It’s a term that’s been around since December 2015, when The Force Awakens hit the theaters. The onscreen chemistry between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) ignited two years of impassioned discussion among fans. Reylo (Rey + Kylo) is a thing. A thing. This post is likely to contain major spoilers. You’ve been warned.
This week, Jessica Lauren Draewell announced she’d won Disney and Lucasfilm’s The Last Jedi fan art contest with this image, which will be officially adopted into promotional material for the film. Yesterday, the new tv spot was released showing Rey wielding Kylo’s lightsaber (against Snoke, I hope). Say it with me: REY-LO.
I started supporting Reylo on Twitter a month after I joined in February 2016 to analyze, defend, and role-play Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. It’s been a bumpy ride. The amount of hate tweets thrown my way after I shipped Reylo was amazing. But enduring that social unpleasantry has come with rewards. Constantly defending my position has made me a better writer, given me confidence, and led to some lasting friendships with like-minded fans from around the world. And I’ve learned to chuckle when someone unfollows me when I tweet something Reylo. About half of my 1,000+ followers are Reylo shippers – people who believe in the power of love. Love against all odds.
Why do I think Reylo’s a thing? Simple. Love conquers all. It’s the human salve that heals all wounds. George Lucas set a precedence for featuring the power of love in his Star Wars sagas. In A New Hope, it was Han’s love for Leia that brought the selfish smuggler out of his looking-out-for-number-one attitude and awoke a sense of altruism in him, which led to the destruction of the Death Star. In the prequel series, Anakin Skywalker was denied love…and look what happened. Both Kylo and Rey weren’t loved enough as children. Both were abandoned — emotionally and physically. One of them found the strength to pull through on her own and the other did not. In the end, it’s her strength that’ll save the other, whether it’s romantic love or simple human compassion. Unconditional love.
And then there’s Adam Driver’s performance. In The Force Awakens, J. J. Abrams was in complete control of directing the delivery — facial expression, intonations, body language — of the actors. He was responsible for setting the mood of every scene. If he wasn’t happy with a performance, he would have asked an actor to do a scene over and over until he captured the delivery he wanted. So, if Abrams didn’t want Kylo Ren to be enamored with Rey, he would have looked for a different type of performance from Adam Driver.
The first sign Kylo is taken with Rey is obvious before we even see his face. The scene comes at the end of their first confrontation, when he captures her in the forest of Takodona. What does he do? Instead of overpowering her with violent means — he doesn’t beat her up, cut off her blaster hand, or Force-choke her — he painlessly immobilizes her and, rendering her unconscious, he bridal-carries her to his shuttle. If his interest in her was solely as a prisoner, he would have just slunger her unconscious body over his shoulder and hauled her — unceremoniously — away. Or he would have left her for a stormtrooper to carry. But Kylo Ren picks Rey up like a lover.
Next, there’s the interrogation scene. Oh boy. Why Rey is still unconscious, we see him crouching in a corner, watching her. He’s already put her on a pedestal, making himself look smaller and less intimidating to her when she awakes. He didn’t do that with Poe. And he does little things to make her feel less threatened. He loosens her restraints and takes off his helmet so she can see he’s human. When he pushes into her mind, he goes gently (gee, like a considerate bridegroom on a wedding night!) whereas he just ripped into Poe’s mind. He instantly tunes into her feelings and respects them. “You’re so lonely. So afraid to leave.” He identifies with her, because he feels the same way. He’s alone, incredibly lonely, and wants desperately to go home, although he won’t admit it to himself. Then when she manages to turn the tables and gets inside his mind, he’s genuinely hurt. He’s taken aback and feels betrayed.
Fast forward to their next and last encounter, to the fight on Starkiller, where he doesn’t kill her but offers to train her. But let’s back up to the beginning of the scene where he confronts Rey and Finn as they try to escape. I don’t think he meant to slam Rey into a tree. He’s wounded, bleeding, enraged, in shock, in pain, and exhausted. His ability to control the Force is diminished to be sure. He can’t Force-summon the Skywalker lightsaber and it flies to Rey instead. But Ren is still a force to be reckoned with (pun intended). He could cut Finn to pieces, but he doesn’t. If he does, he’d never stand a chance with Rey. Once Finn is down, he could still kill Rey since she hasn’t tapped into the Force yet, but he doesn’t. He’s fascinated by her. Adam Driver puts it this way: “He has been aware of this ability in himself from such a young age, and I don’t think there’s a lot of people around him who are on the same level. I think there is something familiar there [in Rey], as well as something to be feared, or something…that he can’t quite place.” (Entertainment Weekly).
