A Disturbance in The Force (Awakens): Part 2 – Finding Fault with Rey

Posted: January 4, 2016 by patricksponaugle in Movie Review, Opinion, Star Wars
Tags: , ,

This post will be talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In particular, plot points surrounding Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey. Should you not want to be spoiled, stop reading.

As the title suggests, this post is the second of a series of posts, dealing with a specific source of criticism of the movie. The full explanation can be found here.


Don’t Rain on my Rey Parade

As I explained previously, I’m planning on talking about various elements of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by examining the 40 allegedly unforgivable plot holes that Professor Seth Abramson recently published on the Huffington Post. Although it might seem as if I’m just a fanboy defending a movie I like (which is partly true)  I’m also hoping to explain some insights into the characters/elements that seem to have been wildly misunderstood by some. (By some, I mean Professor Seth Abramson.)

Five of his 40 unforgivable plot holes dealt mostly with Rey, so I’ll list them here and examine their validity. If this doesn’t interest you, skip down a ways to where I give my thoughts on the young forceful scavenger.

4. Rey becomes nearly as effective a Force-user in a few hours as Luke Skywalker did in a few years

Hell yes, she does. Or so it seems.

Rey, with her natural Force talent, is a mystery. Kylo Ren claims she’s strong with the Force, but untrained. But her expertise in using the Jedi mind-influencing power implies some kind of former knowledge or training.

I feel this is more of a question to explore before it can be considered an unforgivable plot hole. But I get what Abramson is putting forth. I just think I might be more on the patient, forgiving side.

7. Rey, who has never left her home planet since she was a child, can speak Wookie. Nobody can speak Wookie — it’s a running joke in the Star Wars universe. But Rey being able to speak Wookie surprises neither her, Han Solo, nor Chewbacca himself.

Rey does tell Finn that while she’s piloted craft, she’s not been off-planet, if that’s what Abramson means by ‘home planet’.

Although I don’t know what that has to do with her speaking Wookiee or not.

I don’t recall Rey ever speaking Wookiee in the movie. Speaking is a far different thing than comprehending. For example, I’ve never heard Han Solo speak Wookiee. But he understands it.

Assuming that Abramson actually means understand when he says speak, I don’t know where it’s established in the original trilogy or the prequels that nobody can understand Wookiee (again, if that what’s he’s getting at.)

In the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi  apparently has a conversation in the background of the Mos Eisley cantina with Chewbacca before Old Ben has to chop up some unruly buttheads.

In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda and a force of Clone Troopers are on the Wookiee homeworld fighting the Separatists.


Two armed groups that are pretty cool with each other.

I find it hard to believe that the Republic forces could just casually be fighting a war alongside Wookiee auxiliaries if they couldn’t communicate.

And, unless I was hallucinating, Chewbacca was having a delightful conversation with a Resistance nurse in The Force Awakens who certainly appeared to be understanding him.

As a plot hole, this doesn’t hold water. Or rather, doesn’t let water leak out? Because it’s not a hole?

The only time I can recall Rey interpreting Chewbacca was when this happened. (I’m paraphasing from memory, so feel free to correct me…)

Rey: You came back for me!
Chewie: Raaaaarrrr… (nods head towards Finn.)
Finn: What did he say?
Rey: He said it was your idea.

I’m not even sure Rey would have to literally understand what Chewie was saying to get that gist. It seemed clear in context (maybe just not to Finn. That adorable lunk-head.)

But even if Rey and Chewie started having long conversations with hard core technological gobbledygook, would that be a plot hole? People have conversations like that in the Star Wars movies All The Time. I just seems like Abramson has some unsupported assumption about the Star Wars universe that is at play here. And therefore isn’t valid.

25. Why does Plutt offer Rey 250 times her usual pay for BB-8 and then, when she says “no,” simply tell some of his heavies to just steal it? If Plutt is enough of a baddie to order it stolen at all, why not just steal it from the outset instead of first offering some random urchin the biggest financial windfall she’s ever seen?

