Immediately after folks exited their first screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in 2015, the notion of some romantic connection between our new hero and villain started to blossom. Soon, the hashtag #Reylo started to pop up on social media. These posts were often accompanied with praise and proof of theory or a well cropped photo of Rey and Kylo Ren with various quotes about perceiving longing for each other. And while a lot of other fans were complaining about Rey being a “Mary Sue” (which she really isn’t, by the way) or why Oscar Isaac didn’t get more screen time (look, we all know he’s handsome), the argument for Reylo was always more compelling, even if there was less to grab onto.
After The Last Jedi was released, Relyo was approaching critical mass. Now fans have concrete evidence to back up what they presumed from the previous film. And while there were no real overt moments of “love” between the two characters, there was definitely a bond that wasn’t there before -- Relyo had legs to stand on. Despite the somewhat bittersweet moment between them at the end of The Last Jedi, there was a glimmer of hope that Reylo would come to fruition.
15 WHO IS THIS GIRL?
One of the biggest mysteries surrounding Star Wars: The Last Jedi upon its release, was Rey’s lineage. Was she also a Skywalker? A Kenobi, perhaps? Well, despite our collective best guesses and conjecture-filled hypothesis, it turns out Rey comes from, well… nowhere. This revelation (if you can even call it that) divided fans, but bringing your own baggage and expectations into a film that is trying to progress a franchise forward is never a good idea.
However, perhaps Kylo is wrong when he tells Rey that her parents were junkers who drank themselves to death. If this information came from Snoke, it could just be another part of his plan to twist the mind of young Ben Solo and perhaps eventually Rey. But we think it’s kind of fun that Rey is powerful, just because. It’s a a notion that gives us hope that anyone can be a Jedi.
14 DON'T BE AFRAID
The tension between Kylo Ren and Rey is so thick in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, you need a lightsaber to cut it. However, it The Force Awakens, it’s pretty creepy. Kylo comes off as a wannabe Darth Vader fanboy who want to prove to this girl how powerful he is. The interrogation scene during which these two have their first real exchange is somewhat cringe-worthy, until Rey pretty much tells Kylo, “not in my house.”
The confliction within Kylo Ren would be further explored in the subsequent film, which makes his dialogue toward the restrained Rey a bit more palatable. Kylo feels alone, which in the realm of the Sith makes a lot of sense. The Sith Lords, who Kylo would later denounce, were all about consolidating power, making their work parties pretty space. A Sith hangout would consist of two cloaked people sitting in a room, angry.
13 THE BALANCE
Every Jedi is tempted by the Dark Side of the Force. It’s a balance that makes them truly powerful. As Luke Skywalker explained in The Last Jedi, the Light and the Dark are just different sides to the same coin. This sort of take on morality and life and death has always been present in the Star Wars Universe, but with the sequel trilogy films we’ve gotten so far, it’s become an overarching theme.
In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren actually admits to being tempted by the Light, which is something that the films have not overtly expressed. In the months leading up to the most recent installment of the Skywalker Family Saga, there was tons of speculation regarding Kylo’s true allegiance and if Ben Solo is truly “dead.” Tons of fan theories also began to spring up questioning if Rey would turn Dark. Either could still happen.
12 I CAN SEE YOUR MIND...OR NOT
Villains underestimated heroes is a recurring trope in Star Wars. Darth Maul didn’t think that Obi-Wan Kenobi would cleave him in two. When he woke up that morning, getting his head lopped off like a dandelion by Mace was probably the link on Jango Fett’s daily agenda. And Grand Moff Tarkin wasn’t expecting to be blown up by some punk kid pilot with a one in a million shot.
Now maybe the aforementioned villains should have seen their fates before them, however. After all, they were all knowingly dealing with armed assailants who had combat training in some fashion. But with Rey, despite the fact that she has proven herself to be quite the fighter with that crazy metal staff, Kylo knows nothing about her. His folly could almost be forgiven if he wasn’t such an bratty jerk about it.
11 NO SPOILERS!
As the old saying goes loose lips sink ships. In the age of spoilers and speculation, it sometimes feels like an impossibly task to go into a movie completely blind. Especially when the movie is part of a franchise with a rabid fan base who pride themselves in their knowledge of the characters, mythos, and nuances of every installment (yes, even the less-than-stellar ones).
The fact that the twists and turns in The Last Jedi caught people off guard prove one of two things: either the people behind the scenes respected their NDAs and kept their mouths shut or the fans were so eager to see what they had in their heads up on the screen that they didn’t have the foresight to predict the plot beats unfold. Either way, the fans did get one thing right (sorta): #Reylo.
10 JEALOUS MUCH?
With more angst coursing through his veins than a million Anakin Skywalkers, Kylo Ren (nee Ben Solo) has left his mark on the greater Star Wars franchise as the king of brooding Sith Lords (move over, gramps!). This meme reframing that angst to make Kylo a jealous would-be boyfriend actually make a lot of sense.
It makes even more sense after the events of The Last Jedi. After all, Star Wars is no stranger to love triangles (both implicit and explicit). We just hope that there is no blood lineage connecting Kylo and Rey. That last thing we want is another Luke and Leia scenario. But as much as fans have obsessed of this connection, can we all agree that if Rey should be with anyone in the new trilogy, it’s Finn? C’mon, Finn is perfect boyfriend material.
9 BETTER THAN YOU
Anything you can do, Rey can do better. Now, we don’t think there is a literal rivalry between Kylo Ren and Rey within the films, but this side-by-side comparison is pretty persuasive. The back and forth between the Light and Dark sides of the Force have always been at play within the Star Wars Universe. But this is the first time in the films that is has been represented so bluntly.
Kylo and Rey really are two sides of the same coin, even with regards to their backgrounds. One comes from what we presume to be an affluent family while the other comes from, as the films put it, “nothing.” The only real gripe with have with this is that BB-9E isn’t technically Kylo’s droid. He’s just a jerk robot on his ship.
8 SEMPER FI
Generally speaking, Adam Driver seems like he is a pretty awesome dude. He always seems warm and funny in interviews. He has great on-screen charm and likability when his character calls for it (seriously, go watch Paterson if you don’t believe us). He keeps a pretty low profile. But most importantly, he once served his country.
Before getting into acting, Driver served in the United States Marine Corps from 2001 to 2004. His military career was cut short after an injury and he was medically discharged. Driver has spoken about his time in the Corps in a TED Talk and on various talk show outlets. Driver often sites this period in life for helping shape him to be the disciplined and committed actor he is today.
7 THE BREAK-UP
Toni Braxton sure could write a breakup song. And while the final Force connection moment between Rey and Kylo in The Last Jedi isn’t exactly a breakup, it does act as massive wedge between them. Throughout the film, these two young people drift into each other’s visions, giving a unique connection.
And even though Snoke reveals this connection to be nothing more than mere manipulation to further drive Kylo deeper into the Dark Side, both he and Rey feel it to be more than just a power play by the fallen Supreme Leader. These two are bound together. Their connection is something that hasn’t truly been explained. Perhaps it’s the light they both poses that draws them together. Rey embraces it, while Kylo sadly shuns it away.
Presumption is a dangerous attribute. Kylo presumed that Rey would fall victim to his interrogation, what with his training in both the ways of the Jedi and the Sith. We saw how that turned out (a nasty scar and a destroyed battled station). He also presumed that Rey would turn on the people who saved her and join him to rule the Galaxy. Again, that didn’t turn out well for young Ben Solo either.
Perhaps these failing presumptions are a metaphor for how we, as fans of the Star Wars franchise, should harbor our expectations and just enjoy the ride. Star Wars is not a mystery box, and it never has been. Or maybe Kylo Ren is just an arrogant jerk who overestimated his own power. We vote for the latter.
5 SHOW ME
Okay, can we just agree that Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey might be the worst boyfriend to grace the pages of a pop novel in the last ten years? He’s manipulative, reserved, and has more issues than National Geographic. Not to mention his predictions for certain types of methods of pleasure spit in the face of an entire subculture that is not fairly represented. Look, we’re not the first to point this out. Countless articles have been about that very issue…wait, what were we talking about?
Oh, yeah, Star Wars. As ridiculous as the devilishly handsome Kylo Ren can be with his lightsaber tantrums, creepy threats, and overall bratty behavior, his kinks are nowhere near as insulting as the aforementioned “hero” of those fanfiction-turned-best-selling novels.
4 WHAT A CREEPER
Never has a more toxic expression seeped through the lips of a Star Wars character than Kylo Ren’s threat to Rey that he can “take what he wants.” Look, projecting something more sinister than extracting information from Kylo’s words certainly rests on the shoulders of the viewer more than it does on the screenwriters. Or not. After all, Star Wars used to have a rather spotty track record with female empowerment.
Regardless, Kylo Ren is a bit of a creeper, regardless of who he has strapped to that weird torture gurney thing. Luckily, a good pun fixes any ill feelings one may have about a situation (most of the time; we’re looking at you Darth Vader from Rogue One). Hey, Ben Solo isn’t all that bad, and maybe he just wants to be close to someone who he sees as his equal.
The second trailer for The Last Jedi dropped only a couple months before the film’s release. It was just over two minutes long, but it sparked tons of speculation about what would happen between the sequel trilogy’s heroine and villain. It also reignited the fires for every fan who had invested in the concept of “Reylo,” which is a mash-up of Rey and Kylo (just in case there were any questions about that).
The trailer did a wonderful job of editing scenes together to make it seem like perhaps Rey was going to join Kylo, and maybe she would be the bridge to bring him back to the Light Side. But the moment from the trailer that pushed this theory was stitched together from two different scenes from the film, in which the characters in question weren’t even conversing. Nice one, trailer makers. Nice one.
2 HAVE A SNICKERS, MATT
Arguably one of the best skits to come out of Saturday Night Live regarding Star Wars was during the episode hosted by Adam Driver. In a pre-recorded short, Adam Driver reprised his role as Kylo Ren in a Starkiller Base edition of the television show Undercover Boss, in which Kylo dons a blonde wig and glasses and takes goes undercover as Matt the Radar Tech.
This alter ego of Kylo was a smash hit that spawned tons of memes, pieces of fanfiction, and even custom action figures and Funk Pop Vinyl dolls. There isn’t a moment in the skit that isn’t quotable and laugh-out-loud funny. Adam Driver does a fantastic job of blending the deadpan malice of Kylo Ren with the actor’s own great comedic timing.
1 CAN YOU PUT ON A CLOAK?
One of the most viral memes going around the Internet after Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the beefcake shot of Adam Driver shirtless as he converses through the Force with Rey. It was a scene that spawned the Kylo Challenge on social media and countless jabs at Driver’s broad build and high-waisted pants. However, no one could deny how good of shape Driver was in.
Director Rian Johnson commented on the scene, explaining that Adam had been training for the lightsaber fights in the film for the last six months (hence the muscle mass) and that for whatever reason, Kylo’s costume had pants that went up that high. Apparently, that waistline was the same in The Force Awakens, too -- we just couldn't see it. Now the scene will live long in infamy as some swoon over it, while others lovingly poke fun at it.