Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson validates Rey Skywalker and Kylo Ren’s romance, much to the satisfaction of Reylo fans.

The Rise of Skywalker left behind a battlefield on which both fans and critics continue to find things to debate. One of the most fraught topics is whether or the latest Star Wars film finale validated the Reylos — a subsection of the fandom devoted to celebrating the romantic pairing of Rey Skywalker and Kylo Ren — by confirming that their ship was canon. Now the Reylos have a surprising new ally backing them up — The Last Jedi director, Rian Johnson.

USA Today contributor Sariah Wilson teases out bits and pieces of a still-to-be-published interview with Johnson, and one of the spiciest reveals for Star Wars fans is her February 15th tweet:

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It’s heady validation for a fandom that’s been through some controversial times in the past. Pairing Rey with her Dark Side nemesis was a popular fandom position as soon as The Force Awakens hit theaters. The finale’s revelation that they were a Force Dyad, spiritually bound together by the Force despite their divisions of Dark Side and Light, gave the fandom new tools with which to support their case. But the Reylos have had opposition, sometimes well-earned.

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Some of the Reylo critique revolves around the evergreen discussions of problematic fiction. It’s not easy to ignore that Kylo Ren’s actions towards Rey are often frightening, aggressive and sometimes even abusive. Enjoying problematic fiction is itself not necessarily problematic, of course, and most fans are well aware that what can be enjoyable in a story isn’t a reflection of what’s acceptable in real life. The existence of the ship still created some pushback in the broader Tumblr community at a time when enjoying problematic content was a hot topic of debate.

Some Reylos would escalate fandom tensions themselves by harassing John Boyega and going after Adam Driver’s spouse. Kylo Ren himself quickly became a flashpoint for fandom anger, his character’s skyrocketing popularity unfortunately pegged at the same time to the rise of the misogynistic and sometimes dangerous incel subculture. The ugliest elements of a fandom are usually not representative of it as a whole, and other Reylos attempted to push back and create more optimistic content, like supporting charities on Adam Driver’s behalf.

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Any validation of Reylo as a ship is still bittersweet, and not just for the Finnrey fans who preferred the equally reasonable hints of romance between the Force-sensitive Finn and the young Jedi woman. Rise of Skywalker sees Kylo Ren go through an abbreviated redemption arc, dying in a fashion much like his personal hero, Darth Vader, and reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo only in his last minutes. It’s a resolution that rocked the fandom community, leaving nearly everyone invested in the sequel’s romantic fandoms unsatisfied and sometimes upset.

Reylos still grasp at a variety of theories that could see Ben return to life, from the power of the Force Dyad he shared with Rey, to the innate power of Exegol itself. The Sith planet seen in the finale is a confirmed hyperspatial connection to the World Between Worlds. As explained in Star Wars Rebels, it’s a plane where time and space are in eternal flux, and it’s the place where Ezra Bridger saved Ahsoka Tano from a moment of certain death. The World Between Worlds might have been key to Palpatine’s desire for immortality, giving him good reason to choose the world as his lair.

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Meanwhile, Reylos and even just curious fans have looked at the Abrams-directed final entry for signs that the film originally intended for a much different ending for the Force-entwined pair of Skywalkers. It’s a hope that’s bolstered by Rise of Skywalker‘s hurried production time, and by things like visibly odd editing choices during Ben Solo’s demise. It’s also a compelling detail that Ben has yet to appear as a Force Ghost, as his death by redemption would permit.

With Star Wars pivoting to stories focusing on both the High Republic era and the post-Imperial Republic for now, it doesn’t look likely that fans for or against future Ben Solo revelations will receive more information anytime soon. But for fans that enjoyed the sometimes grim but unyielding take on redemption the Reylo ship offers, Rian Johnson’s support may offer them something of a confirmation.

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