Well, for starters he didn’t have his goons at hand when the initial deal was going down, he had to use a communicator to call them. Also, it’s a bad idea to crap where you eat, if you know what I mean. His business relies on being the go-to-guy for scavengers to bring stuff, and there are probably lines he’s not willing to publicly cross.


Oh BB-8! I’d never trade you for a mountain of food. Unless you get on my bad side. So don’t do that.

I don’t know why we have to assume that a shady character automatically goes to the extreme. Buying the droid is worth the investment of 60 portions. (Which is actually 240 times her usual pay, not 250 times. Professor Abramson is an Associate Professor of English at UNH, not Math.)

Abramson defines plot holes as logical inconsistencies. I’m not exactly sure what he thinks is logically inconsistent in Plutt trying to purchase the droid peaceably, with the option to resort to stealing rather than let the droid go. If it had been established that Plutt was the type of criminal that by default takes what he wants then maybe it would be a plot hole. That hypothetical side of Plutt wasn’t demonstrated at all in the movie, and so would only be a matter of speculation.

Not a plot hole in any way.

29. Who trained Rey to fight with a staff as effectively as she does, given that (a) she is an orphan with no friends or family, and (b) she has never been in a battle, but is, rather, merely a scrap-metal scavenger?

a) Orphans with no friends or family usually have to fight to survive.
b) Why assume that scavenging is a pacifistic activity? It seems to be a profession where knowing how to fight, to protect one’s loot from other scavengers, is a required skill.

Who trained Rey how to fight? (Assuming anyone did, explicitly.) We don’t know who trained Poe to fly his X-Wing. Why is it required to know who taught Rey how to fight with her staff? Does it need to be justified?

Is it because she’s a girl or something, that this question is being asked? (Okay, maybe I shouldn’t accuse the professor of a double standard. It just something that popped into my mind.)

Abramson accepts that Rey was taught to fly a spacecraft (or at least he doesn’t question it), but has an issue with Rey using a staff? I don’t quite get that. Not a plot hole.

37. If basically everyone in the Galaxy knows the Force is not a myth — for instance, every single Stormtrooper in the First Order, who has seen Kylo Ren use it or heard tell of him using it; every single person in the Resistance, who knows the Resistance is looking for Luke Skywalker; every single person in the Republic, which was first established in part by the heroism of the Jedis — how is the existence of the Force a total shock to Rey? Jakku is sheltered, but as we know from the film (cf. Lor San Tekka) there are many people on Jakku who either have seen the Force first-hand or heard first-hand accounts of it from visitors to the planet.

Abramson is asserting that there’s a point in the movie where Rey is shocked that the Force exists. I’m pretty sure that the three times I saw the movie, I did not notice any point where Rey was totally shocked that the Force existed. Or shocked even a little bit.

So I’m trying to understand what he’s talking about. Any ideas?

Rey does say she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth. That doesn’t seem enough to justify what Abramson is saying. Was it when Han told Rey and Finn that everything that they’ve heard about the Force was real? At no point did Rey go “WHAAAAT???”

Was it when Finn asked Rey how she escaped? Rey tells Finn that she can’t really explain it, but that still doesn’t really justify Abramson’s claim.

So, not a plot hole.

My thoughts on Rey

So, Rey’s actually been trained in the Force, right? That would explain her Jedi mind trick, her ability to pull the lightsaber to her, her overthrow of Kylo Ren in the duel during the finale. That knowledge seems to be inside her, but pushed back into her subconscious for some reason, until confronted by Kylo Ren.

She either imagines the location where Luke Skywalker is to be found or she remembers it. Kylo Ren sees it in her mind. The question is, was she one of the Jedi acolytes that Luke was training before the apprentice-gone-bad turned on Luke? (The assumption is that Ben Solo was the apprentice-gone-bad. That has to be confirmed, but it seems likely.)

We need to eventually discover why she was left alone on Jakku (apparently with Unkar Plutt), who it was who left her, what happened to her parents (Maz Kanata implies that they’re not coming back, which usually means they’re dead.)

And why she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth, when they appear to have a strong connection.

Is Luke Skywalker her father? I’m not willing to go that far. I’d prefer otherwise, but that’s just my preference.

I love a mystery, and I love the character of Rey.

