The Rise of Skywalker : My Thoughts In No Particular Order

I know, its been months and I am just now am writing about The Rise of Skywalker.

I actually missed it in theaters due to what we will call “a series of unfortunate events”. I did not see the movie until a week and a half ago.

I was frankly terrified.

I really do like The Last Jedi movie, but some decisions were made in that film that I found disappointing.

Add to that the fact that Disney has severely let me down in some areas recently *coughs* ENDGAME! Stories and characters that meant the world to me were not given their proper dues. It’s hard when you invest in something so deeply and then find yourself disappointed.

However, I am happy to report that I did enjoy The Rise of Skywalker and many of the choices made for the movie. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good movie. Here’s what I liked about it.

Finn is a Force User.

Years ago I wrote an article where I stated that I believed Finn would also become a Jedi in the future. That did not happen, but I was correct on my belief that he was a Force user. To me, the way that the character of Finn was handled in The Rise of Skywalker is one of the most satisfying aspects of the whole movie.

Finn was an exciting and great catalyst character in The Force Awakens. I fell in love with him in about 2 minutes of him being on screen. His energy was contagious, his commentary hilarious, and the chemistry created between him and Rey made me a hard and fast FinnRey shipper.

I felt that Finn was severely underused in The Last Jedi. His sideline arc with Rose felt unnecessary, and while it did help his character reach a more confident decision about being aligned with the Resistance, it was still disappointing.

The Finn of TROS was the Finn that I wanted. He still had his boisterous spirit and deep, abiding loyalty, especially to Rey. And yet, he was more confident. I was actually surprised and delighted to see him being the grounded, more moderating character that bound the trio of Poe, Rey, and himself together. Even the way the three hugged at the end of the movie, he wrapped his arms around both of them.

Finn is a character with a powerful love for those around him. And that love continually draws them in and grounds them. Finn is a character who will forever draw people in, give them a place to call home and a person that they can always count on. Those people are a rare and precious breed.

Yes, the elephant in the room, FinnRey. I’ve been a very verbal FinnRey shipper since Day 1.

I still am. Here’s my current take on that duo following The Rise of Skywalker.

I think FinnRey is still very much alive and well. You are welcome to see that as a legendary friendship or as a potential couple somewhere down the road. I feel that both have legitimacy.

Finn did a fantastic job being there for Rey in this movie, having her back, and showing compassion for where she was at emotionally. The fact that he is also a Force User and could sense what was happening with her just cemented the bond that they already have. He’s going to be able to understand things about her that others cannot.

Finn was the person Rey could talk to and trust he would listen and care. He didn’t hold things against her, he had her back 100%. He cried for her. He verbally affirmed her. They spoke in a raw and honest way with each other that was beautiful.

I loved the moment when he sensed her death. The confirmation of his Force-sensitive instincts was so satisfying. And then his joy when he saw her alive was completely consistent with everything Finn has done with Rey since the moment they first met.

I fully acknowledge the beauty of the connection between Rey and Ben Solo. It was powerful and redemptive, more on that later. But I do feel that Finn and Rey have a lasting love for each other that can remain as is or grow.

In terms of the character that connected best with the other people of this movie, I think Finn gets the MVP award. Well done!

Humor

The dialogue between our primary trio was adorable. I didn’t expect that feisty static between Rey and Poe with Finn being the more mellow member. But it was darling and brought a great human element to a very intense, larger than life story.

The banter is what really reminded me of the original trio of Han, Leia, and Luke. But the Sequel 3 definitely had their own flavor.

Droids

We love our two-legged Star Wars heroes, but we all know the truth.

The droids have kept the galaxy running for years and it’s only because the villains overlook them that we’ve survived this long.

Reylo Vs Ren

About a year ago I wrote an article taking to task the idea that something as abusive and inappropriate as the Reylo ship could be romantic. It’s been one of my most-read articles and also received the most controversial responses.

I still stand by that article. I wrote it for the Kylo Ren that we had seen on display in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The choices the character was making and the way he approached Rey were very perverted and wrong. Therefore the value of that article for the context that it is written is still standing.

True love involves sacrifice. It’s not about control, it’s about loving another person for who they are. It’s not all about what you can get out of them. Ben did not understand this previously. He had tried to control and manipulate Rey multiple times, and would often rage when she refused him. He wanted her to join his agenda. The above image shows who Ben was, and that was YUCKY!

Ben Solo thoroughly redeemed himself in The Rise Of Skywalker. And he proved his love for Rey to be true by pulling a move worthy of Eugene Fitzherbert himself…he sacrificed himself for the woman he loved and for the galaxy he had previously tried to rule over.

This Ben is a night and day difference from the person he once was.

Ben didn’t run from this mess he’d helped create. He didn’t cower uselessly in the shame of his past. He didn’t cave in yet again to the lies and Darkness that had haunted him for so long. No, he ran straight into the Light and gave everything he had to do the right thing.

