The tension. Balance. The Dyad. Rey and Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, are clearly connected in a way that goes well beyond the strong bonds we saw with Anakin and Padme, Luke and Leia, and even Anakin and Luke in those final moments on the Death Star II. With Rise of Skywalker being the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, it was critically important that this idea of duality and connectedness come full circle, and the Dyad allows that.
Palpatine calls the Dyad, “a power like life itself” and proclaims that it has been “unseen for generations.” This is clearly something that he covets, and that the Sith have been chasing after for a long time via the Rule of Two. “[The Rule of Two] was a pale imitation, an unworthy but necessary successor to the older, purer doctrine of the Dyad.” Theoretically, with the master being killed by the apprentice, each generation of Sith should get stronger. The strongest, then, logically should be able to become a Dyad. However, in actuality this is a bastardization of what a Dyad is supposed to be.
“Become a Dyad,” is an important phrase to reflect on for a moment. While the narrative shows that Rey and Ben are clearly chosen by the Force, a Dyad is something that has to be activated. Essentially it is like meal. If you have all the ingredients in the pantry, you don’t have a meal. You have to mix the ingredients together, and do so in the right way. The flavors have to fit. Rey and Ben’s do, as they share a “bond – refined in the fire of mutual searching, shared grief, rage and hate, but also of compassion and empathy.”
When Ben takes over the Knights of Ren, truly becoming Kylo Ren, Rey feels a connection. In The Rise of Kylo Ren comic, she says, “You feel that? It feels cold.” at the moment when Kylo slays the former leader of the Knights. Where he really becomes Kylo Ren. Later, on Starkiller base, Kylo probes in her mind only to find out that she can push back against him. This is pretty clear in the film, but the novelization of The Last Jedi adds nuance to it in saying:
“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 instinctively, 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.”
There are be two elements in creating a Dyad. First, a natural connection ordained by the Force. Secondly, the ordained must meet and connect not just in terms of physical space, but emotional capacity for one another. Arguably the Sith got the first one right. In a galaxy of billions, one master and one apprentice somehow found each other. (It’s a bit romantic when you think about it.) The latter is where they failed, as master and apprentice never truly cared about each other. They cared about what they could get from each other.
Conversely, the Jedi got the second right and the first wrong. Dooku: Jedi Lost, shows the rigid structure through which Master and Padawan came together. This focused almost exclusively on lightsaber skills and combat. Master and Padawan weren’t brought together through a connection in the Force, let alone ordained by it. Canon has provided many examples of such, be it Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in Master and Apprentice, Anakin and Obi-Wan, and later even Luke and Ben. Their pairings are not natural, organic. This is not to say that they are in any way evil or that they had ill will. It is simply to say that their pairing wasn’t naturally ordained by the Force because it followed a formula instead of the faith. That said, all of these pairings had emotional capacity for each other, as it seems did most Jedi Masters and Padawans. Qui-Gon’s angst over what will happen with Obi-Wan should Qui-Gon join the Council, and later his allowing Obi-Wan to make his own choice about continuing the pairing show that. Anakin and Obi-Wan clearly love each other deeply, and possibly have the closest relationship we’ve seen. Luke’s retreat to Ach-To shows how much his failure, particularly his betrayal of Ben’s trust, destroys him.
When Palpatine declares, “Stand together. Die together.” he’s exactly right. In that moment the Dyad is fully realized because both members are willingly giving themselves to each other. In doing so, both sacrifice their life to something greater than their individuality. Rey dies after defeating Palpatine, something she was only able to do after being reinforced by Ben’s return to the light; Ben gives his life, quite literally, to Rey he crawls out of the pit Palpatine pushes him into.
The lines between life and death aren’t so clear cut when it comes to the Dyad. There is a fluidity, in some ways an understanding that death is not the end, nor is life the beginning. They are separate, but one. A Dyad. This, in fact, is the third tenant of creating a Dyad, the willingness to not be defined by rigid structures, lines separating factions, nor consumed with one’s own individuality. Both Jedi and Sith missed this mark egregiously. But in uniting the Palpatine and Skywalker bloodlines, the manifestations of light and dark, as well as the Force itself, there is balance.