Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker of fights between Rey and Kylo Ren reveals even more missed opportunities to turn Rey into the unique Jedi that she could have been. After Star Wars: The Last Jedi proposed the possibility that Rey (Daisy Ridley) descended from no previously established Star Wars characters, The Rise of Skywalker retconned that by officially confirming Rey to be a Palpatine. The first Palpatine hint for Rey in The Rise of Skywalker is her sudden use of Force lightning on a First Order transport ship that she thinks is carrying Chewbacca. While Force lightning is a power not restricted to the Palpatine lineage, for many characters are presented using different color variants of Force lightning in Star Wars canon, it did pose a much stronger possibility of Rey being able to truly balance between the Sith and Jedi worlds as the Jedi Order strongly discourages using Force lightning. Despite this, Star Wars never fully commits to the idea of Rey being the first Gray Jedi on screen. Rey consistently finds herself wrestling with temptations from the dark side only to commit to the light side in the end. Especially with Luke (Mark Hamill) emphasizing the importance of balance in the Force in The Last Jedi, the sequel trilogy had the opportunity to branch away from a more dichotomous treatment between the light and dark sides of the Force. If Rey were to balance between the Sith and Jedi Orders, the sequels would have presented enticing ways to explore the Force in more depth.
Dark Rey concept art for The Rise of Skywalker proved, Rey had a lot more potential to be a completely different Jedi in Star Wars. Artist John McCoy made two images of battle between Rey and Kylo Ren. In one image, Rey is Force choking Kylo Ren in a throne room battle while wielding a green lightsaber. Force choking is traditionally a dark side-only power. This fact seems contradicted by Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) use of it before he joins the Sith Order; however, his Vader evolution ends up nullifying this. Another McCoy concept image shows Rey holding Kylo Ren’s red lightsaber up to his neck menacingly. Rey has used Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) lightsaber in battle before, having seized it from him in The Last Jedi in an attempt to kill Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Rey even stabs Kylo Ren with his lightsaber during the Rise of Skywalker’s Kef Bir battle, making it the only Star Wars sequel trilogy lightsaber Rey steals twice. However, the concept art depicts Rey’s lightsaber use on Kylo to be more sinister.
Show Rey pushing further toward the dark side. Unlike Force lightning, which is technically not reserved for either side of the Force despite the Jedi Order’s stance against it, Force choking would show Rey more actively embracing a dark side power. From there, the sequels could divert from previous Star Wars material by then maintaining Rey’s balance between sides by not becoming a Sith Lord like Anakin. In the Kylo Ren lightsaber image, Rey seems to be actively going against Star Wars’ evolving Jedi Code that requires followers to “use the powers to defend and to protect, never to attack others,” as stated in Code’s extended version from the Star Wars Fandex Deluxe Edition. The concept art shows Rey acting with malicious intent and differs from Rey grabbing Kylo’s dropping lightsaber as a defensive opportunity in The Rise of Skywalker.