TV’s Frink said:
TFA didn’t make a big deal about Rey’s parents, Rey did and people on the internet did.
True. Point being though that only Rey cares and this doesn’t change in TLJ. Anytime she brings up Jakku in TFA people think she’s crazy for still caring. Maz outright tells her to forget about her parents.
Making Rey’s parents an issue was a creative choice in the film. Rey’s pining for her parents was the chip on which the story salsa was conveyed, but she is not independent from the film. TLJ made a point not only that her parents didn’t care about her (which was sort of obvious) but that they were nobody. And why would we have thought they were somebody? Because the film set up that intrigue - deliberately exploiting expectations of people on the internet, to be sure. A film attempting to stand apart from the OT shouldn’t do that.
This point for me is more what Luke would call a “a cheap trick” but it’s there. Can’t pretend it’s solely the fault of fans or that dastardly rogue Rey.
No. No one in TFA asks who Rey’s parents are, not even her. In fact, there’s no reason to believe in TFA that she doesn’t know who they are. They are mentioned a few times, but the question mark is all audience. They are only important for Rey’s character. And in that regard, they are important, sure. Rey is waiting for them. This aspect informs her arc in both films. But there is nothing in TFA that suggests that her parents must be, themselves important, beyond their relationship to Rey. Nothing at all.
If you thought they might be somebody, it’s only because Rey thought so too and hoped so. Which makes her learning that they’re nobody devastating in the same way that Luke learning that his father didn’t die and is no longer a Jedi did in ESB. And that’s a good thing.
Both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi treat Rey’s parentage like a secret. If it wasn’t a secret, then we would have learned who they were in TFA or in the Dark Side cave in TLJ. The fact that it was saved for a dramatic reveal by the villain in a similar fashion to ESB proves at least that Rian Johnson thought it was enough of a secret to go through the motions.
Well technically when Rey says where she comes from is “classified, big secret,” she’s being sarcastic. As in, nowhere, nothing, it’s not a secret at all…
I’m not saying that her parents identity wasn’t important information, only that her parents identities didn’t have to be important (as in, important people). I suppose I am pushing back against specific words because people expect certain things from mysteries. I don’t think all mysteries need to be answered, I think there’s a lot of power in letting a mystery lie. (In essence, Rey’s parents are still somewhat a mystery, we don’t know their names or what they look like. We don’t know their history or whether they were force sensitive or anything.) We know as much information as the story and the characters in it require.
Of course TFA suggests we’ll learn more about Rey’s parents. We basically have to because we know next to nothing about them and yet they are clearly important to Rey as they drive a lot of her actions in TFA. It’s hard to imagine, after spending all of that film trying to get back to Jakku for them, that she’ll be able to completely forget about them now that she’s joined the Resistance. It’s still unresolved for her, which means it is for us too. Basically the only way to resolve it would be either for Rey to meet up with her parents or for her (and us) to come to accept the information that they aren’t important for the future of her story, which is exactly what happens.
Could TFA have resolved this? Sure. But it didn’t have to, and there’s a good argument for that it shouldn’t have.
Since Rey is supposedly the viewer avatar for these films, I can only assume that Rey either doesn’t know her parentage or has suppressed that information because it’s too painful, and over the course of two films she gradually comes to the understanding that they really were nobodies. If she had seen the shadowy figures of her parents during the TFA Force vision (and her subconscious aversion to knowing the truth), it would have gone a long way towards communicating that this is her primary weakness.
But her primary weakness in TFA is already clearly that she has held on to her parents for too long. The implication in TFA is mainly that this is primarily because she wants a family and people that love her (and won’t abandon her). TLJ keeps that but subtly adds that she hopes/hoped that her parents would be people or moderate importance who would show her her place in the world. This is what matters in regards to the viewer avatar-ness of her character.
The impression isn’t that she doesn’t know who her parents are at all, just that, since she hasn’t seen them since she was a kid, their importance in the world was a bit ambiguous.
Could TFA have worked this in, that she hopes her parents are special in some way? Sure. But did it need to? I don’t really think so, it’s just another wrinkle that was added to her pining for them in TLJ.