I’m still loving the Rogue One trailer so, so hard. I want to fall asleep in it. I want to answer every question with “I rebel.” I want to put the alarm klaxon on my phone so I can play it whenever I walk into a room. I’m in love.
Is Jyn Rey’s mom? Let’s hope to God not. It would be terrible. Why?
1) The Timing
Given enough time and resources, I could possibly scour the internet to figure out an exact timeline for the seven Star Wars episodes released so far. But I don’t have that, so we’re going to spitball a little. We’re instead going to cobble together some crowd-sourced facts to piece this together. What we know for sure is the Rogue One takes place shortly before A New Hope, and that Jyn at that point is older than 15. Older enough, in fact, to establish that she’s going to continue being on her own. This is not a 17-year-old who might be taken in vy the Severs and allowed to live in the apartment above the garage. Let’s just say in order to make this theory possible that Jyn is roughly the same age as Leia making her about 19. We also know that Kylo Ren was born about a year after the Battle of Endor, and is therefore about 10 years older than Rey. Meaning that Leia had her kid around 25 while Jyn waited until she was 36 to pop hers out. So far everything seems cool.
Oh, that’s right. What the fuck happened to Mon Mothma then?
To be clear, I’m not critiquing her looks themselves. In any movie, she looks good and I would kill to rock that haircut. But in Rogue One she looks like this:
And four-ish years later, she looks like this in Return of the Jedi.
That’s some Presidential-level accelerated aging there.
Or what realistically happened is that the actress who played Mothma in Jedi was 50, while the actress who is playing her in Rogue One is 38. It’s simply a matter of the real life production interfering with our ability to disbelieve. But maybe the life cycles in Star Wars isn’t the same as in our world. Maybe they age at different rates at different times and have life spans wildly different from our own. Irrelevant. If we perceive something that seems to be wrong, it affects our suspension of disbelief. And it’s only going to get worse if Jyn is Rey’s mom because of …
2) The Complications
If there is a single thing more researched and documented on the internet than the Star Wars stories, I don’t want to know about it (and I imagine it’s porn of some kind). But connecting Rogue One, and therefore the additional anthologies, this intimately to The Force Awakens is going to create problems. Having all of the anthology stories loosely connected to the central 9 means that the various writers and directors have a little more room to play. Some general facts will need to line up, but you won’t have to keeping Rowling-ian levels of notes in order to avoid making mistakes (like not making sure you cast an age appropriate actress so some asshole on the internet doesn’t write a list criticizing you for it). And the added wrinkle of relating Jyn and Rey is counterproductive to the point of the anthologies. It’s not supposed to be about the group we already know. It’s supposed to be about new people. People whose stories we want to learn specifically because we already know so much about the core group. Reveling Jyn as Rey’s long lost mother isn’t just repetitive (hey there, Luke and Vader), but it’s terrible storytelling. And most importantly …
3) It’s Sexist.
Come on. This is a sort of Think Piece on Rogue One. You had to know that sexism was going to come up eventually. The Force Awakens was plagued with its own form of “Rey’s a Mary Sue” sexism. Some (asshole) critics nitpicked every single thing Rey was able to do. She can pilot a ship! She can fight! She knows how to use the Force! Aside from those all being characteristics of every Star Wars character (seriously, isn’t flying a ship just like driving in our world? Would you have to stop a movie every time a woman drove a car to demand that she prove how she learned to drive?), the implication is that female characters don’t learn how to do anything unless we have a reason to. Otherwise we’re simply passive bystanders waiting for the action to happen to us. Even though we know enough about Rey’s backstory to understand that she would need to learn to take care of herself. Too many people thought it was unreasonable to have a female character that was a badass who knew shit.
And the “answer” that Jyn is her mom solves all of those problems. Oh, sure! Of course that’s why Rey is tough! She was born that way! This theory doesn’t explain how or why Jyn gets to be tough, but it does mean that Rey still isn’t the one responsible for her own skill set. She didn’t mean to be self-sufficient, it’s just in her genes! And also it’s complete bullshit. Female characters don’t need to constantly be explained any more than male characters. Why did Han learn how to become a smart-ass, smuggling pilot? Because he wanted to. Why did Luke want to get off of Tatooine? Because moisture farming sucks. Why could Rey handle herself throughout the movie? Because dying on a strange planet as an abandoned child sucks, and our girl was too good for that.
Granted we’ll have to wait around to find out who is actually responsible for making Jyn baddass, but at this point, I’d put my money on either “some dude” or a “Mary Sue.”