Opinions on the Star Wars sequel trilogy may be somewhat mixed, but many fans enjoyed the relationship between two of the series’ main characters: the hero Rey and the villain Kylo Ren (formerly known as Ben Solo).
What made fans respond to their relationship was how authentic it felt. Their story fit within the larger story the films were telling. There’s a specific reason it felt so genuine, however: it’s because it mirrors another fan-favorite romance from Star Wars.
Star Wars: making the story rhyme
While many people have contributed to the Star Wars universe and its stories, no one is more responsible for it than George Lucas. On a behind the scenes documentary, Lucas once talked about the story structure of the Star Wars films. Here’s what he had to say about the connection of his prequels to the original trilogy, as captured by The AV Club:
“You see the echo of where it all is gonna go … It’s like poetry, sort of. They rhyme.”
While Lucas did not play a major role in the development or creation of the sequel trilogy, that element of the story rhyming with the films that came before it is still present. Much like Luke Skywalker before her, the hero Rey is stuck on a desolate planet yearning for greater adventures. Kylo Ren is sick, twisted, and evil, but he wasn’t always that way — much like Darth Vader before him. There are multiple elements of the sequels that can trace their origins back to the original trilogy, or even the prequels in some cases.
One of those elements is the relationship between Rey and Ben.
The relationship between Rey and Ben
The relationship between Rey and Ben has been subject to much speculation among Star Wars fans. It’s not quite an outright romance, though there are certainly romantic elements. It has more of a “what could have been” feel to it, as Rey clearly has feelings for the good man who once stood where Kylo Ren now resides.
We see their relationship begin in The Force Awakens as he interrogates her and they fight — though he doesn’t kill her despite multiple opportunities. In The Last Jedi, the two make a connection and even a bond. The Rise of Skywalker sees this bond strengthen as Rey confronts her lineage and Ben attempts yet again to turn her to his side. In the end, Ben joins her on the light side of the Force, sacrificing himself to save her.
So what exactly does this part of the story rhyme with? It goes back to a romance from the prequels: Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker.
How Rey and Ben mirror Padme and Anakin
A Star Wars fan on Reddit pointed out why the potential romance set up in The Last Jedi between Rey and Ben is such a great part of the story: it rhymes with the Padme and Anakin romance. Here’s what the fan had to say about it:
“When Kylo asks Rey to join him, you might have been reminded of TESB [The Empire Strikes Back], but the rhyme is actually much stronger with ROTS [Revenge of the Sith], because Kylo literally says exactly the same thing that Anakin said to Padme, but reworded. (‘Rey, I want you to join me. We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy’ / ‘And together, you and I can rule the galaxy. Make things the way we want them to be!’).”
The fan also points out that their relationship is like Padme and Anakin’s but inverted. One relationship begins with passion and ends in violence while the other beings with violence and ends with admiration, respect, and something resembling love in the form of a sacrifice. It’s why the relationship resonates with fans: not only is it well-developed, but it’s reminiscent of something they’ve seen done well before.
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