The beauty that was Ben Solo’s redemption was very simple and straightforward in the writing. The transformation was shown in his costuming and outward actions. And the heart of it was conveyed through Adam Driver’s stunning and emotional performance. He had never looked so glorious, and while I have had so many mixed feelings about this character since the beginning, I have never loved him so much as I did at the end of this movie.

I really love that it was his mother’s voice that called him. He thought he’d gone too far, he could never come home. A prodigal who was unsure of their welcome often stays a prodigal. His mother’s voice opened a door, Rey’s compassion to heal him after she had mortally wounded him softened him even further. And the final gift came with his father’s memory (HELLO, HARRISON FORD) that gave him the courage to make the switch.

It was gentle, humble, and beautiful.

Oh, my lands, the Ben Solo that emerged! His face was soft and beautiful, he wasn’t swaggering or trying to look bigger than he was. His presence itself became enormous and filled the room. Light has a way of doing that. He was wearing all-black but the man was practically beaming!

Just look at his beautiful smile. It’s so gentle and sweet.

A Nod To Han AND Leia In Ben’s Redemption Story

3 people brought Ben back. The 3 people who loved him the most.

His mother, Princess General Leia Organa Skywalker Solo.

Rey.

And his father, Han Solo.

While I understood the symbolism in Ben throwing away the Kylo Ren lightsaber, my practical side panicked. “What are you doing? You have to go into a warzone, you need that, babe!’

But then I found it a wonderful tribute to the Solo blood running through his veins that Ben entered into the Emperor’s lair in a fashion exactly like his late father would have. Sneaking in boldly with a good blaster at his side.

The body language was so similar, he even pulled off that signature, super macho Han Solo move of picking off an enemy with a stray blaster shot over his shoulder. No looking necessary, it’s in the genetic code. Yes, he’s Han’s boy alright.

Rey passed him the lightsaber, Leia’s beautiful saber (such a pretty weapon) through their special Force connection that freaked me out until that exact moment. The sarcastic little nod to the coolness of what he just did to the Knights of Ren confirmed it yet again. THIS IS HAN AND LEIA’S SON!

Han and Leia were honored in Ben’s redemption in such a special way, it was appropriate and brought a lot of restoring grace to a previously tragic family story. Their gifts, the examples that they were, it was not all lost on their son, it did make a difference.

It Was A Palpatine AND A Skywalker Who Ended Him

It only seems fair that after all of the pain these two families have either purposely or inadvertently caused the galaxy that a representative from both should defeat the biggest foe, Palpatine.

I like poetic justice. Palpatine started the Force-sensitive Skywalker line when he used the Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker with Anakin. And apparently (ahem, severe lack of backstory here) Palpatine actually had a son himself! How and why that happened wasn’t apparently considered necessary information. Either way, Rey was his actual biological granddaughter.

Clearly, her pretty genetics came from Mom’s side of the family. #yograndpasouglyhelostto70scarpetinabeautypageant 

Palpatine has always been an arrogant poop. His sense of superiority and control over everyone and everything has been almost as consistent as his success rate. Luke/Anakin Skywalker really threw a wrench in his plans in one of the most glorious upsets in cinematic history, but this guy is a cockroach who won’t go away.

It was time for him to be finished. How lovely that his own flesh and blood is the one who finished him.

The Voices Of The Jedi

My inner nerd was so pleased with this. Well-beloved Jedi characters from every era of Star Wars we’ve seen on screen, both in movies and shows, was given a moment of honor when Rey drew strength in the Force from them.

I rejoiced to hear Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan, Ashley Eckstein’s Ahsoka Tano, Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker (he deserved this honor), Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Kanan Jarrus (still a bit emotional over that one), and notably, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn. And of course, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as the Skywalker twins.

Old and dear friends uniting in spirit and voice for Rey, a character I have loved and admired since I first met her. It was a kind gift to the Star Wars fandom.

A Proper Ending To Reylo And Ben’s Death

True love is unselfish, and it involves sacrifice.

Ben Solo was not capable of this level of love when he was still wholeheartedly choosing to remain in the Dark Side. What he believed was love for Rey was tainted and perverted by his selfishness and control issues. It was pretty disgusting to me, but I gave them room to redeem him.

When Ben Solo goes charging into the Emporer’s lair, he’s not there for himself. He’s there for her, and to do the right thing. He’s running full force #punintended into the Light he has been running from so long.

I don’t know that Ben even believed he was going to make it out alive. I don’t know that he really cared. His actions had nothing to do with what he could get, and all about what he could give.

And he gave it all, he gives his very life Force to bring Rey back from the dead. The way he cradled her in his arms and looked at her with such gentleness and compassion won me over. Yes, dear boy, yes, this is what love is.

One sweet kiss, and then he was gone.

I’m not going to say whether or not that was a wise choice on the filmmakers part. I can live with it, I can also feel the grief of it.

If Ben Solo were a real person, I think it’s possible he may have been reconciled to the concept of death. In his reality, he wasn’t really ending, he was just going to go on into the Force…afterlife? He would be redeemed in the eyes of those who loved him, and he would be reunited with his family. It’s not that he committed suicide (nor would I ever advocate for that), but I think he was at peace with himself either way.

