This article contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Despite the many mysteries, mysticism, and the spectacle that Star Wars entice us with every film, it’s often the characters that keep us wanting more. Luckily for us, the Star Wars sequel trilogy has been a treasure trove of great characters—such as Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Rose Tico, and Kylo Ren—that have fueled fandom works long after the credits rolled and launched plenty of ships along the way.
The Last Jedi had its fair share of ship-friendly—and in some cases, downright horny—moments, and The Rise of Skywalker teased plenty more where that came from in its trailers and promotional tour. The end result? Prior to the film’s theatrical release, director J.J. Abrams shot down one fan-favorite ship. Another ship became canon while we were introduced to our first canonical queer couple—Commander Darma L’Acy and Lieutenant Wrobie Tyce—in a brief moment that’s drawing much more ire than celebration. As for the many, many other possibilities, The Rise of Skywalker has hints, teases, some flirtation, and a little bit of awkwardness, making those ships wide open. (And that’s not even before we touch the sheer probability that yes, Sheev Palpatine almost definitely fucked.)
So how did your ship fare in The Rise of Skywalker?
The dynamic between Rey and Kylo Ren was one of the most fascinating to come out of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It’s also the most controversial. And while The Rise of Skywalker briefly made Reylo canon, it also ensured that the ship would remain controversial until the very end.
When we last saw Rey and Kylo in The Last Jedi, she appeared to close the Force bond connection (which Snoke says he enacted himself) between them in the aftermath of the Battle of Crait. Although Rey and Kylo’s life paths couldn’t be more different, they found some common links between them. The Rise of Skywalker pushes that connection even further, constantly showing the two in conflict. Kylo, who’s been ordered by Emperor Palpatine to kill Rey, instead tries to get Rey to turn—wherever Rey goes, Kylo isn’t far behind—so that they can take down Palpatine together. He’s confident that after she rejected his hand in The Last Jedi, she won’t do so again.
He reveals that they’re a “dyad in the Force,” which Kylo describes as “two that are one”; it’s what links them across the galaxy in a Force bond that should otherwise kill them, making them far more connected and intricately linked than most other Force users. Rey pushes back at every turn, whether Kylo’s trying to instigate her to use her powers or she finally learns the truth about her family; their lightsaber duels take them through the bond and onto the second Death Star, where she mortally stabs him with his own lightsaber (and essentially killing Kylo Ren) after Leia calls to him. But she heals his wound, revealing that she would’ve followed him when he asked if he hadn’t been so hellbent on keeping to the path of the dark side. “I did want to take your hand,” she tells him. “Ben’s hand.”
Leia’s call, as well as Han’s memory, brought Ben Solo back from the darkness, and Ben follows Rey to Exegol to take down Palpatine. The effort kills Rey, and Ben heals Rey, which brings her back from the dead. Rey and Ben kiss, but the effort to bring Rey back kills him, and his body disappears, becoming one with the Force; when Rey buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers on Tatooine and she takes the Skywalker name for herself, Ben does not appear as a Force ghost.
Here’s where The Rise of Skywalker tries to have it all. Reylo shippers get the kiss they’ve been waiting for, but the rug is immediately pulled out from under them as Ben dies. Those who wanted a redeemed Ben Solo got their wish, but it won’t result in a happy ending for Rey and Ben, and it certainly won’t make fans who wanted to see a redemption story not end in death thrilled. And the people who objected to the relationship in its entirety sat through a film that largely centered on it, even if it did end with Ben’s death.
But if nothing else, The Rise of Skywalker gives fanfic writers a lot of set-up for fix-it fics, alternate endings, more ways to explore the connection between two of the most powerful people in the sequel trilogy.
2) The Star Wars OT3
Despite having not spent any discernable screen time together until The Rise of Skywalker, fans have loved the possibility that Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron (both as a friendship and a throuple) have offered since the beginning. They operated as the new Luke, Han, and Leia of the sequel trilogy—a Jedi from a desert planet, someone who initially wants to run away but is drawn to the cause, and someone who’s already in the thick of the fight. For those who looked that on-screen, The Rise of Skywalker has plenty of it.
Rey, Finn, and Poe fight and bicker, just like the original trio did, and while Rey’s journey often puts her on a different path than Finn and Poe, they’re all fighting for the same cause; their final embrace after the Battle of Exegol says a lot without a hint of dialogue. The end of The Rise of Skywalker separates the trio once again as Rey travels to Tatooine with BB-8, but if you interpret that as a stop in her journey, she has her two closest friends waiting for her back home; even if she’s staying on Tatooine for the time being, it’s hard to imagine Finn and Poe not following close behind.
But once you delve into the OT3 itself, each relationship presents a wealth of possibility.
Finn would do anything for Rey. After their initial meeting on Jakku, Finn boarded Starkiller Base hoping to rescue Rey from Kylo Ren, and he picked up a lightsaber to fight Kylo after Rey was knocked unconscious. In The Last Jedi, before he’s fully committed to the Resistance’s cause, Finn attempts to abandon ship so he can protect Rey from falling into the hands of the First Order. They’re as close as anyone who’s been though enough ordeals to fill up a couple of movies can be, and their relationship has been interpreted to be akin to siblings or lovers; at the very least, the two are very much each other’s found family.
