First, to whet your appetite, here are some theories I've developed based on Episode 7's use of some of Ralph McQuarrie's original Star Wars unused concept art. I think in some cases McQuarrie's stuff was used to bring back the feel of the Original Trilogy, but also to draw connections from the OT to the New Trilogy.
- Jabba's Palace Gate. This concept was repurposed to be the entrance to the junker village on Jakku. Since Jakku and Tatooine are similar planets, it doesn't look out of place, but my further speculation is that the Hutts have an interest in the junking operation on Jakku.
- Rey's Goggles & Speeder Bike. They were the original design for what Luke Starkiller's gear in Lucas's original screenplay (Starkiller became Skywalker). Again, it makes sense to use because the topography & climate of Jakku and Tatooine are basically identical, but it's a further connection between Luke and Rey, adding fuel to the theory that she's Luke's daughter.
Now, about getting left on Jakku, and especially getting left with a guy like Plutt... Here's a theory I saw on YouTube that might resolve that, and adds some intrigue for Episode 8 - Kylo Ren was the one who took Rey to Jakku:
The idea that Rey might be Luke's daughter raises further questions, but this theory solves most or all of them. First, I should mention that the theory is in large part based off of a fallacy - that the vision actually shows Rey at the Jedi temple when the Knights of Ren showed up. You don't actually see that. What you see is present-day Rey standing in the middle of the vision and reacting to things. That said, there is still too much there to ignore.
If Rey WAS trained at the new Jedi temple, it would explain how she quickly went from no knowledge of her own force powers to doing harder stuff like using the Jedi mind trick on the stormtrooper, snatching the lightsaber from Kylo in mid-air, and soundly beating a trained Master of the Knights of Ren in a lightsaber battle. If she WAS Ben Solo's cousin, it would explain his wavering in their fight & reluctance to use deadly force - again, their lightsaber battle was prefigured by Luke & Vader's fight on Bespin, including Vader's call for Luke to join him. I can't stress enough how connected Rey & Kylo's battle is with Luke & Vader's. After the vision scene, it's probably the most important scene pointing the way for the rest of the trilogy. Anyway.
If Rey WAS in fact saved by Kylo Ren and left on Jakku, unbeknownst to Luke & the Resistance, as well as Supreme Leader Snoke & the Knights of Ren, it would explain why she was left with Unkar Plutt (a First Order sympathizer). It would also explain Ren's reaction when he learns how BB-8 escaped from Jakku. You know the scene. He's throwing a tantrum, and each new revelation throws him off even more. BB-8 escapes. Finn's "traitorous" involvement. But when the messenger mentions a scavenger girl's role in the escape, Kylo Ren looks like he's about to literally "kill the messenger" and starts to interrogate him about the girl. Ren is pissed, but he's also extremely frightened, because he crossed Snoke by not killing Rey all those years ago and is in danger of being found out. Finally, Kylo Ren's involvement explains why her memory is so fuzzy about where she comes from. She looks at least 6 when she's left on Jakku. That's old enough to have some memories of where you come from and who your parents are. She doesn't seem to know, she just knows she's supposed to wait until they come for her. That suggests her memory was tampered with, which suggests Kylo Ren, who happens to be gifted in that area.
The fact that this theory is based on something you don't actually see doesn't bother me so much. When Rey sees Kylo Ren hunting her in the forest, her viewpoint is aligned with where her future-self will be, so it follows that the same is true of the part of the vision that occurs in her past. Plus, all the other pieces fit so well, so it doesn't bother me that the poster of the video slightly misinterpreted the scene. The explanation fits.
None of this answers the question of Rey's mother, and I don't have much to give you in that regard. Urban Acolyte TV has a theory about that which explains Rey's accent, as well as some of her qualities that are a bit different from Luke, like her exceptional mechanical ability. I mean, Luke is no slouch in the garage and Anakin could fix just about anything, but this girl had the Falcon running better than Han ever did, and that's after it was basically sitting on blocks in a junkyard for years. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is slated to come out this December, so that might shed more light on this.