Rey is really the only person he had a connection with in the land of the living. I feel it may have been very hard for him to integrate into a friendship with the people he had tortured, killed, and hurt for so long. The troubled boy was finally at peace.

Rey grieved over him, there is no doubt of that. But I think their connection as special as it was will not be a burden or a regret to her, rather a sweet memory that gives her courage and strength in the future. I think she would be open to loving in that way again.

He finished well.

Kiss Poe Already

I feel that there may have been too much thrown into the basket for this movie. It didn’t wreck it at all, but it did mean that several new characters were created that were not given proper follow-through. We got a hasty introduction and not much more, it was a bit sloppy.

Zori Bliss is one such character. Keri Russel still shone through her brief moments on screen, and I loved the scene where she removed the visor so we could see her drop-dead gorgeous eyes.

But really? Really, girl?

Strange Planets, Space Battles, Bizarre Creatures, And Battles In Lit Corridors

Setting-wise, The Rise of Skywalker did extremely well in capturing the texture and landscape of Star Wars in a very vivid way. My mom even remarked when Finn and Poe were racing along the corridors on the flagship cruiser,

This! This running and fighting in corridors, THIS is Star Wars!

And given that her little five-year-old self was there in the theater at the beginning of all things, I believed her.

Rey Skywalker

I think it was a gift that Rey chose to become a Skywalker. And I loved it that her two masters, Luke and Leia were beaming at her as she took that name. In a way, I feel that she was raised by all 3 of our originals. Han, Luke, and especially Leia all had a hand in teaching and guiding her.

We are not supposed to hate the Skywalkers, for better or worse, we have seen this struggle through their eyes for 5 decades and multiple generations. They are a part of us. We are supposed to see them with honesty, grief, compassion, and resolve.

Rey has chosen to take the best pieces of all who came before her and will carry those things faithfully through her life.

Leia

I feel that Chewie’s inconsolable reaction to Leia’s death captured what we all felt at Carrie Fisher’s passing.

Leia, beautiful, strong, intelligent, compassionate, ever-faithful Leia. She’s the best the Skywalkers had to offer in my opinion, and she was and still is the Star Wars sweetheart of the world.

It’s only right that she is the one who completed the training for the last Skywalker and the ultimate Jedi, Rey. She brought her son back from the Darkness and left behind a Rebel legacy strong enough for others to pick it up and carry it.

The Rise of Skywalker

My sister pointed out the meaning of this title.

Rey was rising to become a Skywalker.

Ben Solo rose from the Darkness into the Light to reclaim his place of honor in the Skywalker line.

It’s very satisfying.

For 9+ Movies and Multiple Series Our Heroes Have Been Trying to Save The Galaxy…It Was About Time The Galaxy Saved Them

Star Wars has one consistent theme, a common thread that runs throughout every chapter and story.

Hope.

No matter how dark, no matter how heavy the grief, no matter how much larger the enemy being faced, hope lives eternally in the Star Wars story.

And despite the fact that among the Star Wars “fanbase” you can find some pretty nasty specimens of humanity, I believe that the franchise as a whole has been uniting people since 1978.

People from all corners of our world’s “galaxy” love Star Wars. People with different skin colors, backstories, occupations, and beliefs. A shared love of Star Wars can instantly close a generational gap or create a common ground for different people.

I felt that both of these special parts of Star Wars were honored in this beautiful, beautiful scene where the galaxy came to save the Resistance and defeat The Last Order.

And yes, I will find out all of these Easter Egg ships hidden in this moment. I was geeking out about Star Wars: Rebels ship The Ghost and that’s about as far as I got.

It was about time the galaxy quit cowering before the bullies while letting someone else take all of the hits for them. It was time that they stood up and fought back.

They did, and it was glorious.

……….

I’m sure there is more to be said, but I’m going to end it here. It was not a perfect movie, it felt like it needed another 30-45 minutes to fill out properly. But apparently, there are some people who won’t sit through a 3+ hour movie. Clearly, they are not Lord Of The Rings fans.

I can watch this movie and all of the movies proceeding it and not feel disappointed or feel that something I love has been tainted.

I know some people were thrilled with this movie, some were devastated. I fall somewhere more in the middle, but I can live with that.

And the best part is, it’s not over yet. The Skywalker Saga may be finished, but Star Wars storytelling is alive and well. I would love to see some more movies featuring my favorite Sequel characters, but I am also deeply enjoying the storytelling featuring non-main Saga characters. #bringbackezrabridger #themandalorian

So, what were your favorite parts? Did you agree with the choices they made? Can we all at least celebrate the fact that Chewbacca finally got the medal he so richly deserves? Would you like to see future movies featuring Sequel characters?

Bless you, friends.

Reylo Is Dangerous, Stop Glorifying It

*Note: This article was written post-The Last Jedi and before The Rise of Skywalker was even in theaters. Clearly some changes have taken place in the character arcs of Ben Solo and Rey. I have addressed those changes in a recent article written about the events and character developments of The Rise of Skywalker. You can read that here.

