I love this.
Month: March 2020
Monday Musings: Reylo-Yes or No?
So let’s talk about “Reylo”.
Reylo, of course, refers to the perceived romantic relationship between Kylo/Ben and Rey. Many, many fans insist that the connection between these two characters translates into romantic love.
On the other hand, many others insist that there’s no proof of that in the films, and their relationship must and should remain platonic. They are a “dyad” in the Force, but that doesn’t mean lovers.
Where do I stand on this burning question?
Before I answer that, let’s consider the true meaning of a “dyad”. Again, we’ll get out our trusty dictionary (because I’m a stickler like that):
a group of two; couple; pair.
- two persons involved in an ongoing relationship or interaction.
- the relationship or interaction itself.
Okay, that doesn’t tell us very much.
Let’s assume that this definition precludes any notion of romance or sex. From the context of the movie, I think it infers a balance between two opposites: good/bad, light/dark, perhaps even male/female. There’s a lot of referencing “bringing balance to the Force”, and a dyad is the highest representation of this.
We might also go so far as to say that they need each other, that one cannot exist without the other. That they are two halves of one soul. That’s why I believe Ben’s soul lives within Rey now; without his own body, there’s only one place to go–within hers.
So yes, they’re inextricably linked, body and soul. But does that mean they must fulfill our fantasies of romantic love? Not necessarily.
But the question remains: are they in love?
In my opinion, Kylo/Ben is most definitely in love with Rey. It’s written all over the guy, in his fascination with her, and his desire to have her join him in the Dark Side (since he feels he can’t go back to the Light). Just the way he looks at her makes it obvious, both as Kylo and as Ben. The man’s got it bad.
But does Rey love him? I don’t think so. How can any woman be in love with a man like Kylo Ren? Perhaps “Dark Rey” could, if you could call it love. But not Light Rey. I think she’s fascinated by him in her turn, as the other half of the dyad they make, and in Ben, Han and Leia’s son. She holds out hope for Ben Solo suffocating under the evil veneer of Kylo.
And perhaps there’s even a sexual attraction (though Disney, of course, would never hint at such a thing), but we can surmise for ourselves. After all, Kylo Ren is the epitome of the tall, dark, and dangerous man of sexual fantasy (take it from us women, guys). Shirtless scene aside, I get the feeling that their lightsaber duels can be construed on some level as an acting out of sexual frustration. Just sayin’.
I do believe that, if given the chance, Rey probably would have fallen in love with Ben Solo. She just didn’t get that chance. I think she was happy and gratified that he prevailed over Kylo, that his soul turned back to the Light; but it’s premature to call it romantic love on her part.
So what about that kiss?
Is it me, or was it kind of weird? I like that they kissed, but it wasn’t exactly a kiss of passion. In all honesty, they looked like two 14-year-olds locking lips for the first, tentative time (and it can be argued that these characters are both virgins, but again, that’s non-Disney territory). It was sweet, but just…weird.
In the novelization of TROS, the kiss was referred to as a “kiss of gratitude”. Um, okay. She’s thanking him for bringing her back from the dead. I guess that warrants a kiss.
Also in the novelization, after Ben dies Rey hears his voice in her head saying, “I will always be with you.” And Rey thinking, No one is ever really gone...
I do like that idea, that he’s not really gone for her. But still maddeningly vague on the romance question, to those who want a definitive answer. Can we be satisfied with a chaste love? An eternal love that goes beyond the physical?
I can live with that. But only because I have to.
What are your thoughts on Reylo? Are they or aren’t they? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
TROS Novelization: A Good Read
So I’ve just finished reading The Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson, and I have to say, it was a wonderful read. Not because it’s Great Literature (though she does a fine job with it), but because it adds so much to the story.
Some fans feel that the movie is a rushed mess, that there’s no context in many scenes, and the editing was terrible. I don’t disagree with this; but at two and a half hours already, there’s just so much you can put in there.
That’s where a great novelization comes in.
