Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may be little more than a few months old but the final entry in Disney’s so-called Skywalker Saga has quickly become the series’ most controversial to date. You’d be forgiven for thinking such an outcome impossible, given the backlash that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi received, but then again, one should never underestimate the daunting task of neatly wrapping up a nine-film series four decades in the making.
J. J. Abrams was never going to please everyone, of course, but one scene in particular – that kiss between Rey and Ben – has proven to be a near-universally disliked scene among longtime fans. The primary issue, it seems, is that the show of affection comes off less like a natural progression of both characters’ arcs and more one of poorly-conceived fan fiction. To say that a (recently reformed) Sith and Jedi would immediately put aside their differences and form a romantic relationship didn’t exactly have audiences cheering, then, but now, it seems the intention of the scene was never to suggest as such at all.
According to the film’s novelization, the pair’s kiss wasn’t romantic, but rather, a show of gratitude on Rey’s behalf. Here’s the passage in question that explains it:
His heart was full as Rey reached for his face, let her fingers linger against his cheek. And then, wonder of wonders, she leaned forward and kissed him. A kiss of gratitude, acknowledgement of their connection, celebration that they’d found each other at last.
But then she drew back, concern on her face. She could feel him growing cold.
Ben smiled at her.
He had given Rey back to the galaxy. It wouldn’t atone for the darkness he’d wrought, but it was what he could do.
Not the most conventional means of conveying gratitude, but for a fictional universe all about energy sword-wielding space wizards, anything goes, right?
In any case, let us know what you think of the disparity between book and film (and what you think the scene’s original intention in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was) in the usual place below!