For the context and time that this article was written, I still 100% stand behind my words. The character of Kylo Ren by the end of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi is NOT a safe person nor are his intentions/actions romantic. The type of person and relationship he represents is entirely abusive and inappropriate. Therefore, keep these things in mind as you read this article. Thank you!

……….

Prepare for a very bold post, because this needs to be said. Warning, not all parts of this post are PG.

Reylo, the ship for Kylo Ren and Rey in the recent Star Wars trilogy is very popular.

I’ve seen fanart, posts, and social media buzz about “Reylo”. How “sexy”, how “gorgeous”, how “hot” it is, etc.

its a trap gif

Please, please, PLEASE just stop.

I am a die-hard FinnRey shipper. I will not apologize for that. But my reason for being so vehemently opposed to Reylo is not directly tied to it being in opposition to my ship.

The entire idea of Reylo is stomach-turning to me because it is abusive, controlling, and all-too real for thousands of men and women in the world. What people are fantasizing about and hoping for onscreen is an actual nightmare reality that is destroying lives every day.

Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren is an utterly fascinating villain. I’m even going to venture to say he is one of the most interesting villains in the Star Wars universe.

Kylo is conflicted, a mix of human and monster. He’s vulnerable, he’s powerful. He’s full of contradictions. Adam Driver has done this character justice. I have looked into Kylo Ren’s big, beautiful brown eyes and in my heart, I have begged Ben Solo to come out; even after Han Solo died at his own hand. I love Han Solo, so that’s some powerful storytelling right there.

I look at Ren and I see him as his mother and father would love to see him. I see him as Chewbacca must remember seeing him. I see him as who he could be. I hate how lost he is.

kylo ren the last jedi

I feel all of that, but that does not change who Ben Solo is choosing to be.

Despite his conflict, Ben/Ren continually digs himself deeper into the hole of darkness. He is obsessed with control, driven by fear and bitterness. His power and pain make him both weak and cruel. He can appear incredibly human, even reasonable at times. But the moment he is told “no” Kylo Ren descends into rage and hatred, often towards the very person he was trying to win.

Rey

Rey is also a mixed bag of vulnerable and powerful. She lives with the raw wounds of abandonment and lovelessness gaping in her soul at all times. Her incredible skills as a fighter, mechanic, and pilot were all born out of survival. Imagine what she must have suffered, what must have been taken from her as a child to bring her to this point?

Rey is desperate for someone, anyone to love her and come back for her. She wants to belong, to know that she has value. She has been treated as worthless waste her entire life.

rey

Despite all of the tragedy and pain of her past, Rey has still emerged with more compassion and courage than anyone would expect given her past. Her heart is tender, her sense of right and wrong are intact, and she chooses to fight for those things at great personal cost. She boldly says “no” when evil tries to manipulate her into saying yes.

These two are meant to be a dark vs light reflection of each other, they are meant to be similar.

ben and rey

But these two do not belong together!

Kylo Ren and Rey are similar, but their entire life perspective and goals are diametrically opposed. His pain has made him cruel, her pain has made her kind. He wants to control his world, she wants to free hers. He burns connections, she creates them. He uses his power to hurt, she uses her power to rescue.

These are the black and white practical reasons why Reylo will never work. These would be enough, but let’s look at the biggest reason why Reylo is wrong.

Reylo is abusive.

kylo ren rey takodana

Before Rey knows what she is capable of, she is incredibly vulnerable. She has no control. Kylo has a predatory interest in her like Snoke had in him before his seduction to the Dark Side. He senses she is special, he wants her power.

Abusive people want what you have because they believe they can use it to increase their power/self image/control/happiness etc.

Upon discovering she knows the location of the map, he knocks her out and kidnaps her. Why is any of this attractive? If I walked in on this scene I would shoot first and ask questions later. This is “Reylo’s” first meeting; helpless Rey, controlling Kylo. *gags*

kylo ren creep

Next up we have this scene.

As a woman, the first half of this scene made me extremely uncomfortable. It’s basically every woman’s nightmare scenario of being restrained and helpless in the hands of a ruthless man. The body language Kylo uses as well as his intimidating words,

…you know I can take anything I want…

made me feel ill in my soul. I felt violated on Rey’s behalf.

A fan pointed out this scene felt like an assault upon Rey, something that J. J. Abrams confirmed was his intention. This is a “mental assault” scene. We are meant to feel disgusted in our core.

Rey blew me away. She refutes his mental assault, overpowers him in the Force, finds his greatest fear, and leaves him shaking on the ground.

The joy of this scene has everything to do with Rey’s victory over her kidnapper and nothing to do with any Reylo chemistry.

Dear Reylo Shippers, are you really finding this kind of interaction romantic? Do you want your romantic partner to treat you this way? Really? 

That’s not a relationship, that’s a crime.

Kylo Ren reports back to Snoke an emotional basketcase.

