empire fades

Beyond the frame of the painting there is, no doubt, the tumult and boredom of everyday life—itself an unceasing and futile pursuit, consumed by projects; but within the frame lies the plenitude of a suspended moment, stolen from time, rescued from human longing. Human longing! We cannot cease desiring, and this is our glory, and our doom. Desire! It carries us and crucifies us, delivers us every new day to a battlefield where, on the eve, the battle was lost; but in sunlight does it not look like a territory ripe for conquest, a place where—even though tomorrow we will die—we can build empires doomed to fade to dust, as if the knowledge we have of their imminent fall had absolutely no effect on your eagerness to build them now?…Yet how exhausting it is to be constantly desiring…We soon aspire to pleasure without the quest, to a blissful state without beginning or end, where beauty would no longer be an aim or a project but the very proof of our nature. And that state is Art…For art is emotion without desire.
—  Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

forsaken child: a galra!keith playlist.

TW: Blood ment., ins*nity, death, cr*zy.

[Image credit to the wonderful @vld-keith, thanks bab. <3]

;Perfect (Hedley)
;Walk With the Noise (IAMX)
;Monster You Made Me (Pop Evil)
;Numb (Empires Fade)
;I Gave You All (Mumford & Sons)
;Anti-Gravity (RUNAGROUND)
;Built For Sin (Framing Hanley)
;Monster (Skillet)
;My Demons (Starset)
;Unravel (KY0UMI)

The Force Bond Awakens

By: FrolickingFizzgig

* This meta was originally published for me on Reylophos’ Tumblr a few weeks ago, but I’ve decided to post an updated version with images and extra content here.

Since its December 2015 release Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has remained a topic of much discourse and debate. Months later fans are still ascribing to their favourite theories and predictions in regards to the future of what has been dubbed the Sequel Trilogy. The success of The Force Awakens was very much rooted in nostalgia, with director JJ Abrams inviting old and new devotees alike to depart on a novel escapade in a galaxy far, far away.

Thirty years have passed since the dawn of the New Republic. In spite of Luke, Leia and Han Solo’s great feats in the Original Trilogy, the galaxy is not at peace. The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. History has faded into myth, and all have but forgotten the Jedi of old. Enter Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, three youths who have grown up with contrasting pressures in the years succeeding the fall of the Empire.

“There’s also heartbreak amid the high adventure, with three lost souls — scavenger Rey, remorseful Storm Trooper Finn, and vengeful, Darth Vader-obsessed Kylo Ren — trying to find purpose to navigating the stars.”

- Director, JJ Abrams

A humble scavenger, a repentant soldier and a petulant black knight… while all are of adult age, our three protagonists are metaphorical children who were prevented from maturing naturally as a result of trauma. Rey was abandoned, Finn was stolen from his parents and subjugated to relentless military training and Kylo Ren’s mind and personality were warped through his innate “gift” of Force-Sensitivity. Though Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren all resonated with audiences, many fans were intrigued by the foundation of a highly unusual dynamic between our new hero and villain. Time Magazine’s review of the film makes reference to the remarkable chemistry brought to life between Kylo Ren and Rey.

“In one of the movie’s finest moments, Ren—unmasked and intense — engages Rey in a major stare-down, an unholy duel between the Light side of the Force and the Dark. The sexual energy between them is strange and unsettling, like a theremin sonata only they can hear.”

With the majority of viewers convinced that Rey will be revealed as Luke Skywalker’s long-lost daughter, the institution of such a potentially inappropriate “energy” has brought about a great rift in opinion, perhaps because no contender has ignited more debate than Kylo Ren himself. 

Fallen son of Original Trilogy lovers Han Solo and Leia Organa, Kylo Ren — then Ben Solo — was ensnared in childhood by the mysterious Dark Side affiliated Supreme Leader Snoke, head of the First Order. He was manipulated into betraying his family and leaving Luke Skywalker’s dream to restore the Jedi Order in ruins, earning the moniker “Jedi Killer.” Regarded as the ideal focal point of the Light and Dark, Ben Solo developed an obsession with his maternal grandfather, Darth Vader. He descended to the Dark Side, training under Snoke and becoming leader of the enigmatic Knights of Ren; however, he was never able to completely relinquish the Light from which he was born. Kylo Ren is a man caught in limbo, at war with the world and with himself.

KYLO REN

Forgive me. I feel it again. The pull to the light.

Rey on the other hand can only be described as the dramatic antithesis of Kylo Ren. A dormant Force-Sensitive who was abandoned on the desert planet Jakku as a young child, Rey grew up scavenging the wrecks of an ancient battlefield, waiting in vain for her family to return. 

