Welcome to the first installment of my unpopular opinions. We’re starting off with a death-star-sized article, so fasten your seat belts and get ready to jump to lightspeed.
Let me begin by saying that the mere fact that we got from this to this in a trilogy made by different creative developers is a feat all on its own.
But I’m more into the fact that we went from this to this.
I love space opera special effects and action sequences as much as any other Star Wars nerd, but at heart I’m a sucker for character arcs. To be able to look back on a character at the end of a trilogy to see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve changed during their journey is both why I read/watch movies and why I write. This is always the most powerful literary force for me BY FAR. (Yes, even more than Kylo’s hair and all his other amazing qualities.)
SOOO many people disliked the new trilogy because it “changed the force” or “wasn’t the same as the original six episodes,” but the development of Kylo Ren & Rey’s relationship not only makes the new trilogy my favorite by far over the other two, but it actually has made The Rise of Skywalker one of my favorite movies OF ALL TIME.
So I’m looking at this beginning, all that anger and mistrust and fear, and keeping it wrapped up nicely in the back of my mind as Kylo Ren and Rey’s story continues on.
REYLO PT. I: THE FORCE AWAKENS
After the woodland fight, we go straight into the emotionally-charged Kylo-unmasking scene. Rey’s trying not to lose her mind with fear while Kylo is taking lots of long glances trying to figure out how someone can be powerful enough to resist his mind-control.
We’re still very much on enemy sides here, a clear juxtaposition between the “Light” and the “Dark.” This is where Kylo realizes, no, he can’t just “take whatever he wants” like he thinks he can, and now that she sees him face-to-face, Rey realizes that her enemy poses a different threat than she thought.
Then we get to the snowy battle scene where Rey gives Kylo a run for his money. The fact that she defeats him in lightsaber combat has got to be so aggravating, especially since he is already grappling with the guilt of what he just did to his father.
REYLO PT. II: THE LAST JEDI
The Last Jedi has MUCH jucier Kylo & Rey content than Episode VII.
I mean, we start off with these “Force FaceTimes” for crying out loud.
This is where we really start to the see the effects of this mysterious Force connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. They’re both confused, angry, and totally set in their own ideals of right and wrong. But very quickly the lines between Light and Dark begin to blur, which is a classic theme for the hero-villian struggle. Someone’s going to switch sides, but who is it going to be?
Then we get to the (in)famous campfire scene where their Force connection reaches a new level, and some serious emotional boding takes place. “You’re not alone…”
Who’s seriously watching this an not eating it up??? I’m about as cynical as they come, and I sit on the edge of my seat every time I watch this movie like “TOUCH! TOUCH! COME ON!”
I can’t with this scene. If this isn’t a top-notch complex romance, then IT DOES NOT EXIST.
Then, after Luke ruins the moment with his past trauma, Rey delivers the best British-accented-line ever:
It’s not just the strong-female-character confidence Rey has in her own ability to see the future that makes this so good, but the fact that she’s way more enthusiastic about going to see Kylo than she’s been about anything the whole time she’s been on the island with Luke. She spent all that time sitting outside in the rain, accidentally ruining all the hard work of those little nun creatures, not really saying much and keeping a pretty steady facial expression. But the possibility of arriving to be greeted by a welcoming Ben/Kylo has got this girl so ready for her red-eye flight.
Granted, she arrives to less-than-desirable circumstances, and to a still-committed Kylo. But this elevator scene is everything!!!
The fact that they can see into each other’s minds is even more intimate when they are actually standing face-to-face. And Rey’s visions are only confirmed by Kylo’s stillness as she steps closer and closer to him, and all he does is stare at her as she talks. She’s essentially letting him know that she knows how difficult and risky it will be for him to turn to the Light, but she will be there to help him when he does. If you didn’t feel the romantic tension here, you weren’t actually watching the movie.
Oops! Her plan didn’t work. But look at his face!!! Look at both of their faces!
And then the epic red-room fight scene. Where Kylo’s connection to the Sith is literally BURNING UP!
But he’s not free from the Kylo persona yet… Rey’s still got more work to do on him before they can be together.
You KNOW this girl wants to take that hand!!
This is pure romantic drama right here. And against such an epic galactic backdrop, I don’t understand why everyone isn’t obsessed.
REYLO PT. III: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
And here’s where all the feelings come to the surface. A scorned Kylo Ren goes in search of higher purpose with the Sith to fill his empty heart, while Rey and friends are trying to find the second wayfinder so they can thwart those evil plans.
I think it says something that the more in-depth this connection between Rey and Kylo goes, the more reckless, angry, and wild Rey becomes. But Kylo actually starts to calm down a bit??? At this point, I don’t think anyone is thinking they are actually going to end up having a full-on romantic scene, especially not with him stalking her (on a mission to kill her) and all these physical fights they keep getting into.
But these Force FaceTimes are getting deeper, and the tensions are rising. CLEARLY there are some unresolved emotional issues here.
Once Kylo Ren locates Rey, we can really see that homegirl does NOT like the way he’s making her feel… whether she consciously realizes it is romantic tension or not. But one thing is for sure: when Kylo’s present, Rey grows fiercer and stronger.
You know he’s gotta be impressed by this display she just put on too. He comes sauntering out of the wreckage of his ship in all his caped glory, no rush to go after her… just taking in the immensity of her power.
His face says it all here. Maybe this is the first time he’s realizing that what he does, even just his proximity, seriously effects what Rey does and what she is capable of. HMMM. THERE IS A GREATER BOND HERE THAN THEY THOUGHT.
This leads me to one of my FAVORITE Star Wars scenes ever… this epic water fight.
And our girl has never been angrier than she is here after Kylo destroyed the wayfinder that she worked so hard to get. Then he drops, “The only way you’ll get to Exegol is with me,” and she’s had it up to here.
It all culminates with her actually, finally delivering a fatal blow after all their many altercations.
She heals him!!!! SHE SAVES HIM. And then drops this bomb.
And she becomes pretty much the only reason for his sudden redemption.
He can make her shoot lightning like a Sith Lord, but she can make him feel. Oof!
Next they defeat Palpatine, defy all odds, trick the Force system, yeah whatever. The only thing I’m thinking of rn is the best scene in the franchise. (And yes, I’m ready to fight you on that.)
They’ve worked so hard to be here! They’ve gone through so much to get to each other! The epitome of star-crossed lovers.
While Kylo/Ben and Rey finally got the moment they deserved, they didn’t deserve for it be their last.
Tell me this is not the face of a girl who is so relieved to see there are still people who love her about even though she just lost her true love!
I’m ready to pay to see a Ben Solo reincarnation, but until then, I’m just going to keep rewatching the parts before he dies and wishing all love stories were as deep and multifaceted as Kylo Ren and Rey’s.
Until next week,