Do we have a suggestion from Driver that Ben and Rey knew each other in the past? I’m still hanging onto that theory, which is only made stronger in the novelization where Kylo murmurs, “It IS you,” when the lightsaber goes flying into Rey’s hand. The narrative continues in the novel: “His words unsettled her: Not for the first time, he seemed to know more about her than she did about herself.” (Foster, 2015, p. 250-251). After seeing the tv spot yesterday with the massive spoiler (Kylo’s lightsaber in Rey’s hand), I’m wondering if Kylo hasn’t had a Force-forward vision of this moment. She’s either going to overpower him again or partner with him in The Last Jedi or both. As EW suggests, the danger isn’t in Kylo Ren and Rey becoming enemies, it’s becoming allies — a danger for Snoke, or a danger that they’ll both fall into the dark side and overpower the galaxy together. Snoke has it coming though. 🙂
Another piece of evidence for Reylo is that every image in Rey’s Force-vision in The Force Awakens is that has something seemingly to do with Ben Solo/Kylo Ren:
- Darth Vader battles Luke on Bespin. (Ben wants to be as strong as Darth Vader and overpower/overshadow his Jedi uncle)
- The boy at the end of the hall. (Many fans think the little boy is Ben).
- The Knights of Ren in the rain. (Kylo kills one to spare Rey).
- Luke and R2-D2 before the burning temple/academy. (Kylo destroys it).
- “I’ll come back for you, sweetheart! I promise!” (This scene doesn’t appear in the film but in the novelization — a voice calls out to her from the woods and she’s desperate to find the person. A Force-forward vision of separation from Kylo-Ben in the future…or in the past? Since Rey was left on Jakku at about age 5, Ben would have been about 15. “Sweetheart” isn’t a word a teenage boy would typically use, even if he had a soft spot for one of Luke’s padawans. But Padawan Ben Solo may have been connected to whoever abandoned Rey. I explored this idea in a series of stories in my fanfic.)
- Kylo Ren igniting his fiery lightsaber in the woods of Takodana, where he captures Rey and the two become aware of each other again.
On December 2, 2016, Director Rian Johnson tweeted an image of a red
thread to tease the Reylo fans. It’s in reference to The Red Thread of Fate, also referred to as The Red Thread of Marriage. According to Wikipedia, “the two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of place or circumstances. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break.” Just like a Force-bond, which is a strong connection in the Force between two Force-sensitive beings. In the novelization, Rey’s seen Kylo in dreams, visions, and nightmares before she’s captured by him. When he encounters her, the layers of the dark side that have shrouded Ben Solo start to peel away like an onion.
Will Kylo and Rey join forces? It may be too soon for them to join up in The Last Jedi. Entertainment Weekly points out, “He hates her. This girl. This garbage picker. This amateur who somehow drew his family lightsaber to her hand [and now his!], overpowering his own bond with the Force. And yet, Adam Driver says Kylo Ren can’t help but harbor an admiration for Daisy Ridley’s Rey. (This probably burns at Kylo too). (p.27) As for Rey, she hates Kylo for murdering the father she never had. All she’s ever wanted is family, so she can’t comprehend why someone would murder his own father. But “when Rey feels rejected by Luke Skywalker, who also sees parallels between the power in her and the abilities of his estranged nephew, he inadvertently pushes them toward each other.” (EW, 2017, p. 27) Rey feels this bond with Kylo that even Luke cannot sense.
Here’s how I think The Last Jedi may play out in regards to Kylo and Rey:
- Snoke sends out a siren song to Rey, and she comes before him either of her own accord (“Resist it Rey!”), or Kylo manages to capture her again and brings her to his master.
- Snoke tortures Rey and awakens — again — Kylo’s compassion, and he manages to save her, possibly at his own expense.
- Either he throws his lightsaber to her, or he’s incapacitated, and she summons it to her and manages to escape.
- Either they’ll be separated again at the end of Episode VIII (and come together again in Episode IX), or they’ll come together at the last minute in VIII and form Team Reylo on a cliffhanger in the battle against Snoke.
- The battle will continue in Episode IX and cannot be won until they’re a united team.
Whether romantic or platonic, you can’t deny the truth that is Reylo.
@MyKyloRen 8 December 2017
Foster, A.D. (2015). Star Wars: The Force awakens. New York: Del Rey.