Rey’s lonely existence is changed forever when she encounters rogue Stormtrooper Finn. The two become quick allies, fleeing together from the minions of the First Order. They commandeer the long-lost Millennium Falcon in order to escape Jakku, and their act of evasion soon leads them to old heroes of the Resistance Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia Organa. From this point, much of Rey’s journey involves her integration into Kylo Ren’s family and former life. It can be said that she serves as a replacement for the lost Ben Solo. She comes to view both Han Solo and Leia as parental figures, she inherits the Millennium Falcon and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, and there is very much the suggestion that Rey will be apprenticed to Ren’s uncle and former Master, Luke Skywalker. 

Rey’s strong connection to the Skywalkers is made concrete when she is called by Anakin’s lightsaber. The weapon sweeps her into a Forceback that illustrates past, present and future — Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, the hall of Cloud City, the moment of her abandonment, a rainy battlefield and a snowy wood. She is pursued by a black knight through the vision — he stalks her, storming toward her, saber drawn. The knight is everything she opposes, her worst nightmare in the form of a faceless monster. Fear of her own capacity and of this knight leads Rey to flee the call of the Light, leaving her vulnerable. In the ancient forest of Takodana, she and the black knight with whom her life has become inexplicably entangled — Kylo Ren — are brought together for the first time.

“Without the slightest hesitation, the cloaked figure of Kylo Ren emerged and strode forward to join the battle. A stunned Rey could only track him with her eyes. She had seen this man before, in a daydream. In a nightmare” (The Force Awakens novelization).

Kylo Ren incapacitates Rey and spirits her away in his arms, cementing the inception of a troubling fixation he develops on her as the film winds down. Fans and critics alike have remarked on their unsteady rapport. Rey and Ren are as similar as they are dissimilar, two sides of the same coin, Yin and Yang — he is Dark with a little Light, she is Light with a little Dark.

This essay will discuss their connection by addressing one of the most compelling theories to emerge from The Force Awakens — that Kylo Ren and Rey formed a “Force Bond” accidentally during the infamous interrogation scene. Expect very little reference to non-canon content. My intention is to concentrate on the film The Force Awakens and its accompanying script, novelization and production interviews in order to provide the casual viewer with a coherent introduction to the Force Bond as potentially depicted in the Sequel Trilogy. I will focus on three narrative elements presented in The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren and Rey’s unsettling emotional connection, Rey’s use of advanced Force-Sensitive abilities following the interrogation and Rey’s decidedly familial association with Han Solo and Leia Organa. However, I will not be discussing any other theories relating to the film; this text is solely meant to illustrate the most conclusive evidence supporting the Force Bond.

First and foremost, let’s clarify what a Force Bond is. I will elaborate on the bolded as the paper progresses. “Common to occur between Jedi Masters and their Apprentices, a Force Bond was a link through which two Force-Sensitives could influence each other. It allowed the communication of feelings, thoughts and images […] and granted greater coordination in battle. Through such connections the Force easily flowed, sometimes allowing one’s will to bolster the strengths of the other, or possibly draw upon their strengths” (Wookieepedia).

In brief, a Force Bond is an intimate link between two Force-Sensitives that goes beyond the normal affiliation all Force-Sensitives are capable of establishing through the Force. Those under the influence of a Force Bond share their thoughts, emotions and abilities with another. Force Bonds were made canon in The Clone Wars TV series, which established that a Bond existed between Jedi Master Yoda and his ex-Padawan Count Dooku. In the Extended Universe, Force Bonds could form in a variety of different ways, either over time, after a near-death experience or “through being imbued by a particularly strong Force Sensitive.” But what does all this have to do with Rey and Kylo Ren? I present this passage from the interrogation scene in The Force Awakens final script.

Trepidation flashes across Rey’s eyes. Kylo Ren moves closer, his hand rising toward her. She recoils, but has nowhere to go. Kylo Ren nearly TOUCHES HER FACE…

THEY’RE BOTH SURPRISED: they react to a feeling that passes between them – AN ENERGY THEY RECOGNIZE IN EACH OTHER.
And then it’s gone. Adversaries again.

The implication of this excerpt is fascinating — something unknown passes between Rey and Kylo Ren, linking them briefly, then vanishing. There are many theories in circulation about what these lines might infer to. Are they simply sensing the Force itself in each other? A familial connection? Perhaps even attraction? The elements come together more clearly when the Force Bond is applied to the passage. It has been suggested that this moment in the script represents the forging of the Force Bond itself. They were predisposed to form such a Bond, and the Force literally and metaphorically brought them together.

