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Kylo Ren and Rey had a very different dynamic in alleged original draft of Rise of Skywalker

Coming out of The Last Jedi, there were many possible paths to take with Kylo Ren and Rey's individual characterizations and combined dynamic. What we received in The Rise of Skywalker – a redemption arc for Kylo and a romantic connection between him and Rey — was a fairly logical one to take, despite its divisive nature. A long, long time ago in an alleged script far away, however, their dynamic was very different. 

YouTube user and former screenplay reader Rob Burnett posted a video in which he claims to have acquired a defunct draft of The Rise of Skywalker's script, reportedly written back when Colin Trevorrow was attached to the film as director in 2016, entitled Duel of the Fates. All film scripts go through many drafts even when directors aren't abruptly fired like Trevorrow was, and while Disney hasn't officially released a statement or the old script drafts themselves, Trevorrow recently confirmed via Twitter that the script leak is legit.

Along with that caveat, even if the script Burnett describes ever would have survived to become a shooting script, there would have been inevitable cuts and alterations to suit the complexities of translating script to screen. Why talk about it, then? Because it's always fun to look at the possibilities of might-have-beens and understand the winding, often bumpy road preproduction can be in the film industry. If you were less-than-satisfied with Rey, Kylo Ren, or their combined story in The Rise of Skywalker, too, you might feel a little contented to consider a different outcome, no matter how unverifiable. 

All that said, let's take a look at the Rey and Kylo Ren dynamic that may have once come to pass.

Kylo Ren doesn't have a redemption arc in the purported original Rise of Skywalker script

The biggest single difference in characterization choices for this alleged draft of The Rise of Skywalker is the fact that Adam Driver's Kylo Ren isn't redeemed. This theoretical version goes out of its way to point out that Kylo forsakes redemption, even for his own good. At one point while assessing the crushed Darth Vader mask (as Kylo Ren is so often wont to do), he freely acknowledges that what changed Vader at the end of his life was love — and that was a weakness and failing on his part. He destroys the mask and vows that he will succeed where his grandfather failed in achieving power and becoming the strongest Force-user in the galaxy for its own sake, not necessarily the First Order. (We'll get back to that later.)

That doesn't mean that people don't make a similar effort to save Kylo Ren in the final version of The Rise of Skywalker, however. Daisy Ridley's Rey in particular spends most of the film believing Kylo Ren can be saved. The alleged script seems to make a big deal of separating Ben Solo (Kylo's birth name) from Kylo Ren, to the point that it might be a literal separate personality. Additionally, Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker has a significant part to play in this theoretical alternate story: as a Force ghost, haunting Kylo Ren. Luke makes a lot of post-corporeal effort to sway Kylo himself, sometimes even reaching out to Rey through the Force to make them connect and convince Kylo to walk away from the dark side, but it all leads to naught. In a sequence that isn't clearly described, Ben Solo appears as perhaps an apparition of the Force that fades away, leaving only Kylo Ren and sealing his ultimate fate.

Rey's characterization is more complex in the reported Rise of Skywalker script

Confidence is and always has been a key part of Rey's character. She's an orphan and tough as nails because of the hard life she has lived growing up on Jakku. This supposed script for The Rise of Skywalker, however, was interested in making the back 40 yards of Rey's journey much more difficult for her. Rey has recurring, undescribed nightmares in this alleged script — and though Burnett doesn't go into a lot of detail, these dreams are meant to lead Rey (and, eventually, Kylo Ren as well) to the mysterious planet Mortis, a significant location from The Clone Wars animated series from which the Force might be born and diffuse through the universe.

A personal crisis of confidence is at the heart of Rey's character struggle as the weight of her responsibility after Luke's death bears down upon her. She has a conversation with Luke's Force ghost while training in which she argues that the demands of the Jedi path ask too much of any one individual. Luke says her destiny is to be the last Jedi and attain greatness; Rey replies that maybe the last Jedi has already been lost, referring to Luke's death. 

Overall, this theoretical story puts a lot more effort into presenting Rey as a Grey Jedi (similar to Ahsoka Tano) who's unsatisfied with the paradigm of the traditional Jedi mantra but not necessarily willing to embrace the Dark Side entirely, either as a divergent religion or simply for power and prestige.

No romance in the alleged Rise of Skywalker script

Another deviation from The Rise of Skywalker in this supposed original script is that along with Kylo Ren never forsaking the dark side, he and Rey never seem to have any romantic interest, one-sided or mutual. Burnett mentions absolutely no romantic pairings in the script whatsoever, but it stands out in particular that, considering how Rise of Skywalker turned out in theaters, there was none at all in Trevorrow's supposed storyline. 

Though Rey does seem to express quite a bit of sympathy for Kylo Ren and hopes fervently to bring him back around to her side, that interest seems to come from the experiences she had in The Last Jedi overcoming Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his ambitions for Kylo Ren. That said, she does kill Kylo Ren at the end of this supposed story, though Burnett doesn't include in his summary how Rey feels about doing so in the aftermath. 

Reylo becoming canon is a contentious concept within Star Wars shipping fandom, and in the wake of The Rise of Skywalker, some unpleasantness has come to the fore because of it. Perhaps no canon 'ship at all is the best option.

More thematic concepts from The Last Jedi were carried over

One of the points of contention for fans surrounding The Rise of Skywalker was the seeming abandonment of the themes and plot presented in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi. When J.J. Abrams returned to the director's chair after Trevorrow was let go, any previously existing script was (now infamously) discarded and re-started from scratch. That's not terribly uncommon in filmmaking — directorial vision drives the narrative of the visual story, ideally in concert with a screenplay writing partner of their choice. This supposed script, however, apparently maintained at least some of the character themes presented in the film that would have come before it.

For one, there's no Force dyad in this script at all. Kylo Ren and Rey are indeed the two most powerful Force users of their generation, but this isn't borne of a genetic destiny or prophecy. They both have to work for it — that's what the trip to Mortis is for. The ultimate expression of their powers is learned there: the ability to give and take pure life energy through the Force from other living creatures. This ability is the main tension of their final lightsaber fight in which Kylo Ren dies. The two of them are working toward this apex of ability for themselves, not in pursuit of titles or even necessarily for the political systems they each represent. Kylo pretty much mocks General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), who declares himself chancellor in the wake of Snoke's death, for his aspirations to rule the galaxy and goes AWOL on the First Order in pursuit of his own interests. Rey simply needs to understand if she is everything everyone believes she is.

Rey's ultimate identity

The last point that would interest at least some of those disappointed by Rise of Skywalker is the fact that Rey remains of no important lineage in this alleged draft, just as The Last Jedi put so much effort into explaining. The only fact we ever apparently learn about her parents is that Kylo confesses to murdering them at Snoke's behest, which seems a little odd for the pre-established timeline, but perhaps with fuller context, it would have made sense. She even reiterates dialogue she had in The Last Jedi — that she is nobody, from nowhere. That fact is part of what drives her crisis of faith in the film: how can she possibly be this important person if she's really no one?

One of the (many) presumed reasons Trevorrow was released from his Star Wars tenure was that Disney wasn't wild about his script drafts. If any of this alleged script is correct, that may have been (at least in part) a reactionary response to the controversy surrounding The Last Jedi in fandom and the press. We can never be certain, however, of any of these things. Regardless of this script's veracity, we'll never see another version of The Rise of Skywalker, but that doesn't mean we can't entertain ourselves with personal, imaginative alterations if we so wish.