Last week we followed Rey from her introduction to her first real trial, the escape in the Millennium Falcon and we finished with her being swallowed by Han's ship. So let's begin the initiation section of the hero's journey.
The Road of Trials
In the hero's journey, the road of trials is a series of tests that show the character's mettle. They also break down the hero, so she knows just how difficult her path will be. Rey's road of trials probably began when the Falcon started falling apart and they were all going to die of poisonous gas, but I liked the image of the Falcon being swallowed so I lumped those in with Belly of the Whale.
Now Rey is in Solo's freighter and the freighter gets boarded. Her and Finn end up under the flooring (more belly of the whale imagery).
Now, the hero often fails one of these trials, because the hero isn't perfect. So it isn't a surprise that Rey accidently releases the Rathar and almost get's Finn killed. She saves him though and humbly doesn't mention that it was her, just saying, "That was lucky!"
They escape in the Falcon, Rey knocking down one challenge after the other to help Han get the old girl flying again. They escape to hyperspace.
The Meeting with the Goddess
In this stage, the hero experiences the perfect-almost divine love of a mother to an infant. This love is transformative, and Rey's experience is not any different.
There haven't been many Meeting with the Goddess scenes better than the one with Moz. She is interesting, quirky, wise. She seems to pick out Rey's unique status (and parentage?) instantly, "Who's the girl?" Is it the lightsaber that calls Rey to the basement, or is it really Moz? I suspect that it's the latter, that while the lightsaber triggers her visions, it's Moz that senses the potential connection and gives her a little push.
Rey finds Luke's Lightsaber. We've talked about her vision, and how Kylo seems to save her during it. The entire thing is very disconcerting, but Rey's first brush with complete acceptance and love comes after, when she meets Moz in the hall and is told that her family is behind her, what she seeks it before her. Moz's confidence in Rey is powerful, touching. Han started this ball rolling when he told her the Jedi were real, but this is the moment of truth when Moz gives Rey the seeds of faith and knowledge that will play out through the rest of the movie.
Woman as Temptress
Here the hero is tempted, often with pleasures of the flesh. The Woman in this case, is Kylo Ren, during the interrogation of Rey. I'm not just saying this because he has fabulous hair. I'm not saying it because the gender roles are reversed. I don't think she's actually attracted to him.
But Kylo, when violating her mind, outlines her deepest wishes. Her loneliness. The island in the ocean she dreams of at night. Most of all, Han Solo as a father figure. He really bungles this scene, as temptresses go, but he lays it out there. There is an implication that things would go better for her if she stopped fighting.
This is one of the weakest bit of her journey so far (as the monomyth goes) because Kylo misplays his hand very badly, but she rejects any idea of compliance when she tells him his own fear and rattles him.
Atonement with the Father
In atonement with Father, our hero must be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in her life. For Rey, I think this comes in two steps. First, she embraces the force for the first time, using the Jedi mind trick on James Bond in stormtrooper garb. The more direct image comes a bit after that when Han and Finn show up to rescue her. That second one is probably more to show a literal image than to actually satisfy the hero's journey. The ultimate power in Rey's life is the force. And the real father in this moment is probably her birth father, who passed the bloodline, strong in the force.
When the hero dies a physical or spiritual death, they are reborn into a more divine state of bliss and joy, they have their apotheosis. Rey's comes when Kylo "kills" her by smashing her into the tree. And then she is alive and takes Luke's lightsaber for her own, and Rey becomes the Rey we've been waiting for the entire movie.
The Ultimate Boon
The Ultimate Boon is when the Hero achieves the quest. Here, Kylo offers to be her teacher, but Rey realizes that the only teacher she needs in that moment is the force. She becomes the fledgling Jedi and defeats Kylo Ren. She has her moment, teetering on the dark side, but then she doesn't strike out of anger.
Rey, standing over Kylo Ren, has finally and completely, become the next hero of the Star Wars Universe. She has, whether literally or symbolically, shown herself to be the scion of the Skywalkers and our hope for the future.
Too bad she appears to be about to die.
Tune in next week for the final section of the Hero's Journey, The Return.