Reylo’s biggest supporters don’t necessarily disagree with those who raise red flags about a relationship—romantic or merely friendly—between these two characters. When readers call Interstellar Transmissions “a beautiful love story,” Rosie said, “I keep wanting be like, ‘Honey, this is not a good, healthy romance. What we wrote is not what you should want.’”
“But then again,” her co-author Ricca added, “Star Wars is totally not about healthy relationships. There are none.”
Rosie recalled leaving The Force Awakens two years ago utterly squicked out by Kylo Ren—“he’s a fuckboy”—and utterly fascinated by Rey. Yet something about the rivalry between them stuck in her mind like “a popcorn kernel in my teeth.” Rey’s an anonymous scavenger, tortured by her inability to know her parents. Kylo is a famous scion, weighed down by the expectations of his bloodline. She has raw power and he has expertise; he told her “you need a teacher” before she beat him in combat. “They are two sides of a coin,” Rosie said.
Flipping between sides of a coin is, of course, what Star Wars is all about, from the seduction of Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith to his redemption in The Return of the Jedi. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren flirts with the light by betraying Snoke, and Rey flirts with the dark in connecting with Kylo and exploring the creepy cavern beneath Luke’s island. But in the end, they both seem to be on the side they started on: Rey with the Rebels, Kylo mercilessly attacking them.
Will full defection by one of them be in the trilogy’s finale? Rosie suggested that the necessary demise of Kylo’s mother Leia—played by Carrie Fisher, who died in 2016—could “kickstart” a journey to light for the darksider, given that he was unable to pull the trigger on her in this movie. Ricca pointed out that he could go the way of Vader: “Redeemed doesn’t necessarily mean survived.” Trebia added, “In the last episode of the trilogy, you always get a bittersweet ending.”
But for however elemental the interplay between Kylo and Rey seems, there is a lot that’s novel about it. Most obviously, The Last Jedi asserts that Rey’s parents are “nobody,” rather than famous somebodies from the old movies. This isn’t just a plot twist, it’s also a deeper shift. “This idea that Star Wars is only about this particular family is a huge limitation to the franchise,” Ricca said. “I like the idea that [the Force] is not the property of the Jedi and the Sith. You could be anyone and have this.” Rosie added that this democratizing development helps to encourage the same impulse that drives fandom: “One of the beautiful things about the Star Wars universe is that you can imagine yourself in that universe.”
The other remarkable factor here is Rey’s gender—rare for a hero in a saga previously dominated by male characters. This, too, informs the Reylo following. Fan fiction is, for various reasons, a largely female-driven phenomenon, which has meant for franchises that have been mostly marketed to boys—Star Wars heretofore included—it has sometimes been seen as a marginal activity. But now, women are at the center. Rosie recently came to a realization about how even the ad campaign for The Last Jedi felt new to her. “There’s all of these commercials [featuring] little girls with Darth Vader helmets running around,” she said. “That is not something I had as a Star Wars nut growing up.”
The three writers have no immediate plans to craft fan-fiction follow-ups based on the new sequel. But if any of them go for it, Ricca said, they’d be working off “some of the pull-tabs that Rian Johnson left, ostensibly for J.J. Abrams. If I decide I want one, I’ll pull on it and see where it goes.”