What does it mean to have a soulmate? There are millions of definitions across religions and philosophies, in poetry and literature and plays. The concept is often tied to love; it’s the completion of oneself, two souls diverged, seeking their other half. According to Aristophanes, “Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” Most of us will never find this healer, if such a person even exists. But that’s the role fantasy plays in our lives: Divine concepts made reality, heightened ideas and themes conjured into something imaginative and palpable. Fantasy helps us feel better, look at the world with a deeper fascination; it helps us see in shades beyond just black and white. Some might even argue that fantasy exists to help us understand how to love and be loved.
That’s why, in my eyes, the Rey/Kylo pairing—affectionately dubbed “Reylo” by ‘shippers—is so popular, and has taken such a central role in the
“If you were the product of those two people, two very strong personalities who seemed to be almost more committed to a cause than anything else, what’s that like? How do you form friendships out of that? How do you understand the weight of that? . . . It can easily go awry.”
Ben Solo was loved, as evidenced by Han Solo’s noble sacrifice in
That right there is the sticking point for some fans. This idea that Rey, our fierce warrior and deeply pure heroine, needs to save the “bad man.” Putting the onus on Rey, in their eyes, focuses the narrative in a detrimental, damaging way. Kylo has sowed his seed. He’s evil. He should die the villain he’s let himself become.
But that stands in contrast to everything we know about these characters, this trilogy, and this saga as a whole. Redemption is baked into the mythology of
Think back to Anakin and Padme, and their doomed love, which destroyed the Jedi Order and inadvertently created the Empire. Romantic love was forbidden for Jedi, and so they hid their affection, to their own detriment. The Jedi’s repression of desire was their greatest fallibility. So how does the Force, this almighty power, reckon with its destruction? By creating two all-powerful Force users, from different worlds and different sides, drawn together by fate and passion. Romantic love broke the Jedi Order. It might be the only thing that can save it.
Each trilogy has had its central love story—Anakin and Padme, Han and Leia—and both so far have ended in tragedy. Those opposed to Rey and Kylo’s union might tell you
Rey’s love for Kylo may not save him. It may not be consummated. It may be rooted in the same tragedy that Padme and Anakin’s was, or it may never be actualized; left instead for interpretation. But to ignore the chemistry, the bond, and the soulmate nature of what the story is presenting in Rey and Kylo’s mutual arcs doesn’t feel right. If Reylo does indeed manifest into a fully realized romance, it wouldn’t hurt the story; it would enhance it. “The darkness rises and light to meet it.” It’s been there all along.