In the fall of twenty nineteen, I decided to embark on a voyage, one that I never anticipated would become a life-long journey, but one that would shape me into the woman I’m becoming today. I decided I would watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was the very first Star Wars movie I’d ever watched from start to finish, and to say it was one hell of an introduction would be an understatement. As a child, my grandmother and I had a very tough time communicating. She had a very thick Spanish accent, and so our bonding sessions were normally quite short. The one way she figured she could entertain me was by putting on Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back… To be fair, it was an honest (and tasteful) effort, but my young mind was all too confused and unimpressed by clips of a young Luke Skywalker jogging around with a green, wrinkly Yoda sitting on his back.
I’d spent my teenage years loyally cemented into a variety of fandoms, notable ones that come to mind being Directioners, Supernatural, and even a niche one like H2O Just Add Water. I was nineteen, growing up, and in search of something new and fresh… Because really, looking up to a magical Aussie teenage mermaid could only be entertaining for so long. So, after a moment’s hesitation, I dipped my toes into Star Wars, similar to how Rey dove into the mirror cave lake on Ahch-To… & never looked back.
Starting off with Rian Johnson’s installment within the Sequel Trilogy was certainly an unconventional choice, one that would be like a disturbance in the force, if the force was the watch order debates, though a decision I’d never alter for the world. The way the audience is thrust into hyperdrive, soaring right through the blazing flames of a rebel bombing run, we witnessed a heroic sacrifice– one that was done all too soon but ultimately led us to meet some new, assertive, and overall kick-ass women. I remember wiping my tears for a character [Paige Tico] I never had the chance to know. Meeting Rey, a stubborn and determined woman, it was obvious to me that she was one of the story’s protagonists. I had been completely mesmerized by these women who walked on screen; they were a force to be reckoned with, and I knew that I had found new characters to admire, new people that I could see myself in as my childhood was coming to a close.
Rian Johnson not only gave us the opportunity to explore the beauties of the galaxy with cutting edge cinematography (with a beautiful color pallet might I add! My Gen Z heart simply can’t help but take note of this aesthetic detail), but we were able to dig deeper into the minds of characters like Kylo Ren, Rey, Finn, and even Poe. As a girl who hadn’t properly sat down and watched a Star Wars movie before, it was hard not to be impressed. I was hooked from the start. Lightsabers, the bravery of the rebels, the gorgeous planets I’d never had the chance to see… Porgs!
I think the one thing that solidified my love for this new universe was the intense and dreamy dynamic between Kylo Ren and Rey. Growing up in an era where Wattpad was popular and idolizing any main character dubbed “Y/N” was considered normal, I had too much free time as a pre-teen, delving into my idea of what was peak romance. Looking back on it now, it was rather quixotic: I had romanticized the most dramatic and sappy kinds of ships. It was to no surprise that the unrequited but intimate romance between Kylo and Rey had completely enchanted me. It was something new, and unique to anything else I had read and seen before. I was transfixed by the way their relationship was introduced. There was a tension, a spitefulness… And yet, a yearning. One might even call it a slow-burn of some sort. Their connection was never going to be shoved down our throats in a quick manner, there was progress to be made, and The Last Jedi was the stepping stone for what was to come.
There’s something to be said about a romance like theirs, and in a way, it’s comparable to that of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet of the classic Pride and Prejudice: both are defined by an undeniable chemistry that makes the story iconic. Part of this is how the audience was essentially teased with the idea that there is something more than the surface dialogue between the two leads. While there were key hints in the body language and execution of their interactions, Johnson himself hinted at this idea. Not only was communication key, but getting them to even interact in the first place would be essential. It was with their engagement through the force that made this possible.
“It was always through the demands of the story. With the Force connections between Rey and Kylo I thought, OK, I need to get these two talking… enough to where we could go from “I hate you,” to her being forced to actually engage with him.” – Rian Johnson
We later learn that the pair are a dyad in the force, but The Last Jedi is what truly allowed the two to connect and bond for the first time. For me, one of the most iconic scenes in all of Star Wars is the infamous force-bond hand touch between Rey and Kylo. This moment was pivotal to their joint storylines and helped us see deeper into the winding and complex psychology of these two lonesome people. It was our confirmation there was something more: potential. All it took was a brush of each other’s fingertips to see that their story wasn’t over, even after the Battle of Crait took place.
This wasn’t just a revelation of our own as an audience (nor mine as a new and absolutely astounded fan), but our dyad also knew it to be true. Human connection can be such an intimate and emotionally raw thing for a lot of people. Rey and Kylo both came from a place where gentle touches were non-existent, and any sort of brush against their skin was likely one of harm. To be touched so gently for the first time and to finally know that you aren’t alone? It’s a breathtaking experience and one that was portrayed so effortlessly thanks to the well-thought-out storyline and scripts. Kylo and Rey made it known to each other that they weren’t alone– that they were more similar than they may have once thought. Although the gentle touches and civil behavior fell apart after Rey’s refusal to take his hand, we still had the opportunity to analyze their potential as a Dyad. Together, not only could they manifest an unbeatable power, but they could get through anything so long as it was together.
Many people complain that The Last Jedi wasn’t “Star Warsy enough” for them, and in my opinion? That’s not true… The Last Jedi is my Star Wars. It was my maiden voyage into the galaxy far, far away. It is a story about found family. It is a lesson about rising from failure. It was all the proof I needed to know that not only did I matter as a woman, but I also had a place in the story that is fandom. Most importantly, I was shown that anyone, no matter where they’re from, can be the hero in their story.