I have a secret.
Star Wars and me, we go way back. OT (Original Trilogy) was my boo (like, forever), but now ST (Sequel Trilogy) has kicked OT outta bed. I freakin’ LOVE The Force Awakens (TFA) and especially The Last Jedi.
There’s a ton of fan backlash re: The Last Jedi and while I get it (I really, really do), my love of Kylo and Rey’s portrayal and the new Force lore mythology outweigh my Canto Bight and Resistant plot dislike (except for the battle on Crait — that sequence was kick-ass). Visually, the film is beautiful.
Am I a Reylo shipper? You bet your bottom dollar. Have been since TFA when I read about and watched several thoughtful analyses of the film after picking up on the strange tension between Rey and Kylo during their interrogation, and then final fight scene. I was relieved to find I wasn’t the only one who picked up on the strange sexual tension between the two given the problematic setting. (Rey strapped to a chair in a torture chamber with Kylo Ren creepily watching her as she slept.) I mean really, how in the hell could any of that be construed as hot? Two words. Adam Driver. And his 6’2″ brand of awkward sexiness, but I digress…
As a writer and former English major, I love the methodology of story telling. I love the tragic hero, redemption arcs, death and the maiden troupes, mythical storytelling, mythical worlds, and fairy tales. I love it all. Yes, I am that nerd who will analyse fiction, non-fiction, and films incessantly and then read other people’s analyses ad nauseam. I can’t help it. It’s an addiction. Really. And there are several brilliant analyses on tumblr.
While I am 100% in the reylo camp, I also read arguments from the anti-reylos and while I get the concern, Rey and Kylo are not real-life characters. This is not a movie based in reality. If it were, then yes, Rey should 100% steer clear of Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) as he is now and there would be serious consequences to his horrific actions. BUT this is fiction and in fiction, theme is important. There’s a message behind the madness. To date, the themes surrounding Star Wars include family, hope, redemption (but also failure and tragic loss) through love. In The Last Jedi failure is prominent but so is balance. And Kylo Ren strikes me as a character the writers are trying to depict more as a victim rather than a prominent evil. He’s by far the most interesting character in the ST and I’m excited to see where they take his arc in the third and final film.
My bet is on redemption and here’s why.
Ben was preyed upon by Snoke even while in his mother’s womb (per the novel Bloodline). How sick/disturbing is that? Throughout his childhood his thoughts were twisted and warped by this malevolent predator and his family, rather than trying to understand and support him, sent him away. While Han and Leia were good people, they just weren’t around. Han was too busy running off/smuggling, and Leia was busy rebuilding the galaxy. They loved Ben, but couldn’t understand him or give him the amount of attention he needed. Then he is betrayed by his Uncle Luke, the one person who was supposed to help and understand him, which ultimately was the final straw that pushed him to Snoke after years of fighting against the evil in his head.
I know a ton of people had issue with Luke’s portrayal, but I for one did not. I also did not think his attempt at taking Ben’s life was out of character for him as Luke himself also has (and has used) the dark side of the Force (scene in ROTLJ when he nearly killed his father in anger).
All of this tragic background IN NO WAY justifies the horrible act of patricide or his many other crimes, but it does work to give Kylo Ren’s actions some context and an opening if the writers choose to redeem him.
Kylo is a highly disturbed, broken young man who has done many horrible things. If he dies having no redemption, that will be a sad, bleak, hopeless ending to the Skywalker saga. Not to mention the overwhelming theme of hopelessness. Han, Leia, and Luke’s sacrifices will all be for nothing if Ben Solo is not redeemed. I can’t imagine Disney ending the Skywalker Saga on such a bleak note. And according to JJ Abrams Star Wars is a fairy tale in space. We all know how fairy tales end.
I’m hopeful but will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’ve decided to give writing fan fiction a go. I love these characters so much and want to try something different. I’ve never done this before so we’ll see what happens…