11 Burning Questions from 'The Force Awakens'

After seeing the film, you'll want these burning questions answered.

Major spoilers ahead. Don't read this page until after you've seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You've been warned!

The Force Awakens is a movie that demands conversation. Because as much as it revealed (such as Kylo Ren's true identity), it posed even more questions that went unanswered. Let's see how many we can identify -- and maybe even answer a few.

01
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Who are Rey's parents and why did they abandon her on Jakku?

Daisy Ridley as Rey
Daisy Ridley as Rey. Lucasfilm Ltd.

When Rey was a young child, she was dropped off on the planet Jakku with instructions to stay put, lay low, and wait for them to return. She waited there for around 15 to 20 years.

As anyone with kids knows, circumstances would have to be incredibly extreme to make you drop your daughter off in a strange place and leave her there indefinitely. So what could have been so dire for her parents? And who were they, anyway?

The most popular and obvious theory going around is that her dad is Luke Skywalker, and that he dropped her off around the time that Ben Solo turned evil and murdered the rest of Luke's students, becoming Kylo Ren. The timing more or less fits, and it's entirely believable that Kylo murdered Luke's wife during that same massacre. (See #10.)

This theory requires that Han and Leia know nothing of Luke ever having a daughter, but if he was operating far away from galactic affairs at his Jedi Academy, it's possible he could have kept his daughter's existence a secret from the rest of the galaxy -- even from his sister and oldest friend.

Luke was severely anguished and changed by his perceived failure with Ben Solo, so his motivation for leaving Rey on Jakku might have been twofold: to hide her from Kylo Ren, who'd made it his mission to hunt down his former master, aka "the last Jedi"; and because he was so distraught by Ben Solo's turn to the Dark Side that he believed his own daughter would be better off without his influence, lest she turn as well.

Of course, Luke is just one possibility, but for now he's the one that makes the most sense.

02
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How did Maz Kanata come into possession of Luke Skywalker's original lightsaber?

Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata
Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata. Lucasfilm Ltd.

It was passed down from Anakin to Luke, until Luke lost it when his hand was cut off on Bespin, where it fell, presumably into the gas giant planet. How do you extract a lightsaber from a planet made of gas?

I'm thinking it has something to do with its status as a Force-powerful artifact. We witnessed its power when it called to Rey and she touched it; it unlocked Force-fueled visions and memories in her. Perhaps someone else who's Force-sensitive found it in a similar way.

But how it wound up in the care of Maz Kanata, in the basement of her castle on Takodana, is a novel or a comic book waiting to be written. (For that matter, Maz must have had plenty of adventures over her 1,000+ year life. And what species is she?)

03
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Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?

Concept art of Supreme Leader Snoke
Concept art of Supreme Leader Snoke. DK Publishing

We finally got some glimpses of him in The Force Awakens, but they were few and brief. Andy Serkis' CGI-rendered character obviously follows the Emperor Palpatine mold of irredeemable evil. But who is he?

Where did he come from? What species is he? Is he really as big as the holograms made him appear, or was that a magnified image? (I'm thinking he's big, but maybe not that big.)

He's obviously old, he's strong with the Force and the Dark Side, and there were some serious scars on his face. In fact, one whole side of his face appeared to have caved in. To have amassed the kind of power he has (he commands the First Order), he would have to have been working at this for a long time. (Remember, it took Palpatine decades of manipulation to form the Empire and become its Emperor.)

So could he somehow be someone we've met before? Some fans are convinced he's Palpatine's old master, Darth Plagueis. At the very least, it's likely he's someone who was affected by folks we've met in the past. Maybe he was an aid or admiral for Palpatine. His power with the Force would have made him a rival to to the Emperor, though. Plus, we don't even know if he's a Sith.

According to the Star Wars Database, Snoke "has no permanent base of operations, preferring to contact his underlings from a mobile command post."

04
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Why did Ben Solo turn to the Dark Side?

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Lucasfilm Ltd.

Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader because of his love for and fear of losing Padme Amidala. Adam Driver is giving Kylo Ren far more complex, conflicted emotions than Hayden Christiansen was allowed to portray on screen, so Kylo seems like a much more layered baddie.

What caused him to turn to the Dark Side? Was he always weak-willed and drawn to power? Or did Snoke tempt him to the Dark Side some other way?

Like so many other things on this list, Ben Solo's fall to the Dark Side is a story waiting to be told.

05
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Who was Lor San Tekka?

Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka
Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka. Lucasfilm Ltd.

Max von Sydow's character only got a few minutes of screen time, but he made a strong impression.

He was a trusted ally of Princess Leia, and knew all about the Jedi. He was one of two individuals (the other being R2-D2) possessing pieces of the map that would lead to Luke Skywalker's super-secret hiding place. He even knew Kylo Ren's true identity.

So who was he?

The Star Wars Database provides a few answers:

"A legendary traveler and explorer, Lor San Tekka is a longtime ally of the New Republic and the Resistance... Following decades of adventure, San Tekka retired to live simply on Jakku, where he follows the dictates of the once-forbidden Church of the Force."

Legendary traveler? Decades of adventures? Church of the Force??

(Wait, what? There's a Church of the Force??)

Dear Lucasfilm, we need a Lor San Tekka novel, stat.

Some fans have speculated that we could meet a younger version of San Tekka in 2016's Rogue One, which is set just prior to A New Hope.

06
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Who are Finn's parents?

