(WARNING: Major spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker below.)
Game of Thrones season eight and The Rise of Skywalker were arguably the two most anticipated pop culture events of 2019, and both landed with a thud. “The Iron Throne” is regarded as a disappointing conclusion to a disappointing season from a great show, while The Rise of Skywalker has the second lowest Rotten Tomatoes score among the live-action Star Wars movies, behind only The Phantom Menace. Not great, Bob(a). But besides disappointment, is there something else tying Thrones and Skywalker together?
Remember how Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow were not only lovers but also related, because he’s the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany’s brother? Of course you do. Now consider the relationship between Ben Solo and Rey Palpatine (it’s going to take some time to get used to that). What do the two couples have in common? Well, Ben and Rey never have the opportunity for the awkward morning-after talk, like Jon and Daenerys, but there’s obvious sexual tension between the two, culminating in a kiss by a symbolic throne before one of them dies. Ringing any bells?
In The Rise of Skywalker, we learn that Rey’s parents were only pretending to be “nobodies.” Her father was the son of Sheev Palpatine, and her mother was Jodie Comer (in a brief role, not as herself, obviously), which explains why Rey is so good at killing. Now, this reveal, which opens up a ton of questions (all of which are too frustrating to consider right now), understandably does not sit well with Rey, who, with some goading from Luke Skywalker, decides to confront the Emperor. During the Force fight, Rey, briefly tempted by the Dark Side, recognizes her true calling as a Jedi, and strikes down her grandfather, once and for all. Ben is there, too, and uses his Force healing powers to sacrifice himself to save Rey. They share the aforementioned kiss before he becomes one with the Force.
Reylo shippers have been waiting years for that smooch, and in the moment, I didn’t hate it, either (Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley are hot, sue me). But the more I think about it, the more uncomfortable it makes me. Not only because, to quote one viral tweet, “So Kylo killed his own father infront of Rey, tortured her, tried to kill his mother, killed Luke’s students, killed ships full of Reys pals, and they end up making out? They end up transferring life into eachother? Who the f*ck was this written for?” But also:
TROS SPOILERS DO NOT READ DO NOT READ DO NOT READ #trosspoilers
so palpatine created anakin through manipulating midichlorians in schmi's womb
palpatine is rey's grandfather
that makes reylo incest. rey is kylo's…. aunt? pic.twitter.com/BfqTPtC6ju
— mute me til you see TROS to avoid spoilers (@fatws2020) December 17, 2019
We now know that “????????????” is filled with Rey’s unnamed parents, but where does the “palpatine created anakin through manipulating midichlorians in schmi’s womb” theory come from? Marvel’s Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 25, a (canon) comic book written by Charles Soule and released last year. One panel shows a cloaked Palpatine sneaking up behind Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mom and Luke and Leia’s grandmother and Ben’s great-grandmother, to use his powers to quote-unquote impregnate her, leading to headlines like, “Star Wars comic finally reveals Anakin’s father.” It does not.
As Matt Martin, an official member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, recently tweeted, “I’ve gone into this at length a few times. No, that is not what the comic is implying. Just no. There’s more to that comic than those two panels. It should be read in context.” With context, the “Rey and Ben kissing is incest, actually, because if Palpatine is Anakin’s father, then Rey’s his granddaughter and Ben’s his great-grandson” theory falls apart.
Put another way, Reylo isn’t incest — it’s bad for other reasons.
She’s pregnant in the panel before Palps even shows up!
— Matt Martin (@missingwords) December 23, 2018
Bringing it back to Game of Thrones, while it’s fun (?) comparing the icky relationships between Daenerys and Jon and Rey and Ben, it’s simply not based in fact. Dying in each other’s arms, sure, but not the familial stuff. But if you want to joke about how it’s been a rough year for finales involving thrones, or wonder if Palpatine f*cks, go right ahead.