She’s a little bit Luke, and a little bit Han Solo. She’s a little bit like Princess Leia, if Leia had gotten herself out of the detention block of the Death Star on her own.

My daughter has strongly connected with Rey as a character, which I think is wonderful.

I felt that the movie did a masterful job highlighting Rey’s lonely existence on Jakku, scrounging for junk, dealing with Plutt, waiting for someone to come and welcome her as their own. There’s a lot going on.


It’s hard not to talk about Rey and also leave out the other characters, like Finn and Han Solo, but I’ll be getting to them soon enough. (And I’ll talk more about Rey later. Particularly when we get to Kylo Ren.)

Next post, I’ll examine Seth Abramson’s alleged plot holes and my thoughts on the outstanding Stormtrooper FN-2187.

Comments are welcome. Super welcome!

Images from The Force Awakens, obviously. (And Revenge of the Sith, for the Wookiee image.)

I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there. Except for the plot hole quotes that Seth Abramson had in his HuffPo article. Obviously I make no claims to that text, and encourage you to read his entire work there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved

  1. S. John Ross says:

    While I think Abrams’ usual limitations as a director dragged the film down in places, overall I really liked TFA, and I especially liked Rey.

    I think “Professor Seth Abramson” is mostly hot air, and so the only thing I don’t understand about this post is: why bother giving him time of day? There’s much to celebrate in The Force Awakens … and you don’t need Professor Seth Abramson to help you do it, IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure.

      But I want to. Which is all the justification I need

      He makes some really weird claims, and I find it useful as something to express my own thoughts.

      I had thought about summarizing/paraphrasing his points, but that felt dishonest, and since I’m using so much of his text, I felt it necessary to link to his original article, for attribution.

      My readership isn’t large enough to significantly increase his exposure, since he’s being published on the Huffington Post, so I don’t feel like I’m giving someone on the fringe disproportunate representation.

      I hear what you’re saying about Abrams, and when I get to my complaints in around 3 more posts, I’d be happy if you’d share your thoughts.

      Thanks John, always great hearing from you.


  2. Lea Ault says:

    My daughters have decided that Luke Skywalker is Rey’s father. They feel it’s totally obvious. I can’t shake them from this conviction. Because Star Wars is really just a big family epic, right? (My arguments had no credibility because I’d assumed that Finn was dead when really he was ok, durr, Mom). So, that decided, for them the big question is, who might her mother be? Luke never seemed to have any interest in women (besides his own sister, ew).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be ungentlemanly of me to argue with your daughters (especially because they could very well be right.)

      I’m so glad to hear that your daughters are coming up with theories. (You can tell them that my dad is convinced Rey (Dad kept calling her Reya) is Luke’s daughter.)

      Great hearing from you, Princess/General Lea. 🙂


  3. chattykerry says:

    I read some dire reviews so decided to wait until we can rent it at home. Once I have seen it (and I am sure I will like it) I will come back and reread your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *Cue Darth Vader voice*


      See it in the movies! On a big screen!!!!!

      Or wait for it for rental, I respect your decision. But I need to Force choke your dire reviewers who have scared you off.

      But please come back and read my reviews, I always enjoy hearing from you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chattykerry says:

        I know it would be better big screen but the crunching and fidgeting drive me to homicidal thoughts…:) We will love it, no matter what the critics say. I think I am just old – early bird dinners are very appealing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Abrams, Abramson … hmmm. This character has a history we haven’t been privy to yet. I see another familial lightsaber duel in the not too distant future.

    Anyway, you’re spot on. Some of Abramson’s criticisms of Rey make me wonder if we saw the same movie. Others have some substance, but he incorrectly interprets the film as The Whole Story. Rey is a mystery. We’ll learn more about who she is and how she does what she does in coming films.

    I’ve seen another fan theory that she’s Obi-Wan’s granddaughter. Or both Luke’s daughter and Obi-Wan’s granddaughter. I dunno. I remember all the wild guessing we all did when Star Wars and Empire came out (“Maybe Darth Vader lied! Maybe he’s not Luke’s father at all! The Emperor is a clone of Obi-Wan, and that’s why they called it The Clone Wars!”). We were pretty much wrong about everything.

    I go with the Luke connection on the flimsy evidence that she’s an awesome pilot at a young age, and so was he.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was a HUGE fan of the theory that Darth Vader was a clone of Anakin Skywalker.

      A lot of the ambiguity in The Force Awakens was deliberate, so Rian Johnson (the director of Looper and who will direct the next Star Wars movie) could have a free hand to chart the story. JJ Abrams was brought in to kickstart the next trilogy, so he set up the framework.


  5. jennnanigans says:

    4. Rey becomes nearly as effective a Force-user in a few hours as Luke Skywalker did in a few years

    Something I read over on i09 suggested that the Force Itself was teaching Rey how to use it – after all, there was a First Force-user at some point and it’s likely that’s how it went down before the Light/Dark sides became a thing. Now that the Force is stronger than before it seems that it might be reaching out to people adept at using it and teaching them directly, in the absence of a master.

    I do think she was an apprentice of Luke’s that he hid, but I’m not on board with her being his daughter. More likely I think he trained her and then something happened that made him decide to hide her. And since she was dumped among scumbags and villains she learned FAST how to take care of herself. Desperation is a powerful teacher, so I have no problems accepting that she picks things up faster than Luke.

    SO MUCH to discuss! That’s been my favorite thing (besides Kylo Ren being dreamy) about these movies – the awesome discussions that are going on among the fans! Good on you for making an awesome place to talk about it! 😀


    • I’m intrigued by the idea that Rey is being touched by some personification of the Force, teaching her what to do. That would make her very Korra-like (from the Legend of Korra, the Avatar after Avatar Aang, the misnamed Last Airbender.)

      I hope you like my upcoming Kylo Ren post. (It’s okay if you don’t, we can still talk about it.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kas says:

    I love Rey so much! She has such a mysterious side, a badass side, and a witty/clever side while also being young without being the stereotypical young girl you see in movies/books/etc. She seems very intuitive, which makes me think that either she has some special connection with the force or she was one of the ones Luke was training. I’m hoping he hid her because he saw her power and knew she needed to live in order to fight later. Maybe he was waiting for her to finally find him to continue her training in secret or something.

    My spouse said, “What if Leia and Han had twins?” I was like, “No! Don’t even! The way those two spoke about their son was not in a way that they would speak if they had a second child.”

    No idea…but some of the “plot holes” in the HuffPo article seem more like an impatience with the mystery built up around her, which is what many of us have found intriguing and are waiting to learn the answers to. And where did she learn to fight with the staff? Come on! So many characters (including ambassadors) in Star Wars can fight and handle themselves in battle, did he question them all?

    I remember thinking of a few plot holes myself but I can’t remember what they were. Sometimes there are plot holes, but I don’t find them unforgivable. I love simple plot lines and can forgive a few inconsistencies so long as the characters are good and the story is good and I just find myself having a good time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, her parentage is so mysterious! And I agree that unless someone gave them amnesia, or there was an extremely compelling reason to keep that truth from her (and never talk about her ever ever) it’s doubtful that she’s a daughter of Han Solo. But I feel that there’s some kind of connection between Ben Solo and Rey. I can’t figure out what though.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Denise says:

    I couldn’t believe that Rey wasn’t revealed to be related to someone at the end. I am no Star Wars buff, but even I realise that everyone is related.
    My first thought on seeing her on screen was “10 year ago, she might have been played by Keira Knightley and that would have been annoying.”
    Chewbacca’s resistance nurse – are you talking about the character played by Harriet Walter? Whenever I see immense Shakespearean figures with two lines on a big film, it makes me wonder whether they had to audition.


    • I think that The Force Awakens was intentionally ambiguous. Han never says that it was his son who turned against Luke, specifically, as one example. In case Rian Johnson wants to make what happened during the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens a bit more complicated. This way they don’t have to tip their hand on Rey’s parentage yet.

      Yes, I didn’t know her name, but I knew she was a Lady on Downton Abbey.