Although Finn tells Poe in Resistance Reborn that he and Rey are only friends, the film seems to hint that something could blossom. In a moment when it looks like they’re about to die, Finn says, “Rey, I never told you—!” before falling completely into the sinking fields of Pasaana. The film never reveals what Finn wanted to tell Rey despite both Rey and Poe attempting to get it out of him. John Boyega has since clarified that Finn wanted to tell Rey that he was Force-sensitive, not that Finn was in love with Rey, but the film makes it ambiguous enough that it could just as easily read as a life-and-death declaration of love.
In Star Wars terms, Finn and Poe (a.k.a. Stormpilot) had the ultimate meet-cute: Poe was a prisoner on a First Order Star Destroyer and Finn was the stormtrooper who defected and busted him out. Their connection was enough to launch a fan-favorite ship and possibly give LGBTQ fans the queer romance they desperately wanted to see in a Star Wars universe with very few queer characters, although it’s very hard to argue that anyone is actually straight in this universe, either. It also helped that the cast, especially Oscar Isaac (who played up that dynamic in his portrayal of Poe), was supportive of the ship. (Isaac still is, if recent interviews are anything to go by.)
Although most fans didn’t expect Stormpilot to actually become canon, it’s one of the few ships that Abrams explicitly shot down before The Rise of Skywalker while hinting that there was still LGBTQ representation in the film—which turned out to be the worst kind of pandering. The Rise of Skywalker also attempted to pair Finn and Poe up with other potential romantic interests (more on those in a bit), but nothing in The Rise of Skywalker outright sinks the ship. And after Leia’s death, Poe’s first act as acting general is to promote Finn to general and to plan the Resistance’s assault on Exegol together. If that’s not a showcase of love, we don’t know what is.
Before The Rise of Skywalker, Rey and Poe (a.k.a. Damerey) shared exactly one scene together at the end of The Last Jedi. It’s brief, but fanfic writers have often gotten creative with far less.
The Rise of Skywalker introduces a slightly more combative relationship between Rey and Poe than either of them have with Finn, and their early arguments harken to Leia and Han’s bickering. She’s mad because Poe’s light speed skipping set the Millennium Falcon, which was not equipped to handle it, on fire; he’s mad that she damaged BB-8 during her Jedi training and that she’s staying on Ajan Kloss to train instead of joining the fight. Poe’s reaction to Finn’s secret that he only wants to tell Rey can read as jealousy, but when the two are able to put their differences aside, they make a formidable team.
3) Finn/Rose Tico
Finn and Rose were the main canonical ship to come out of The Last Jedi, but it wasn’t a romance that lasted long. By the time Poe asks about Rose in Resistance Reborn, Finn noted indicates that they’re not together, replying that “We talked about it, and Crait was… a moment. But that’s it. Friends, there, too.” There are no further romantic undercurrents in The Rise of Skywalker, but it’s also hard to tell exactly what Finn and Rose’s deal is in the film—aside from maybe slightly awkward exes—when one half of that ship is hardly given any screentime at all.
4) Poe Dameron/Zorii Bliss
As a teenager, Poe ran away from home and became a spice runner with Zorii Bliss becoming something of a mentor figure to him. It’s also implied that they were once romantically involved, which makes Poe’s eventual exit from the trade, and his betrayal, all the more painful for Zorii. Their relationship in The Rise of Skywalker is largely antagonistic, but after a quiet moment reconnecting, Poe asks to kiss her, which Zorii declines; she also turns him down after he silently suggests celebrating somewhere privately. In the film, the relationship seems to be more one-sided on Poe’s behalf, but there’s plenty to explore in the depths of Poe and Zorii’s backstory.
When they meet on Kef Bir (a.k.a. the Endor moon where the remains of the second Death Star reside), Finn and Jannah quickly bond over the fact that they were both former First Order stormtroopers who broke free of their programming when asked to shoot civilians. Finn attributes his moment of clarity to the Force, and while Jannah doesn’t know the Force by name, she describes a similar feeling. And we’ve seen time and again, nothing brings two people in the Star Wars universe closer than surviving a major battle and taking down a Star Destroyer.
6) Kylo Ren/Armitage Hux
Kylo and Hux (a.k.a. Kylux) became one of Star Wars’ more popular ships in the sequel trilogy, despite the fact that the two defacto leaders of the First Order don’t seem to actually like each other all that much. Hux dislikes Kylo so much that he becomes a spy and delivers vital information to the Resistance so that they can take out their boss for him; he doesn’t display any actual disgust at the First Order’s plans to kidnap even more children. Canonically, The Rise of Skywalker sunk Kylux with both Hux and Kylo’s deaths, but in the realm of fix-it fics, the possibilities of exploring what redemption and atonement might look like for two of the First Order’s biggest criminals might look like.
Essentially, if you are invested in a certain ship, it ultimately doesn’t matter where these characters ended up; he very concept of canon text has never stopped fans from delving into those relationships in their own way. The Skywalker Saga might be over, but the sheer output of fanfic stemming from The Rise of Skywalker is only just beginning.