Star Wars: Did Rey love Kylo Ren?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens.. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Photo: David James.. ©2016 Lucas Film Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens.. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Photo: David James.. ©2016 Lucas Film Ltd. All Rights Reserved. /

One of the more interesting dynamics in the Star Wars sequel trilogy was the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren. First established as bitter enemies on opposite sides of the war for the galaxy in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi explored a unique Force connection the two shared that allowed them to communicate with each other across the galaxy.

Though Supreme Leader Snoke claimed that he was the one who linked their minds, The Rise of Skywalker revealed that their Force connection went back much further than that. As a dyad in the Force, Rey and Kylo Ren were uniquely connected as one in the Force for most of their lives; they just didn’t know it.

Rey and Ben as siblings?

There’s no question that Rey and Kylo Ren shared a special relationship, but was it romantic? When Rey kissed Ben, who shed the identity of Kylo Ren upon his return to the light, at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, the act would seem to indicate that Rey loved Ben romantically.

Except that J.J. Abrams has said that the kiss wasn’t like that. Talking with fans after a screening of The Rise of Skywalker at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Abrams said of the romantic kiss, “There is as much of a brother-sister thing between Rey and Kylo Ren as there is a romantic thing.” The Rise of Skywalker novelization even tries to downplay the kiss, describing it as “a kiss of gratitude, acknowledgment of their connection, celebration that they’d found each other at last.”

Stories speak for themselves

So clearly Rey loved Ben, but only like a brother. If that feels a little off, you’re not alone. Since Abrams wrote The Rise of Skywalker with Chris Terrio, his opinion on that moment obviously matters, but stories should also be able to speak for themselves. That’s part of the beauty of storytelling.

More from Kylo Ren

The story is perceived through the lenses of whoever is watching it. Abrams compares the Rey/Ben kiss to Luke and Leia’s kiss in The Empire Strikes Back. But even that perception is problematic. Luke and Leia didn’t know they were siblings when they kissed, but they were siblings. We didn’t know they were siblings at the time, and the kiss clearly felt romantic for us, which is why we found it disturbing later when we found out the truth. It wasn’t a brother-sister kiss.

A clear attraction

Rey and Ben aren’t siblings. Their connection has never played out like a brother-sister relationship. Throughout The Last Jedi, it seems clear that there’s an attraction between the two of them. Yes, they’re enemies, but they’re also drawn to each other. At the midpoint of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey tells Ben that she wanted to take his hand to join him. When Ben rushes to Exegol to fight by Rey’s side, it’s evident that they care deeply about each other.

The language of soul mates

Many fans felt like the Rey and Ben kiss felt forced, and maybe it did, but Rey was just brought back to life by Ben. He’d used the Force, which he’d previously used in a destructive way, to give her life. She’s grateful, and like the novelization said, “[T]hey’d found each other at last.” Even though the novelization is trying to downplay the kiss, it uses the language of soul mates to describe Rey and Ben. A kiss, it could be argued, is an act of passion and act of romantic attraction. Forced or not, in the context of the story, letting the story speak for itself, Rey loved Ben Solo. And Ben Solo loved her.

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