Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Reylo Plot Bunny, Or Why I'm Going To Hell (LAST JEDI Spoilers)

One of my real-life friends is a major Star Wars fan and, in particular, is a Reylo shipper. Yes, she wants Kylo Ren, also known as Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia who fell to the dark side, to have a romantic relationship with Rey. Based on what happened in The Force Awakens I didn't think that would be particularly healthy. Seriously, he tries to mind-rape her (only to get mind-raped himself), kills her new friend/father-figure (and his own actual father) in front of her, sadistically injures one of her friends, tries to forcibly recruit her to the Dark Side ("YOU NEED A TEACHER!") while shoving a lightsaber in her face, and then she proceeds to beat the crap out of him. Had she submitted to his recruitment/wooing at any point before she turned the tables and taken a chunk of his face and shoulder, it would have certainly been unequal and abusive.

However, the events of The Last Jedi have made me far more interested in the idea. Here there be spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie, don't keep reading:

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver spend much of the film having telepathic Force chats and clearly have a great deal of chemistry. She clearly desires him physically to at least some degree, based on her reaction to seeing him with his shirt off. When Kylo reveals that Luke had tried to kill him as a teen, she takes his side immediately ("DID YOU CREATE KYLO REN?") and sets off to redeem him much like Luke had tried to save his father Darth Vader in the original trilogy. When his master Snoke has her at his mercy, he kills him to save her and then the two of them gloriously battle Snoke's bodyguard and wreck the hell out of them together. Kylo then asks her to join him...but she's not buying it because she wants him to call off the pursuit of the fleeing Resistance and he wants to finish them in order to "let the past die." They briefly battle over Anakin's old lightsaber, Kylo is knocked out, and Rey flees the ship. Someone pointed out online that her feelings are for Ben Solo, not Kylo Ren, and he's just "doubled down" rather than renounced evil.

Of course, beyond the fact that Rey isn't willing to betray her morals and let her Resistance friends get killed to get her hands on the beefy Darth Emo, there're additional problems. Kylo's attempt to woo her even after he's killed Snoke is manipulative and emotionally abusive. "You're nothing...but not to me." He's trying to break her down and make her emotionally dependent on him, which I believe is called "negging." That's probably the same kind of crap Snoke pulled with him. "Mom and Dad and Uncle Luke don't care about you, but I do." If Rey had gone along, it'd be continuing the cycle of abuse. Someone I've communicated with on Twitter suggests his intentions toward Rey are more benign than Snoke's were toward him and given how Rey is clearly more powerful he probably knows better than to overstep, but still. I pointed out on Twitter that it's Kylo's responsibility to repent of his wickedness, not Rey's responsibility to fix him. Seriously the "good girl saves bad boy" cultural meme has harmed vastly more good girls than it's saved bad boys.

However, there is a way forward that doesn't involve Rey sacrificing her morals and independence, even for Adam Driver. After Snoke's death the First Order General Hux nearly shoots the unconscious Kylo and when he attempts to stand up to his presumptuous power-grab, Kylo violently puts him his place. Kylo knocks Hux around sometime later...and then proceeds to look like a flailing maniac in front of the First Order's army when Luke does his astral projection thing. Not only does Kylo not remember Machiavelli's adage "never do your enemy a small injury," but he's just lost the respect of a lot of his troops. Hux is now in a good position to take revenge.

So I'm thinking Hux will finally find his balls and stage a coup against Kylo, probably once he gets a safe distance away. Kylo will survive and go on the run and end up hitting rock bottom, which might have been Luke's intention by showing him up so publicly in the first place. The Dark Side, seeking power over others, etc. has cost him his family, the power he'd briefly achieved, the woman he's got at least a Villainous Crush on, etc. After all, I believe everybody is redeemable, but you have to WANT to repent, and as of the end of The Last Jedi, Kylo doesn't. Getting overthrown and forced into hiding might change that. The image I had was him crying into blue milk in the Mos Eisley cantina. Meanwhile, Rey has recruited some young Force sensitives to be her new Jedi padawans (I'm thinking the stable-boy from the end of the film and for the purposes of this story an older girl who looks and acts a lot like Wednesday Addams). Upon hearing of a powerful Force user, she arrives on Tatooine and finds...him. They initially get into a confrontation only for the First Order troops to arrive and they have to fight them off together.

Then they give into all the unresolved sexual tension and hook up. I'm imagining that Force-sensitive stable-boy, now a little bit older, finding them in the Millennium Falcon bunk and the following exchange:

Stable Boy: "Master Rey, what are you doing with him?"

Rey (hastily covering herself): "We're having some...philosophical exchange."

Wednesday Addams: "Looks like something else was getting exchanged."

Yes, I'm going to hell.

On a more serious note this could be a retelling of the Expanded Universe story of Luke Skywalker's recruitment of Kam Solusar, a fallen Jedi who'd been forcibly converted to the Dark Side by Darth Vader, only with a romantic plot. It'd probably be more conflicted too--part of what makes Kylo interesting as a character is his emotional complexity, the tension between the Dark and the Light. Even though Kylo would know full well the bad end the road goes, the Dark Side might still have its attractions, and the power it can provide would be really helpful when the First Order is reconquering the galaxy, the Republic has been decapitated, and the Resistance is gutted. Meanwhile, Rey is clearly not going to approve of anything that could herald Ben Solo reverting to Kylo Ren and, voila, drama.

On the other hand, if we ended up with a synthesis of Rey's and Kylo's ideas re: the Force...Grey Jedi? Seriously Disney, if this is generally where you're going with it (obviously they're not going to have sex jokes in a Star Wars movie), don't just abandon the idea to avoid possible liability issues.

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