the leader of the resistance and also his hero is his son

Honestly, it vexes me when I consistently see people saying that they don’t want to see redemption arcs.

And to clarify because I don’t want to beat around the bush, I do mean Kylo Ren in particular—though this could be generalized for other characters, too, I guess?

Kylo falls under the role of an antagonist. He has done horrible things: he is the Jedi Killer, he ordered the slaughter of those people at the start of the film, tortured Poe for information, fetched information from Rey’s mind and killed his own father. These are actions that firmly establish him as Not Good. He wouldn’t be an antagonist if he didn’t do bad things, would he?

But context is very important, and the finer emotional nuances in scenes such as Han’s death need to be evaluated less simplistically. In multiple source materials, it is canonically established that Kylo Ren is not pure evil. He struggles with the actions he believes he must take. Adam Driver has described Kylo Ren as someone who (while not verbatim, the intent of words is the same) “feels what he’s doing is right, and feels justified in his actions because of that.” If you want the full bit of what he said, just for clarity, here:

Well, I don’t know. I certainly didn’t think of him that way in playing him, that he is doing anything villainous. It’s more if he thinks what he is doing is right, and being justified by it. And then trying to tell the story of why – making it a person as much as possible.

“Wait!” You might say. “He thinks the fucked up shit he’s doing is right? How is that at all supposed to make me want this guy to have a redemption arc?”

This is where we get into the finer details and lore, my friend. While the matter of Ben Solo’s grooming by Snoke is an entire other issue the fandom is up in arms about, the fact that he was targeted in the womb is undeniable. There are multiple written scenes in the Aftermath novel that lead to this conclusion:

The dark, now lit with stars. One by one, like eyes opening. Comforting at first, then sinister as she worries. Who is out there, who is watching us? Hands reach for her, hands of shadow, lifting her up, reaching for her throat, her wrists, her stomach -

Inside, the child kicks. She feels her baby turning inside, right-side, up and down, struggling to find his bearings, trying so hard to find his way free of her. It’s not time, she thinks. Just a little longer.


He is less a human shaped thing and more a pulsing, living band of light. Light that sometimes dims, that sometimes is thrust with a vein of darkness. She tells herself that it’s normal - Luke said to her, Leia, we all have that. He explained that the brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

The baby turns inside her again, troubled by something she cannot feel and cannot yet understand.

As well as this moment from the novelization of TFA:

Leia bit her lower lip, refusing to concede. “No. It was Snoke.

Han drew back slightly. “Snoke?”

She nodded. “He knew our child would be strong with the Force. That he was born with equal potential for good or evil.” “You knew this from the beginning? Why didn’t you tell me?”

She sighed. “Many reasons. I was hoping that I was wrong, that it wasn’t true. I hoped I could sway him, turn him away from the dark side, without having to involve you.” A small smile appeared.  

“You had—you have—wonderful qualities, Han, but patience and understanding were never among them. I was afraid that your reactions would only drive him farther to the dark side. I thought I could shield him from Snoke’s influence and you from what was happening.” Her voice dropped. “It’s clear now that I was wrong. Whether your involvement would have made a difference, we’ll never know.”

He had trouble believing what he was hearing. “So Snoke was watching our son.”

Always,” she told him. “From the shadows, in the beginning, even before I realized what was happening, he was manipulating everything, pulling our son toward the dark side.

And then, of course, are these additions from JJ:

It’s more than just having a ‘bad seed’ as a kid. Snoke had targeted this kid and knew that this kid was going to be incredibly powerful in The Force and wanted him as an ally.

So this mother and father had a target as a son, someone who’s watching their boy, and these parents aren’t there enough to guide him.

Kylo Ren is a villain, but he’s also a victim and this plays—no matter what people might want to think—a very integral role in his character progression. Snoke has been an influence on Ben Solo’s life for almost as long as he’s existed. There has likely never been a Ben Solo that existed without that outside influence. According to the timeline we’ve been able to establish about Kylo, he defected when he was in his 20s—meaning there is a part of him that always resisted the seduction of the dark side, but eventually gave in. 

But why did he give in? What was the extent of this manipulation on Snoke’s behalf that could cause a golden child from some of our favorite heroes to go so wrong? 

The thing is, we can’t be sure. We only know that Ben was kept from the truth about his lineage and when that knowledge came forward, he felt betrayed. Worse, it is likely that the combination of Snoke’s influence and the respective actions/inactions of his parents (no matter how well meaning) all served to push him off that edge. 

My two cents? Kylo Ren has the illusion that what he’s doing is right because what he used to believe in—his parents, the Jedi, the light—were proven to be ‘wrong’ when he found out the truth. This all-knowing force that had guided him all his life had been right instead. 

“The supreme leader is wise.”

I believe that in the end, the rhetoric of the dark side and Snoke became the only thing left to Ben Solo that made sense anymore. So he did what Snoke told him was right, because he’d been right about everything else. He follows his dark path almost religiously because it’s all that’s left to him now.  

