If you’ve followed the Sequel Trilogy, you will know about its conflicted main antagonist, Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, and its resourceful protagonist in Rey.
In The Force Awakens, their journeys began far apart but very near. Kylo Ren first entered the story as a masked crusader who instantly destroyed an entire village on Jakku in search of a map to the infamous Luke Skywalker.
Beyond the village, we were introduced to Rey somewhere else on Jakku, scrounging for scraps just to survive under the ruthlessness of Unkar Plutt.
Very different beginnings that would ultimately clash when they first encountered each other on Takodana, where Kylo Ren subsequently captured Rey, beginning their relationship.
This is where the confusion of Kylo Ren’s villainy and the intent behind their relationship becomes prevalent in the Sequel Trilogy storyline.
During Kylo Ren’s interrogation of ours truly, Rey, he takes off his mask. Usually, when a villain reveals themselves to the audience they are portrayed as monsters. This time around we were met with the face of a normal human being, and it even shocked Rey at first.
Immediately, the purpose of writing Kylo Ren up as a monstrous villain has been dampened by this shocking reveal, consequently confusing his villainous arc…until he kills Han Solo in the final act of the movie.
The audience, who was tricked momentarily by his normalcy, has been horribly reminded why it was so easy for him to strike down Lor San Tekka in his opening scene. Except his newest victim is a fan favorite, a character who has shaped our childhoods and changed pop culture entertainment forever.
Even without the mask, he has been reiterated as a monster and we are rooting for Rey and Finn to kick his @#$…which Rey does in flying colors. It is a beautiful triumph of hero over villain while cementing Kylo Ren’s position in the Sequel Trilogy as the antagonist while Rey is highlighted as the awesome heroine we have all been waiting for. And they’re definitely not romantically involved.
Until…The Last Jedi. *shaking my head*
The first instance is the repositioning of Kylo Ren’s scar. Obviously when Rey defeated Kylo Ren at the end of The Force Awakens, the scar arcs across his face in a very unflattering way, even giving him a more monstrous look. It was to the appall of many fans when he reappeared with the scar positioned to run up his cheek rather than across it and the bridge of his nose to his forehead.
I immediately knew something was brewing story-wise when this development occurred, and was only cemented when Kylo Ren and Rey’s First Force Connection went live. But the confusion wasn’t to its full extent, however, for Rey was still calling him a snake and shooting him in the gut.
And the fear of Kylo Ren finding Luke was still present.
It isn’t until the second Force Connection where storylines really begin to muddle the villainy of Kylo Ren. Then the story begins to seemingly imply that Rey and Kylo Ren have a thing for each other (and remember in previous scenes, Kylo Ren was conflicted with destroying the bridge of a Resistance ship in which Leia resided).
However, Rey begins the Force Connection by continuing to state what he truly is, a monster, so the story is still trying to evolve him as such. Even Kylo Ren accepts and admits it. It’s only until the aftermath of this small exchange where they begin looking at each other for a long time before the Force Skype hangs up. When it does, Rey is left shaken because, obviously, even from the novelization, she sees something more in the “monster”.
Fast forward to the next Force Connection and Kylo Ren is stripped down to nothing more than tight black pants standing around in an insignificant First Order room. This is so confusing…especially considering that he killed his father in the previous movie. Rey begins spluttering, asking him why he killed his father (yeah, you’re trying to remind us that he’s a villain even though his shirt is off) and he answers by saying he didn’t hate him. Okay….
Then he tells Rey, from his perspective, what happened to him, what made him turn to the dark side, and it makes us, as viewers, begin to wonder why we don’t like him so much (remember, he killed Han Solo!)
Next scene, Rey and Kylo are together in a hut lit by only fire and she’s confiding to him everything that occurred in the mirror cave she just left. Fireplaces and firelight are often depicted as romantic settings for couples, so it only intensifies when he says, “You’re not alone.” and she answers by saying, “Neither are you.”
Immediately, signals go off in you’re mind and you think, whoa, is this the love story of the Sequel Trilogy? No! It is not! Can two people of opposite genders gain an understanding without them having to kiss? It is absolutely annoying.