I've got nothing more to add regarding Finn's parentage, but I've got a bit more on his ability to break stormtrooper conditioning and possible force sensitivity. Finn could just be a regular guy, and I'd be fine with that, but I like the idea of him joining Rey & Luke against the Knights of Ren.
First, I noticed right off the bat that Kylo Ren looked right at FN-2187 as his conditioning was breaking down. That implies that either the conditioning was created by the force, that breaking the conditioning require some (probably subconscious) use of the force, or a combination of those 2 things. FN-2187/Finn doesn't overtly use the force in the movie like Rey does, and there aren't any overt implications that he's connected to the force, as Leia is when she senses Han's death. But there are more than a couple hints in the movie, EU/Star Wars Legends books, and elsewhere that point to this possibility (again, most of the credit goes to Urban Acolyte for doing the research on this, and I've attached the video at the time he mentions each supporting point):
- Finn's stormtrooper abilities are exceptionally high. This is something you learn from novelization prequels to Force Awakens, so it's canon but not in the movie. He might just be a really good fighter and shot, but it could also be him subconsciously using the force to shoot better (Like Luke hitting that exhaust port to knock out Deathstar I)
- Connection to characters in EU/Legends. Finn seems to be a sort of combination of 2 characters from the EU books that both became Jedi. Also, the name FN-2187 has a connection to the movie that inspired George Lucas to come up with the idea of "the force". That's going deeper into Star Wars lore than my knowledge went, but there are a lot of connections in the new movie to Star Wars' past, and while the new trilogy is rewriting the EU and designating it non-canon, it still is mining the EU for ideas and easter eggs for fanboys to jump on
- Does Finn sense the destruction of the Hosnian System before it happens? This isn't something I noticed during either viewing of Force Awakens, but apparently a number of others DID. I'll have to wait for the blu ray to come out. This would be mostly like Obi Wan sensing the destruction of Alderaan, but it's also similar to Leia sensing Luke calling out to her through the force at the end of Empire Strikes Back
- John Boyega appears to be going through lightsaber training. Boyega posted an Instagram of himself wearing some kendo/fencing gear. Kendo is the real-world model for the forms of lightsaber dueling. It's fair to say that we'll see Finn in a lightsaber duel down the road, and probably doing better a lot better than he did in Episode 7. I don't see much point in doing lightsaber training if he's not going to be a force wielder. It would basically be bringing a knife to a gun fight. So if Boyega is in fact working on his lightsaber skills, he's going to be a Jedi in training
Another theory about Snoke is that he's an older version of Ben Solo who traveled back in time to train his younger self. The support for this is that Kylo Ren has a wound on his face after fighting Rey that matches an ugly scar on Snoke, that Rian Johnson is the director of Episode 8, whose previous films include Looper, a time travel flick, and finally, a quote from Rian Johnson that we'd see something in Episode 8 that we've never seen in a Star Wars movie before, and time travel certainly hasn't been shown to be possible in the Star Wars universe yet. I absolutely HATE this theory, although not quite as much as the Leia theory. A major, major problem with it is that Ben Solo creating himself as Kylo Ren is a perfect example of the bootstrap paradox. It's a causality loop. How can Ben Solo teach himself new things? If he's teaching himself, his education has no origin, and neither does the alteration of his path from Jedi to Knight of Ren. I believe the new thing that Rian Johnson mentions is dark side training. As far as the matching scars go, they don't actually match. Snoke's scar starts at the crown of his head, fades out when it passes the bridge of his nose, and is pretty deep for a head wound. Kylo Ren's scar isn't very deep, and it appears to start considerably lower on his forehead, running mainly down his cheek. I'm feeling pretty good about this one being bogus.
Other theories about Snoke are he's either Vader (definitely dead, we see his force ghost in Return of the Jedi), Grand Moff Tarkin (probably dead, definitely not a force user), "Darth Jar Jar" (seriously), or Darth Bane (almost assuredly dead, reportedly killed by Jedi and would be over 1,000 years old if he wasn't). Of these, the Darth Bane theory has the fewest holes, but I don't really buy any of them.
