The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey in the Star Wars sequel trilogy was delicate from the start. On the one hand, the films have always made it clear that they care about each other in one way or another, but the connection is affected by Kylo’s cruelty and propensity to do evil things. Anything deeper between the heroine and her first-order opponent might require redemption – and maybe a suspension of unbelief – if you believed in the events of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
For no group was this particular problem more complicated than Reylos, the Star Wars fandom group that connects a romantic relationship between Kylo and Rey.
The Rise of Skywalker closes the new film trilogy and closes the story between Rey and Kylo (for now). But instead of ensuring completion, the J.J. The final of the Skywalker saga, staged by Abrams, has created a rift in the Reylo community. People had hopes but didn’t see it.
(Ed. Note: This post contains spoilers for Star Wars (The Rise of Skywalker)
At the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker, the relationship between Rey and Ben, to which Kylo basically returns in the last third of the film after hitting Han Solo and shaking off the Sith, is far from clear. The heroes of the Light and Dark Sides have a deep connection thanks to their frequent force chats and the bond they built over the course of The Last Jedi. Although Rey refuses to join Ben, the two still seem to care about each other. The Rise of Skywalker takes a giant step further and ends their journey with a kiss.
Despite its obvious connection, the Reylo ship has initiated kilometers of discussions about the possible catharsis of a Rey / Kylo romance. Aside from the countless murders and a father murder, two cases of fans were regularly reported in the first two films: In The Force Awakens, Kylo breaks into Rey’s thoughts with the power, while in The Last Jedi he tells her that her parents weren’t one and that it is nothing except for him.
For many Star Wars fans, this manipulative behavior means that Reylo will always be just a poisonous ship. But the possibility of redemption gave Reylos hope until Skywalker’s ascent. There is a tradition in Star Wars where an act can redeem a dark soul. Anakin Skywalker can use his dying breath to kill the emperor and kill a spirit of power alongside Yoda and Obi-Wan, although he was murdered as an adult and killed young people. True repentance and true love for Rey could have saved Kylo and brought Ben Solo back in the crowd.
Picture: Lucasfilm Ltd.
For many Reylos, criticism of the ship made no sense due to Ben’s life and persistent pain. As many have argued over the years, Ben knows what it’s like to be separated from your family and feel cheated. His parents sent him away with his uncle, the most respected and tallest man in the galaxy, and this man almost killed him. He doesn’t say “nothing” to Rey’s because he wants her to feel bad, he says it because he wants to tell her that he knows what it’s like.
But instead of examining this nuanced reading of the scene, the screenplay The Rise of Skywalker by Abrams and Chris Terrio explains that Kylo simply “sees more now” than before. The film revels in their connection and romance and skips the difficult parts.
A particularly illustrative example of this connection and the previous favorite of Reylo fans was the moment when Rey believes he killed Chewie. As she looks up at the crashing ship in horror, Ben is compassionate. He looks rueful and seems to be tormented by the loss Rey has suffered. Another moment of connection between the two comes after their fight in Kef Bir, the ocean moon of Endor, when Leia communicates with Ben and Rey stabs him. Before real damage can be done, Rey looks horrified at what she has done and uses the power to heal Ben’s wound in the Baby Yoda style.
These short moments all lead to the violent clash between Rey, Ben and the very lively Emperor Palpatine. The emperor reveals that the two are part of a power dyad, an abstract power that has bound them from birth. They float through life as two parts of a much more powerful whole. This idea never really pays off unless Palpatine sucks their lives when they’re right next to each other, but it sounds difficult.
Palpatine eventually throws Ben into a pit, and Rey kills the emperor himself and may die. Ben crawls out of the pit and grieves over her body, sacrifices himself – do we think? – to save them. But in the brief moment that they are both alive, the Jedi and the ex-Sith acolyte share a kiss and canonize an online ship forever. Reylo fans have fulfilled their wish … in theory.
For many Reylo fans, this was a moment of triumph, a confirmation of the hope many have had since The Force Awakens was released. Kylo and Rey, as many would repeat over the years, were designed to be together. Rise of Skywalker supplies.
But a vocal side of the Reylo fandom withdrew after the unveiling. A Twitter user wrote: “I’m not angry, just deaf. I’m so glad we got the Reylo final, but Ben deserved it so much better and I’ll never shut up.” By doing the two getting kissed and killing Ben right away, Reylo was ripped from life by hand. A kiss is not a love story and certainly not a real relationship. Instead of trying to justify their time together by doing the Kylo redemption work, Disney had his cake and ate it by stamping the relationship a moment before it ended.
For this part of the fandom, Ben’s death feels senseless. Perhaps most importantly, it prevented Ben from having a real salvation sheet. He had no chance of progressing from Kylo Ren, heir to Darth Vader, to Ben Solo, son of Han and Leia and protector of the galaxy. All questions about his countless murders or his abusive behavior towards Rey were simply pushed aside and left the ship unsolved.
For these Reylo fans, the on-screen kiss wasn’t worth Ben Solo’s death. Instead of seeing the two live together, it was just a kiss. For some, even seeing the characters live on alone would have been better than just dying.
In a series where morality is so often seen as a black and white problem or where characters can reverse at any time without repercussions, the Rey-Kylo Ren relationship asked the Star Wars fandom to deal with a complicated problem. Perhaps it fits that in a trilogy that was so controversial, even Reylo didn’t come true in a way that could make the entire Reylo community happy.