Reylo Is The Worst Ship Ever

The latest Last Jedi trailer was incredible – apart from the hype it caused over Rey and Kylo Ren.

Rey and Kylo Ren are magnificent characters in their own right. One fascinating and one brilliant in his loathsome and brooding way. It would be understandable for fans to ship them together, if they weren’t such a toxic pairing. Reylo represents the worst of heteronormative and mononormative society.

People do get over things very quickly in any drama and in sci-fi that’s especially true. It’s how we end up with completely random friendship/ally pairings which can make TV and film so glorious. It only works though if there’s real exploration of the issues the characters face, and if it doesn’t romanticise horrible behaviour. For Rey and Kylo Ren within one film, that ship should have sunk. To recap, Kylo kidnapped Rey, watched her while she was unconscious, tried to use the force to break into her mind and even said “I can take whatever I want” when she tried to resist. Kylo represents all creeps, all misogyinsts and rape culture in that one scene. It is repulsive that anyone would try to romanticise that, minimise what Kylo did to Rey, or would suggest that Rey would somehow save him.

“Kylo represents all creeps, all misogyinsts and rape culture in that one scene”

Reylo would also suggest that heterosexuality/romanticism and monogamy have a culture of innate tedium. Kylo and Rey would hardly be unpredictable. The relationship symbolises toxicity but they’re also the two main characters. All Hollywood knows how to do is put the lead woman with the lead man. Sci-fi is a genre of infinite possibility but we’re still threatened with seeing this same old tired crap.

Romances in film and TV often featured toxic elements. There will be the push/pull routine, a violation of boundaries (which is brushed off as romantic), jealousy, insecurity and generally hideous traits which are glorified. Same gender romances fall into the same trap in the industry. Bar the odd exception, they’re often written just as poorly but the genders are simply swapped. Radical honesty and openness are never portrayed. Respect is often conditional and easily revoked if a partner doesn’t get their own way. Then there’s romanticising often violent behaviour. Women get with guys after they’ve exerted their masculinity – usually by punching a romance ‘rival’.

It’s tired. It’s done. Can we please get something – anything – else?

Why can’t Rey be happy on her own? Why not let Rey and/or Kylo be asexual or aromantic, if not both? Why not explore polyamory between Rey, Finn and Poe? There are so many possibilities left with relationships to explore in film. Just ditching the romanticism of toxicity would be a refreshing break. It’s part of why Rogue One worked so well; the two different gender leads weren’t forced together, there was just focus on the individuals. The most intriguing aspect of the latest trailer, other than the porg, was seeing Rey’s conflict over her own identity. Rey’s story deserves its own focus without a dreary Kylo romance. Star Wars is welcome to explore their rivalry and potential allyship, but throwing romance into it would demean Rey after everything Kylo has done to her, and to his own family. Bad guys can’t be saved by nice girls; they have to be accountable for their abuse. Rey deserves better.

Hopefully the writers have a better plan in mind but it’s easy to be concerned when so many films go down that same route. The rise of fandoms have been amazing but sometimes both a fandom and writers can drag each other down. The Reylo ship should not be made canon. Fans can enjoy it through fanfic, fanart and discussions but too often writers cater to the easy choice and too often audiences simply accept it. Now we live in a time where we can communicate easily, let’s be clear that we want better from stories. Not just with the choice of pairing (and hey, why limit relationships at just two people?) but with how they interact and with how they explore respect and boundaries. If a writer says they can’t do this because sci-fi is meant to be violent, if they can’t be creative enough to explore relationships responsibly then they’re in the wrong gig just like comedians who claim they can’t make jokes without being offensive.

The Last Jedi is likely to be the biggest film of the year anyway, but let it be because of a great story rather than by default because Hollywood had such a poor summer season. The film has all of the components in needs to deliver, but if the Reylo ship says then the entire modern trilogy may be doomed.

5 thoughts on “Reylo Is The Worst Ship Ever

  1. Noramlly, I don’t care one wit about romantic ships in a movie, (unless its an actual romance), and I didnt care all that much about Reylo. Its as good or bad as any other crackship. But sometimes the shippers themselves are so obnoxious, racist, and stupid, that I start to actually hate the ship itself.

