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The relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren – the heroine and villain – is one of the main storylines of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Rey is a desert scavenger with powerful Force abilities. Kylo Ren is a leader of the villainous First Order. He is also Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s relationship – nicknamed ‘Reylo’ by Star Wars fans – is an example of the romance enemies-to-lovers trope.
Reylo has been both popular and controversial with audiences.
How Does Rey and Kylo Ren’s Relationship Develop?
Kylo Ren and Rey’s relationship develops over the three films, from enemies to united allies in love.
From the very first film, there are hints of mutual understanding and attraction, foreshadowing what is to come.
Rey and Kylo Ren are complicated enemies who eventually fall in love. They are a Dyad in the Force, a rarely seen bonded pair with powerful, life-giving abilities.
By the end of the sequel trilogy, Kylo Ren is redeemed as Ben Solo. He sacrifices his life for Rey, dying after a first and final kiss.
The Force Awakens
Kylo Ren kidnaps Rey and forcibly tries to read her mind. In a twist, Rey is able to read his mind in return.
The pair duel in the snow, with Kylo Ren offering to become Rey’s teacher. She refuses and ultimately defeats the physically and emotionally wounded Kylo Ren.
Early hints of an enemies-to-lovers romance include Kylo Ren bridal carrying Rey. This is different from the novelization, where he maneuvers her body via the Force.
The Last Jedi
Rey and Kylo Ren communicate via an unexplained Force Bond. This culminates in their ability to physically touch, despite being in different parts of the galaxy.
Rey joins Kylo Ren to defeat Snoke and his guards, believing him to have turned back to the light side of the Force.
Kylo Ren, however, wishes to become the new Supreme Leader. Rey refuses his offer to join him.
Rey and Kylo Ren empathize with each other’s loneliness and sense of abandonment.
In one scene, Rey is flustered to catch Kylo Ren half undressed. His offer to co-rule the galaxy is much like a marriage proposal, and both are visibly heartbroken at the other’s rejection.
The Rise of Skywalker
Kylo Ren, now Supreme Leader, pursues Rey in a desperate attempt for her to join him. She continues to refuse and fatally stabs him during their final lightsaber battle.
Filled with remorse, Rey heals Kylo Ren and confesses she did want to “take his hand – Ben’s hand”.
This is the turning point for Kylo Ren’s redemption, with him throwing away his lightsaber and resuming the identity of Ben Solo.
Ben rushes to help Rey face Palpatine in Exegol but is cast into an abyss by the half-zombie Emperor.
On climbing out, Ben discovers Rey dead, the act of defeating Palpatine having completely drained her.
Ben pours his remaining life force into Rey, who awakens in his arms. They share a kiss before he dies.
Why do Kylo Ren and Rey kiss?
Rey kisses Ben Solo – previously Kylo Ren – because she is in love with him. She is exceptionally happy to be alive and wake up in the arms of Ben Solo, whom she believed Palpatine had killed.
The kiss confused some audience goers who did not perceive Kylo Ren and Rey’s relationship as romantic.
Many assumed until the final film confirmed otherwise that Rey and Kylo Ren would end up related. Others felt it cheapened an intriguing but strictly platonic enemy/hero relationship.
Similarly, fans of Rey and Kylo Ren’s romance felt baited by the kiss. It teased a happily-ever-after for the couple, which is swiftly crushed by Ben’s death.
In any case, Rey and Kylo Ren share the longest onscreen kiss in the entire Skywalker saga. Make of that what you will.
Do Rey and Kylo Ren Fall in Love and End Up Together?
While Rey and Kylo Ren (as Ben Solo) do fall in love, they sadly do not end up together. Ben gives Rey the last of his life force and dies in her arms, his body disappearing into the Force.
We do not see Ben’s Force ghost with Luke and Leia’s at the end of the Rise of Skywalker, leading some to speculate Ben isn’t quite gone yet.
Theory 1: Ben Solo is now a part of Rey
One explanation for why Ben’s Force Ghost doesn’t appear is that his spirit is living inside Rey.
Due to the power of Dyad, Ben will remain a part of Rey until her own death.
This theory is supported by the novelization, in which a grieving Rey hears Ben’s voice assuring her he will always be with her.
Theory 2: Ben Solo is alive in the World between Worlds
A popular theory for how Ben Solo is still alive is that he is trapped in the World Between Worlds.
The latter was introduced in the animated series Star Wars Rebels and is how Ahsoka Tano survived her duel with Darth Vader.