Finn
John Boyega as Finn. Lucasfilm Ltd.

This may or may not be a mystery we're meant to dwell on. It's not clear at this point.

The movie makes mention of Finn having been taken from his parents at a very young age and placed in Stormtrooper training/conditioning. Actor John Boyega had a line about having never known who his parents were, and having no memory of them.

It's only a question worth pondering if one of his parents were, against all odds, someone we'd recognize. But The Force Awakens already leaned on a few improbable coincidences; this could be one too many.

07
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Who and what are the Knights of Ren?

The Knights of Ren
The Knights of Ren. Lucasfilm Ltd.

In case you didn't pick up on it, The Force Awakens is just the first act in a very carefully-constructed three-part story that's being overseen with great attention to detail by the Lucasfilm Story Group.

The fact that J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan introduced the Knights of Ren in The Force Awakens but provided no details about them, was not a random, throwaway act. Whether in an upcoming episode or via some other medium, we will learn more about who the Knights are, where they come from, and what they want.

Until then, we wait.

All we know right now is that Kylo Ren is their leader, or "master," as Snoke put it.

08
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Did Kylo Ren survive Starkiller Base's destruction?

Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren, and General Hux
Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren, and General Hux. Lucasfilm Ltd.

The fates of the three main human baddies in The Force Awakens -- Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Captain Phasma -- were left unresolved by the movie's finale. But this is one we do have the answers to now.

Kathleen Kennedy told the media at the London premiere that every cast member from The Force Awakens would return for Episode VIII, which begins filming in January. Some fans have read that to imply that even Harrison Ford would be back, despite the tragic demise of Han Solo. (In the rules of the Star Wars universe, the only way that could happen, narratively speaking, is in a flashback. So maybe we'll rewind and see some of Ben Solo's relationship with his parents.)

Kylo Ren, Hux, Phasma, and even side characters like Maz Kanata, survived The Force Awakens and will be back in 2017.

09
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Who exactly is the First Order? And the Resistance?

Starkiller Base
Starkiller Base. Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Star Wars Database says that the First Order "plotted a return to power, fleets, and armies in secret," in the Unknown Regions, a largely uncharted quadrant of the galaxy. The First Order is made of "former Imperial officers, nobles, and technologists."

Needless to say, their massing of power and construction of Starkiller Base were illegal acts, but apparently the New Republic refused to believe the distant reports that remnants of the Empire were plotting anything. (It came back to bite them when the Starkiller destroyed Hosnian Prime, the capitol of the Republic.)

Leia Organa, however, believed the reports to be true. Against Republic wishes, she founded a private army intended to monitor and stop the First Order from taking over the galaxy. Although the Resistance gets funding from a handful of senators that believe in her cause, most of the New Republic looks down on Leia's Resistance for refusing to let go of the past.

Their attitude should be drastically altered by the destruction of the Senate.

10
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Who was Luke mourning on that island?

Skellig Michael
The island Skellig Michael in Ireland. ash_crow / Flickr

It's easy to miss, because in the movie's final scene, the focus is on the reveal of Luke Skywalker, riddled with guilt when Rey finally finds him. But upon second viewing, I noticed something that others had also seen.

When Rey first comes upon Luke, he's standing over a grave. Watch closely, and there's clearly a tombstone sticking out of the ground to his right (or our left). Who do you suppose would be important enough, among all of the students and friends Luke lost to Ben Solo's betrayal, that he would single this individual out as the one he mourns the most?

The obvious answer is his wife. If it's true that Rey is his daughter, then Luke's wife was undoubtedly Rey's mother. Following this line of thinking... Do you suppose she was killed in Kylo Ren's massacre? Or could she have died more recently, from other causes? Luke's emotions still seemed pretty raw.

11
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How was Rey able to master the Force so quickly?

Rey opens fire
Rey opens fire. Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rey smacked down Kylo Ren quite satisfactorily in the film's best action scene. And she did it by accessing the Force in what appeared to be a very intuitive way. I see two possible explanations here.

1. Rey received training from Luke at his Jedi Academy before she was deposited on Jakku, and she was remembering things she'd learned long ago.

2. Rey is a very special and very powerful Force user, maybe even at Yoda's level or someone similar.

Various Jedi and Sith have shown special aptitudes for different Force abilities in the past. Ezra Bridger on Star Wars Rebels has the rare gift of being able to connect to other living beings and influence them, mentally and emotionally. Kylo Ren can extract information from a person's mind, and render them unconscious with a touch.

Similarly, Rey could be some kind of Force-strong savant, capable of instinctively using the Force and allowing it to guide her. That's not to say she doesn't need training, but she would likely pick it up much faster than the average Padawan.

The movie itself contains evidence to support this notion. Throughout the entire story, Rey shows exceptional talent at multiple skills -- some of which she's never attempted before. She was able to flip the Falcon around to let Finn destroy a TIE Fighter when the guns became stuck in place. She was able to fix the Falcon multiple times. She took down several Stormtroopers the first time she ever picked up a gun, never missing a single target. She escaped single-handedly from Kylo Ren and Starkiller Base.

There's another possibility, however.

With Luke in hiding, Leia having never undergone Jedi training, and all of Luke's students having been killed... What if the light side of the Force itself has been dormant for years? Rey's "awakening" could be more significant than any in centuries. As the first Jedi in the galaxy in years, the Force itself could be having a profound reaction to her presence.