When Han talks to Kylo Ren on  that bridge, he isn’t talking to the Jedi Killer—he is talking to his son. He is talking to his boy who has not heard his own name in god knows how long (because Ben Solo is dead) and he is getting through to him. When Han Solo asks Kylo Ren to come back home, Kylo Ren does not laugh in his face. He doesn’t proclaim his father a fool. He doesn’t praise the dark side.

He says, with tears in his eyes, “It’s too late.”

In my opinion, it’s practically an admittance that this is not what he wanted. He does not want to be on that bridge, preparing to do what he’s going to do. I think he wants to go back home, but—going back to what I said earlier about the dark being all he has left—he believes that there’s nothing left, though Han is offering him family again. Because if his father is right, then what has he done? What has he done all this time? If Han is right, he has made so many unforgivable mistakes, and who could live with that? If what he’s done is not right, then what does that make him? 

Anyone would have a hard time swallowing that. It has to be right, because if it’s wrong, the alternative is unthinkable. 

JJ has another memorable quotation that I can (and will) reference back to in order to support this:

People have asked me if I think that Kylo Ren was just playing with him the whole time, if he meant to kill him from the beginning. And the truth is, I think Kylo Ren, in this moment, is actually being convinced to walk away from this. Snoke is, as Han says, using him, and I think that somewhere Ben knows this. But I think that he can’t accept it. Deep down, he has gone too far.

Despite anything Kylo Ren has said, Ben Solo is still very much alive. The action of killing Han Solo was an act from Snoke meant to quiet that voice completely. It’s not weakness in his apprentice that Snoke fears: it’s his apprentice thinking for himself and having Ben Solo’s power used against him. He played the long game. Every investment he made into the birth of Kylo Ren was to ensure he had this quivering mass of rage and anguish fighting on his behalf. He does not want Kylo Ren to be at peace with the pull inside of him the way Kylo Ren thinks killing his father will achieve.

He wants Kylo Ren to suffer. He wants to Kylo Ren to sabotage himself until there truly is no way back.

At the end of the day, it’s important for people to realize this: redemption arcs are not about what a character deserves. It never will be about deserving. Han Solo deserves justice? Yes. Poe and Rey deserve justice? Yes. Finn deserves justice? Yes. Does Kylo Ren deserve to be punished for what he’s done? Of course. Redemption arcs aren’t about justice either, however. It isn’t about cleansing an antagonist of their sins or punishing them. 

It’s the antagonist realizing the horror of what they’ve done and deciding they need to do something to make things right. Whether that be a sacrifice or a lifetime’s worth of service in the name of a greater good, it doesn’t matter. It’s about repenting. 

This is about Kylo Ren realizing the light wasn’t a lie, that he doesn’t have to tear himself apart anymore. That he’s drawn to it for a reason. This is about reparations to a galaxy, an abuse victim realizing he is being abused. Gaining his independence for the first time in his life. Giving his father’s soul peace, and his mother one more piece of her shattered family back after everything she has lost.

That is a redemption arc. 

The Last Jedi: In her final performance, Carrie Fisher restores hope for Leia Organa

Part 5 of EW’s ‘Star Wars’ cover story

Live fearlessly, live boldly, and even after you’re gone that strength and inspiration burns on.

After Carrie Fisher’s unexpected death in December, The Last Jedi will mark her final performance as Leia Organa — the Star Wars character who went from orphan to princess, to spy, to senator, and finally general of the Resistance.

She remains a light that will never go out in the galaxy.

“Her character to some degree or another has been defined by loss through this whole saga, starting with the loss of her home planet. She’s just taken hit after hit, and she’s borne it, and she focuses on moving forward and the task at hand,” says writer-director Rian Johnson.

UNBROKEN, UNBOWED

No matter what grief or trauma Leia faced, she never wavered in her commitment to fighting for freedom in the galaxy, and her battle continues in The Last Jedi. Leia remains in charge of the scattershot Resistance movement, cut off from the Republic, whose leadership and capitol was annihilated in The Force Awakens.

Anyone who expected the Resistance to fill that void and maintain order would be mistaken. “No, no, no. Not at all,” Johnson says. “They’re a small band that’s now cut off, on its own, and hunted when the Republic is shattered. When the First Order did that hit, the Resistance is isolated, and they’re very, very vulnerable. That’s where we pick them up.”

While the galaxy teeters on takeover by the First Order, Leia is also dealing with personal grief, mourning the death of Han Solo – murdered at the hands of their son, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. The young man once known as Ben Solo has now fully fallen to the Dark Side, just as Darth Vader, Leia’s father, did a generation before.

“She’s suffered quite a bit,” Johnson adds. “While I was figuring out what her deal was going to be in this film, it’s one of the things I talked about with Carrie before I started writing: where the character would go.”

THE CUSTODIAN OF LEIA

That’s what Fisher often called herself. “She’s become me, and I’ve become her. Because it’s been a while,” Fisher told EW in 2015 before the release of The Force Awakens.

As she did in her own novels and memoirs, like Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking, Fisher’s wry and brash performance as Leia allowed the character to face her hardships with a blaster-proof sense of humor and whatever the galactic version of chutzpah would be.

