“Don’t be afraid. I feel it too.”
This is perhaps the strangest of the many strange things Kylo says to Rey. To begin, I think it’s worth pointing out that the line is presented differently in the film and in the novelisation.
In the film, the line is:
“I know you’ve seen the map. It’s in there… and now you’ll give it to me. Don’t be afraid. I feel it too.”
In the novelisation, the line is:
“Rey—you’ve seen the map. It’s in there. And I am going to take it. Don’t be afraid.”
The line as it appears in the novelisation is more nakedly cruel, devoid of any genuine reassurance or empathy. The stress is on Kylo taking the map from Rey by force, and without the qualifier “don’t be afraid” reads as an empty attempt to calm her and make her more pliable in the face of his invasion.
In the film, the line is much more interesting. The stress is on Rey giving something to Kylo, rather than Kylo taking something from her. There is a long pause between “now you’ll give it to me” and “don’t be afraid”. Whereas the first part of the line is all arrogance and assurance, the second part is spoken very softly, as if it were some secret thing that only the two of them are to know.
What, exactly, is Kylo referring to when he says “I feel it too?” It seems almost undeniable to me that there’s only thing he could be talking about - the Force.
My reasoning behind that conclusion must assume the form of a question. Why would Kylo want to align his feelings with Rey’s if he were simply referring to a normal human emotion, such as fear or anger? I don’t see any reason for the proud, elitist Kylo to do so, and nor do I see his attempt to assuage her fear making sense if he had only detected her instinctive fear of him. Instead, I think he was detecting the fear and rejection that Rey felt in response to her lightsaber-induced Force vision. Prior to her kidnap we saw that Rey was terrified of what she had witnessed, of what her mind was capable of doing, and I’m willing to bet money on that fear - the fear of her burgeoning Force powers - being what Kylo was unsuccessfully attempting to assuage. He can sense her Force sensitivity, so attempts to reassure her by identifying her feelings with his.
I’m hardly the first person to reach this conclusion, but I haven’t seen many people discuss its implications. Perhaps the singlemost interesting aspect of the line - if it is indeed about Rey’s Force sensitivity - is that Kylo does not seem even remotely surprised. In other words, that Rey is Force sensitive does not come as shock to him. That, as far as I’m concerned, supports the theory that Kylo knows or at least suspects who Rey is - if he has a strong idea of who she might be, there is no reason for him to be taken aback by her Force sensitivity. Indeed, it will have been a big driver of his initial fascination with and attraction to her.
Instead, Kylo is only truly shocked when he realises that Rey can use her powers against him, which is why he jerks out of her mind the moment she detects that he’s afraid. So, her Force sensitivity isn’t surprising, but the extent of her power is. And that - Kylo’s repeated failure to make a proper assessment of Rey’s powers - is what dooms him to defeat.
What does everyone make of this, and what are your theories on the line? Do you think I’m on track, or do you have an alternative interpretation? Let me know!