Here’s my list of Really Interesting Things in the book that’s not in the movie but would have been awesome to see:
- Leia gets more attention. Obviously, with Carrie Fisher’s death, we were lucky to get what we did in the film. And while it’s amazing what they did with what they had, the book is able to give her more attention, especially her scenes with Rey. We get see her thoughts on thinking back to her training with Luke, and more memories with Ben as a baby. More importantly, I think, we see that Luke has been speaking with her from beyond, telling her “It’s time,” as in, time to die. “Not yet,” she keeps replying, reluctant to let go of her responsibilities. She also still wants to try to reach Ben, to show him she still loves him. “Then tell him,” Luke says, and that’s when she reaches out, and Kylo begins his journey back to Ben Solo.
- The Webbish Bog on Mustafar. At the very beginning of the film, when Kylo scythes through all those aliens to get to the Wayfinder, it’s a little confusing as to what exactly he’s doing and why. The book includes an extended scene of Kylo finding a strange being in a bog: a huge bald head emerges from the water with a spidery being attached to its skull, a symbiotic but painful relationship that’s a bit horrifying. The spidery thing tells Kylo that he’s earned Vader’s Wayfinder, but if he continues on this path, he’ll encounter his true self. Hmmm….The scene also has Hux and Pryde watching from afar and commenting on Kylo’s actions. Hux is impatient with Kylo’s mystical shenanigans, as usual, but Pryde comments that Ren’s carnage is “almost a thing of beauty.” We see the stark contrast between these two men immediately, and that Pryde, older and with Imperial ties, may have some sympathy with the old ideas of the Force, the Jedi, and the Sith.
- Lando’s child. We get more from Lando, too, including his thinking back about losing his own child, a young daughter, to the First Order. This would have cleared up my confusion on first seeing the film, at the end when Lando asks Janna about her home system. Not necessarily that he might be her father (C3PO wouldn’t have very good odds on that), but just why he would be so interested in helping others find their original homes. It’s personal to him. “They got their revenge by turning our children against us,” he says earlier in the film, to Rey and her companions. We also get to see him reminiscing aboard the Millenium Falcon, and being outraged that his cloak closet had been converted to something else. The nerve!
- Kylo Ren interrogates Chewie. When Chewie is taken aboard Ren’s ship, he probes the Wookie’s mind to find out where Rey is. He gets that info, but he also sees more than he bargained for: Chewie’s warm, tender memories of young Ben Solo, the toddler cuddling the big furry lug, Chewie teaching him things, and just basically how Chewie loved him. It makes Kylo nauseous, and clearly affects him deeply. We get to see that these two had a relationship in the past; Chewie isn’t just an afterthought.
- Zorii’s escape from Kijimi. We get an extended scene of Zorii escaping Kijimi before the First Order blows it up. We meet the people in her gang, including a young girl named Lluda. Zorii originally was going to take Lluda with her, but the girl decides to stay and helps her escape instead. I’m guessing the girl died on the planet when it blew up. This, along with the death of other friends, may be why Zorii decided to join the fight of the Resistance at battle of Exegol.
- Getting into the heads of Rey and Ben at the end. The scenes with Rey and Ben as they face the Emperor, and then Ben’s reviving of Rey, and his subsequent death, are pretty much the same as in the film, but it’s wonderful to get into their heads as all this is going on. We get a better sense of how they feel as they realize the true nature of their shared connection; in fact, they realize they’d been “robbed” of this very special bond, and that it had only been a twisted version that they’d been living thus far. It adds to the tragedy of the whole thing, but we get a better sense of satisfaction in knowing the intimate nature of their bond. Most importantly–and this absolutely should have been in the movie–after Ben dies, Rey hears his voice say, “I will always be with you.” And Rey thinks, No one is ever really gone. Geez, that would have added, what, 5 seconds to the film? Why couldn’t we have seen that?! It’s so much more satisfying than what we got, a more complete sense of closure.
