Rey, Ben has a change of heart. He kills at least one of his brothers, as seen in Rey's vision, and tells Rey to run. She runs to find Lor San Tekka, and the two escape to Jakku as previously instructed by Luke. The Knights regroup, and stand victorious.
But the Knights' victory is short-lived. Luke returns and defeats what is left of the Knights of Ren. He kills a few, but manages to capture the rest, including Kylo Ren. The Knights are loaded onto a transport and returned to Hosnian Prime to stand trial. Because they arrived on the island in secret as children and depart from the island as prisoners, the secret location of Ahch-To remains intact.
While on Hosnian Prime, Luke speaks briefly with Han and Leia about the events that transpired at Luke's academy. The Knights are arrested and imprisoned. Luke tells Han and Leia that he is leaving to go in search of the first Jedi temple, but borrows the Millennium Falcon from Han to set one last thing in order, leaving a sleeping Artoo behind. Luke pilots the Falcon to Jakku where he meets back up with Lor San Tekka and Rey. Luke entrusts Rey to Unkar Plutt, and entreats Lor San Tekka to watch over her from a distance. Luke then barters the Millennium Falcon to Unkar Plutt for an unmarked ship in which he returns to Ahch-To. He later contacts Han one last time to apologize for stealing his ship, and tells him, "If anyone asks, just tell them Ducain stole it." But why Unkar Plutt?
The Battle of Jakku took place about a year or so after the Battle of Endor. It was the last major battle of the Galactic Civil War to overthrow the Empire. I would assume that Luke fought his last battle there. In that battle, perhaps he saved the life of a certain overlord, and is owed a debt of gratitude for that act. It's not the first life-debt we've seen in Star Wars. Despite Plutt's demeanor, he grudgingly accepts Luke's terms, even reinforcing Luke's lie about Ducain and the Falcon. Rey's life is not an easy one, but at least she is healthy and under the protection of one of Jakku's top bosses.
Enter the First Order
Once the First Order hears rumor that the Jedi are all but extinct once more, their first act of open defiance is to free Kylo Ren and his Knights from Republic imprisonment. This, along with the Republic's lack of action, is the event that sparks the formation of the Resistance. Han Solo and Chewbacca take on the long-term mission of searching the galaxy for Luke, the Falcon, and Kylo Ren, taking on the mantle of smuggler once more.
The only thing that bothers me about the theory so far is Luke's willingness to abandon his friends and the Republic. He risked everything to save Han and Leia on Cloud City. He would not simply allow the Republic to crumble, to allow Han to die so unceremoniously. He would not abandon his own child on a remote planet when he could have just as easily hidden her on Ahch-To by his side. Unless there is a reason. And it's not just to guard the Jedi archives. We've already established that the Jedi archives can be guarded by just about anyone. Lor San Tekka and his followers protected them for 23-24 years before Luke even showed up. So what could be so powerful, so dangerous, that Luke felt a personal responsibility to protect it?
"If Skywalker returns, the new Jedi will rise." —Snoke
This is the part that relies the biggest leap of faith. Before the formation of the Jedi, the original Force users in the Star Wars galaxy belonged to the Ancient Order of the Whills. We don't know a whole lot about the Whills, first mentioned as a subtitle to the original Star Wars novelization. George Lucas's original idea for the Whills was to introduce a race of god-like, immortal beings. The concept of the Whills eventually turned into the Force, and the race was abandoned. But Disney has been keen on revisiting some of the old concepts and artwork from the original trilogy. Might Snoke be a Whill turned evil, the original evil in the galaxy that fought with the Jedi even before the formation of the Sith? For argument's sake, let's assume he is.
In this revisionist history of the Jedi, let's assume the Jedi were taught to use the Force by the Whills. One of these Whills, Snoke, turned to evil and unleashed a reign of terror on the galaxy. The war lasted for ages, but Snoke was eventually subdued and imprisoned for eternity on an island. To guard and protect this prison, the Jedi built and inhabited a temple around it.
But Snoke was not so easily defeated. He communicated telepathically with all those who would listen, eventually turning some of the Jedi to evil — the Sith. The island was eventually abandoned, lost to history. There Snoke remained, occasionally able to communicate remotely, silently influencing the actions of the Sith, the Empire, and eventually the First Order. For he belonged to the literal First Order, possessing powers we have yet to see.
Due to proximity, Snoke's influence was minimal — until Luke decided to rebuild the Jedi Order. By selecting Ahch-To as his training location, he inadvertently disturbed Snoke. Snoke was able to influence some of the new Jedi, and his plans for escape were almost realized when he seduced Ben Solo and the Knights of Ren. But they were defeated by Skywalker and a few surviving Jedi. Snoke is now bent on escape, and he continues to govern the First Order from deep within his cell. Only two things stand in the way: the secret location of the temple, and Luke Skywalker himself.