  8. Haylee says:

    Ooh he’s a bit of a nit picker this professor isn’t he? Whilst I’m all for scrutinising / analysing films its usually because I love them and have to know the inner workings of everything. He just seems so negative and a waste of time. That said, you counter argued very well and Rey rocks! In a time when everyone and their dog is about slinging out ‘positive female role models’ she really is one in my opinion. I love that she’s feisty and vulnerable in one go. Ive personally not met anyone who doesn’t like the character / actress. Girls want to be her, boys want to be with her. So your daughter is bang on target – does this means she’s given up on Lawrence though?! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree Rey is a great character & a big step forward, but she’s also a classic Mary Sue – everything she tries works out fabulously well–whereas the charm of IV & V is exemplified when Luke was impatient, Solo screwed things up or his Falcon stuttered. I’m surprised Abramson did not point out that Rey goes from barely able to pilot the Falcon off the ground to flying it *through another starship* – after (presumably) never having flown the thing before? One has to assume she had time on the Falcon to 1) know it was ‘garbage’ (else where’d that opinion come from) and 2) understand the controls enough to see the ‘compressor on the hyperdrive.’ That still requires much suspension of disbelief to think she could up & drive the thing through another starship *and* outrun a tie fighter doing it. I hope future features show some vulnerabilities in the character or she’ll become yet another superhero. Marvel we have enough of….

    Liked by 1 person

    • If we step aside from talking about the Force for a moment, piloting is the only thing Rey is unexpectedly good at, but she makes references to being a pilot, to having flown but never been off planet. She’s spent time on the Falcon with Plutt, since she complains to Han about all of Plutt’s poor decisions in regards to the ship.

      She’s about as good with a blaster as farm boy Luke was in Star Wars, so it’s hard for me to consider her small arms skills unbelievable for her archetype.

      It’s really her connection and flow with the Force that is inexplicably superior, or at best yet to be explained. It’s definitely a question for the next movies.

      But, and let me step back from my breathless defense of Rey, my daughter’s favorite character. You do point out that it’s hard to expect someone never to make mistakes and be great at everything. She does screw up by releasing the Rathtars, but that turned out to be a plus, more or less. I know that the movie makers didn’t want to make her a damsel in distress, which I really appreciated, but hopefully it won’t be so on-the-nose in the future movies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed, that more character in a character is better and we both hope it comes in the future for Rey. As far as the force making your path forward magically better though…does not jive with the work Luke had to put in with Yoda.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, Luke was just untrainable. BOOM!

          Okay, I kid. I kid. My gut feeling is that Rey was trained when she was young (which is when cranky Yoda likes to train his padawans) but we’ll need some compelling backstory to justify that connection going forward.

          I’ve also heard that we’ll discover that’s she something like a vessel for the Force, but that seems a bit too much for my liking. They’d have to really pull it off for me. But I’m a fan of Avatar (the last airbender) and Buffy, so in some ways I’m trained to accept young people being connected to an unexplainable force.


  10. If someone is looking for an excellent exploration of a street orphan learning to take care of themselves, they should read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Then perhaps they can not question Rey learning to fight with one of the most easily accessible types of weapons out there… a long pole. That was my only thought that wasn’t already covered by you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] A Disturbance in The Force (Awakens): Part 2 – Finding Fault with Rey […]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sue Archer says:

    I kind of hope Luke’s not her father, either. Great rundown, Pat! I don’t have an issue with her staff or piloting skills, although I did wonder how the Falcon would just immediately fire up when it looked abandoned. I don’t think my car would be that cooperative. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. J.Q. Ronan says:

    I agree that there are a lot of questions about Rey that need to be answered, but I’m glad you still appreciate the character. She’s powerful, capable, and successful, but she still has underlying weaknesses–from her hesitance around accepting the lightsaber and its responsibilities to suffering from severe loneliness–that help will help round her out and make her struggle in the next films.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, thanks for reading this old (relatively speaking) post. I love Rey as a character, and I owe Daisy Ridley a huge debt for getting my daughter excited about Star Wars. Rey is The Central Focus for her, Star Wars-related.

      Thank you again for leaving a comment, and we totally share the same appreciation for the character and her story.

      Liked by 1 person

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