Ashni (ashnistrike) wrote,
Ashni
ashnistrike

The Last Jedi - Coming of Age

My favorite thing about The Last Jedi--well, one of my favorite things--

is the way the movie doesn't do the obvious, annoying thing with Kylo and Rey, and yet makes it totally plausible that things could have gone that way if everyone involved had made different choices. The two really do have massive chemistry. When they talk, when they fight side by side, it's obvious that they work well together and compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses. (Which is a trick, given the vastness of Kylo's weaknesses.) There was legitimately a moment, right after that fight scene, when I believed that Rey might take Kylo up on his offer, not because she would willingly give in to the Dark Side, but because she wouldn't be able to resist the collaboration and would convince herself that it was the best chance to turn him. And there was legitimately a moment when I thought Kylo might turn, because he couldn't resist the collaboration.

Yet instead of either of them giving in to that chemistry, Rey chooses actively to keep being good in the best way she knows how, and Kylo actively chooses to be evil. And the movie makes clear that both of them are capable of changing, and that being good or evil is a choice that they both make every moment. By implication, it's a choice that everyone makes every moment--but the thing that makes them hero and villain respectively is that they are, in every moment, choosing consciously and deliberately. 

Supporting this dynamic, Rey and Kylo also have mirror-image coming of age arcs. Rey learns that her role is not to retrieve or redeem the chosen one, but to be the hero in her own right. Kylo learns that he can be more than a jumped-up henchman with scary tantrums. Rey admits that her power comes not from an exciting bloodline but from her own potential, and gathers chosen parents and mentors that she can trust. Kylo rejects the shade of his grandfather and destroys his one remaining father figure, to become the best evil overlord he's capable of being rather than stomping around in someone else's shoes/mask. It makes the otherwise familiar hero-comes-into-their-own arc more interesting and meaningful.

And it ensures that, whatever happens in the next episode, we'll know that it's not just a result of destinies, but of choices. This post originally appeared at https://ashnistrike.dreamwidth.org/123985.html. Comments are welcome both here and at https://ashnistrike.dreamwidth.org/123985.html#comments. There are comment count unavailable comments on Dreamwidth.
Tags: media consumption
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