“She is strong with the Force, stronger than she knows!”

“Supreme Leader, I can get the map from the girl, I just need your guidance.”

The anger that we see written in every line of Kylo’s body as he marches back to his prisoner speaks of his true heart. Kylo does not like to be crossed, when he is refused what he desires he becomes angry.

Abusive and controlling people are made angry by someone standing up to them.

After the dreadful scene where Kylo Ren kills his own father, he meets with Rey again…

…where he flings her backward into a tree (thank heavens her hair buns take the brunt of the impact!). Rey falls into the snow unconscious where she would once again be at Kylo Ren’s mercy if it were not for someone who truly loves her taking up the lightsaber to fight and protect her.

Jedi Finn

Don’t worry, the FinnRey post is coming.

Our final Kylo Ren/Rey moments in The Force Awakens take place over an absolutely gorgeous lightsaber battle.

Kylo recognizes (like the rest of us watching with gaping mouths) that this girl Rey is a one-of-a-kind person who is going to change the galaxy with her power. He wants in on it, so he tries to manipulate her inexperience and desire to belong,

…you need a teacher! I can show you the ways of the Force!

confronting ren

Big mistake, he just helps Rey unlock even more power by reminding her of Maz Kanata’s wise words about letting the Force in. Rey leaves Kylo bloodied and beaten in the snow.

In The Force Awakens Kylo Ren wanted Rey’s power, but by the end of The Last Jedi, he also wanted her heart. 

I do not blame anyone for falling in love with Rey, good or bad.

Rey is the kind of person who infiltrates people’s armor and gets to their heart. She’s magnetic. So let me say, I do not blame Kylo Ren for falling for her.

I do not think Rey was ever in love with Kylo Ren, I think she had compassionate empathy for him. There is a huge difference between the two, and it is because of this difference that Rey does not end up a victim of a bad relationship, instead she wisely walks away.

One of Rey’s strongest virtues is her compassion. She herself has suffered, therefore she recognizes and has sympathy towards others who have also suffered. It’s why she is so willing to help the Resistance. It’s why she opposes the First Order. Rey also cares about the truth.

Rey seeks out Luke expecting one thing, a wise mentor who will save the day. Instead, she finds a bitter old man with a jaded view of reality and no desire to help the ones who need him most. It’s pretty disappointing.

And then this happens.

ren and rey force bond

This series of Force Time calls were very powerful, and I can understand why some people were drawn into the connection between Rey and Ben. Ben shows some of his most broken, hurtful places, and Rey allows herself to see him as more than a monster. Redemption is a powerful force, the idea of love changing someone and healing brokenness is a good, good thing.

If only Ben Solo had actually decided to change…

kylo ren, I want you to join me

I really thought he might. The conflict in his eyes was real. The emotion he had when he looked at Rey was real. The revelation of what truly happened that dreadful day between Luke and Ben needed to come out into the light. Rey was right to give Luke a smackdown and call him out on his lies, bitterness, and false humility.

When Rey goes to Ben, she is going with the hope that he can be redeemed, thus changing the tide of the war and saving the Resistance. She wants a better future for him as an individual, as well as completing her mission. She never forgets that she loves people who also love her, and they are depending on her! She is not just doing this for herself, she is doing this for them.

She goes into the very jaws of the Dark Side. She faces Snoke, Snoke does his obnoxious “I know all” bit…and then this happens.

snoke the last jedi

Ben/Ren kills Snoke.

I was shocked. I was delighted. For the first time, I didn’t really feel like I knew what was coming next, I actually believed Ben Solo had returned. And then this glorious scene happened.

And I believed it. I truly did. I believed that Ben Solo had been redeemed. He had me fooled.

Unstable and abusive people are often very good at pretending to change while actually staying the same. That, or their view of reality is so twisted they see themselves as the hero and everyone else who opposes them as the villains. Such is the case with Ben Solo.

Rey believed as I did, bless her heart, sweet girl! She believed it had worked, Ben Solo was redeemed.

The fleet! There’s still time to save the fleet, order them to stop firing!

Ben?

He turns, and she sees his face. He’s not going to save the fleet, he wants to let it all be destroyed. He’s decided what his own version of “redemption” looks like and it looks like him killing off her friends and controlling the galaxy. He wants to let everything burn down, The First Order, the Resistance, burn the pain!

She pleads with him, and he begins to get angry.

No! You’re still holding on! Let go!

Kylo see Rey’s grief, he truly believes he understands it, he believes he has the answer. So he goes for her deepest wound, being abandoned by her parents.

It’s entirely possible Kylo truly thought he knew who Rey’s parents were. We have yet to see if the revelation that her parents were “filthy junk traders who sold her off for drinking money” is true or not. Kylo believes himself to be a hero, he may even believe himself to be Rey’s hero rescuing her from her attachments or ideas that are holding her back from “true growth”.

He’s either intentionally evil or massively deceived, either way, his next words left me feeling incredibly upset. Many Reylo shippers find them romantic, I see them for what they are…a trap.

