Maybe I’ll be like Rey - suffering an abusive relationship with this story for so long that I eventually embrace it romantically. 😉 […] it just feels like a very…I dunno, unhealthy foundation for a romance. But I’m open to having my mind changed - goodness knows there’s still plenty of time for that to happen!
Rey/Ben is actually the OPPOSITE of unhealthy and toxic. It’s just been very misrepresented. Rey fell for BEN, not Kylo. She saw through Kylo, wanted to save Ben from the darkness he was lost in. But she realized at the end of TLJ that she couldn’t save him. He could only save himself. We saw awesome, healthy, NON-TOXIC-NESS on display because Rey walked away from Kylo when he wouldn’t stop being, well, Kylo, and continued to embrace the Dark Side.
She continued to want nothing to do with Kylo throughout TRoS. And when she saved his life, she let him know that she wanted to take BEN’S hand, not Kylo’s. And that was like a LIGHTBULB going off in Ben’s head. He could be loved as Ben Solo, something that he hadn’t realized. He didn’t have to be this dark, brooding bad boy, essentially. He could try and be a good guy. That is who Rey wanted, that is who she cared for… the guy who had good in him. Remember she had seen inside his head in TFA, she knew what his childhood and teenage years – where he had been manipulated and abused emotionally, mentally, and physically by Snoke. That was who she was reaching out to. The guy who, like her was looking for a place to belong.
And in the end, BEN made the choice to reject Kylo Ren and save himself, and then go and try to help save the galaxy. He made the healthy choice and it was only at that point that Rey accepted him because he had rejected Kylo Ren.
TLJ, again, set this up beautifully – which had actually started in TFA – but sigh the ball was dropped in quite a few ways in TRoS. double sigh
Ahhh, okay, that’s a really good explanation, thank you! Probably the first time that relationship has made sense to me, at least on paper.
I think the problem though (in my own interpretation of the films) is twofold:
Yes, Rey saw the good (i.e. the “Ben”) in Kylo in TLJ, but I didn’t interpret that as “I’d bone ya if only you’d stop slicing people and objects in half with your lightsaber in violent fits of rage.” I took that to mean that she might forgive him someday; perhaps even be friends. But again, that’s such a huge leap from “You’re not completely evil,” to “I’m totally in love with you, let’s make out.” I think TROS could have developed that into romantic feelings, but I don’t think it did.
I don’t see “Ben” and “Kylo” as distinct characters, except in the abstract. Actually, that’s one of the things I most enjoy about Kylo, and that I wanted to emphasize in my edit - that under the suit he’s still a relatively normal guy who misses his family. The flipside of that coin is that he’s a relatively normal guy who’s done some absolutely monstrous things, both to the galaxy at large, and to Rey personally. This is the guy who knocked Rey unconscious, kidnapped her, tortured her, and then blew up an entire system of planets in a diabolical power grab. The guy is a fascist, a terrorist, and a murderer, regardless of whatever goodness he may also have; and I don’t buy that Rey would start snogging him immediately after witnessing all of that.
Ah, see so this is where we differ:
You see “Kylo knocked Rey unconscious,” I see Kylo and Rey fought, he won, and instead of having his guards drag her to the ship – someone who had valuable information in this war, he gently picked her up and carried her onto his ship. Also, I feel that JJ made a VERY distinct choice to show the difference in how Kylo interrogated Poe as opposed to Rey. He didn’t torture her. He went into her mind, yes, but then she went into his mind and took info from him as well. Yes, you could say she didn’t know what she was doing, but even after she realized, she KEPT doing it. Overall, though, Kylo was gentle with Rey trying not to hurt her to get the info (as opposed to Poe – again, at war, opposite sides. Not to say that what Kylo did to Poe was right, it was wrong.)
Also, no, he didn’t blow up an entire system of planets. That was Snoke/Hux. In fact, when Hux suggested it, Kylo even made a comment about wanting to try and get the info from Rey again, but Snoke shut him down. Kylo also wasn’t there when Hux gave his whole big Nazi speech. Once Snoke gave the go-ahead, Kylo had no say. The supplemental material said that his cape had static dampening qualities due to Snoke’s attacks against him. So, if he fought against Snoke, we know what would happen.
Look, I’m not saying that Kylo wasn’t majorly problematic, but he was also someone who felt abandoned, was mentally, physically, and emotionally abused by Snoke his literal entire life (the mental and emotional abuse). And he was drawn to the Light. He did try to avoid hurting Rey more than he could. When they fought at the end of TFA, he held back. Rey was more the aggressor, Kylo fought more defensively. And we’re dealing with the Dark Side. The Dark Side severely messes with a person’s soul and had been messing with Ben Solo his entire life. Rey saw the good in him; she knew he could be turned. And she was right. Ben felt like his family, his parents, his uncle gave up on him when he was in his teens. He felt abandoned; Rey did too. Add to that, they were a literal Dyad in the force, connected in a way that was extremely rare. They could feel each other across literal space.
OK, I’m done.
And I DO really want to see what you do with this because your ideas are really exciting.