Spoilers for Star Wars and of Veronica Mars. FYI.
Before we get into the meat of this post, I want to point out that, four years ago, I made this awful prediction:
I'm calling it here: Rey is not a Skywalker. She's a Palpatine
— Harry "New Novel Available Now" Connolly (@byharryconnolly) January 18, 2016
Along with a few ten thousand other people, but the important thing to point out is that this was supposed to be a joke. Seriously, I thought making Rey a Palpatine was a ridiculous idea, and it turned out that I was right.
But there’s no idea so ridiculous that someone won’t rub their chin and go “hmm”. Sometimes, on Twitter, there will be huge hashtag pitch sessions where people will tweet out a log line for their screenplays, and I used to make up ludicrous story ideas for it. No matter how outlandish, there was always someone interested in something I made up.
Terrible ideas! They’re everywhere!
Let’s seque back to the new season of Veronica Mars, on Hulu. Personally, I enjoyed it, but many die-hard fans were furious at the way they killed off Logan, Veronica’s true love.
After three full seasons, the show felt unfinished. With the Kickstarter-funded movie, Rob Thomas brought things around to an ending the fans could get behind. Veronica was a PI again. Logan had his shit together. They re-started their romance as adults. Boom. Ending. They even left things open for those awful novels.
But once Hulu came knocking for S4, Thomas didn’t know what to do with Logan. He has this idea that a romantic relationship had to be about the conflict. What would they do with Logan now that his issues with Veronica were resolved? He said he didn’t want to include Logan in the mystery of the season–nevermind that he did exactly that for S4 and it worked out fine. Nevermind that Veronica has plenty of other low-conflict relationships with people she loves. Thomas wanted her to be free for upcoming seasons, which meant Logan had to go.
And when he went, the fans went too, and they weren’t quiet about it. They were furious, vowing that they were never going to watch again.
The fallout? No Current Plans for Season Five at Hulu
There was similar fan interest for sexy villain Kylo Ren/Ben Solo to be redeemed during TRoS and have the romantic relationship with Rey that almost came about in The Last Jedi.
Personally, I thought TLJ settled that plot point. They had an opening for romance. Each thought they were going to turn the other to their way of thinking. They were wrong. Ben Solo chose to be Kylo Ren, and he was not going to give up his giant fascist army. He even declared himself Supreme Leader. Kylo Ren was established as the villain.
But the fans wanted Kylo and Rey to come together, which meant Kylo had to turn into a good guy, which meant they needed a new villain for the third act, which meant they brought brought Palpatine, which is why they decided to connect him to Rey by blood and undo the very best scene of The Last Jedi (“You’re nothing… but not to me.”)
But after fighting on Rey’s side and saving her life, Kylo gets a single kiss from Rey. and then he dies.
Are the reylos even happy? How badly must you stumble to have Rey & Kylo kiss on the mouth and the reylos aren't even happy
— Jenny Nicholson (don't talk to me about star wars) (@JennyENicholson) December 30, 2019
The replies to that tweet are a catalog of misery. Fans wanted the poor, abused, handsome young guy to be redeemed and have a happy life. Preferably with Rey. They didn’t get that.
Now, I’m not sure I’ve ever shipped a pair of characters, ever. Not Sam and Diane. Not David and Maddie. It just doesn’t occur to me. But lots of fans engage with shows this way, and they do not endure disappointment quietly. And there’s something–don’t ask me what–about that reformed evil boyfriend trope. People find it wildly compelling. (And yes, a small percentage can be over-the-top about their favorite ships. I’m not interested in using outliers to represent a group as a whole.) There’s nothing wrong with that, but any really vocal segment of an audience can have an outsized effect on the future of a show.
And this new Star Wars movie is making lots of money, but reviews have been dire. The movie is pretty, it’s fast, and it’s filled with peril, but the story is a disaster, and the even the lead actors just seem done with the whole thing.
Remember the energy and excitement in The Force Awakens? Remember Rey and Finn together? How much energy they had?
Well, all that is gone, and they couldn’t even redeem their sensitive bad boy correctly. The ReyLos and the LoVes are not happy.