Kylo Ren’s behaviour and proceeding dialogue have been considered with much scrutiny, his entire interrogation of Rey starkly contrasting the brutal methods he employed on Poe Dameron. There can be no doubt that Kylo Ren has a soft-spot for the scavenger girl. Ren is awkward and almost gentlemanly with Rey in his own way, watching her sleep from a submissive position, removing his mask when she expresses mistrust, reassuring her that he has no idea where her friends are. In the novelization, which is based on a slightly older version of the script, Snoke even reprimands his Apprentice for feeling “compassion” for Rey. Many have acknowledged that Kylo Ren seems to change drastically when he is in Rey’s presence, abruptly adopting a much more tranquil and stoic air. Similarly, Rey portrays a great deal more ferocity and unpredictability when she is around Ren. Could this be proof of Ren and Rey’s mutual capacity to share feelings through the Force Bond?


The evidence takes a much more tangible twist as the film progresses into its Third Act, following the interrogation. When the movie was first released in theatres, reviews popped up everywhere, and most — if not all — addressed what is now considered one of the biggest plot-holes in Star Wars history. Right after the interrogation, Rey abruptly and without any prior suggestion develops powerful Jedi abilities, most notably Mind Reading, Mind Tricking, Force Telepathy, formidable lightsaber skills and a sudden alignment with the Dark Side. 

Why was this considered such a conundrum? Well, because every other Jedi established in the canon had to train for years in order to reach the level of Force mastery Rey managed to achieve in the span of an hour. Both Anakin and Luke Skywalker — arguably two of the most powerful Force-Sensitives ever to exist, the former of whom was literally created using the Force — had to train tirelessly in order to grow more powerful. Yet Rey, it appears, does not fit into this equation. She is an enigma of a Force-Sensitive. Some viewers even dubbed her a Mary Sue, an “idealized or seemingly perfect fictional character who saves the day through unrealistic abilities.” Surprisingly, most fans and critics wrote Rey’s random abilities off as “plot-powers,” but to quote the dearly departed Han Solo…

Could there be a more down-to-earth explanation that doesn’t paint the hero of The Force Awakens as some kind of Jedi Goddess? I would think so, and I posit that a Force Bond is that explanation. Not only did Rey gain access to those abilities through Kylo Ren, she was able to do so because he used them. She was inadvertently feeding on Ren’s training and Force-aptitude through the intimate connection they unknowingly forged. This takes us back to the definition of the Force Bond, which states that those under the influence of a Bond can bolster the strengths of their connected individual. Is it possible Ren was inadvertently heightening Rey’s untrained abilities, unwillingly bolstering her strengths through his own?

Ren was previously characterized throughout the film as being a powerful — be it unpredictable and not fully-trained — Force-Sensitive. He portrayed three distinct abilities: he was able to stop a blaster-bolt in mid-air using Telepathy, he retrieved information from the minds of others and he displayed a highly unusual and effective lightsaber style. Is it a coincidence that Rey gained all of these abilities as well, not just because he used them, but when he used them on her? Not before, not after, but when. 

When Ren entered her mind, she shifted the balance of power by entering his; she took the Mind Trick she used on the Stormtrooper guard right out of Ren’s head, as suggested by Star Wars “loremaster” Pablo Hidalgo.

When Ren attempted to use Telepathy to draw Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber into his hand, Rey surprised even herself by snatching the saber in Ren’s place. 

When Ren offered to teach Rey the ways of the Force after battling fiercely with her, Rey suddenly gained lightsaber skills that strikingly mirrored the style Ren utilized against both she and Finn (hard blows, circling movements and a lack of emphasis on defence). Rey even used one of Ren’s signature one-handed saber flips to scar his face after he was already disarmed, much like how Ren slashed Finn’s back after his saber had been lost.

Kylo spins like Kylo.

Rey spins like Kylo.

Rey is even walking like Kylo in the below image. This gif does not do it justice at all. Her fists are even clenched, a physical characteristic Ren maintained throughout the entire film.

Every ability Rey gained access to was previously established as being a “signature” of Ren’s Force-aptitude, or one of his “strengths.” His Mind Trick, his Telepathy, his lightsaber style, his deep affiliation with the Dark Side. Throughout the final fight Ren bolstered Rey’s strengths through the Force Bond, unintentionally allowing her to assimilate his abilities.


On another note, Rey’s interactions with Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker — the family Kylo Ren denounced — take a decidedly familial twist. Simply put throughout the film Rey comes to view Han Solo and Leia as parental figures. The transformation is uncommonly swift, with Rey seeming to feel an immediate connection to Kylo Ren’s family, even likening them to her own family. Observe these quotes from the novel and script.