Just because they reached out to each other from across the stars doesn’t mean they’re romantically involved. They care for each other deeply, yes, but Leia kissed Luke Skywalker and that didn’t mean they were together. She was just trying to deter Han Solo (to no avail 😏). It is obvious, even after this interaction with Kylo/Ben that Finn is still on Rey’s mind. Even when choosing to go to Kylo she tells Chewbacca to tell Finn some unknown thing, one that Chewbacca has to suggest considering that Rey is so…shy about what she should say. If that doesn’t sound like she is romantically involved with Finn then I don’t know what else to say…
While this is happening, the memory of losing Han Solo to Kylo Ren is fading away. I actually applaud Rian Johnson on this considering the fact that we’re supposed to believe Kylo will turn from the Dark Side at this point in the story despite Luke’s wise words, “This isn’t going to go the way you think.”
Fast forward in The Last Jedi and Kylo Ren has killed Snoke and both he and Rey have fought together to survive the heavy onslaught of Praetorian Guards. It’s at this moment that Kylo Ren’s villainy comes back into full play. You’re reminded, oh yeah, he did kill his father, didn’t he?
It’s during this moment that Kylo Ren tells Rey that he, basically, cares for her. And again, viewers can be confused. Some (actually a lot) immediately jumped to the conclusion that, yep, this is a romance. 🙄 But, no…. (I mean, maybe for Kylo Ren but Rey has someone else on her mind. His name is Finn.)
Now, I’m going to fast forward. Kylo Ren is the Supreme Leader of the First Order and Rey has escaped Snoke’s ship and is back on board the Millennium Falcon with Chewie.
It’s during his time of Supreme Leader that Kylo Ren shouts for the Millennium Falcon to be shot from the sky (which I’m almost positive he knew Rey and Chewbacca were flying), he orders his men to kill every last surviving Resistance member huddled together in the base (which was unsuccessful), and had a hand in killing Luke Skywalker. That sounds like a bonafide villain to me.
Meanwhile, Rey is saving the Resistance, and in doing so is reunited with the man she really does love romantically, Finn. Finn runs to her, she walks to him, and together they embrace in a tight hug that sends volumes.
That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still care for Ben Solo. She wanted him to turn to the Light, and so that is why when their last Force Connection initiates, she pauses and looks at him for the longest time before shutting him out. It’s harsh, but…he didn’t want to change.
It’s why in the excerpt for Resistance Reborn, a novel setting up the events of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey asks Leia about Ben Solo, and in doing so Leia Organa can see that Rey cares for him. Don’t you think that if Leia could comprehend Rey’s emotions, she would be able to tell if she loved him? Even my sister went as far as saying that Rey is in love with Ben Solo, but it’s just not the case.
And now, to my final example: The newly released trailer for The Rise of Skywalker (and the reason I wrote this article). During this trailer Rey says, “People keep telling me they know me…no one does.”
And Kylo Ren answers, “But I do.”
This sounds sinister to me, yet a huge section of the fan base kept shouting “Reylo!” Wait…what? So…this sounds romantic? Really?
Kylo Ren, Rey’s enemy since The Force Awakens, her nemesis, tells her that he knows her. He knows her every weakness, her greatest strengths, her ups and her downs, her beliefs, and on and on and on.
Why do you think Obi-Wan defeated Anakin Skywalker in the first place? Despite Anakin’s position as the Chosen One, despite having the greatest midichlorian count known to the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated him for one reason: he was his master. He taught him everything he knew. As Anakin said to Obi-Wan, “Don’t underestimate my power.” And Kenobi answered by saying, “Don’t try it.” It was basically Obi-Wan’s version of, “But I do.”
The difference, in this case, is that Rey knows Kylo Ren just as well, which is sure to bring us an epic battle. Not a romantic conclusion.
Why do you think her lightsaber is ignited as she faces Kylo Ren in what appears to be the throne room of the Second Death Star? He’s her enemy! Yes, they care for each other, but they don’t love each other. As simple as that.
They care so much for each other that despite the darkness and the light, they will most definitely find a way to reunite as a team and face down Palpatine. As we saw in the trailer, it seems they’re even destroying Darth Vader’s mask together.
The confusion began in The Force Awakens and continues, and a large section of Star Wars fandom is going to be so disappointed when their Reylo dreams are dashed.
Now, despite every example that I have pointed out in this post, I don’t oppose a romantic ending for them, simply for the fact that it would be different and impactful for the overall story of Star Wars. We’ve never seen a villain and hero end up together. We’ve seen two heroes drift apart, that being Anakin and Padme. It would the exact opposite and a great juxtaposition from Ben Solo’s grandfather.
Whatever happens, happens, but I think I’m right on this one.
I thank you for reading my sister’s opinion and I hope you have a magnificent day. May the Force be with you,.