Although she won’t complete the saga (Lucasfilm says Episode IX is being rewritten out of respect for her passing), Leia’s impact will continue to reverberate. 

Despite hardship, Leia always finds the hope in any given situation. This time, her story is entwined with Poe Dameron, the hotshot X-wing pilot played by Oscar Isaac. Their relationship is not just general and warrior.

They’re family. And in Star Wars, the notion of family goes far beyond blood relations.

“Poe is in some ways a surrogate son for Leia,” Isaac tells EW. “But also I think she sees in him the potential for a truly great leader of the Resistance and beyond.”

In The Last Jedi, a torch is being passed. It’s about the peril of meeting your heroes, facing down disappointment, and rising to fight nonetheless. Just as Luke Skywalker – reluctantly – may be passing on his knowledge of the Force to Rey, Leia is guiding Poe, encouraging him to look beyond the crosshairs in his cockpit. There are other ways to fight, other ways to lead.

“Poe’s arc is one of evolving from a heroic soldier to a seasoned leader, to see beyond the single-mindedness of winning the battle to the larger picture of the future of the galaxy,” Isaac says. “I think Leia knows she won’t be around forever and she, with tough love, wants to push Poe to be more than the badass pilot, to temper his heroic impulses with wisdom and clarity.” 

CONFLICT WITHIN

There are also rivalries and alliances within the movement. Johnson isn’t ready to reveal what Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo’s role is in the story, but as a fellow commander in the Resistance she is likely to have a history with Leia Organa. The nature of it will be for the movie to reveal.

“The secrecy does have a purpose in that part of the fun with Laura’s character, with Admiral Holdo, is figuring out what her relationship is to everybody as you go along through the movie,” Johnson says.

In a behind-the-scenes video for The Last Jedi, there was at least one shot of the two women facing each other. It doesn’t look hostile, but under the right circumstances even friendships can turn dark.

“I don’t want to tip the hat too much, but I will say that the heat is immediately turned up on the Resistance,” Johnson says. “Everybody is put in a pressure cooker right away, and relationships crack and strain under that pressure. That was really interesting to me, the notion of putting this small army under a lot of external pressure and showing some of the results within the Resistance itself.”

THE UNWANTED FAREWELL

The storyline wasn’t changed after Fisher’s death, but Johnson says he hopes it will still be satisfying to the legion of Leia fans who see the character as a source of true-life inspiration in our world.

“There’s no way that we could’ve known this would’ve been the last Star Wars movie she would be in, so it’s not like we made the film thinking that we were bringing closure to the character,” Johnson says. “But watching the film, there’s going to be a very emotional reaction to what she does in this movie.”

While Leia’s influence as a leader endures within the narrative of the Star Wars saga, Fisher also made a personal impact on the actors who will be carrying the franchise forward without her.

Everyone who worked on the film has a Carrie story, but the sweetest and most heartbreaking one belongs to Isaac:

“One of my favorite things that would happen from time to time on set would be when Carrie would sing old songs,” he says. “Whenever that would happen I would offer her my hand and we would waltz around the set – on a starship, in a Rebel base, on an alien planet, and she would sing and we would dance. So surreal and beautiful to think about now. For all of her delicious, wicked humor and fiery energy she also had such sweet grace. I miss her dearly.” (x)

kylux fic recs

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

PRE/POST THE FORCE AWAKENS:

  • In The Days Still Left by carefulben, 53k wip / The instructions are clear, but following them will take more strength of nerves and willpower than either General Hux or Kylo Ren could have anticipated.
  • Know Thyself by theascetic, 92k / Let’s pretend it’s true. Let’s pretend we conspired together to overthrow him.
  • An Advisor To Wake Up To by GreyLiliy, 20k wip / A new job is not quite what Hux had in mind. Dealing with Kylo’s Ren calling to the Light, even less so.
  • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger by hollycomb, 36k / Hux had a single beloved toy as a child. As an adult, he meets a faceless shadow of a man who reminds him uncomfortably of what was once his prized possession.
  • My Skin Is Theirs by Clarice Chiara Sorcha, 10k / Apparently, Lieutenant Mitaka has quite the collection of saucy softcore Cadet Hux pictures. Apparently, Kylo Ren thinks this is entirely inappropriate in men of their standing. Apparently, General Hux has an idea.
  • Take the Current by lobstergirl, 40k wip / Kylo Ren and General Hux have been left behind to die along with the planet that has failed to serve its purpose. 

AU:

LIGHT SIDE AU: 

MPREG:

  • I Don’t Want Love by saltandrockets, 88k / Captured by the Resistance, Hux lies about being pregnant to avoid immediate execution. There’s only one problem: It turns out not to be a lie.
  • Son Of Mine by ballvvasher, 275k wip / Supreme Leader Snoke gives Kylo Ren a mission to strengthen the Knights’ of Ren hold on the First Order. / content warning!

HAUNTED HOUSE:

HUMAN AU:

  • Sweet Home Arkanis by Gefionne, 68k / Hux is engaged to the man of his dreams. There’s just one catch: he’s already married to his high school sweetheart, Ben Solo. Now he needs a divorce, and he needs it fast.
  • Family Values by SpookMouse, 16k / “Alone on Thanksgiving? Mad at your dad? I am a 28 year old felon with no high school degree. If you’d like to have me as your strictly platonic date for Thanksgiving, but have me pretend to be in a very long or serious relationship with you, to torment your family, I’m game.” 
  • Quarry by samzillastomps, 50k / Hux has to move forward, and he finds that while some things are worth running from, certain things are also worth standing and fighting for.
  • Kylux Animal Welfare AU, 57k / Hux hasn’t had a date in six years and Kylo’s been trying to work out how to ask him out for the last four.
  • Reconditioning by JinxedAmbitions, 139k wip / The FBI is looking to take down one of the country’s most elusive prostitution rings, specializing in the types of sex that Ben’s boss has only read about in the novel his wife hides under the bed. 
  • Fanboy by helvel, 19k / Just because Hux works at a Star Wars theme park doesn’t mean he’s some kind of fanboy. 
  • Scattered Silver at Your Feet by MargaretKire, 17k / Hux gets set up with a blind date. Too bad the kid is not his type at all. (Hux might just be lying to himself about what his type really is).
  • Control Risk by littlesystems, 25k / Hux is an auditor who is attracted to hot messes. Kylo Ren is a hot mess.
  • Friends With Renefits by MoonwalkingCrab, 37k / The Rules: 1. Just sex, no feelings, 2. The arrangement lasts as long as is beneficial, 3. Either party can choose to end the arrangement, no questions asked, 4. No kissing
  • Skin Deep by Misaya, 15k wip / Armitage Hux discovers the desire to be held tightly. Kylo Ren, the senator’s son, has just the right frame to provide that protection.
  • Swipe Right for Slow Burn Regret by JinxedAmbitions, 55k wip / Workaholic Hux doesn’t have time for relationships. It’s all fine until he accidentally swipes right on Ben “Call me Kylo” Solo, and they’re a match 
  • breezeblocks by bioticnerfherder, 21k wip / Hux takes a much needed vacation before continuing with his studies. He meets someone who will shake up his life - for good.
  • They Go Wild by GravityDefyingHair, 23k wip / In the aftermath of his father’s death, Kylo Ren tries to commune with nature and work through his problems through hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • All The Way To Your Door by kyluxtrashcompactor, 105k wip / Six months ago, Hux lied to his father. He said the man in the picture he pulled up on his phone was his fiancé. 
  • Take the Dive by JinxedAmbitions, 62k / Hux needs to prove he’s still the best in the world, but more than that he wants to prove to himself that he can move past Ben. 

HUMAN AU, ACTORS/MUSIC/DANCING:

  • The Secret Heart by slutpunk, 48k / Hux is an up-and-coming actor when Poe comes to him with the script that will make his career.
  • ren, solo by dadcastellanos, 40k / Make Kylo Ren, the mysterious and volatile frontman of the metal band Knights of Ren, a successful solo project. Can Hux juggle Ren’s petulance, insecurities and oddities well enough to get this band off the ground?
  • Bohemian Rhapsody by for_autumn_i_am, 18k / Kylo is a street musician in Prague. Hux is touring with the prestigious First Order Orchestra. They collide. Hard.
  • Pointe Shoes and Prana-Bindu by GenerallyHuxurious, 14k wip / Imagine Kylo dancing in layer after layer of dark sheer diaphanous fabric, shot through with silver and iridescent glitter so every time he spins he looks like a nebula exploding and folding it on itself, he is the birth of universes and the death of everything with each impossibly light and graceful step.

HUMAN AU, KYLO REN WITH A SWORD:

HUMAN AU, MAFIA:

HUMAN AU, BOOKS:

  • None of Your Business by samzillastomps, 20k / Hux is keeping his head above the water with his slightly pretentious bookstore, but just barely. 
  • stet by acroamatica, 17k / All Kylo Ren needs is a good enough monster and a small enough town, a cast of people who are relatable but maybe not very bright, and an editor who will sit back and let him do his thing.
  • Parchment & Vellum by Gefionne, 32k / For Hux, rare books librarian, the reading room is his sanctuary, but when graduate student Kylo Ren arrives, Hux’s ordered world is turned on its head.

HUMAN AU, BODYGUARD:

  • Does It Have a Name by Arision, 40k / Hux wonders how long it will take him to bend the tantrum-throwing hell-spawn over his knee and give him the paddling he so richly deserves.
  • The Bodyguard by soIiIoquy, 57k wip / Kylo accepted the possibly dangerous but incredibly lucrative position of bodyguard to the son of Senator Brendol Hux

HUMAN AU, UNI:

  • Vitas Brevis, Ars Longa by baethoven, 45k / Kylo Ren is a ridiculous student in his “Business And the Arts” seminar. Hux hates whimsical artists and Kylo’s attitude. Kylo hates school and this bullshit class. 
  • Anyone But You by zamwessell, 14k / Hux meets Mitaka’s roommate, Kylo Ren – who is everything he shouldn’t want. 

