Warning: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Rey and Kylo Ren are drawn to one another for much of the film through an inexplicable (to them, anyway) connection to the Force. They’re able to see each other clearly, but they’re unable to discover each other’s respective locations: Rey on Ahch-To, Kylo Ren on the Supremacy. During those talks, they begin to learn more about each other.
These connections can sometimes occur at inopportune times, as Rey discovered when she was suddenly looking at a shirtless Kylo Ren; she even addressed it, asking him to put a cowl on to cover himself. It became one of the earliest parts of the movie to turn into its own meme; someone even sent Lin-Manuel Miranda a low-quality screengrab of shirtless Kylo Ren before he had even seen the movie. The fact that it kind of makes the Saturday Night Live Kylo Ren sketch canon helped the popularity.
"A buddy of mine saw Kylo Ren take his shirt off in the shower. And he said that Kylo Ren had an 8 Pack. That Kylo Ren was shredded." pic.twitter.com/u6DNMIUGHg— The Great Clement (@ClementJ64) December 15, 2017
@HotTopic do you make any higher-waisted pants— Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n) December 17, 2017
The scene may have stuck out for some fans, but there was a reason for it. As co-sound supervisors Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce told HuffPost earlier this week, having Rey notice and comment on Kylo Ren’s lack of a shirt was a way to demonstrate that Rey and Kylo Ren were able to see each other.
“That was important to establish what she was actually seeing,” Klyce said. “Was she hearing his voice or seeing his face or just his eyes? And so that [shirtless scene] is to inform the audience, ‘Oh, she can see his body.’”
If you ask director Rian Johnson about the scene, he has a slightly different take on it in regards to how the scene affects Rey.
“It’s fun but it also has a specific purpose, which is the increasing feeling of uncomfortable intimacy,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. “That was sticking with the theme of trying to give Rey the hardest thing you could possibly give her, which would be unavoidable intimate conversation with this person that she wants to just hate. This was just one more way of upping that ante.”
It’s definitely possible that the scene can accomplish both points, although the idea that Rey and Kylo Ren could see one another did have precedence before Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver answered the call while semi-nude. But regardless of what you got from it, we now have a shirtless Kylo Ren in the world, which is probably worth the laughs.