If you are even on the fringe of online Star Wars fandom, over the past few years you have probably heard the term “Reylo” bandied about. What was once merely the moniker for fans of a romantic relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren has, in fits and starts, become a heated war between people for and against it.
Reylo has grown beyond typical fandom shipping and, like a lot of Star Wars discourse in recent history, evolved into a buzzword that often brings with it toxic and harassment-laden levels of intra-fandom spatting.
That’s on either side of the debate, too, whether it’s particularly fervent supporters of the pairing (and through it, a path to Ben Solo’s redemption) demanding that the final film in the Skywalker Saga make it the series endgame.
Or, on the other end, it’s the equally fervent detractors who see supporting a relationship between the light-side-aligned heroine and the dark-side villain of the sequel trilogy as not just a tired trope of making the female lead’s story arc hinge around romance, but a potential normalisation of abusive relationships (Kylo Ren has, of course, literally tortured Rey multiple times!).
Both fans and creatives involved with the saga — from authors to actors like Daisy Ridley herself — have faced abuse over whether or not they support the pair, or for even acknowledging that the mere potential of the pairing could exist in the films, and it’s a topic of debate that has only gotten more intense the closer we get to The Rise of Skywalker’s December release.
Which is why it’s interesting to see Daisy Ridley tell Entertainment Weekly in a new interview that the film will not only provide definitive answers about Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship, but also address Reylo directly as something neither she or the movie treats as some fannish kerfuffle the film could never deign to comprehend.
“It does not bother me, people writing theories,” Ridley told the outlet. “It’s really fun hearing them. Plus, because I know what’s sort of going to happen, I think it’ll be really interesting to see people’s reaction to [the final film]. Obviously, there’s this whole Reylo thing and some people are very passionate about it, some aren’t…. J.J. does deal with [it]. It’s a very complex issue. People talk about toxic relationships and whatever it is. It’s no joke and I think it’s dealt with really well because it’s not skimmed over.”
Now, that’s not Ridley saying that Reylo fans will get the outcome they desire. Rey and Ben’s relationship could just as easily be addressed by her shutting a more literal door in his face this time than the closing of the Millennium Falcon’s entrance gangway was meant to represent in The Last Jedi’s climax.
It could be addressed by her putting a lightsaber through his chest (it’s like poetry, it rhymes). But her commentary does not definitively rule out that The Rise of Skywalker couldn’t address it by indeed having the two become romantically entangled, either.
But regardless of however The Rise of Skywalker deals with Reylo, the fact that it does—and that Ridley does not immediately dismiss the notion of it just because it’s a thing fans talk about — is surprisingly refreshing to hear. So often concepts like this are tossed around in the press and in interviews as something too silly or squicky to discuss, as if concerns from fans (whether for fan theories or for Reylo, specifically, in this regard) aren’t worth reassuring or acknowledging.
As typically heteronormative as a romantic relationship like Rey and Kylo being Rise’s emotional focus would be, at least we know that the concept of it is being explicitly and directly addressed and “dealt with,” as Ridley puts it, in the movie.
Which is far more refreshing to hear than, say, the repeated “wait and see”-ing, “please understand”-ing when it comes to whether or not the mainline Star Wars films will finally acknowledge some LGBTQ+ pairings — whether in the form of new LGBTQ+ characters, or the revelation that characters we’ve already met are LGBTQ+.
You know, instead of dancing around it with two minor aliens in a kid’s TV show and then casually trying to act like it was people’s fault for not asking directly enough. Or saying that such representation exists, just not in the text.
But that’s a story for another time! The story right now, at least, is that when December 19 rolls around, there will be an answer either way as to whether or not Reylo is a no-go.