How the heck did 'Rey Nobody' beat Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens?

10 October 2023
The lightsaber duel between Rey and Kylo Ren in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" sparked a myriad of discussions, debates when The Force Awakens was first released. One comment that encapsulates this collective bewilderment came from an online user who had watched the film three times: "How does someone who just discovered her Force abilities defeat someone with prior training in the Force?" Indeed, the light sabre-wielding nephew of Luke Skywalker?

It's a question that has led to various fan theories, academic discussions, and even heated arguments. Therefore, it's crucial to dissect the multiple layers that contribute to Rey's victory in this iconic duel.

The film doesn't waste time in establishing Rey as a formidable individual. In the early scenes set on the desert planet of Jakku, Rey is accosted by two masked assailants. She doesn't flinch or flee; instead, she skillfully uses her staff to neutralize her attackers. 

This isn't just a random skirmish; it's a narrative device that deftly foreshadows her capabilities.

kylo ren

Her combat skills are not magically acquired; they are the result of years of hardship, surviving in a hostile environment where every day is a battle. These skills provide her with the agility, reflexes, and tactical thinking necessary to engage in a lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren, who has been trained in the dark arts of the Force.

An often-overlooked factor in the duel's outcome is Kylo Ren's physical condition. The film takes painstaking efforts to showcase the devastating power of Chewbacca's Bowcaster. This weapon is not your average blaster; it has the kinetic force to send stormtroopers flying upon impact. After the emotionally charged moment where Kylo Ren kills his father, Han Solo, Chewbacca shortly thereafter lands a direct hit on him.

Kylo Ren absorbs the full brunt of this blast, and while his ability to remain standing is a testament to his resilience and strength in the Force, the injury is severe. 

When he catches up with Rey and Finn, blood oozes from the wound, staining the snow beneath him, and he is seen pounding his chest in an attempt to fight through the pain. This is not a minor detail; it's a significant handicap that levels the playing field.

Kylo Ren is not just battling Rey; he's also waging war within himself. The act of patricide—killing his father, Han Solo—is not just a plot point; it's a cataclysmic event that shakes the very core of his being. He is torn between the light and dark sides of the Force, a dichotomy that has been a part of Star Wars lore since its inception.

And he also used a bit of energy in the initial tussle with Finn.  

This internal struggle is likely affecting his concentration, making him susceptible to errors and lapses in judgment during the duel. Furthermore, Supreme Leader Snoke's statement that Kylo Ren's training is not yet complete adds another layer of complexity. It suggests that Kylo Ren is still a work in progress, not fully equipped to face a Force-sensitive opponent, especially one as naturally gifted as Rey.

The film's title, "The Force Awakens," is not just a catchy phrase; it's a literal description of what happens to Rey. When she touches Luke Skywalker's long-lost lightsaber in Maz Kanata's castle, she experiences a rush of visions and emotions.

It's as if the Force itself has chosen her, imbuing her with newfound abilities and a sense of purpose. This isn't just a random occurrence; it's a pivotal moment that aligns her with the larger destiny of the Skywalker lineage. Speculation about her possible familial connections—whether she might be a Skywalker or even a Solo—adds another layer of intrigue.

If she is indeed connected to this powerful lineage, it would make sense for the Force to be exceptionally strong within her, giving her an edge in her duel with Kylo Ren.

Or Ray's simply a Mary Sue...

From a storytelling perspective, "The Force Awakens" needed a climactic lightsaber duel to serve as its emotional and narrative apex. To make this showdown believable, the film had to create conditions that would make Rey's victory plausible.

The Bowcaster wound inflicted on Kylo Ren serves this purpose, effectively 'nerfing' him to create a more balanced fight. This narrative technique is not new; it's reminiscent of Ridley Scott's "Gladiator," where Maximus is mortally wounded before his final duel with Commodus, yet still manages to triumph.

So how did Rey best Kylo? The Bowcaster wound levelled the playing field. 


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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