I saw it again and liked it a bit better (though I did also enjoy it the first time) maybe because I knew exactly what to expect so I could enjoy the parts that I liked more without being as “wait, what?” about the other parts. But one thing that bothered me a lot this time around was how Rey kept leaving her friends in danger to go chase Kylo Ren. It was her fault that Chewie was captured, and the only reason that the rest of her friends got away is that Kylo literally stood there and let them go. Then she left Poe and Finn on their own on the Star Destroyer and, save Hux’s unexpected interference, they’d be dead. At least Luke had awareness that he was endangering his friends because his father could sense him. Rey just kept leaving them in impossible positions so she could go flirt. I know the second one was theoretically about the dagger, but it didn’t ring quite true to me. Both times she gets that “force” look and then rapidly and vaguely excuses herself, leaving the boys in peril.
Yup! Furthermore, after seeing this Idea being floated around post TROS, the author of the comic and the story group confirmed that Palpatine is not Anakin’s father. Rey and Ben/Kylo are not related.
At the same time though, it can be a meta argument to contend that there’s no narrative reason Rose needed a bigger role. The writers write the narrative. The reason she’s not narratively necessary is because that’s not what they wrote. I personally can’t find it a coincidence that she’s the character who was introduced by Rian—I assume not using her was part of what seems to be JJ’s middle finger to him in this movie. But the fact that so many people, casual and hardcore fans alike, are questioning it or commenting on it indicates to me that not using Rose did leave a hole in this movie and in the end of this trilogy, the same way excising Poe or Finn or even Hux from movie two would have left a hole. When someone is established a s a leading character, you expect them to do something. The fact that she’s a mechanic isn’t relevant. Rey was also a mechanic/scavenger. If they had wanted her in the story, they would have found a way to put her in the story. The suggestion from Chris that she had lots of scenes but they were all unusable isn’t going to satisfy anyone who was bothered by this.
I like this thought. Similarly, while I know there are people unhappy with Rey ending the movie in Tatooine because she’s back on a sand planet alone, it occurs to me that that’s sort of the point. Physically, she’s in a very similar place to where she started in TFA. But she’s content, because spiritually she’s in a completely different place. She’s a Jedi with a family. She’s not alone anymore, and she knows what her place in the world is.
I think this is really interesting, because this wasn’t my interpretation from TLJ and it helps me see where some of the confusion about the ship being established in TLJ is coming in. I felt that Rey DID get to see and know aspects of Ben Solo during TLJ. We establish from the beginning that Kylo Ren is a character who is caught between the dark and the light. I felt that through their conversations, the part of Kylo that was light (the Ben part) truly connected with and cared about Rey, understanding some of her experiences in a way other people couldn’t. I assumed that they also had conversations we didn’t get to see, since by the time they go to touch hands they both seem to have a deeper understanding of each other. When he tells her she’s not alone, I felt it was sincere, as was his relief and awe at her returning the sentiment. When he killed Snoke, I thought he was very close to turning back to the light, but ultimately couldn’t break free of his problematic thought structure about the world and need for power. And then of course Rey “abandoned” him, as he saw it, and the rage cycle kicked in and Ben Solo was more fully eclipsed by Kylo Ren. There was ALSO some manipulation and gaslighting in there, particularly when he’s trying to get her to turn, which to me reflected that Ben/Kylo himself had been so groomed by an abuser that he has internalized that as a way to interact with people and get what you want from them. But based on that movie, I felt that the Ben part of Kylo genuinely had a soft spot for Rey and it made sense to me that in this movie he didn’t want to kill her. From Rey’s perspective, I think she saw true parts of Ben Solo and of course had a vision (that played out in this movie) that he would turn and fight beside her. But also...
THIS. No amount of Ben Solo being in there and connecting with Rey does or would mitigate what Kylo Ren has done. He’s not, as the shippers insist, “a soft boi” (whatever that even means), and that thought is really concerning. As is some of the anger that Rey “rejected” Kylo by saying she only wanted Ben. Of course she rejected Kylo! Kylo is a mass murdering sociopath! Oy vey.
I do have to say that if there’s one thing that makes me doubt my own interpretation from TLJ, it’s Driver’s acting in this one. He so clearly establishes that Ben Solo is a completely different person than Kylo, which makes me wonder if we were really seeing any of him in TLJ. Incidentally, I also think the people who think it would have been more interesting or satisfying for him to live—not in a HEA but to have to atone to the universe—are drawing from how compelling Driver’s short time inhabiting the character was. I’m not talking about the shippers, because that’s another story completely. Unfortunately, even if they had left the door open on him in the hopes of adding supplementary material at some point, I’m sure Adam Driver is done.