The mysterious Force-bond between Rey and Kylo Ren was one of the most disturbing plot threads in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The two found themselves plunging into one another's minds, sensing each other's emotions, and confronted with ill-timed and inconvenient visions of one another. The film eventually revealed that the bond had actually been created by Supreme Leader Snoke, who (rightly) believed he could use this to draw Rey to him.
But that Force-bond proved to be a mistake on Snoke's part. His conflicted apprentice lashed out, killing the Supreme Leader, and ending his reign. Surprisingly, though, it also had a transformative effect on Rey. According to the novelization of The Last Jedi, it actually trained her in the ways of the Force.
The Force-Bond Was Deeper Than We Knew
The first time Rey experienced a vision of Kylo Ren, it left her reeling. According to Jason Fry's novelization, she swiftly realized that the vision had changed something within her.
Kylo had retreated at finding Rey in his head - had practically fled from her. But that had not been the end of that strange, sudden connection. She had seen more - far more. Somehow, almost instinctually, she knew how he accessed some of the powers at his command - even though she didn't understand them. It was as if his training had become hers, unlocking and flinging open door after door in her mind.
Kylo Ren had trained for years - first under Luke Skywalker, and then under Snoke himself. Suddenly, as a result of these visions, Rey had a basic awareness of how Kylo Ren could use the Force for prodigious feats. It's true that her actual understanding was limited, since this was before Rey had even been taught the basics of the Force by Luke. The novelization stresses that Rey found this new, instinctive knowledge quite terrifying; Kylo Ren had opened doors in her mind that she could not close again.
This certainly explains why Rey was so effective a duelist in the Throne Room battle. Although she'd proven herself able to take on Kylo Ren on his own, she shouldn't have been able to handle Snoke's vengeful guards. But the would-be Jedi had actually absorbed some of Kylo Ren's instinctive Force-knowledge, likely including his lightsaber skills. Snoke had effectively given Rey a power-up.
Power Without Knowledge Could Be Dangerous
Rey has an instinctive link to Force-abilities that should otherwise be beyond her. But she lacks the knowledge to be aware of the risks; she doesn't know which Force-powers could potentially burn her out, or which would encourage her towards the dark side. In fact, it's unclear how well Rey even understands the Force's light-dark dichotomy. The reality is that this left Rey in quite a dangerous position. It's highly likely Snoke's training of Kylo Ren was focused on unlocking his dark side potential. That means Rey has an instinctual knowledge of the Force, one that is oriented towards the dark side. Little wonder she sensed the call of the dark side with such ease.
Ironically, though, the Throne Room battle may actually be Rey's salvation. The novelization reveals that Rey felt overwhelmed, and unwittingly made a choice that will shape her destiny.
She couldn't direct the Force well enough to last long against three elite warriors in lightsaber-resistant armor. But she could let it direct her, allow it to make her its instrument.
Though Rey didn't know it, in that second she committed herself to the light side of the Force. The crucial difference between dark siders and light siders is how they relate to the Force; a dark sider seeks to "direct the Force," where a light sider wishes to serve it.
Snoke had - both unwittingly and indirectly - trained Rey, but Rey ultimately rejected the siren song of the dark side. Instead, when the dust settled from the Throne Room battle, Rey stood as a servant of the light. Supreme Leader Snoke's failure was complete.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019