“’And Han Solo,’ Ren continued relentlessly. ‘He feels like the father you never had’” (The Force Awakens novelization).

“Leia found herself fiddling with the seals on the on the front of the jacket Rey was wearing. Feeling foolish, she told herself even as she continued. […] But it felt so right, and so natural, to be doing so” (The Force Awakens novelization).

[Leia] embraces Rey. A mother’s embrace.

Taking into consideration the fact that Force Bonds grant Force-Sensitives the ability to share or transfer feelings and emotions — perhaps even assimilate strong emotional affiliations — is it so strange that Rey would be privy to a strong parental bond with Kylo Ren’s family? Bear in mind the fact that Rey had never interacted with before embracing. Perhaps Rey is feeling a particularly powerful connection to those who were once central in Kylo Ren’s life as a result of a subconscious capacity to bolster Ben Solo’s emotions through the Bond. Leia is also Force-Sensitive, and would possibly be able to sense her son’s connection to Rey through Rey herself.

The release of Episode VIII’s working title — Space Bear — also supports the Force Bond theory. Not long ago actors Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill shared an on-set photograph of the director’s chair, which featured the insignia of a panda wearing an astronaut’s helmet. While this might seem inconsequential, it is interesting to note that pandas are huge symbols in Chinese philosophy relating to the iconic concept of Yin and Yang.

Because the philosophy is complex I’ll make my description as succinct as possible. Yin is the passive “female” principal, associated with the earth, darkness and cold. Yang is the active “male” principal, associated with heaven, light and heat. Together, Yin and Yang represent “opposites” in perfect harmony. One cannot exist without the other. Yin is dark with a little light, Yang is light with a little dark.

A comparison can immediately be made between Yin and Yang and the Dark and Light sides of the Force, but applying the concept specifically to Kylo Ren and Rey sheds even more light on the potential symbolism. 

Ren is Yin — passive and submissive (to Rey, who overcomes him mentally and physically), “female” (he is often described as feminine), dark (the Dark Side of the Force) and cold (he is associated with Starkiller Base, a weaponized planet blanketed in snow). 

Rey is Yang — active and dominant (over Ren), “male” (she is a girl in the traditionally “masculine” hero role), light (the Light side of the Force), and heat (her name is a variant spelling of a “sun ray”, and she is associated with the desert planet Jakku).

While the Yin and Yan philosophy can easily be attributed to Star Wars through the Force, but the very specific symbolism pandas bring to the table is completely new. It implies that the Dark and Light must harmonize in order for the Force to achieve true “Balance.” Could the Force Bond be the connection that allows opposites to find harmony in each other?

The Force Awakens sparked hundreds of theories, some ridiculous, some believable and some inherently compelling. The Force Bond appears to be one of the most logical and non-convoluted to come out of this entire film, perhaps because it heightens what is already widely considered to be one of the most fascinating and passionate hero/villain dynamics ever brought to the big screen. Fans can only expect that this connection will be further elaborated upon in the next two Episodes. Writers, you’re our only hope.

I end this essay with entries from the film’s script that further strengthen the validity of the Force Bond theory.

KYLO REN

Don’t be afraid. I feel it too.

REY
I’m not giving you anything.

*   *   *

The FEROCITY of confrontation builds until it hits critical mass AND REY DOES THE UNTHINKABLE! SHE ENTERS HIS HEAD, AMAZED AT WHAT SHE IS SEEING!

*   *   *

SLOW PUSH IN ON REY, shackled, mind still racing over what’s happened between her and Kylo Ren. She is flooded with emotions, feeling her potential, her strength, that in this moment of being restrained, perhaps anything is possible.

*   *   *

Kylo Ren GESTURES, INCREASES HIS POWER – LUKE’S LIGHTSABER FINALLY FLIES OUT OF THE SNOW, BULLETS TOWARD KYLO REN –
– AND SPEEDS PAST HIM!

KYLO REN TURNS TO SEE LUKE’S LIGHTSABER LAND IN THE HAND OF REY, WHO STANDS, FACING HIM, HAVING REACHED FOR IT HERSELF, BUT UTTERLY STUNNED THAT IT LANDED IN HER HAND! SHE IS SHOCKED – AND SO IS KYLO REN!

*   *   *

KYLO REN

You need a teacher! I can show you the ways of the Force!

REY
The Force.

Rey closes her eyes for a long beat. When Rey opens them, she is centered, fortified, and she POUNDS BACK, SINGLE HANDED SWIPES, hitting Ren’s gnarly, spitting saber with incredible FORCE. It’s so fast now, so furious, that Kylo Ren FALLS BACK – She ATTACKS HARDER!