HUMAN AU, BENARMIE:

BONUS! When Hux of one kylux universe meets another:

  • Modern Emperors by fedaykin, GenerallyHuxurious, 62k wip / Two Huxes walk into a bar… Lieutenant General Auren Hux of the First Order just wants to celebrate his promotion with a quiet night out. Instead he finds himself magically transported to modern day Earth where he is practically dropped in the lap of assassin Eamon Hux, a man being hunted for the bounty on his head. Will they act rationally to seeing a clone of themselves in front of them? NO! Will they ever stop groping each other long enough to deal with the serious threats? MAYBE! 
ML Wonder Woman crossover headcanon

Sooooo I just saw Wonder Woman (awesome movie, I am So Very Gay for Diana, well most of the amazons to be honest), and when it showed where she works in the modern day, well… I couldn’t resist this.  Seriously, someone stop me with these headcanon posts.

  • It didn’t take long for Master Fu and Diana to gravitate towards each other.
  • They end up having weekly tea together at Master Fu’s, because sometimes you just need to talk to someone who understands, a little, about what you’re going through.
  • Diana’s seen what’s going on with all of the akuma.
  • She nearly had a hissy fit when Copycat stole the Mona Lisa.
  • YOU DO NOT MESS WITH HER MUSEUM GOT IT.
  • However she has even less of an idea of where to find Hawkmoth than the others, and there’s no way she can purify akuma, soooo
  • On Master Fu’s request, she says out of the fights.
  • One day during tea, though, Master Fu asks for a favor.
  • Ladybug and Chat have been doing wonderfully, but they’re still just kids, and untrained for actual fights.
  • Honestly they’ve been muddling through and hoping for the best and Fu and Diana can both see that.
  • Fu is too old, otherwise he’d have already done so, but…
  • He asks his old friend if she could see about giving them a little training.
  • Diana’s not sure, she has no real experience with training someone else, especially those with powers that she has no way to figure out.
  • “Basic combat skills are still doable, though, and you’re probably the only hero on the planet who can train Ladybug with her yoyo.”
  • Diana agrees to give it a trial run.
  • Master Fu passes on to Marinette that he’s arranged for training for her and Chat, and to meet their teacher at this place and time.
  • Diana arrives early and hides, watching as Ladybug and Chat Noir show up and begin bantering and teasing and flirting with each other as they wait.
  • It hits her just how tiny and young they are.
  • These are KIDS going into battle.
  • She almost backs out then and there but she couldn’t live with herself if she left them defenseless.
  • The high pitched noise that Chat makes when she steps out to greet them could shatter glass.
  • “OH MY GOSH YOU’RE WONDER WOMAN YOU’RE THE MOST AMAZING HERO EVER.”
  • Ladybug is less gush-y but still as awestruck.
  • They are decidedly less awestruck by the end of training that night.
  • And plotting how to get back at Master Fu.
  • THEIR EVERYTHING HURTS.
  • But they also don’t want to disappoint the slavedriver Wonder Woman so they keep coming back for more training.
  • Diana told herself she wasn’t going to get attached.
  • Haha how’s that working out for ya.
  • These kids are adorable and precious and she loves them.
  • Chat is just a walking ray of sunshine and goofy smiles and awful jokes and a bonedeep sadness that she wishes she could wipe away.
  • Ladybug is a tiny little firecracker that would have been right at home among the Amazons, a born leader and strategist who’s still sweet and kind and brave in the way that only true heroes can be, where you’re terrified but will still put your life on the line to do what’s right.
  • One night it’s just her and Chat for training because Ladybug had a family thing she couldn’t get out of.
  • And the sunshine kitty is just so down and his heart isn’t in training.
  • So she goes and gets them a couple pints of ice cream and they sit down on a roof and she gets him to spill.
  • And it all comes out, the loneliness, his father’s emotional abuse and neglect, everything.
  • And Diana is sitting there trying not to crush her spoon in her fury because who could ever hurt this sweet sunshine kitten?
  • That’s it, he’s her son now.
  • No take-backs.
  • Chat is so very confused but he’s not going to question why Wonder Woman is suddenly mothering him.
  • The mothering quickly extends to Ladybug, even if she doesn’t need it like Chat does.
  • She tells them where to find her as a civilian, in case they ever truly need her help.
  • One day, a blonde teen boy ends up in her office, carrying a backpack and looking upset.
  • Before she can even ask-
  • “Did you mean it?  When you said…”
  • And it hits her all at once that this is her cat son and he probably just ran away from home and she recognizes his face from the ads all over Paris and yup this just got a lot more complicated.
  • But Diana’s never let that stop her before, so she’ll find a way to help Adrien.

Omake:

Later, at the Hall of Justice:
Batman:  Wonder Woman, why do you have a boy in a leather cat suit under your arm?
Wonder Woman:  He’s my son now.  No takebacks.

Rebirth of the “Son”: the art of Kylo Ren’s redemption

Many would say that The Force Awakens has a rather ambiguous conclusion, leaving the future of its main characters and storyline very open for debate. However, by analyzing the text — or in this case, the film — we can discover potentially eye-opening clues about the future of the Trilogy, particularly in regards to one plot-point: Kylo Ren’s redemption arc.

