There are so many things big and small to like about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but enough can’t be said about how breathtakingly original everything felt. Not that The Force Awakens and Rogue One weren’t enjoyable films, but the former was tasked with regaining audiences’ trust after George Lucas’s midi-chlorian-obsessed prequels with ample callbacks, and the latter was a compelling but straightforward story about something from the past. The Last Jedi, as The Ringer’s own K. Austin Collins notes, revitalizes the wheel rather than attempts to reinvent it.
The new creative spirit rings especially true with the two characters this new trilogy is built around—budding Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) and probable My Chemical Romance stan Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)—and the bond forged between them through the Force. Which is what we’re here to talk about, because their conversations through the Force were the coolest part of this very cool movie.
The Force chats start while Rey is training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on Ahch-To—the more she learns to control the ambiguous, metaphysical unifier of the universe, the closer she gets to Kylo Ren. Presented by writer-director Rian Johnson in its most simplistic form as two people having a telepathic convo in which they can vaguely see one another, frequently cutting between the two, the Force is like a fantastical space version of AIM.
For the Rey–Kylo Ren ’shippers out there—Kate Knibbs, congrats!—this is catnip. At one point, the two chat while his chest is exposed, as if he might’ve just exited a shower, and she asks if he can put something on. (That sound you hear is Tumblr literally smoldering with new fanfic.) Their conversations can also transcend the psychic connection into something physical; at one point, there’s perspiration on Kylo Ren’s hand while he speaks with a rain-soaked Rey. In another, their hands briefly touch. Naturally, Luke interrupts this tender moment by barging in, seeing Kylo Ren’s spirit in the room, and scolding Rey.
It’s later revealed that Supreme Leader Snoke orchestrated Rey and Kylo Ren’s spiritual connection with the hopes of tracking down Luke and luring Rey to the dark side, which—big spoiler alert—didn’t work out the way Snoke had hoped. That Rey and Kylo Ren remain connected, without Snoke’s interference, at the end of The Last Jedi suggests that these Force chats can still be employed in Episode IX.
Even with all we’d already known about the Sith and Jedi, and their connections to the Force, this is still a pretty big step. We have seen Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi chat with Luke as Force ghosts—not to mention characters sensing deaths from across the galaxy, like Leia conveying her anguish when Kylo Ren kills Han Solo in The Force Awakens—but we’ve never seen two living people do this before. The closest the franchise ever got to this level of intimacy might’ve been when Darth Sidious was luring Anakin Skywalker to the dark side in the prequels—but he was never intrusive enough to appear in a “U up? Wanna kill some younglings?” sort of way—or Luke and Darth Vader sensing one another’s presence in close quarters. Rey and Kylo Ren’s unspoken bond is more analogous to something from another multibillion-dollar franchise: Harry Potter, and the titular character’s intrinsic connection to Lord Voldemort.
If nothing else, the Force chats reaffirm that the Force remains enigmatic enough that what we knew about it from the original six films is just a drop in the bucket. The Force is much more than something that allows people to make rocks float in the air, which is how Rey characterized it at the start of her training. One of Lucas’s prequels’ biggest pitfalls was trying to demystify the Force with talk of midi-chlorians and interplanetary trade disputes. Johnson brought the mysticism back to Star Wars, where anything could be possible in a galaxy far, far away, and the unseen energy that binds it all together.