You have no place in this story, you come from nothing.

In this statement, Kylo reinforces Rey’s feelings of utter worthlessness.

you are nothing kylo ren

You’re nothing…but not to me. 

Abusive/controlling people often isolate their victims from anyone or anything that could speak truth into their lives. They want their victim’s whole sense of worth to be derived entirely from them. They hold all the cards, they are their victim’s everything.

It’s pretty nauseating. Look at it in the face, Reylo shippers, I know it’s ugly, but it needs to be seen for what it is. This is NOT romantic, this is evil. This is a lie. Even as Kylo is saying this it is a boldfaced a lie! Rey wants to save the people in the fleet because they matter to her. Those people don’t see her as nothing! He’s smart enough to figure that out, but that would work against his beliefs and his agenda.

And then Rey resists.

Rey is an incredible person. Even at her lowest moment, she has come far enough to see the truth for what it is and to value herself regardless of her circumstances or past. Throughout this movie, she is brought face to face with grief, failure, disappointment, and rejection (some of her worst fears and wounds) and she does not give in. The strength this young woman possesses is utterly astounding.

She resists lies and evil where Ben Solo could not

She gets up after failure where Luke Skywalker remained on the ground…

Rey actually emerges even more powerful in character and ability.

rey moves rocks

And Kylo Ren hates it.

Abusive people hate being told no. They hate and fear someone who is stronger than them. Finding something beyond their control is repulsive to them.

True love leaves room for discussion and compromise, for change. There is no “it’s my way or the highway” in true love. True romantic love involves two people in partnership, not one person who decides all, even right and wrong.

If there was any shred of hope left for Reylo after Rey point-blank tries to take the lightsaber from him, Kylo utterly destroys that shred in what is the most disgusting display of a toddler tantrum I have ever seen on screen.

First, Kylo tells Hux that Rey is responsible for all of the Snoke pieces lying around.

Abusive people love to blame people for their own actions.

Next Big-Man-In-Control Kylo takes The First Order down to Crait to utterly obliterate whatever is left of the Resistance. The hatred in his face is clear. He probably would have succeeded too…

But who should show up in that glorious hunk of junk to kick him in the face? That’s right, Rey.

“BLOW THAT PIECE OF JUNK OUT OF THE SKY!”

*Can you feel the love tonight?* No, please, tell me again how much Kylo loves Rey. Tell me as he tries to have her blown to pieces (you cannot tell me he doesn’t know who is on that ship).

Next up we have good old Uncle Luke showing up, an action that Rey motivated. Kylo orders some overkill I want every gun we have to fire on that man…you know you have made a fool of yourself when Hux looks like the reasonable adult in the room.

kylos tantrum

That’s enough!

Do you think you got him?

During his enraged confrontation with Luke, Kylo screams,

I’ll destroy her!

This guy is making Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth look like a Pulitzer winning speech.

Rey rescues The Resistance. Luke gets the last laugh. Kylo Ren is left alone (technically victorious) and utterly miserable in an empty base.

A Force time call with Rey opens up…he looks up at her, pleadingly… (I know I just tried to kill you but I’m so lonely)

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…and she shuts the door in his face.

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No, no, Ben.

Rey has the wisdom to know she cannot save someone who does not want to be saved. She is moving on with her life, she did her best, but now it’s time to let it go and fight.

Ben Solo/Kylo Ren represents far too many people in real life. These people are truly broken, hurting, and yes, they do have value. These people were made in the Image of God. Yes, these people do need to have other people come into their lives and love them through the ugly.

  • Before a Kylo Ren type person can be helped, that person has to see their need for help and be willing to accept it, until that happens you can lose yourself trying to “save” them when they do not wish to be changed.
  • Once this type of person actually desires to receive help, the kind of people who should be involved are trusted mentors, sometimes doctors, counselors, and peer level friends. All of these people need to be strong enough in their own character to create healthy boundaries and call their friend on the carpet when something is wrong. These people need to hold their patient/friend/client accountable.

This kind of loving help should NEVER be in the context of a romantic partnership, because partnerships require trust. And you cannot trust someone like Kylo Ren.

We have a responsibility to point out evil things for what they are. We need to teach our children what trustworthy people vs. unstable and abusive people look like. We need to learn this ourselves.

Reylo is so much bigger than just a movie ship, it’s a broken and overly-romanticized type of relationship that leaves nothing but wreck and ruin for both parties involved.

If you are with a Kylo, know you are worth more! You are not worthless, you are not useless, you are not a mistake, YOU ARE LOVED! There is more for you in this life, please seek help.

If you are a Kylo, know that giving and receiving real love is vastly more satisfying than control, there is more to be had in this life than you are currently experiencing. YOU ARE LOVED, please seek help.

Next up, how FinnRey shows what true, sacrificial love looks like.

rey and finn

The Last Jedi: Where No One Had Gone Before

The Last Jedi: Where No One Had Gone Before

The Last Jedi went into uncharted territory. It scared the crap out of us. It broke the “rules”. It challenged our expectations and cliches. It was bold with the Force. It took our characters and tossed each of them into their worst-case-scenario. It showed broken heroes and villains.

Can I even venture to say?

The Last Jedi was the deepest main saga Star Wars movie to date.

It is not a perfect movie with zero flaws, nor do I say the most beloved. There is something magical about A New Hope. My personal favorite for a long time was The Empire Strikes Back (best time ever), and now TESB is tied with The Force Awakens in my affections.

The most basic piece of writing advice storytellers are given is this…

Find out what your character wants…and then do everything in your power to keep them from getting it.

Harsh, huh? And yet, it’s compelling.

Kylo Ren wants peace.

Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren feels thrown about by his life. He wants to finally feel he is in control of his destiny. The turmoil inside of him is eating it up. He believes he can reach this place of “peace” by resetting the game board and crowning himself king. Control everyone and everything…that’s the answer, right?

Rey wants a sense of belonging and identity.

Rey has felt abandoned her whole life. She’s been waiting for people to make her belong, to give her worth. Now she has this whole new can of worms called The Force and she wants someone older and wiser to guide her in it. Secretly she is hoping that Luke as her mentor can give her that sense of belonging and value.

Leia wants a legacy.

She’s been in this fight since the day of her birth. She has sacrificed everything. Her beloved husband is gone. Her son is now her enemy. Her brother is missing. Her people are few in number and on the run. Will there be anyone to take up the gauntlet and continue this all-important battle for freedom that has been her life’s work?

Poe wants his people to survive.

Poe has natural giftings as a leader. He’s brave, he’s kind, he’s insanely talented. He knows he can make a difference in this fight that he’s grown up in. He’ll give his last drop of blood to ensure that happens.

Finn wants the one person he loves most to be okay.

Finn has found one thing to fight for up to this point: Rey. She’s his primary object and sole focus. Rey has to have somewhere safe to return to.

Luke wants to die alone and bitter. He wants to punish himself for his failure.

At least…that’s what he thinks he wants.

Rose wants her sister’s sacrifice to count for something, and she’s sick of people dying.

She’s lost everything up to this point. She’s done with that.

Hux wants respect.

He gets treated like a buffoon…huh, wonder why that is?

Snoke wants…uh…he wants…control?

Yeah, ahem, Mr. Rian? You kinda left us hanging on that one. Hoping Abrams can fill in the gaps here, Snoke was too big a presence to just disappear from the story after one highly efficient lightsaber stroke.

Vice-Admiral Holdo wants her people to survive.

Huh, sound similar to anyone else we know? How about SHARING SOME INFO UP FRONT WITH YOUR PEOPLE ON THE SAME SIDE??? C’mon, Ellie!

Chewbacca wants a new friend.

*aggressive sobbing*

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BB8 wants to be a part of everything.

Our baby droid is really the only one who gets what he wants from start to finish and has an utterly fantastic time all the way through.

bb8 thumbs up

It was like pulling teeth with pliers for every character to attempt to reach their goal in this movie. It was almost like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day made into a Star Wars film.

Somehow, if it could go wrong, it did go wrong…right until the very end.

Because here is the follow-up piece of writing advice to the one I mentioned previously.

The characters must prevail, and they come out having defeated the obstacle, lie, villain, etc, and have grown in the process.

Let’s start with the heroes. How did they end up?

Rey chose her identity apart from her past or any other person.

rey the last jedi

She wanted a mentor. She wanted a dad. I get that. But people let you down, sometimes you cannot find what you want. What do you do then? You decide. “Who am I going to be regardless of what happens around me?” Rey decided, and she emerged as a shining beacon of new hope and the future for the Jedi.

Leia has a legacy.

leia on crait

We see it in the mentorship she gives her surrogate son Poe. She trains him on how to become a leader that will last. We see it in the determination of new Rebel recruits such as Finn. We see it in the enduring fire of characters like Rose and Holdo. We see it in the gleam in Rey’s eyes as she rejects Kylo Ren’s offer of power and instead chooses freedom. Leia’s life work has not been in vain, the fight will continue.

Poe leads his people to survival.

Yes, there are like 7.5 of them, but…

poe dameron hope

Poe was pushed far beyond his comfort zone, and he rose to the occasion. He’s already got incredible talent but in the end, he was going to lead his people to destruction if he did not learn the wisdom required to lead. He learned, and the future of the Rebels will now be secure.

Finn’s original goal was to make sure Rey was safe. He at first believes that to be his only mission. By the end, he chooses to join the Resistance for his own sake. This does not mean he loves Rey any less, it just means he has finally come into his own.

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And as a delightful bonus, because Finn chooses to stick with the Resistance despite the “loser” circumstances, he was right where he needed to be to reunite with the person who feels like home to him.

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Yes, a FinnRey post is totally in works. And no, I will not disclose how many times I have watched this hug. That’s none of your business.