This meta will focus on deconstructing The Force Awakens by analyzing characterization (behaviour and dialogue) and foreshadowing and symbolism found in The Force Awakens. It will not discuss how he will be redeemed in detail, just the myriad of suggestions that we were left with.


Part 1: Characterization

This first part will deal mainly with deconstructing Kylo Ren’s characterization in the simplest possible manner. I will be analyzing his behaviour and dialogue in the context of the entire movie. Why? Because we must acknowledge every scene and every action in order to give reason to even one.

But first, let’s get a starting definition. Most people would know what “characterization” is, even if they don’t know it by name. The basic deconstruction of characterization is taught in high schools around the world. I’m sure we can all remember reading Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet or Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as a class and discussing the characters in an academic setting.

A quick refresher:

Characterization is the concept of creating characters for a narrative. […] Characters are presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, thoughts and interactions with other characters.

Characterization is broken down two separate sections: direct characterization and indirect characterization.

Direct characterization involves the author telling us what a character is like. This is generally done through descriptions, or by the characters themselves. Imagine a character saying or thinking that they “like the beach”. This would be an example of direct characterization.

Indirect characterization must be inferred by the audience by interpreting a character’s dialogue, mannerisms, thoughts, actions and interactions with other characters. Imagine a character walking barefoot along a beach, staring wistfully at the water. We can easily infer that this character “likes the beach” without having the character actually make any kind of statement.

This first section of the meta will deconstruct Kylo Ren’s direct and indirect characterization.


1.1: THE “LAST” SKYWALKER

We must first start by summarizing Kylo Ren’s background.

“Apparently the awakening was not just for Rey, but Kylo as well. Adam Driver spoke about Kylo and his motivations. Driver said that the character was mainly motivated by the feelings of abandonment from his family.”

“Abrams also added some backstory saying that Han couldn’t stay in one place and that Leia couldn’t stop fighting. His nature as a rogue and her nature as a freedom fighter clashed. Against that backdrop, Snoke targeted Kylo because of his powers and potential. The implication was that in the absence of solid parenting, Kylo Ren emerged.”

— “Secrets of the Force Awakens” Documentary

As we all know, Kylo Ren—once Ben Solo—is the fallen son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. He was seduced to the Dark Side by Supreme Leader Snoke after he was sent to train with his uncle Luke Skywalker. Snoke viewed the young Ben Solo as the perfect focal point of the Light and Dark Sides of the Force. He was being twisted and manipulated from the shadows since childhood, but it appears as though he managed to stave off complete seduction until he was a young adult, at which point something happened. He gave in to Snoke, turned to the Dark Side and left his family in ruins.

However, he was never able to completely extinguish the Light from which he was born.

It would not be unfair to suggest that Kylo Ren is currently the most important character in the Star Wars universe. He has a direct blood relation to almost every previous main character, his betrayal tore apart the Original Trilogy heroes, and he connects every player in the Sequel Trilogy together: the fallen son to Han and Leia, the ex-apprentice and nephew to Luke, the pawn to Snoke, the Knight of Ren, the anti-villain to Rey’s hero, the man who killed Han and left Finn in a coma, and whom Rey scarred with his grandfather’s saber when she almost crossed the threshold to the Dark Side. Rey went from defeating Ren with his legacy saber to hugging Ren’s mother to boarding Ren’s legacy ship to finding Ren’s uncle, who exiled himself because of Ren. It all comes back to one character: Ben Solo.

You must remember who Kylo Ren is and what franchise we’re dealing with in order to even hope to make accurate predictions. Star Wars is first and foremost an optimistic, idealistic coming-of-age fantasy directed toward children. It presents core messages of family, love, friendship, redemption and hope.


1.2 COSTUME AND MANNERISMS

Kylo Ren’s garbs in The Force Awakens serve the purpose of imparting vital indirect characterization. He is swamped in black clothing that covers even his face, hands and neck, leaving not even an inch of skin showing. This immediately conveys to the audience that he has something to “hide”, despite the fact that we eventually discover that he is an average human man. He could even be described as shameful, unprepared to place himself in a position of vulnerability, quite literally playing dress-up in his grandfather’s attire.

Kylo’s garments also plainly echo the real-life historic Knights Templar, which certainly begs a few questions about Ren’s upbringing with and indoctrination by Snoke. Alas, this is not the meta for that discussion, but I will leave you with this quote referring to the vows knights had to make in order to be accepted into the order, two of which I find particularly telling with regards to my own personal interpretation of the character.

“Full members of the order took the standard monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.”

Like his fellow character trinity members Rey and Finn, Kylo portrays many qualities that can be attributed to children, particularly young children. He is incapable of controlling his emotions, presenting a seemingly collected demeanor only in the film’s introductory sequence. He doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on complex human emotion, perhaps because he was never given a proper outlet to explore his more innate feelings, or because Snoke simply did not allow it. He has violent tantrums, his fists are always balled and his eyes always seem to shimmer with tears. He trusts inanimate objects more than real people, he has an obsession with relics, he watches Rey sleep, crouched on the ground, head tilted. There is an air of submission in him, as out-of-place as it may appear.