    I’m not even opposed to a redemption arc for Kylo. I just don’t think Rey needs to be the one to do that free emotional labor because she’s the only prominent woman in the movie.


  2. Before The Last Jedi, I think Kylo saw Reylo as a relationship, or a potential relationship, that might be worth having. I’m not sure Rey was thinking in terms of romantic relationships at all.
    —–Potential spoilers—–
    After what feels like being the last person on Earth to see The Last Jedi, I think it did a good job of evaluating the potential of the Reylo relationship, and eventually showing both characters making the right decision (to reluctantly abandon it). Note that the film itself occurs over a timeframe of less than a week, and it starts about 5 seconds after The Force Awakens ends (itself a film covering about a week), which makes it more akin to an adolescent infatuation rather than a full-blown romance. Less poetic but more realistic.

    Remember, neither Kylo nor Rey is shown as having had much knowledge of romantic relationships and Rey would likely not have had the opportunity to learn about healthy relationships on Jakku (which is where she lived until a fortnight before the end of The Last Jedi). Kylo might or might not have had other relationships before this one (if so, none of them have stuck), but he’s also under massive pressure at work and is surrounded by rubbish role models (the First Order tolerates a lot of employee abuse), none of which was likely to assist his judgement in the personal sphere.

    It is also no secret that both Rey and Kylo have suffered a lot of loneliness. For all Rey receives respect from her new-found colleagues, nobody in either character’s circle is in much of a position to share confidences or provide true friendship. Everyone Kylo has nearby is afraid of his power, contemptuous of his incompetence and/or cynical about his leadership position. Rey actually has potential friends… …half a galaxy away with no way to communicate with them. Luke wasn’t exactly being a kind mentor to her (probably beneficial for her training-by-proxy but not for her personal development).

    These elements make it natural that Kylo and Ren would turn to one another (to Rey’s surprise, since at the beginning, she thinks Kylo is an unmitigated monster). Especially when evil matchmaker Snoke was manipulating events by creating the Force Bond that allowed the relationship to get beyond “you scum”. Although there were times when it felt like Kylo was violating Rey’s boundaries, it was probably more accurate to say Snoke was violating both of theirs – to the detriment of everyone. Including, for once, the perpetrator.

    Of course, Kylo and Ren are nothing like each other. Rey is cool, logical, an example if not yet a leader. Kylo is simmering with dark emotions, a leader but emphatically not an example. Both their notions of what turning the other to their side means are naive, unrealistic and underline the toxic nature of the potential romance. I’m not sure it even made it as far as “romance” in Rey’s head, though some feelings along those lines were present. Kylo, who is far less in control of his emotions, fell head-over-heels. In his mind, Reylo had progressed from being a possibility to almost-inevitability – although it was implied in the movie that he’d had some sort of Force prediction that absolutely did *not* help matters. (Those of us who have read how badly Force predictions of a non-tactical nature tend to go in the Legends expanded universe were unsurprised at that detail).

    All of which underlined the shock for Kylo after his proposal was declined. Rey was always likely to obtain common sense in the end, because not only had she been seeking wisdom since the last film, but she has been portrayed consistently as a pragmatist (and in Star Wars, being a pragmatist is really important). Yes, Star Wars is typically a place where one person can redeem another, assuming that person is ready to pay the price to do their part of the redemptive process. But there’s always a time and a place and this was neither.

    Kylo could no longer hide his true colours after deciding to take the First Order leadership for himself by killing his and Rey’s manipulator. While he must have realised the Reylo ship has sunk, he didn’t have the maturity needed to handle it well. This can be seen by his many emotionally-driven errors afterwards, all of which have weakened the First Order and reduced the respect he has received from his followers. At this rate of knots, it will not be possible for Rey or anyone else to redeem Kylo, as he is well on the way to getting himself killed by an annoyed, anonymous underling (or possibly the constantly put-upon General Hux) before Episode IX even starts. If that happens, there really isn’t anyone on the First Order side who can hold it all together and stop Rey from being unchallenged champion of the light. This would lead to the Rebellion winning by default.

    Could this be the first time in cinematic history that we get to see the perpetrator of a toxic relationship lose absolutely everything they worked for and wanted to leave as a legacy to the galaxy specficially because they forced a toxic relationship to happen?


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