by Ali Slate (@glittergeekali)
I know, I know; you’re probably tired of seeing the word, or rather, the ship name Reylo. It brings to mind so many things for different people, different groups in the online fan community. Some see it as abuse, some see it as pure romance, and others see it as a plot point. Some have used it as a battle cry, and others have taken it on as part of their identity.
What is Reylo, for those of you that don’t know? Reylo is the ship name, the belief, that Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo from the Star Wars sequel trilogy belong together.
As this column is called The Feminerd Gaze, let me tell you why there is an appeal to the idea of Reylo being an actual thing, or rather, why Reylo works.
- Good girls and bad boys.
We love the idea of the good girl getting the bad boy, don’t we? It’s all over all sorts of media – comics, TV shows, and too many other movies to count. We cheer for the misunderstood guy in fiction. In reality, not so much (ladies, run away from these qualities IRL!). Ben Solo is the ultimate misunderstood guy, though. He’s tall, handsome, has that perfectly deep voice, all the while knowing how to wield the Force to his every whim. He’s got power, and we’re attracted to power, no matter our gender or sexual orientation. Rey’s power matches his, which makes it all the more enticing, because we want to see those different-but-equal forces get together, because… imagine the power.
Rey is the good girl that wants no harm to come to no one, and we look at her as being able to tame the beast that is Kylo Ren. While that is in no way her responsibility, it seems to be something that, at least in The Last Jedi, she was very interested in doing. Girl, I get it; I’ve seen him shirtless, too.
- Kylo Ren is a sympathetic character.
So many people want to deny this – they want to paint him as being as villainous as Darth Vader (I did not say as powerful). I think people have developed sympathies for Vader post-prequels, because we got to see what it took for Anakin to become Vader. While we have seen small bits of why Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, the books, if you’ve read them, give you a lot of insight on why Ben turned to the dark side. Not only was Snoke talking to him since his infancy, but his home life wasn’t great. Often, people will try to compare how lush Ben’s upbringing was compared to Rey’s, but they both identify as extremely lonely.
- It’s been there since The Force Awakens.
Okay, so this is where the debate really starts – were there or were there no sparks between Rey and Kylo in Episode VII? I say yes – would they have gone to all of the effort to make Adam Driver’s hair look so perfect when he took off his mask if they hadn’t wanted him to be attractive? And if they didn’t want him to look attractive, would they have even cast Adam Driver, the most manly-looking man working in cinema today? No – they wanted you to have a weird liking for Kylo Ren that you couldn’t really put your finger on, which made it all the more confusing when – spoiler alert – he killed his dad, Han Solo.
He could have easily gotten BB-8 on Takodana, but no, he’s not interested in the droid – he needs (wants) the girl, as he called her. This gorgeous girl who isn’t cowering before him has seen the map, and he likes girls more than cute droids that look like soccer balls, and who can blame him? So, he makes her pass out with the Force, and takes her on his shuttle, and they go to Starkiller Base. Newsflash to dudes: do not try this on us, because it won’t end well. We like it on screen, but not in real life.
So, he straps her down to a chair, as any young man does (they should not), and waits for her to wake up (creepy in real life). This is when the glorious hair scene happens. Why did he do this for Rey and not for Poe Dameron? Because he wasn’t trying to flirt with Poe, as I would.
And while you could easily say he just wanted to train Rey and was willing to use any technique necessary to draw her to him, this was a very romantically-driven one: “Look, Rey. I have hair that women will write articles about for years – it’s our destiny!”
- The Last Jedi confirmed it.
I’m personally of the belief that Rey is not in love with Kylo/Ben, but that he’s in love with her – that’s the kind of Reylo shipper I am, which is the tortured soul-type. Rian Johnson’s take at the Skywalker Saga confirms that Kylo’s got the hots for Rey, for sure. None of this would have been possible were it not for their Force bond, which Reylo shippers saw coming from a mile away, and if you’re a fan of Knights of the Old Republic, the Force bond between the two was especially pleasing.
Outside of the Force bond (or in it), there were quite a few clues that Lucasfilm was shipping Reylo. One, the shirtless scene (we were all shaken up by that), two, the hand touching that felt like way more than hand touching, and three, Kylo’s Julia Roberts in Notting Hill moment: “I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him.” Hey, not my take – that’s Rian Johnson’s!
The icing on the cake to confirm that Kylo is into Rey is when she shuts the door during a Force bond session at the end of the film; the look on Kylo’s face is of utter grief. Yet another moment in the saga of him regretting his actions, which helps him on this redemption arc he’s on, because he’s clearly not a villain who relishes in being evil. He is the hero in his story.
- We all want a romance.
While most of the internet is quick to list Attack of the Clones as their least favorite Star Wars movie, I don’t think that anyone dislikes it because there is romance. It seems as if we’ve been waiting for a romance in the sequel trilogy, and a lot of fans will point to Rose and Finn as the answer, but… I’m sorry you guys, but those two don’t have the raw chemistry that Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver clearly are able to convey on screen.
I am not a Finn-Rose hater, I’m actually a big Rose Tico fan, but that kiss they shared in The Last Jedi didn’t have the sexual energy that the hand touch scene had, which honestly speaks to what Rian Johnson was trying to say in that scene, which is “Look, they’ve got chemistry.”
It’s a space opera, and what do operas have? Romance. Drama. Angst. And that’s something that Reylo gives us.
In conclusion, do I think we’ll see Reylo realized? Yes, but certainly not in the way that you think, but does this relationship work on screen? Absolutely, and it’s the most appealing romance in the fantasy/action/science fiction genre at the moment. Almost everyone that knows Star Wars knows what Reylo is, and I think that a whole lot more are about to find out.