Those are the big things that stood out, but there were some little things that were delightful to read, such as:
- At one point, Kylo Ren refers, in his thoughts, to Rey’s “lovely face.” Bae is pretty!
- Poe reminds himself to ask Lando about his awesome cape. I can so see Poe wanting a cape.
- Rey’s original idea about her own lightsaber was to make a double-bladed one–the very kind she saw Dark Rey using. Probably why she changed her mind and went with the single blade.
- Hux hates Ren’s hair! Absolutely. Hates. It. Its messy length goes against everything he believes in: order, order, order; and he muses on the idea of making Ren cut it off when he, Hux, is in charge. I thought this was a great tidbit.
Have you read the TROS novelization? What did you think? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
Saturday Survey: Desert Worlds
Friday Focus: Rey-The Search for Identity
Here’s the second installment of my Women of Star Wars series.
From the moment we meet Rey, scavenging on Jakku, we know that she’s young, strong, and capable. Her harsh environment has taught her how to handle herself and others; she very rarely needs rescuing (something that Finn, annoyingly, fails to understand).
But at the core of her is a mystery, not only to us but to herself. There is a power within her, a strength in the Force that suggests she’s special in some way. Who left her on Jakku as a child and why? Rey’s desperate need to believe they’ll come back for her is a result not only of her terrible loneliness, but of her need to know: who is she?
The old adage “Be careful what you wish for,” comes into play by the third film. But in the second, The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tells her, “You come from nothing. You’re nothing.” And we start to believe him. Her parents were simply junk traders, selling her off for drink money. Sad, but never mind. It’s all right. She doesn’t have to be anyone “special” to be, well, special. Rey’s experience in the dark well of mirrors on Ach-To seems to confirm this. She only has herself to rely on.
But a little part of me refused to believe it. Rey had to get those amazing Force powers from somewhere, right?
When we find out in TROS that Rey is a Palpatine, I was blindsided. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming at all. Rey had always been a vessel of Light to me. I couldn’t see her coming from the most evil man in the Galaxy.
The clues, however, were there for me to see. Rey had raw strength, yes, but she also had anger that she unabashedly drew from . In her battles with Kylo, she often seemed more angry and agitated than he was, though this was probably due to her lack of control. She’d never been properly trained as a Jedi, while Kylo had spent years as Luke’s student. She yells, snarls, and growls a lot in her fight sequences, as if she’s drawing on some monster inside her.
On Acht-To, when Luke gave her that first lesson on the Force on the rock ledge, she went deep–deeper than he had expected, deep into both Light and Dark, which frightened him.
“You didn’t even try to stop yourself,” he said to her, eyes wide with fear. Rey had a (unbeknownst at this point) familial link to the Dark Side, almost an attraction that she couldn’t resist.
It’s ironic that Kylo, who was born to the Light, kept insisting that Rey surrender to the Dark Side, while even he hadn’t completely surrendered himself. Not really. He kept feeling the “pull to the Light”. He kept doing things that he thought would cement his commitment to the Dark. But he still felt “split to the bone,” in Snoke’s words.
Rey stubbornly refuses to surrender, even after her meeting with Dark Rey. She knows she comes from the Dark, senses the power she could have if she gave in to it; yet still plods on in the Light, determined to help her Resistance friends, and to face her grandfather, the Emperor.
The full import of her parents’ sacrifice comes into play here. In giving her up and putting her into hiding (and they being killed in the process), she was protected from the evil influence of her grandfather. She fully gets to choose who she wants to be, whether she follows the Light or the Dark.
This is in contrast to Kylo, who had heard the whisper of the devil in his ear from a very young age, confusing and twisting him.
The gift Rey’s parents gave her is incalculable. In being able to choose her destiny, Rey is prevented from being a victim (as in many respects Kylo can be seen); and, of course, is able to save the Galaxy!
At the end of TROS, when she names herself “Rey Skywalker”, she gives up on the idea of somebody else telling her who she is. She’s choosing her own identity. It doesn’t matter to me whether she called herself Rey Solo, Rey Skywalker, or even Rey Palpatine, if she wanted to. The point is, she chose.
