December 15th marked The Last Jedi’s first anniversary. Possibly the Star Wars film to receive the most ire and scorn since the ill-advised prequels, its initial release enraged toxic fanboys the world over. From the treatment of Luke and his timely, character-driven demise to Vice Admiral Holdo’s rightful unwillingness to let hot-shot Poe Dameron in on her plan to save the rebellion, fury came from the basements of many a suburban home.
However, in the midst of all of this questionably righteous rage, we were given one of the best scenes of hand-to-hand combat in any Star Wars film: the Throne Room fight sequence.
On the film's anniversary, gifs and stills from Rey and Kylo’s collaborative battle circulated en masse on social media, further cementing it as one of the movie's most iconic, thrilling moments. And while rewatching the scene myself over the weekend, it dawned on me that the whole thing caps off what is undeniably just one, big metaphor for the hellfire that is online dating.
Hear me out.
Rey and Kylo spend the duration of Last Jedi having intimate conversations by way of the Force. Though neither of them is placing the midichlorian calls, they inexplicably find themselves talking across the galaxy. These long distance conversations lead to Rey finding out the truth about Luke and Kylo’s relationship (and lashing out as a result), but the most important thing about these conversations is that they are hot as hell and riddled with sexual innuendo. “Do you have something, a towel or something you could put on?” Rey stammers as she stares through the Force void into Kylo’s sweaty, abnormally-wide chest. Whether just implied or fully intentional, there can be no doubt that both Kylo and Rey are thirsty AF.
Rey wakes up one morning to another call from Kylo Ren, completely out of the blue. It stuns them both. (Is this the result of an accidental right swipe on Force-Tinder? A drunken night out with friends who take your phone and start messing around on your behalf, swiping right at leisure? Someone’s putting these two together, and it ain’t them.) In true fuckboy fashion, and without missing a beat, Kylo immediately demands, “You will bring me Luke Skywalker!”, which, in this context, is the Star Wars equivalent of “Nudez or GTFO.”
Upon being denied, Kylo follows up with a disbelieving “You’re not doing this, the effort would kill you!” This is, quite clearly, one intergalactic fuckboy’s way of regaining control of a situation in which he feels powerless, and he handles it precisely the same way fuckboys handle things here on earth: he puts her down.
It's a rocky start, to be sure, but over time things do improve. As their conversations continue, they get progressively heavier, deeper, and full of a greater need to understand their latest match. What was your childhood like? What was your relationship like with your father? Why did you kill him? How did it feel when your uncle tried to murder you because he was worried you were going to bring about the destruction of civilization through the dark side of the Force? You know, the typical chit-chat that marks any blossoming romance.
Understandably, Rey starts to feel a connection. In learning more about his past, she can see why Kylo is the way he is. Having felt the pull of the dark side herself, and having recognized its fruitlessness, she can see how the negative reinforcement of almost being butchered would make you lean away from the light. And Kylo sees in Rey the potential to side with him, that maybe - if he just keeps talking - she’ll think he’s super smart and totally right and she’ll just abandon her entire life and go out with him for real. They’ll be, like, the ultimate dark side power couple.
Then it happens. Their big fight, battling the Praetorian Guards together. The entire scene plays out like the consummation of their relationship. They’re in a giant red room, surrounded by BDSM-looking guards, leaning on each other to better launch into their parries and lunges. Rey’s hand on his hip. Kylo looks at her from across the room, watching her fight like the warrior goddess she is. And not long after they get going, one of the guards’ weapons gets launched at the wall in the distance, immediately igniting it and letting the big sexy red walls fall away to reveal the battle raging in the distance. The truth. Reality.
So here we are. A couple that spent days talking at a distance, building up this fantasy about each other in their heads, raising expectations that they were each something slightly different than what they really are. They meet and have metaphorical sex, and as they “bone” the walls come tumbling down. The veil hanging delicately over their fantasies of one another falls away. And what are we left with? A strong, powerful, independent woman who’s suddenly aware that the damaged but hopeful man she’s been dating is actually just a sociopathic narcissist with sadistic tendencies and (grand)daddy issues.
She should’ve swiped left.