Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
We’re about to get into spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker, specifically one very big moment that could be the most controversial thing to happen to pop culture since the Game of Thrones finale. (And in a movie packed with a bunch of other controversial moments, that’s saying something.) But, director J.J. Abrams has shared his take the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, and it’s a little confusing. Here’s what he said, what it means, and why it’s made everything about The Rise of Skywalker even odder than it already was.
Massive spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
So, if you jump into the wretched hive of scum and villainy of Twitter, you will rapidly discover that J.J. Abrams has given a very off-the-cuff interview in which he says Rey and Kylo Ren are like “brother and sister.” This, of course, makes it seem like their seemingly romantic kiss at the end of The Rise of Skywalker was incest. But, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Here’s what J.J. Abrams said:
“There’s as much of a brother and sister thing with Rey and Kylo Ren as there is romantic. So it’s not literally a sexually/romantic kind of thing. It’s more like they’re just bound together in this crazy, spiritual way. Again, [that] felt romantic to me. It’s like John Williams… if you listen to the [music] —when he first wrote the Luke theme. It was a romantic theme for Luke and Leia. That was kind of what he was thinking because he didn’t know where it was going.”
Okay. So, on the one hand, J.J. Abrams is saying this was more of a BFF/brother and sister kiss, but on the other hand, he’s kind of saying: “Hey Star Wars is confusing. Remember in 1977 when we didn’t know Luke and Leia were siblings?”
Relative to Luke and Leia, Abrams makes a fair point. In 1983, Leia retroactively being made Luke’s sister in Return of the Jedi was kind of weird and did instantly render their tender moments in the two previous movies as incest. So, Abrams claiming that bizarre, accidental incest has happened in Star Wars before is an okay point to make…except he is the director and writer of a new Star Wars movie that intentionally made this happen again!
However, in fairness to J.J. Abrams, the person who interviewed Abrams about this in the first place, a Twitter user named Kaila Ren, has noted that the video surfaced without her permission and that she was asking Abrams about Rey and Kylo Ren relative to The Force Awakens, NOT The Rise of Skywalker. This fact certainly adds a different spin on everything. Abrams was not being asked about the kiss in The Rise of Skywalker directly. Like. At all.
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Still, assuming you kind of accept J.J. Abrams’s explanation and you decide Rey and Kylo were spiritual siblings, but not actual siblings, there’s still a tiny problem. Ready?
If you look into material beyond the films, Rey and Ben are could be some variety of cousins. Here’s why.
Last year, an official Star Wars comic book established that Emperor Palpatine used the Dark Side of the Force to create Anakin Skywalker in the womb of Shmi Skywalker, effectively making Palpatine Anakin’s “father.” If that’s true, we know Palpatine is Rey’s grandfather, and now, probably Ben Solo’s great-grandfather.
So, then they’re cousins, even if the Force removes them once or twice. Or perhaps this makes Rey actually Ben Solo’s great-aunt, which means this is just exactly like Game of Thrones.
But, then again, it seems like Lucasfilm actually doesn’t want us to interpret that comic book the way we were interpreting it. At least one representative for the Lucasfilm Story Group, Matt Martin, has said that it was not the intention to imply Palpatine had anything to do with Anakin’s birth.
So, maybe Rey and Ben are kind of like cousins or siblings, simply because she adopts the Skywalker name at the end. This essentially makes the ending of The Rise of Skywalker a little like Luke Wilson and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Which, if we’re being honest, is probably the perfect movie to watch now that you’re done thinking about The Rise of Skywalker.
The Rise of Skywalker is out now.
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