*   *   *

And she could kill him – right now, with ONE VICIOUS STRIKE!
But she stops. Realizing she stands on a greater edge than even the cliff – the edge of the dark side.

neegan  Seriously, I’m sick of BioWare advertising “the…

and at least kaidan and liara were squadmates and had their own scanned faces and all…..

Right! Like… I love this series, I really do, you might not know it from the bitching I’ve been doing, but I’m TIRED of feeling like representing my sexuality is an afterthought in their games.

And I’ve felt this way pretty much the whole way through their games over the time I’ve been playing them - from Jade Empire and the fade-to-black in place of a kiss, to Mass Effect 1 and 2 with no options, to DAO with one, to ME3 where one option was one I’d wanted for a long while but still felt… unbalanced in comparison to its heterosexual counterpart (as I’ve discussed in long winded fashion before) and the other was at best well meaning but still… iffy, considering the use of ‘romancing the widower,’ though I appreciated the effort at giving a gay character a narrative that didn’t hinge on his sexuality, and then Inquisition… You know my salt on THAT pretty well by this point.

It’s frustrating to realize that I STILL cite DA2 as BioWare’s best attempt at representing queer players, because it didn’t feel like they were trying to meet some quota, a ‘we have X number of Y, let’s keep that about the same across the board’ number, or were saddled with the narratives that only work if they’re The Queer Character. In over ten years of games, they only managed to get it even in the ballpark was ONCE.

I want you all to understand this:

The time that goes by between DS1 and DS2 is at least thousands of years. Kingdoms disappeared, were born, rose, bloomed, decayed, ended, and disappeared in this time, a lot of them being forgotten by time and history. Between DS2 and 3, even more kingdoms and empires pass by and disappear, forgotten by history.

And yet, despite this cruel passage of time, in which eldritch creatures bring kingdoms to their knees and even the strongest empires fade into obscurity eventually,

The Kingdom of Catarina has remained alive, well, and thriving, being recognizable by the lore and the people of all three games throughout, even when other empires are lucky if their name is remembered.

Man, I’m so excited for you guys to finally see this cover! We went through so many different options, but this one was always my favorite for its classic simplicity, and I am mega excited that Leia is my big featured character. As I mentioned before re: the hair, there wasn’t really a way to make the double buns work because of where they’re positioned on her head and the angle of the silhouette. The book touches on Leia, Han, and Luke’s lives before the film, so I like to imagine this is just one of Leia’s many rotating hairstyles. 

Here’s the full summary:

The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to finish building the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen-the Death Star. The rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy… .

Acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope like you’ve never experienced before. Since the premier of the original film, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker have become iconic, larger-than-life characters. The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy takes a deeper look at these three heroes as they join forces to defeat the evil that threatens their entire galaxy.

I jokingly call this “The Star Wars Breakfast Club” because it plays with the idea of labels–how Leia is dismissed as being a mere pretty princess when she’s trying to earn respect as a senator, and, later, work her way up through the ranks of the Rebel Alliance; how Han struggles to balance his need to stay alive and the sense of right and wrong he’s tried to suppress; how Luke is dismissed as “kid” and a “farmboy,” even by himself, and ultimately rises up to become a hero. 

(Editing this next bit from my original post to clarify since I was basically drunk with excitement and not totally clear and got a few questions–sorry for the confusion!) 

In addition to delving deeper with the characters, I had THE BEST time writing a bunch of “off camera” scenes you don’t get to see in the films; aside from the film script, I had permission to pull directly from the radio drama script (the sorely missed) Brian Daley was commissioned to write (something I’ve always loved and held as true canon), bits of the EU that have remained canon, and in certain moments, solely from my own imagination, so long as it stayed true to the new canon they’re developing with the upcoming films and novels. (Side note: it was super interesting to see what bit of lore/character backgrounds I couldn’t use–it gave me a little hint or two about what might be coming.) It was a privilege to have the freedom to use pretty much anything I wanted from this super rich material to create something that will hopefully feel fresh, but extremely true to the canon longtime Star Wars fans know and love.  

These are meant for younger readers, but I honestly think readers of all ages will get a kick of the retellings. I grew up reading Star Wars EU books exclusively (pretty much from ages 8-13, if it wasn’t SW, I didn’t want to touch it), and, as most of you know, it is a huge part of my life. My greatest hope is that you’ll share it with kids who are just taking their first steps into a much larger world, and that you’ll enjoy the story of this “found family” together with your own. 

If you’d like to pre-order it, you can find it available here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

iBooks

Indigo

Indiebound