The theory that has the most juice is that Snoke is Darth Plagueis, the teacher of Palpatine/Sidious who was killed by supposedly killed by Sidious and then mentioned by Palpatine to Anakin as a way to entice him to seek power he can't learn from the Jedi. It's an interesting theory, so let me go over the main points supporting it from the video:
- Musical cues. The theme music for Snoke is almost exactly the same music that was playing during the scene in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine mentions Plagueis. The source of the music in the scene is a Mon Calamari ballet called "Squid Lake" (the title Squid lake is one of the more ridiculous things in the prequels, which is saying something). It could be a cue connecting Plagueis and Snoke, or it could be John Williams using similar music (Tibetan monk chanting, in this case) to portray a powerful dark side user. When the Emperor appears in the original trilogy, similar super-low vocal humming/chanting can be heard in the scenes with the Emperor
- Kylo Ren calls Supreme Leader Snoke "wise", as in Darth Plagueis the Wise. This is a bit looser than the musical cue, but it's something
- What about Plagueis' status as a Muun? The EU books cover Plagueis' backstory as a Muun of one of the powerful banking clan families (among other things, Muuns don't have noses, Snoke does.. kind of). Since the new trilogy made the EU books non-canon, that threw everything in flux. The only things we know for certain about Plagueis are that he was a male Sith Lord, he could create life from the force somehow, and that he was killed in his sleep by his apprentice, Darth Sidious. Everything else is up in the air. Maybe he used his unique power to bring himself back to life
- Snoke mentions in the novelization of the Force Awakens that he witnessed the rise & fall of the Galactic Empire. This doesn't necessarily prove that he's Plagueis, but he certainly can't be Leia or Future Ben Solo if that's true. Snoke would have to be at least 100 years old to have witnessed that, and probably older.
- Another Snoke quote from the novelization, speaking to Kylo Ren: "I never had an apprentice with such promise - before you." That implies that Snoke had at least 1 apprentice prior to Kylo Ren. Now there are other Knights of Ren to whom that might apply, but Kylo is their master and probably Snoke's longest-tenured apprentice of that group. I find it hard to believe that Plagueis would actually consider Ben Solo better material than Sheev Palpatine, but this might just be flattery on Snoke's part, trying to build Kylo Ren up.
I expect Episode 8 to delve more into the Knights of Ren, especially if it's as dark as it's purported to be. Kylo Ren has training to undergo, a new helmet to forge, and a new lightsaber to construct. I originally thought they wouldn't show much or any dark side training because a) that wasn't something we'd seen in Star Wars before, and b) the more secretive something is, the scarier it is. In other words, showing Knights of Ren in training makes them less scary. Well, the director's comment about "something we've never seen before" changed my mind about that. Plus, Snoke mentions further training for Kylo, and usually stuff like that is a teaser for the next move.
An interesting theory about Episode 8 is that the new baddie, played by Benicio Del Toro, is a grown up Ezra from the Star Wars Rebels TV show, now turned dark. Since the new trilogy IS tying in with newer novels, TV shows, and possibly video games, I find this VERY likely. Right now Del Toro's character's name is unknown, and they don't keep these things secret for no reason. Also of note, Episode 8's release has been postponed from May 26th of 2017 to December 15th of 2017. The next Star Wars title to come out will be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is currently scheduled for release on December 16th of this year. Rogue One is the first of the Star Wars Anthology movies to be release, that it, non-episodic. It tells the story of how the plans to Deathstar I were stolen (not the "many Bothans died" that Mon Motha talked about in Jedi), and possibly gives backstory, if you believe that theory, to Rey's mother.
That's it for geek-talk for a while. There's possible Lions news, Pistons, NBA All Star stuff, etc. that I'll want to get to in the coming weeks. If I have time, that is, since baby #2 is imminently approaching (not as ominously as that sounds, though).