Let's take a look at the controversial Star Wars ship Rey/Kylo Ren, better known as Reylo. The portmanteau ignites strong feelings in lovers and haters alike. It's one of the most talked-about ships on Tumblr and has made more than a few appearances in mainstream media outlets, too. Each side uses the films, novelizations, creator and cast comments, and more as evidence that theirs is the right interpretation of the pair's dynamic, causing serious discourse to overshadow the lighter side of fandom. Which side are you on?
Rey and Kylo Ren are connected whether you like it or not.
Fans of the star-crossed lovers point to the couple's undeniably intertwined destinies, which includes their canonical force-bond, a powerful link between their minds that allows them to speak and even touch across galaxies. While Snoke claims to have bridged their minds, he does have reason to lie in that moment; plus, if he had that kind of power, how could he fail to anticipate Kylo's eventual betrayal?
It's possible that the force itself created the bond—or that it occurred naturally and inevitably—to bring these two powerful people into necessary balance. Whatever the cause, Rey and Kylo Ren share something no one else does.
They are drawn to each other.
Both Kylo Ren and Rey are visibly intrigued by the other and have taken steps to be in one another's presence. For example, once Kylo Ren realizes that Rey has the information he needs, he opts to take her with him rather than extract the information onsite. For Rey's part, she not only leaves Luke behind in favor of his nephew but also ships herself right to the future Supreme Leader's doorstep.
The symbolism! The literary parallels!
Long-graduated liberal arts students have written many a treatise on the symbolism in The Last Jedi and how it reveals the inevitable love story between Kylo Ren and Rey. These essays cover everything, including visual and personality yin/yang, growing similarities in their fighting styles, strategic red/blue/purple lighting, Freudian imagery, Death and the Maiden imagery, raptus, and even the idea that their final battle in the throne room represented sexual release.
Others draw parallels from Kylo Ren and Rey's relationship to those in classic literature such as Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre.
Kylo Ren kills Snoke for Rey.
When Snoke tells his apprentice that he will face a test with his father, Kylo Ren assures him that his loyalty is unwavering; indeed, he murders Han the first chance he gets without much hesitation. However, when Snoke commands Kylo Ren to do the same to Rey, he not only hesitates—he takes the moment to turn the blade on Snoke instead.
Kylo Ren was a victim of abuse himself.
Proponents of #SaveBenSolo believe that the villain's true self is fearful and lonely and that his acting out is a result of hurt inflicted by others in his life, namely Han, Leia, Luke, and Snoke. This theory puts classic characters in a bad light: Han is an absent father, Leia a neglectful mother, and Luke a mentor who unfairly judges the pupil he is meant to guide. It also suggests that Snoke manipulated Kylo Ren from a young age, steeping him in the dark side and encouraging bitter anger to brew, drowning out the goodness at his core.
He can be redeemed (and he deserves it).
Kylo had moments of conflict and regret that suggest he will ultimately choose a path that leads to redemption—or at least is not totally lost to the darkness. JJ Abrams says Kylo regrets killing his father the moment he does it. Adam Driver says The Last Jedi was an opportunity to see the humanity in Kylo and Daisy Ridley has said redemption is possible (link).
Even Rey herself holds out hope that he will see the light; after all, she is one of the only people who still call him Ben.
They already fuuuuuu-elt each other's hands.
Rey and Kylo Ren discover that they can make physical contact through the force bond. According to Rian Johnson, their intimate caress in firelight is the closest thing to sex we've seen in a Star Wars movie (link).
Rian Johnson is on our side.
He loves and relates to Kylo, likes Reylo fanart online, and says to Reylo fans, "It's all in the movie." There's no question that, whatever you think about the pair, the writer and director intended for their fates to be intertwined.
Who cares? It's fiction.
Some who see the potential for a Reylo romance enjoy the chemistry between the actors and the tension between the characters and go no deeper in their analysis than that.
Kylo Ren straight up sucks.