Star Wars is known for bringing back characters who most certainly should be dead (such as Darth Maul), so it’s not inconceivable Ben Solo may return this way.
Theory 3: Rey is pregnant with Ben’s child
This wild theory is based on Ben placing his hand on Rey’s abdomen when force healing her. In doing so, he creates an immaculate Force pregnancy like that of Anakin Skywalker.
Some fans even theorize the ending is a time loop, with Rey on Tatooine becoming Shmi Skywalker!
It’s very far-fetched, but Star Wars fans are known for their big imaginations.
Theory 4: Reylo is Anakin and Padme’s love story, in reverse
This idea suggests Rey and Ben’s romance was always doomed, as it was written to mirror Anakin and Padme’s.
Anakin turns to the Dark Side to save Padme’s life, only for her to die anyway. He lives and becomes Darth Vader.
Kylo Ren returns to the light side of the Force and becomes Ben Solo. He is able to save the life of the woman he loves at the cost of his own life.
9 Times Rey and Kylo Ren Bonded throughout the Movies
From their first meeting, Rey and Kylo Ren share a connection.
Over the sequel trilogy, this evolves into the discovery they are Dyad in the Force. They share a brief, bittersweet romance before a redeemed Kylo Ren dies.
Here are nine memorable times Rey and Kylo Ren connected with each other.
1. “Don’t be afraid, I feel it too…”
In the midst of interrogating a fierce but terrified Rey, Kylo Ren speaks the words “Don’t be afraid, I feel it too…”.
His meaning is unclear – does he feel her fear? Her Force signature? A strange attraction? This is the first hint of Rey and Kylo Ren being a Dyad in the Force.
Shortly afterward, Rey shocks Kylo Ren with her sudden ability to read his mind.
2. “You are a monster…Yes, I am.”
Rey calls Kylo Ren a monster, and to her surprise, he agrees with her. It challenges her opinion of him, as she senses Kylo’s self-loathing and sadness.
3. “You’re not alone…..Neither are you.”
A great twist in The Last Jedi was the revelation Rey wasn’t baring her soul to Luke but to Kylo Ren.
Devastated by her own reflection in the mirror cave, Rey bonds with Kylo Ren over their mutual loneliness.
They touch hands through the Force, and both are deeply moved by the experience.
4. Fighting back-to-back
Arguably Rey and Kylo Ren’s greatest scene together is their fight against Snoke’s Praetorian Guards.
Kylo Ren tricks Snoke into believing he is about to kill Rey, only to instead kill his abusive master.
He and Rey share a glance of mutual understanding before turning to fight together, back-to-back.
5. “Join me… please.”
Kylo Ren asks Rey to join him in ruling the galaxy. She is visibly devastated by his decision to remain Kylo Ren (and his brutal words about her parents).
She refuses his offer and escapes, making it Kylo’s turn to be heartbroken (and enraged) by her rejection.
The Last Jedi ends with Rey and Kylo Ren mutually disappointed and heartbroken.
6. “…why didn’t you?”
Kylo Ren wants to know why Rey wouldn’t join him – he could sense she wanted to. Rey asks, in return, why he didn’t kill her when he had the chance.
Rey and Kylo’s first meeting since the events of The Last Jedi has both characters angry, hurt, and full of questions.
7. “I did want to take your hand – Ben’s hand.”
Rey and Kylo Ren’s final lightsaber duel on the half-drowned Death Star ends viciously.
Kylo seems about to defeat Rey when he senses his mother’s death. Rey instantly uses the distraction to fatally stab him.
Devastated by her actions, Rey’s force heals him. As they stare at each other, exhausted, in the rain, Rey confesses the truth – she did want to join him.
But only as Ben Solo – the good person she hoped he’d become again.
8. Final Force bond connection
The last Force Bond between Rey and Kylo Ren – now Ben Solo – occurs with sudden, silent stillness.
The action stops as they stare at each other, Ben giving a tiny nod for Rey to continue with their plan. Drawing on the power of the Dyad, Rey is able to ‘Force-teleport’ a lightsaber to the unarmed Ben Solo.
9. A kiss before dying
Like a fairy tale, Rey wakes from death in Ben’s arms. With a radiant smile, she whispers his name before leaning in for a kiss.
Ben smiles – for the first and only time in all three films – before dying. As his body becomes one with the Force, we see Ben and Rey are finally holding hands.
Read more: Rey’s Parents’ Names Confirmed