Luke dies…but not the way he thought he wanted to. He instead dies in peace, a legend who has forever changed the galaxy. This is the fulfillment of the original goal he had as a youth who stared off into the sunsets and dreamed of adventures.

luke skywalker the last jedi

It’s poetic, it’s epic. Luke dies, but he is not completing the shallow and self-piteous arc of his elder years. No, instead he completes the much deeper and meaningful arc that we began in A New Hope. We have come full circle. And in all honesty, can we actually say that this giant of the Force is actually gone?

Rose saves the people she loves, making her sister’s sacrifice and everything up to this point worth it.

rose the last jedi

Rose is a simple and straightforward character, but she represents a new attitude for this fight. Surviving to fight another day is just as if not more valuable than sacrifice.  We’ve watched single to entire casts of beloved characters (*coughs* Rogue One) sacrifice themselves for the cause. FYI, I’m still hurting over Caleb Dume.

We admire and respect their sacrifice, and those deaths had their place. But winning is also about life, not just death. Rose represents life.

Ahem, yes, she saved the people she loves. Yeah, I saw that kiss too. That one, tiny little kiss that sent a whole crowd of people like sheep to the slaughter with the belief, “Well, I guess she’s with Finn now?” C’mon, guys, don’t be so gullible. If a single one-sided kiss was enough to seal the deal then half of you would be married to your little crush from kindergarten. More on that in the FinnRey post.

Vice-Admiral Holdo’s people survived. Barely. In spite of her. Really we all almost died but hey, she did that cool lightspeed thing! Plus, I have never seen purple hair look so chic.

holdo the last jedi

Holdo as a character, or rather, the idea and look of Holdo was utterly fascinating. She represented a larger group of people who like Leia, have fully committed themselves to this fight. Supposedly she’s another kind of Force-sensitive character who uses her abilities outside of the Jedi method.

I do not believe her character was done proper justice, she was fascinating in the creation, less effective in the execution. Her character was responsible for the biggest plot holes in the movie, and that’s a crying shame. Still…did I mention that awesome purple hair?

Chewbacca kept his new friend.

chewbacca the last jedi

We were amazed that he was willing to drop his new girl off to meet up with Ben Solo after how splendidly that went the last time, but Chewie is loyal to a fault. He obviously trusted that she could handle it. Chewie is one original character that we can rely on sticking around.

BB8 was a part of EVERYTHING.

Can this droid get any cuter?

Onto the villains.

DJ and Captain Phasma barely get an honorable mention. They got exactly what they signed up for.

DJ’s only purpose was to serve as a darker reflection of what Finn could have become, someone who is only in it for themselves. He was not useless, per se, but he was also not deep.

Phasma had the character arc of a yardstick. She served as a great few seconds of external conflict that made for some really hot Finn fight scenes. *golf clap*. Nice, but nothing to write home about.

Now for the REAL villains.

Hux is still a laughingstock.

hux the last jedi

In true villain form, Hux was thwarted yet again at the moment that should have been his triumph. He’s a rather interesting figure to me, he’s both fanatically frightening and laughably ridiculous all at once. He’s both bold and cowardly. He’s just weak enough to be dangerous and I think Kylo Ren is wrong to underestimate him. Hux’s defeat in this movie is going to make him even more dangerous in Episode 9. 

Snoke is dead. So, there’s that.

snoke the last jedi

Unexpected, cool, and also disappointing? Snoke was too malevolent and overpowering to just be forgotten. We need more information on what his bigger picture was. At the same time, he’s dead, so any agenda he may have had is in pieces. Literally.

I saved the most intriguing for the last…Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo.

kylo ren the last jedi

Like the heroes of this movie, Kylo Ren gets exactly what he wants…control. And yet, he ends the movie more desperate and villainous than he began it. Why?

What Kylo/Ben actually wants deep down inside is peace. Peace cannot be gained through murder and control, that only creates more chaos. Kylo’s blazing path of bloodshed and fury have not given him what he thought they would. Instead, he is left angrier and emptier than before. He’s a classic case of trying to achieve what you want/need the wrong way. This approach always leaves you in a worse situation than you began.

The Last Jedi went deep on multiple characters. It took our oh-so-familiar Star Wars moments such as the Darth Vader redemption scene and added a new twist to them. What if Vader kills his master but then decides to take control for himself?

We ended this movie where our heroes had nothing more than a hunk-of-junk and a smile to their names, and yet they felt that they had won while their enemies were left licking their wounds. Why?

Not all victories begin physically, the battle between good and evil is a battle of mindsets, ideals, and endurance. Our Rebels are winning this war, and the First Order knows it.

The Resistance is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.

I truly value the previous main saga movies that have led us to this point, but Rian gave us a fresh perspective on an age-old battle. He highlighted characters outside of just “the big three” and somehow managed to leave us full of hope after a dreadful day. While there are glaring mistakes in this film, I am also amazed by all he accomplished.

Our heroes went through the fire and emerged as legends. Our villains went through the fire, some of them burned, and some of them now burn with a vengeance. The stage is set for an epic conclusion to this saga.

the last jedi poster

More in-depth on aspects of this film coming soon!

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How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World