The Rise of Skywalker’s New Twist on the Link Between Kylo Ren and Rey Explained
The Disney owned Star Wars sequel trilogy was a continuation of the original movies but revolved around the next-generation of force users, namely Rey and Kylo Ren (formerly Ben Solo). The two represent the light and dark sides of the force respectively and their struggles with self-identity mirrored each other throughout the trilogy. This symbolism eventually led to the reveal of a fascinating Force connection in The Last Jedi, which is heavily expanded upon in The Rise of Skywalker. Although some fans may have been satisfied with Supreme Leader Snoke’s explanation of Kylo Ren’s descent into the Dark Side being be met by another’s rise to the Light, and so he connected the two via the Force. But The Rise of Skywalker goes an extra lightyear in linking Rey and Kylo Ren. There Palpatine mentions that the two are connected by a “Force Dyad”, something that he proceeds to use for his own ends. In The Rise of Skywalker’s New Twist on the Link Between Kylo Ren and Rey Explained, we’re taking a look at what we know about a Force Dyad, whether the introduction of the concept works, and where it doesn’t quite line-up with what we’ve seen already.
The concept behind a Dyad in the force, two beings prophesied to bond and unite is fascinating, but I’d argue it’s introduction comes a little late in the game for the sequel trilogy, meaning it doesn’t really add much to the bond between the two, other than giving it a name, and even brings with it some canonical issues.
Much of the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens was thematic, as they both represented the titular ‘awakening’ in their own way. The Last Jedi saw the two mysteriously linked in a more real sense. Unlike anything audiences had seen in Star Wars movies of the past Rey and Kylo Ren were able to see, talk, and interact with each other despite being at opposite ends of the galaxy. The mysterious Snoke, The Supreme Leader of the First Order and Kyo Ren’s master, explains that he connected the two in the hopes that the confusion and conflict between them would help turn Rey to the Dark Side.
The Last Jedi went out of its way to defy expectation and close off a number of story threads The Force Awakens established, but one thing it added was enhancing the connection between the two, that was only hinted at in the Force Awakens. The explanation of Snoke being the one who bridged their minds made a lot of sense at the time, and it seemed as though going forward the series was set to focus on the connection itself rather than why it existed, ‘killing the past’ rather than focussing on it.
But The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returned to complete the sequel trilogy with Episode IX, taking over from Rian Johnson who helmed the somewhat controversial Last Jedi. And with his return he paints a very different picture of why the two are connected, bringing back the ever-important Star Wars trope of (the Skywalker) familial legacy.
At the beginning of Episode IX the resurrected Emperor Palpatine explains to Kylo Ren that he was behind every part of Ben Solo’s fall to the Dark Side, including the creation of Snoke (with a brief shot of some Snoke bodies in some kind of batca tank). Although he promises Kylo Ren a new empire, his true plan is later revealed to be Rey’s ascension to Empress, and with that become the ultimate Sith.
But as his plans fail, when Ben Solo (no longer Kylo Ren) and Rey join forces to defeat him, he attacks them both. As his attack is overpowered he discovers the connection between the two to be an extremely powerful ‘Force Dyad’. Palpatine is then able to use this connection to restore himself, instantly envisioning a new future in which he is the Emperor once again.
I’d argue there is a simpler version of the Rise of Skywalker where it was always Palpatine’s plan to utilise the Dyad between the two, and he just wanted to get Rey and Kylo Ren together in front of him. Rather than the convoluted plot that leads them there and then a change in the plan right at the last moment (which seems out of character for the meticulous and foreseeing Palpatine).
Emperor Palpatine very briefly explains that a Force Dyad is a powerful bond between two people foreseen to be connected and that this Dyad has been hidden in the bloodline of the Palpatine’s and Skywalkers for generations.
The Rise of Skywalker visual dictionary sheds a little more light on the Force Dyad, but not much more than the film. It explains that Kylo Ren “feels an innate connection” to Rey during his attempt to interrogate her in the Force Awakens, it was there that he unlocked the Dyad and bridged their minds. The Visual Dictionary then implies Snoke did know about the Dyad, and later shows that the prophecy describing a powerful Force Dyad is very similar to the ancient Sith Law of the Rule of Two (which insist there should only be a Master and an Apprentice to harness the power of the Dark Side).
In terms of retconning, The Rise of Skywalker does its fair share of altering things seen in The Last Jedi. But one of it’s bigger revisions is the origins of the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren. The Emperor mentions that the connection between the two bloodlines has gone unnoticed for generations, but that seems to directly contradict Snoke explaining that he bridged them in The Last Jedi.
Did Palpatine program Snoke to think there was a connection between the two, even though Palpatine was unaware of the connection was a Dyad? Had Snoke, who was clearly extremely powerful, detected something his master hadn’t? Or again did Snoke simply lie?
All of the options have some fair counter-argument, and the idea of Snoke knowing about the Dyad but the Emperor being unaware seems unlikely, especially if Palpatine had been behind every step of Ben Solo’s descent into the Dark Side as he claims.
Admittedly the easy answer to many of the problems with who exactly discovered the connection, and whether they knew it was a Force Dyad can be explained away by remembering that Snoke and Palpatine are the villains, and villains lie. Snoke could have simply said he bridged Ren and Rey despite knowing he had nothing to do with it, Palpatine could have been lying about not knowing of the Dyad, or both of them could have been lying about absolutely anything they said on screen.
That said, the much more plausible story is that the confusion is simply a casualty of J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson’s conflicting visions for the Star Wars franchise.
Although nowhere near as egregious I’d go as far as comparing the naming of the connection as Force Dryad to the introduction of Medicholrians. The Medichrolians brought a name and a logic to the otherwise intangible concept of the Force, and in a way ruined what viewers could imagine it as, by outlining exactly what it is.
The Dyad is similar in the sense that it tries to say Ben Solo and Rey Palpatine were always destined to meet, struggle against and with each other, and in the end defeat Palpatine. But it introduces that idea (which by extension the entire Star Wars saga has led to) in the closing moments of the film. And so it instead comes off as naming something for the sake of naming it. In short, the reveal of this connection doesn’t really add to anything we’ve seen in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, it simply gives it a new name.
I think a large part of my disappointment with the Dyad is that it’s a great concept but one that fails to add anything to the connection between Ben Solo and Rey. Their connection, and it’s resultant struggles is perhaps been the best part of the sequel trilogy, but I’d argue giving it a name and telling us it was always meant to happen in the closing scenes of The Rise of Skywalker takes away from their bond rather than adds to it. It’s also worth noting that the film does use their connection very well in other ways, their fight, Rey healing Ben and of course, the Die Hard style lightsaber swap at the end is incredible. But all of that is just more examples of something we’ve seen in previous movies and didn’t need a name to make sense.
Ultimately the explicit connection of Rey Palpatine and Ben Solo is an interesting concept, but one that is introduced far too late in the game to mean anything. The idea of an ingrained connection between the Palpatine and Skywalker bloodlines is fascinating and could even shed a whole new light on the relationship between Anakin and Sheev, and yet it is relegated to a few sentences near the end of Episode IX. Mainly used as a means of making Palpatine even eviler before his final defeat the long-prophesied connection, that has never been mentioned before, does little to the overall plot, it isn’t given enough exploration, and so it feels like either an afterthought or a wasted opportunity. All in all the Dyad could have been great, but in the end doesn’t add anything, other than a name, to the connection that wasn’t already there in The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens.