January 17th, 2020


you knew this wasn't over (Star Wars thoughts - minimal spoilers for IX)

One fannish dividing point I find interesting is how we perceive the role of Kylo Ren and his relationship with Rey in The Last Jedi. Specifically: was writer/director Rian Johnson creating the foundation for a romance between them? Or did he explore that potential as a way to show that Kylo Ren was, for worse, the result of his own choices? Is Johnson the king of reylo fandom, or is he exploring Rey's own dark side by making Kylo seem appealing only to pull that mask away and show us Kylo as angry and petulant? (A jerk with a heart of a jerk, I once read elsewhere.)

Whatever the reason for the confusion about intentions: while it felt like Johnson was flirting with the idea of Rey and Kylo forming some kind of relationship in episode 8, it also was obvious to me by the end of the film that this was one of his infamous subverted expectations. We're meant to see Kylo Ren as redeemable and "soft" (from Rey's point of view), only for it to be revealed that he isn't. The young woman he's drawn to--his equal in the Force, who has no familial ties to complicate things--asks him to stop the slaughter of her friends and he turns her down. He takes leadership of the whole First Order and confirms his own commitment to destroying anyone who opposes them.

It's one of the few basically the only clear arc to me within the film: Kylo has character growth as a villain because he makes choices to continue in villainy, even when given motivation and agency to change.

This is why it's so confusing for me to see reylo fans make comments about how Rian Johnson's hypothetical version of episode IX would have given them the reylo happy ending they wanted. I disagree; we'll never know what Johnson might have written (was he even given the chance to refuse that job?), but I think he would have written Kylo in full villain mode, with a more tragic ending than what Abrams and Terrio gave Ben Solo.

In other words, the reylo content made in IX was far more reylo-positive than what "Reylo King" Johnson would have given us. That's my two cents on the matter, anyway. Would Rian Johnson have written more interesting material for Kylo Ren than Abrams and Terrio did? Quite possibly. But that's a different question.

Edited to add: this tumblr post and reblog basically argue something similar. Collapse )

Posted at Dreamwidth: https://rose-griffes.dreamwidth.org/346115.html. Comment where you wish.