That’s claiming a power almost as strong as the Force.
How do you feel about Rey’s character? Did you like her story? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
Throwback Thursday: Carrie and Mark
These two goofed off a lot like…well, like brother and sister.
Whatever Wednesday: Behind the Scenes-Ben and Han Solo
This is possibly the best and most heart-wrenching scene in all of Star Wars. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look with Adam Driver and Harrison Ford commenting.
What did you think of this scene? Did it work for you? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
Check out Star Wars Coffee for more great clips, behind the scenes, and videos on Star Wars.
Tuesday Tidbit: Ben's Scar
Fun facts for you on a Tuesday.
How did I not notice this?!
Monday Musings: Should Ben Solo Have Died?
In The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s turn from the Dark Side back to the light and becoming Ben Solo again–“Bendemption”–is one of the highlights of the film, and one of the things I looked forward to the most.
That it would happen seemed pre-ordained. Even after I watched the first film, I had the vague sense that his arc would lead to eventual redemption. But I also knew that it would lead to his probable death. At the time of The Force Awakens, I wanted him to die, to pay for his murder of Han Solo. I hated him.
By the time of TROS, I didn’t want him to die. Every fiber of my being longed for him to live. But the writer in me knew that it was impossible. Why, you ask?
Well, let’s back up a bit. What, exactly, does “redemption” mean, anyway? You know what’s coming: a dictionary definition. Here it is from Dictionary.com:
1. An act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.
2. Deliverance; rescue.
3. Theology. Deliverance from sin; salvation; atonement for guilt.
So how is Ben Solo redeemed?
In several ways. He throws Kylo’s lightsaber away. He rushes to Exegol to help Rey against the Emperor. And most importantly, he sacrifices his own life to bring Rey back from the dead.
It’s that last one that we need to look at closely. When he finds Rey on the floor and realizes she’s dead, he’s devastated. But you can see in his face the moment he realizes what he must do. He knows he can bring her back. And he knows that he must exchange his own life for hers. He mulls this over for about two seconds, and then willingly, without hesitation or regret, brings her back. They have a few precious moments together, and then–he dies.
So, I think it’s important to remember here that Ben chooses to give his life for Rey’s. It’s not like he wasn’t sure what would happen, but tried it anyway, and then died. That would have been his life being taken away from him, and kind of unfair. No–he knew. His life wasn’t taken away from him; he gave it away, for the sake of Rey. It’s an important distinction. It makes any notion of fairness moot.
But supposing the writers decided he didn’t have to die to bring her back. What then?
Could Ben Solo really ride off into the sunset with Rey to live happily ever after? Should he?
Not to get too Crime and Punishment here, but does his act of bringing Rey back to life warrant complete forgiveness? Yes, he did have a hand in helping Rey defeat the Emperor, which saved the galaxy. Does it erase all the terrible things he did as Kylo Ren? Maybe. What kind of atonement can account for all that?
Perhaps he could spend the rest of his days doing Good Works, bringing the Jedi back, working for the good of the galaxy. That’s supposing he’s accepted back into the fold after all he’s done, which is not guaranteed. He could very well be tried for crimes against humanity. Just because we the audience see his complete turnaround to the Light–and perhaps Rey’s testimony to it as well–doesn’t mean the rest of the Galaxy would forgive him. Kylo, Ben, what does it matter? To them, he’s the same dude who did a lot of bad stuff.
Am I happy about it? No. I’m devastated. But that’s the mark of a good story: it moves you, leaves a mark on you, haunts you in some way. It offers some bitter to the sweet.
That’s my take on it, anyway.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Ben should have lived? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
Saturday Survey: Poll-Rey Theories
Every weekend I’ll be posting a fun poll about Star Wars. Vote below!
I thought she was Luke’s daughter. And then nobody. And then I wasn’t sure…
If you had other theories, share them below!