Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker contains a fascinating moment that subverts the monster cliche that has existed throughout the franchise — for the better. Director J.J. Abrams’ sequel not only concludes the 42-year, nine-movie Skywalker saga, but it also provided the answers to the origin of Rey (Daisy Ridley): the scavenger’s ability to wield the Force is because she’s the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). However, Rey proved herself to be a true Jedi against Palpatine and her innate goodness was displayed when she healed a monstrous Vexis snake on Pasaana, which is actually a subtle but pivotal moment in Star Wars.

One of the fun things about the Star Wars galaxy is that it’s populated by a menagerie of humans, aliens, and creatures of all shapes and sizes. However, Star Wars has always indulged in the cliche that giant creatures are enemies that chase and presumably want to eat humans, which means the heroes have to kill them to survive. From the Wampa on Hoth that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) dismembered in The Empire Strikes Back, to the Rancor on Tatooine that Luke faced in Return of the Jedi, to the Mudhorn that the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Baby Yoda killed, Star Wars’ heroes usually execute monsters. To be fair, these enormous beasts often attack the heroes first, like Naboo’s huge Opee Sea Killer in The Phantom Menace. Still, the heroes usually exhibit a “no mercy” rule when encountering monsters, and that also included Rey herself when she and Finn (John Boyega) were chased by a Rathtar in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

However, The Rise of Skywalker featured a rare moment of compassion by Rey that hopefully signifies a new way of thinking about the creatures in the Star Wars galaxy. After Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), BB-8, and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) sank into the tunnels beneath Pasaana, they came face-to-face with an enormous Vexis snake. Although the heroes drew their weapons and were poised to defend themselves, Rey realized that the creature did not attack because it was injured. Instead of going on the offensive and killing the threat, the young Jedi swallowed her fear, approached the Vexis snake, and used her power of Force Healing on the creature’s wound. The grateful serpent then left Rey and her friends alone, allowing them to escape the tunnels. This was a rare moment in Star Wars where a hero showed mercy and helped a giant monster instead of immediately fighting or running from it, and it was a powerful statement about the quality of person Rey is.

Since George Lucas originally based Star Wars on the sci-fi adventure serials he enjoyed as a child, the franchise has long indulged in the cliches of “here there be monsters” where the human heroes are caught up in exciting action scenes and chases with giant alien creatures on different planets — and that’s part of the fun of Star Wars. However, it’s easy to forget that in most circumstances, the heroes are actually the aliens when they visit a new planet and they’re the ones invading a native species’ territory. Further, although beasts like the Mudhorn and the Wampa are presented as giant monsters, they’re mostly just animals trying to survive. For example, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) shooting Mynocks inside the giant Exogoth worm in The Empire Strikes Back makes for an exciting action scene but, from a certain point of view, Solo was really just killing animals in their natural habitat.

When Luke Skywalker killed the Rancor beneath Jabba the Hutt’s palace in Return of the Jedi, the creature’s caretaker shed tears over his pet’s death, which was a key moment that showed that even though the Rancor was a monster, someone loved it and cared for it. The Rise of Skywalker took that idea of compassion for alien species even further when Rey healed the Vexis snake, showing a new way of looking at the creatures so that they’re not automatically enemies to be dispatched with blasters and lightsabers. Hopefully, the example Rey set when she healed the Vexis snake in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will spark future Star Wars filmmakers to think about how the heroes interact with the alien beasts they encounter, and to not always present the creatures as enemy monsters to be killed.

Next: Rey’s New Rise of Skywalker Healing Power Was Introduced In The Clone Wars