Stage 3: Rey’s Return
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” — Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
As Starkiller explodes, Rey and Finn race through the dark woods back to the Falcon (THE ROAD BACK). But Kylo, though severely wounded by Chewie, blocks their path. He is a SHADOW and a GUARDIAN at the RETURN THRESHOLD. Kylo taunts them, saying that Han can no longer save them. Rey tries to shoot Kylo but she is flung violently back into a tree by a Force push and is knocked out.
Finn ignites the Skywalker saber and Kylo demands he hand over the saber as it “belongs” to him—another relic of Anakin-Vader, like the burnt mask. Finn valiantly fights Kylo but is outmatched and soon loses, left wounded and unconscious.
Kylo struggles to call the Skywalker saber to him with the Force, but it suddenly flies past him into Rey’s hand—a literal SEIZING OF THE SWORD. Rey now accepts the legacy of the Force that has been presented to her, finally answering the CALL.
Rey and Kylo fight as the ground collapses around them, but even though he is wounded, Kylo is too powerful and Rey is driven to the edge of an abyss created by the crumbling planet. She is at the brink of DEATH.
Kylo tries to tempt her to the dark side, wanting to become her new MENTOR. But his own words about the Force cause Rey to focus, as Maz instructed her, and she draws upon the Force, driving Kylo back with a burst of strength, severely wounding and disarming him. In the novelization, Rey almost kills Kylo, hearing the CALL of the dark side, but she pulls back before the ground opens between her and the crippled Kylo.
Rey has accepted her destiny and defeated the SHADOW (for now), but Finn is still injured and there is no visible escape from the imploding planet. All seems lost despite her victory.
Then, suddenly, Chewie returns in the Falcon (a RESCUE FROM WITHOUT) and they all escape just as Starkiller explodes, ironically transformed into a new star.
Rey is metaphorically RESURRECTED, ready to meet her Jedi MENTOR and no longer held back by her fear.
Back on the Resistance base, Rey has an emotional moment with Leia (a mother figure as Han was a father) and they embrace. They both feel the loss of Han and, though they have never met, they have a connection through the Force—as J. J. Abrams has explained.
Through trial and loss, Rey has gained the ability to seek out Luke and enlist his aid to help the galaxy once again. With the final piece of the map that was hidden in R2-D2, Rey (having inherited the Falcon and Chewie as co-pilot) finds Luke’s place of self-exile, an island like the one she had been imagining back on Jakku.
At the end of the first adventure of her Journey, Rey becomes a HERALD, issuing Luke a CALL TO ADVENTURE by offering him the lightsaber that symbolized the start of his own first adventure; a call for Luke to RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR and aid a galaxy in desperate need of the Jedi. However, he does not take the saber and his feelings are left ambiguous, open for the next film to explore.
EPILOGUE: REY’S FUTURE JOURNEY
The initial adventures of Luke, Anakin, and Rey all represent a complete cycle of the Hero’s Journey, though each with endings that promise a larger story to come. However, each film in each trilogy is also just one part of a larger three-stage Journey of SEPARATION, INITIATION, and RETURN. Anakin failed the Journey in the Prequel Trilogy (transforming it into a tragic negative of the Journey) and his arc was not completed until Episode 6.
The Force Awakens was Rey’s SEPARATION phase, following her departure from her Ordinary World and her first steps within the Special World. In her INITIATION phase (Episode 8), we can expect Rey to be greatly tested, facing a dark truth about herself and/or others that will test her attachment to the light side of the Force. And in her RETURN phase (Episode 9), she will either overcome this and find victory, or fall as Anakin did, possibly to find redemption or a tragic end in a fourth trilogy.
Though she found a surrogate family in The Force Awakens, Rey’s deep desire for belonging will likely be a weakness exploited by Snoke and Kylo to seduce her to the dark side.
Perhaps Luke will hesitate to train her and Snoke will try to lure her to his side with open arms of acceptance as his strongest apprentice yet, possibly causing Kylo (who is on his own “Villain’s Journey”) to reconsider what his father said about Snoke using Kylo before throwing him away, setting him on a path to some kind of redemption, or at least a plan of revenge to destroy Snoke.
Luke and Anakin were both tested by their attachments to friends and family, though it was ultimately Luke’s attachment and selfless love for his father that redeemed Anakin. Anakin’s strong emotions were twisted into an unhealthy, selfish attachment due to his fear of letting go and a desire to use his great power to control death itself. Palpatine saw this weakness and manipulated him into this mindset. No doubt Snoke will do something similar to Rey, but will she fall or hang on to the light?
Written by Chris Miller
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973. Print.
Vogler, Christopher. “The Memo That Started It All.” Storytech Literary Consulting. GODADDY.COM, LLC, n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.
Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. 3rd ed. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 2007. Print.Powered by Sidelines