The Force is strong with the 'shipping community in Star Wars and thanks to the new movies, fans have access to handfuls of new, charismatic characters to pair together as they see fit. You've got your fairly standard Rey X Finn, newer additions like Finn X Rose, and the popular Finn X Poe (Finn apparently has chemistry with everyone), but one specific pairing has always been something a black sheep: Rey X Kylo Ren. Pairing together a hero and a villain is common in the 'shipping community, but the specifics of this particular pairing made it seem weird. But then came along Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which actually made a solid case for why these two should have a romance.
After Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, it was a bit odd that a small pocket of fandom was growing in support of a relationship between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Literally, every interaction they have with each other either involves torture or trying to kill one another; one of the photos in this article is FROM a torture scene. It's not exactly the optimal start for a healthy relationship. Couple that with the fact that people weren't sure if these two were going to end up being related or not, and the creepiness factor is pretty much tripled. (Yes, we know that Luke kissed Leia once...) But, as we now know, Rey is not a Skywalker, and with the danger of Star Wars pulling a Game of Thrones officially off the table (unless J.J. Abrams says otherwise), The Last Jedi paints the two of them in a different light.
Before The Last Jedi, I don't think I ever would have been arguing for a Rey and Kylo Ren romance, but I think the movie did a lot in showing off their romantic potential. Will they (or should they) end up getting a happily ever after together? I doubt it (and they probably shouldn't), but I don't want Episode IX to abandon this chemistry. I want to see more of it because not only is it one of the most interesting pairings, but their scenes together made for some of the most captivating moments in the sequel. I'm just saying that there's some smoke here, and we shouldn't be so quick to put it out.
As The Last Jedi attempts to show, Rey and Kylo Ren are not so different. Both are obsessed with the past, though, in different ways; Rey is trying to find hers while Kylo is attempting to escape his. Both of them are willing to go to extremes to achieve their goals. While Rey is willing to open herself up to the dark side in the cave on Ahch-To to find answers, Kylo is attempting to literally kill the past by murdering his parents and his mentor, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). At the end of their climactic tag-team against Snoke and the Praetorian Guard, Kylo suggests cutting all connections to the past and forging a new path together, an idea that clearly has some sway over Rey. in addition, Kylo and Rey were all too eager to believe their Snoke-induced visions of the future. They each wanted to believe that the other could be turned.
The two are also extremely powerful Force users who share a kindred spirit. Rey is seeking several things in The Last Jedi, but one of them is guidance. She has no idea what to do with a power she has felt inside of her for her entire life... or even what it is. She turns to Luke, but he can't give her what she needs. Kylo, on the other hand, is more than willing to show her the ways of the Force. There's certainly an argument to be made that his possible motives are selfish, but he seems to feel a genuine bond to Rey. More than that, Kylo is lonely. This dude is broken, and when he finds someone who has struggled like him, he attempts to form a connection in a way no one ever did for him.
As for Rey, she still sees that there is light inside of Kylo Ren, to the point where she begins to call him Ben. Call it naivety, but redemption is a key theme of Star Wars. There's always a chance that no matter how hard you sink into the dark, you can eventually find your way back to the light. Darth Vader was a child murdering psycho and he still ultimately redeemed himself at the end by killing the Emperor. Yeah, Kylo killed his father and probably did a bunch of other bad stuff we don't know about, but it was an act that "split him to the bone," and he's not as far gone as his grandfather had been.
That being said, just because you feel bad about killing your dad doesn't mean it was alright to kill your dad. Kylo is almost certainly not a good person, and who knows how low he'll sink now that he's leading The First Order. Redemption may not be out of hand, but he also may have done too much to be forgiven at this point. However, it says a lot about Rey's faith in people that she has not seemed to give up hope in Kylo Ren despite the fact that both his uncle and his own mother have. How much conflict Kylo still has in himself at the end is debatable, but I don't think he's any more at peace with the dark than he was at the start.
There's also something to be said about their Force connection together. Not only was this an exciting use of the Force that resulted in some thought-chewing scenes, but it's decidedly romantic. It's two people who are on opposite sides of a conflict forming a bond while light years apart because they are drawn together by a cosmic power. That's pretty romantic all by itself, but then you have a rain-soaked Rey choosing to confide deep personal emotions to Kylo -- her enemy -- over Luke Skywalker. Plus there's a shirtless scene! All of that is way more romantic than, I don't know, rolling around on a hill or confiding awkward feelings through bad dialogue by a fireplace.
Again, does this have massive hurdles? Yes, and I don't think Rey and Kylo are going to end up dating or anything. It's pretty icky that he tortured her, even though Rey seems over it. The Last Jedi, however, does leave some possibilities roads for the two of them. You could make the argument that Kylo was manipulating Rey to his side (he didn't hesitate to bring up her parents) but the two of them are very emotionally honest with each other throughout the movie. Besides, Rey would hardly be the first woman in Star Wars to have terrible taste in men.
Should Star Wars explore this relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren?