April 26, 2016: With Claudia Gray’s Leia novel, Bloodline, hitting us next week, I am working on a new meta to accompany this piece I wrote a couple of months ago.
Early news from Bloodline tells us that whatever transpired to destroy Luke’s Jedi training project; it took place after the events in Bloodline.
Ben Solo’s fall to the dark occurred when he was an adult in his early twenties.
This is marvelously good news for all of us hoping for a redeemed Ben Solo who gets to live at the end of IX, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts once we’ve had a chance to read Bloodline. In the meantime, enjoy reading this meta in the knowledge that half of the popular assumption I wrote about here: “Ben turned when he was about 15,” has now been proven false.
The first time I saw The Force Awakens, I came out of the theater assuming that Kylo Ren committed a massacre at Luke’s Jedi Academy sometime in the past (my impression was of about 15 years before the events of TFA), and that this terrible event is what sent Luke into exile and sealed Kylo Ren’s fall to the Dark. This reading of the text seems to be pretty common among both hardcore and casual SW fans.
I need to consider this in more detail (and I hope others will, too), because I think the eventual answer to this question is quite important, and will shape how the story ends.
I’ll start by saying that I am an unapologetic Ben Solo partisan, so I’m sure my reading of the story is clouded by my strong desire to see him saved, reconciled, and alive at the end of IX. Hopefully others (with eyes less clouded by love for our lost boy) will see more clearly and have insight to add.
I’m going to be quoting text from the novelization (which is slightly different from the film), and referring to some information in “The Art of Star Wars The Force Awakens,” as it relates to the development of the character they called the “Jedi Killer.”
Here’s Han’s description of what happened back then, as he tells it to Rey and Finn on the Falcon:
“He was training a new generation of Jedi. There was no one else left to do it, so he took the burden on himself. Everything was going good, until one boy, an apprentice, turned against him and destroyed it all. Everything Luke had worked toward: gone. Luke felt responsible. He walked away from everything.”
Finn’s tone was respectful. “Do you know what happened to him? Does anyone?”
Han turned to him. “There’ve been all kinds of rumors and stories. When people don’t have access to the facts, they invent what they’d like to hear, or what they think others would like to hear. The people who knew him best think he went on a personal quest, looking for the first Jedi Temple.”
I don’t see any murdered Padawans in this statement. It is vague, perhaps intentionally so.
When Han and Leia talk before Han’s departure for Starkiller Base, Leia asserts, “There’s still light in him. I know it.” Would she have said this if her son had committed mass murder as a teenager?
Then there’s Snoke’s conversation with Kylo Ren:
“I am immune to the light,” Ren assured him confidently. “By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced.”
“Your self-belief is commendable, Kylo Ren, but do not let it blind you. No one knows the limits of his own power until it has been tested to the utmost, as yours has not been. That day may yet come.
…(and the dialogue about the awakening, have you felt it, etc.)…
“Perhaps,” Snoke conceded. “It has come to our attention that the droid we seek is aboard the Millennium Falcon, once again in the hands of your father, Han Solo. Even you, master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test.”
Ren considered his reply carefully. “It does not matter. He means nothing to me. My allegiance is with you. No one will stand in our way.”
Snoke nodded. “We shall see. We shall see.”
I quote this to point out Snoke’s characterization of the challenge Kylo Ren will meet in confronting Han Solo as the greatest test he has yet faced - if Kylo Ren had already murdered his classmates (many of whom were surely his friends), would patricide really present all that much of a challenge?
The fact that the character who eventually becomes Kylo Ren is called “Jedi Killer” in the pre-production artwork in “The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens” seems pretty damming, but a close examination of the text shows us that the name was used before anyone knew this character’s backstory: “…designs for the newly-christened but still origin-less “Jedi Killer” villain…” (pg 40).
The design of this character went through huge changes before settling into the form we recognize from the film. On page 175, the familiar mask of Kylo Ren appears, and the name “Jedi Killer” disappears (”…Glyn Dillon’s design for the Jedi Killer - soon to be known as Kylo Ren - was locked and approved…” pg 170).
What to make of this? I don’t know, but it does appear to be an intentional, not accidental, change in nomenclature, and It seems likely that the “Jedi Killer” name refers to a character who is hunting Jedi Luke Skywalker, not to a character killing a school full of young Padawans.
And finally, what about Rey’s Force vision? This one is the most ambiguous moments in the film, and we really don’t know what is happening in it. Is it a memory from the past? If Rey’s vision is moving in chronological order, then it is something she saw as a child. If her vision is not locked into a chronological order, then her vision of Kylo and his Knights of Ren (or “The Seven Light” as they are called on page 143) could be something other than what we have assumed it to be - the imagined killing field of Luke’s training project. Here’s how the scene is described in the novelization:
“Day became night, sky ominous and filled with rain, cold and chilling to the bone. She was standing, she was sitting, she was looking up - to see someone, a warrior, take the full force of the lightsaber. He screamed and fell.
Battlefield then, all around her. Putting a hand to her mouth, she rose and turned. As she turned, she found herself confronted by seven tall, cloaked figures, dark and forboding, all armed. Soaked and shivering, she stumbled backward, turning as she half fell. Firelight illuminated her, firelight from a distant, burning temple.”
Actually, this almost reads as two different scenes - and they could be from different points in time. Is one from the past, and one from the future? There are definitely bodies on a battlefield in Rey’s vision, but we’ll have to wait to find out whose bodies and how they got there. One thing for sure, I bet that we’ll meet Ren’s Knights in episode VIII.
And who are these Knights of Ren, anyway? Their “working title” of The Seven Light in “The Art of Star Wars the Force Awakens” offers a tantalizing clue to their identity. I think they ARE Luke’s other students, and that Ben Solo did not murder his classmates, his friends. He turned then, and took them with him into the Dark. Everything Luke had worked for would indeed have been destroyed by such an action, and Luke may have indeed felt responsible.
Only time will tell, of course, but in what I can see in the text that has been presented to us as the audience, there’s no actual evidence that Ben Solo committed a massacre as a teenager.
Don’t get me wrong - there’s plenty of evil we know Ben Solo to be guilty of, but I won’t lay the crime of child murder on his head until there’s proof in the story that it happened. As Han said, “When people don’t have access to the facts, they invent what they’d like to hear, or what they think others would like to hear.”
i’ve been a huge star wars fan my whole life (save episodes 1 through 3 …) and i’m always on the lookout for cool throwbacks like these air plant planters! here i’m featuring the millennium falcon and the death star, which are available in many colors — including ‘c3po gold’ and ‘r2d2 silver.’ AWESOME!
Yoda and Mace exchanged glances, both thoughtfully grim. Obi-Wan guessed they were remembering the times Anakin had violated orders—the times he had put at risk entire operations, the lives of thousands, the control of whole planetary systems— to save a friend. More than once, in fact, to save Obi-Wan.
“He will stop at nothing to save me, for example, because he thinks I would do the same for him.“ Mace and Yoda gazed at him steadily, and Obi-Wan had to lower his head. "Because,” he admitted reluctantly, “he knows I would do the same for him.”
What if Anakin doesn’t know.
I need a fic where Obi-Wan is berating Anakin about saving him despite endangering their mission and troops, again, and Anakin saying he will always do it because Obi-Wan is more important to him than some mission. The tension this argument leaves causes them to fight separately and because of this, Anakin is taken hostage, put into force suppressing inhibitors and field. Public execution of the Hero With No Fear would bring them unimaginable prestige after all. His captors tell him that no one will save him and he, without access to the Force and his weapon, can do nothing. Anakin knows that they are right. There were just several clones with Obi-Wan and him on this mission. To try and save him would be a suicide and the mission they were on is extremely time sensitive, that’s why there were so few of them. Obi-Wan wouldn’t endanger their men and mission just to save him. That wouldn’t be the Jedi way. After Obi-Wan told him so many times to stop saving him at the expense of the mission, Anakin knows Obi-Wan is not coming for him.
So Anakin has made peace with his fate. Meanwhile Obi-Wan is pretty much losing it, the thought of leaving Anakin there, never seeing him again has him gasping for breath because no, he can’t lose him. Of course he goes to save him without second thought but opposed to the times when Anakin put at risk so much and by some miracle managed to save him without anyone dying, this doesn’t go as smoothly. A few of their men die but Anakin is safe that’s all that matters.
Anakin asks him why didn’t he leave him there. He should have left him, now their mission is in ruins and soldiers are dead, Obi-Wan should have left him there to die. And this is the moment Obi-Wan truly realizes for the first time just how much Anakin means to him. He didn’t hesitate, the thought of leaving Anakin behind never even crossed his mind but it should have. He’s a Jedi, he shouldn’t be so attached, he should be able to let go when so many lives are at stake, the good of the galaxy. But he was ready, just like Anakin, to throw that all away and save him because that’s the most important thing to him. Anakin being safe and alive and by his side.
Anakin watches all the emotions play on Obi-Wan’s face and says softly, “Guess you can’t complain about me saving you ever again.”
How can you say that? She saved my life! She nearly killed herself to save me!
Jemma, she wiped out three teams of good men and women when she stormed the base. May is still recovering, not to mention she could have killed Fitz getting to the stone. Right now she is a time bomb sitting in containment that could bring this entire facility down on us!
She’s dangerous, she belongs to the dark side now.
I won’t give up on her. I can’t. This is my fault. Every death is on my hands, she did all of this for me. I know I can’t save those people but I can save Skye. You think she is a lost cause but there is still good in her.. Please Coulson, I love her and whatever monster you think she has turned into.. I looked into her eyes and.. she loves me. You don’t have to forgive her, just please don’t give up on her.