This is one of the major reasons Kylo often comes across as “weak”. He is an evocative male character, brimming with emotion that seems completely unable to tame. He is not really a man, a child or a monster, he is all three.


1.3: JAKKU VILLAGE

In the film’s opening scene, we are introduced to Poe Dameron and Lor San Tekka. Poe is a Resistance pilot who is retrieving a piece of a map rumored to lead to the missing Luke Skywalker. The mission, however, does not go as planned. Poe is captured by the First Order and Lor San Tekka is murdered by Kylo Ren.

LOR SAN TEKKA
The First Order rose from the dark side… you did not.

KYLO REN
I’ll show you the dark side.

LOR SAN TEKKA
You may try, but you cannot deny the truth that is your family.

Suddenly Kylo Ren raises his LIGHTSABER – IGNITES IT – PERPENDICULAR SMALLER BLADES AT THE HILT, A UNIQUE BUZZ – YELLOW/RED ENERGY, SPITTING SPARKS AND SMOKE –

KYLO REN
You’re so right.

And as he RIPS IT DOWN ACROSS SAN TEKKA!

Above we have the sequence from the final script. Kylo Ren’s response appears to be quite collected, but… why did he kill Tekka? Surely Tekka had seen the map? His mind was ripe for reading; he even could have been a valuable war-prisoner. Kylo Ren had yet to be made aware of Poe’s existence, let alone the fact that BB-8 had been given charge of the drive containing the map. Yet he killed him. Why?

Because this was a man from his past who reprimanded him about his origins, his family. There is even a small smirk visible on Tekka’s face as he converses with Ren, as he chastises him for “denying the truth that is his family.”

These are things we later come to realize bring Ren to a conflicted place, heightening the pull to the Light within him. Although his response to Tekka was swift and cold, the rage behind the action was not fueled by indifference. Hate and love are not opposites, they are two sides of the same coin, and it’s quite clear that Ren is far from indifferent when it comes to his family. This was a personal murder, not a war crime.

The movie illustrates that Kylo Ren only kills when the situation becomes genuinely personal. He leaves Poe alive after interrogating him despite having already retrieved the necessary information. He lets Lieutenant Mitaka live as well, and on Takodana he immediately goes for Rey and BB-8 without engaging in battle with anybody. This is vital indirect characterization. We are meant to infer that, while Kylo has likely killed many innocent people, we as an audience don’t see him kill impersonally. Anything beyond that is speculation.

The first sequence of the film creates an image for the audience. It would be called a character defining moment, and it’s used to great effect. Kylo seems similar to Darth Vader, perhaps with an added youthful edge. This image is quickly torn down as we witness Kylo unraveling. He goes from murdering potentially important war criminals to desperately following his “personal interests” to praying to an inanimate object. Kylo unravels like a ball of string, shedding physical and metaphorical layers until he is left a beaten, scarred, patricidal wreck at the film’s conclusion.


1.4: COMPASSION

Immediately after murdering Tekka, Poe makes himself known when he tries to shoot Kylo Ren. Kylo stops the blaster-bolt and the two men share a brief interaction that ends with Kylo ordering the Storm Troopers to take Poe on-board. Kylo gives the Troopers permission to annihilate the village — probably one of his darkest and most unforgivable acts. While Tekka’s murder was personal and driven by secret longing, this was something very different.

Yet this scene is followed by Kylo Ren’s first clearly bizarre decision.

Kylo Ren heads back toward his ship. But then he STOPS. Feels something. TURNS AND LOOKS AT OUR STORMTROOPER for a LONG MOMENT. Our Trooper can barely meet his gaze; knows he’s doomed.

Kylo Ren then heads off – passes the FROZEN BLAST, which, after a beat, GOES FREE AND SLAMS INTO A NEARBY STRUCTURE, scaring the hell out of our Stormtrooper.

As Kylo is preparing to depart on his ship, he seems to sense something. A Trooper is disobeying him, refusing to shoot down the villagers. Ren locks gazes with him, seeming prepared to kill him… but then he walks away.

This single moment serves as the inception of the entire adventure. The Trooper breaks Poe free, and together they crash on the desert planet Jakku, where BB-8 has already encountered a mysterious scavenger named Rey.

Ren should have destroyed the Trooper, but he didn’t. Perhaps it could be argued that he just didn’t care about an underling’s actions, but it doesn’t take long for us to learn this:

Kylo researched the Trooper’s title. He knew the Trooper was showing strange “signs”, he knew the Trooper by name, yet he kept the information to himself. Why? Why did Kylo Ren let the Trooper go?

Because he felt compassion for him.

This might seem like a leap to some, but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me, given Kylo’s apparent inner-turmoil about the situation. Kylo also felt something for Rey—as will be discussed below. We know he dislikes the Trooper program (he thinks as much in the novelization, and he subtly tries ot tell Hux that they should be using Clones in the film). We know he hates Hux as well. It only makes sense to take into consideration that Kylo may have consciously allowed FN-2187 to go free simply because he saw himself in the rogue Trooper.