From his introduction in The Force Awakens to his final battle in The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren is a fury-driven man-child whose stunted emotional development and fragile ego cause him to lash out violently at those around him. He commands a village of innocents to be slaughtered, murders his own father in cold blood, tries to kill his uncle, does not stop his mother being blown up, and betrays his leader in order to feed his ambition and take the throne of a dictatorship. He gets chance after chance to make the right choice but consistently opts for the Dark Side and aids evildoers. Plus, he throws a tantrum whenever things don't go his way.
Toxic Masculinity Is the True Villain of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (link)
The relationship romanticizes physical, emotional, and mental abuse.
He kidnaps Rey, tortures her mentally and physically, promises to kill her to upset his uncle, tries to kill her multiple times (only thwarted by her own power), delivers her to his leader for further torture and almost certain death, and then taunts her with her parents' abandonment, her loneliness, and the deaths of her friends in an attempt to isolate and break her.
Kylo Ren and Rey might be blood relatives.
Though The Last Jedi saw Kylo revealing Rey's unremarkable parentage to audiences, he is not a particularly reliable character. Some fans theorize that it was a misdirect intended to further sever Rey's ties to her past, drawing her toward the dark side and giving her reason to join him on the throne. Why do these fans hang onto the idea of a family relationship?
Kylo and Rey seem to have equal strength. When they both reach for the lightsaber in the throne room, it's suspended equidistant between them. Could this mean they're siblings? Maybe, but it's not likely; there'd be no clear reason for Han and Leia to send their daughter away while their son trained with Luke.
Because the Force is strongest with the Skywalkers and Leia is the carrier, it's possible she had a child with someone else after she and Han parted ways, and that child inherited her family's power. A silhouette that could be Leia does appear briefly in Rey's vision in the island cave before it dissolves back into her own reflection. But Leia would undoubtedly recognize her own daughter and it would be strange of her not to acknowledge Rey in all the time they spent together, especially considering the parent-child vibe they had going on.
One last familial theory is that Rey is Luke's daughter. They bond quickly and have a similar backstory, being left on desert planets without their parents and growing into players on the galactic stage. Again, though, Luke would certainly recognize Rey as his offspring, and there's no indication he's keeping that kind of a secret from her—even when he walks in on Les Cousins Dangereux.
Shipping Rey with
Rey and Finn were both raised in isolated, emotionally bankrupt environments (Rey abandoned by her parents, Finn as a child soldier) and inevitably bonded when they saw compassion in each other. They look out for one another, even to the point of risking their own lives, and they are regularly shown pining for the other's presence. Some think the obvious love between Rey and Finn—and the chemistry between Daisy Ridley and John Boyega—means that anyone who ships Rey with her enemy instead of the obvious romantic lead must do so because they prefer to see their heroine with a white man, no matter how poorly he treats her.
Shipping anyone with anyone is a feminist agenda.
An argument more prevalent on Reddit than Tumblr, some "fans" believe Kathleen Kennedy was pushing a feminist/leftist/PC agenda by including smart, powerful women and potential for love in the new trilogy. According to these bitter men, romance is for empty-headed ladies and sullies the sanctity of their space wars. This is not so much anti-Reylo as it is anti-Rey, period.
John Boyega is on our side.
He envisions a romantic future for Finn and Rey (link).
Jason Fry is on our side.
The author of The Last Jedi novelization spoke out on Twitter, countering claims that his version of the story supported a Finn who was obsessive and predatory. It's not clear if Fry is actively anti-Reylo, but he does not support mischaracterizing Finn (and Rose) for the sake of the ship. (link)
ive never felt so betrayed https://t.co/nv32iHJ9xZ— Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n) April 10, 2018
**Despite the title, the poll is not anonymous. It was originally, then I forgot to change the title—so beware.
What do you think of Reylo endgame?
Who do you ship? (Check all that apply)
The Fuck nays! have it.
Disclaimer: This is not comprehensive. If I forgot or misstated something, it was an oversight and not an agenda. Be cool.