Just to recap, below is a rough timeline of the events concerning Rey's history (using the Battle for Endor as an epoch):
45 BBE: Anakin Skywalker born on Tatooine; Sifo-Dyas commissions Kaminoans to build clone army; birth of Lor San Tekka
36 BBE: Invasion of Naboo; appearance of Darth Maul; Jedi discover existence of Sith; Anakin delivered to Coruscant
27 BBE: Discovery of Ahch-To by a young Lor San Tekka; Jedi informed of First Temple's location; Count Dooku leaves the Jedi Order
26 BBE: Clone Wars begin in earnest; Palpatine granted emergency powers; Jedi begin moving archives from Coruscant to Ahch-To
23 BBE: Order 66; Darth Vader commits first Jedi massacre; rise of the Empire; birth of Luke and Leia; Yoda exiled to Dagobah; Obi-Wan exiled to Tatooine; conspiracy formed between Yoda, Kenobi and Organa
22 BBE: Bail Organa bankrolls the formation of the Alliance; Lor San Tekka commissioned to return to Ahch-To; Lor San Tekka gathers followers of the Church of the Force to inhabit and guard the first Jedi temple
18 BBE: Kenobi weds on Tatooine
17 BBE: Birth of Kenobi's daughter; death of Kenobi's wife; Kenobi's daughter sent to Lor San Tekka on Ahch-To
4 BBE: Battle of Yavin; Death Star destroyed
1 BBE: Battle of Hoth
Battle of Endor: Death of Anakin Skywalker
1 ABE: Birth of Ben Solo; Battle of Jakku; Luke Skywalker's last battle; Skywalker saves Unkar Plutt; Unkar Plutt owes Skywalker a life debt
2 ABE: Luke Skywalker instructed to rebuild the Jedi order on Ahch-To; Skywalker meets Kenobi's daughter; Skywalker and San Tekka begin secretly recruiting new Force users
4 ABE: Skywalker and Kenobi's daughter fall in love, eventually marry
6 ABE: Ben Solo's thoughts troubled by Dark Side tendencies (perhaps under telepathic influence of Snoke); Ben Solo sent to train with Luke
6-11 ABE: Luke continues to build new Jedi Order, scouting the galaxy and bringing new recruits to the island secretly; Ben Solo learns quickly, but his mind is still conflicted
11 ABE: Rey is born on Ahch-To
11-16 ABE: Rey quickly learns the ways of the Force, surpassing even her cousin; Ben Solo is jealous; formation of the Knights of Ren; continued telepathic communication with Snoke
16 ABE: Second Jedi massacre; Knights of Ren victory short-lived; escape of Rey and Lor San Tekka to Jakku; Knights of Ren defeated, captured and delivered to the Republic to stand trial; Luke Skywalker uploads fragmented map into Artoo, borrows the Millennium Falcon to rendezvous with San Tekka and Rey; Skywalker instructs San Tekka to keep a distant watch over Rey, and supresses her memory so that she cannot accidentally remember her identity; Skywalker barters the Millennium Falcon to Unkar Plutt and leaves Rey in his care to fulfill his debt (Plutt does so grudgingly); Skywalker returns to Ahch-To
17 ABE: The First Order frees Ben Solo (now publicly Kylo Ren) and his Knights from their imprisonment on Hosnian Prime; formation of the Resistance; Han Solo accepts the long-term, secret mission to locate both Skywalker and Kylo Ren under the guise of a smuggler
17-30 ABE: The First Order scours the galaxy and any remaining records from the Empire to piece together a map to Ahch-To; Lor San Tekka's location remains a mystery; Rey's identity remains hidden
30 ABE: The First Order learns of the location of Lor San Tekka and realizes it finally has the missing information to find the Jedi temple; San Tekka contacts the Resistance, knowing his fate is already sealed; Rey inadvertently leads the First Order directly to Ahch-To because she pilots the easiest ship in the entire galaxy to track...
Update (March 9, 2016):
So I've discussed this theory at length with many people in the Star Wars online community. Most seem to enjoy the theory, but feel that it would require too much exposition to set up. I took that as a challenge and came up with a few script pages that could allow for this theory to happen and only requires a few spoken lines. These are obviously not real, but it was a fun project. If a conversation like this were to happen early in the movie, it would set up a later conversation regarding Rey's history, as she is the other escapee alluded to by Luke: