The Third Sister: A Copy, Or Unique Villain? – Part 2

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(Read first part here.)

We already talked about Reva’s similarity to Kylo Ren and Anakin Skywalker. There is one thing that deserves mention in this context: Luke Skywalker in the sequel trilogy.

The Skywalker Lineage

Reva is not in any way similar to Luke, but when watching the scene where she encounters Luke, one cannot quite ignore the visual similarity to old Luke attempting to kill Kylo Ren. One could pause and meditate on the “youth-slaying triad” of the scene with Anakin and the younglings from Episode III, Reva and Luke from Kenobi, and Luke and Kylo from the sequel trilogy. The scenes are not straightaway parallels, but they “rhyme”. Luke wanted to attack Kylo because of the future he glimpsed, Reva wanted to kill Luke because of the past she had experienced, and Anakin killed the younglings because in the present, he believed it to be the only way to secure Padmé’s continued survival.

In that sense, the theme of the Skywalker children’s survival somehow connects all these scenes. The parallels also raise questions. What would have become of Luke had he awakened to see Reva about to kill him (even if she ultimately would not), just like Ben had seen him? And on the other hand, what similarity is there between Reva surviving Anakin’s attack – just like Ben was not killed by Luke, even though they both saw their assailant raising their lightsaber against them? And did this perhaps translate into their eventual redemption? We can only speculate.

No Need To Die

There is one more remarkable difference in Reva’s story from Vader and Kylo Ren. Both of them died shortly after their redemption. In Vader’s case it was due to his sustained injuries, in Kylo’s it was the result of spending his life force in exchange for Rey’s.

Reva had no such physical reason to die at the moment of her final change of heart. She had been wounded already earlier and made it through, and she did not need to exchange her life for Luke’s in any way (even if she were able to). Of course, she could still have died: being shot by the Larses (which would have been tragic, and not in the spirit of Star Wars) or, say, shot by Tusken raiders that would have appeared out of somewhere and threatened to kill Luke (which would have been rather melodramatic and stupid). From the narrative perspective, there was absolutely no reason for her to die; so it is good that she did not.

There is often one more narrative reason for a redeemed villain’s death: that it solves the problem of dealing with the consequences. A redeemed villain would still need to live with their past crimes. Had Vader or Kylo Ren survived, someone could have still called them to answer for the hundreds (thousands? Millions?) they had killed.

Unlike in Vader’s and Kylo’s case, we do not know for sure what Reva had done. She had certainly slaughtered or maimed (as we have seen) a couple of innocent citizens and Jedi. But unlike Vader and Kylo, Reva is also not a high-profile character. She is not a “celebrity”, a public face of the Empire. She is an (ex-)enforcer of an obscure order. That allows her to go into hiding and perhaps try to make amends from this relative obscurity. If we are sometime going to see more of her, this is one clear venue she could take.

Not Vader, But…

Let us recapitulate: Reva owes a lot to those who came before her. Just like Anakin/Vader and Ben/Kylo Ren, she is a villain with black armour and red lightsaber who has a redemptive ending. Despite these similarities, her story is deeply individual and if you imagine her wearing anything else than black armour, you would probably not first think of Vader or Kylo Ren when hearing her story.

However the relation to these two (especially Vader) is such a crucial part of her story that the visual similarity actually creates one more link, a visual cue for the audience so that we DO compare her to those who came before her. That way we can catch some subtler nuances in her story – and retroactively also in the stories of those who came before her.

On a different note, Reva also may be the best example of the “Dark Side triad” development so far in the Star Wars cinema: from fear through anger to hatred. Better so than Vader (where the subjects of these feelings changed) and better than Kylo (in whose story these were not, sadly, even addressed directly). Reva’s entire fall to the Dark Side remained focussed on herself and Anakin. It was a tunnel vision of sorts, but that is exactly what Dark Side is about. Reva’s story – whether intentionally or not – managed to perfectly illustrate one of Star Wars’s fundamental philosophical cornerstones.

That, along with several other details, marks Reva’s story as an individual, and not just some cheap makeover of the “Jedi trainee falls to the Dark Side and dons black armour” trope. And that shows how – if done well – even something inspired by a very non-unique design can produce an interesting character.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Dorothee Sölle, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.