The young women and men who become Storm Troopers in the Sequel Trilogy are stolen from their families as children and brainwashed into serving as killing machines. The process should be ringing a bell in your mind, because it’s remarkably similar to what happened to Kylo Ren.

With this in mind, it should be easy to infer that Kylo may have felt compassion for Finn, and walked away as a result. The single moment haunts Kylo, and we can imagine that he may have battled with himself mentally about whether or not to inform Hux or Phasma about their rogue Trooper. Obviously a side of Ren he would rather deny emerged victorious, because Finn managed to escape, and Ren doesn’t forget it.

The next time Kylo mentions Finn, he uses the term “traitor”. He does this one more time before the end of the film, after he has murdered his father. He screams the word at Finn, who is cradling an unconscious Rey. This is an incredible example of indirect characterization mixed with direct characterization. Kylo Ren isn’t just labeling Finn an “traitor”, he’s using the term to describe himself, hating himself for going through with the ultimate act of betrayal. He punishes Finn in the forest of Starkiller Base, using him as an outlet for his frustration and masochism. He beats his own wounds physically and metaphorically.

“You have compassion for her.” (The Force Awakens novelization)

— Snoke

It is made far more obvious in the film that Kylo Ren feels some kind of attachment to the heroine, Rey. I have discussed this at great length in a separate analysis, but I’ll allude to it here simply for brevity’s sake.

Kylo Ren sees himself in Rey, just as he saw himself in Finn. When he reads her mind, he finds that he relates to her loneliness, her fear and her desperation. Ren’s sentiments of compassion lead him to place himself in a position of vulnerability two times while in Rey’s presence, and both instances are considered iconic in The Force Awakens.

First, he removes his helmet for her in the interrogation sequence. Second, he offers to “show her the ways of the Force” in their final battle. This reminds Rey that she too is capable of channeling the Force, allowing her to defeat him. These are two of Ren’s biggest mistakes, and the implication is they were born out of compassion.


1.5: PERSONAL INTERESTS

GENERAL HUX
Careful, Ren. That your “personal interests” not interfere with orders from Leader Snoke.

While it is difficult to say what Kylo’s motivations are right now, it’s quite clear that he isn’t Snoke’s loyal puppet. He goes against his orders multiple times. In fact, I would have trouble thinking of a single moment in which Ren does follow Snoke’s plans without fail. He seems to react upon instinct more than anything, doing whatever he sees fit, but there is an underlying idea—as presented by Hux in the above excerpt—that Kylo has “personal interests” in finding Luke that go completely against Snoke and the First Order. This line basically foreshadows Ren’s entire developmental (or unraveling) arc in The Force Awakens. 

GENERAL HUX
Supreme Leader Snoke was explicit. Capture the droid if we can, but destroy it if we must.

Obviously Snoke isn’t particularly invested in finding Luke (he just doesn’t wnt the Resistance to find Luke), but Kylo certainly is. There is no way to know just what he wants from him. We’ll have to wait until Episode VIII for that information.

KYLO REN
Forgive me. I feel it again. The pull to the light. Supreme Leader senses it. Show me again, the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way. Show me, Grandfather, and I will finish what you started.

This is perhaps Ren’s most obvious “personal interest”. The sequence poses so many questions that have been deconstructed in separate analyses that I won’t waste too much time on it, but the implication here is that Kylo shares certain sentiments with this mask alone. It is his guardian, his relic. It is the only thing in the world he genuinely trusts, and he feels a connection to it, and a shame for not living up to its “expectations”.

Then there is one of the big questions to come out of this film: what did Darth Vader start? I have my own theories that don’t necessarily belong in this meta, but I’ll leave it at this: writers don’t emphasize an ambiguous theme in a villainous character only to reveal an equally villainous motivation. Chances are whatever “Vader started” will lead into the inevitability of Kylo’s redemption.

KYLO REN
What girl?

KYLO REN
The girl I’ve heard so much about

GENERAL HUX
Ren believed it was no longer valuable to us. That the girl was all we needed. As a result, the droid has most likely been returned to the hands of the enemy. They may have the map already.

Throughout the Third Act of the film, Kylo Ren finds a brand new “personal interest” in Rey. Ren appears to become attracted to and infatuated with Rey as he is in some way seduced by the Light she embodies. You don’t need to look far to see that he treats her differently than he treats any other character.

When he sets foot on Takodana and hears that the girl and droid have fled into the woods, he immediately follows them. When he finds Rey he decides to take her second-hand version of the map and not bother looking for the droid itself, allowing it to fall into the hands of the Resistance. In the interrogation, he removes his mask when she expresses fear, gets way too close to her and fishes through her personal thoughts before even attempting to search for the map. In their final battle, he offers himself to her as a teacher. This characterization is some of Ren’s most unexplainable… and it only makes sense if you accept that he also appears to be attracted to her in some fashion.

“The Supreme Leader believes Ren to be the ideal embodiment of the Force, a focal point of both Light and Dark Side ability.”

— The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary

It is interesting to note that Snoke actually encourages Ren to maintain control over both the Light and Dark sides of the Force that naturally coexist within him, but Ren is completely dismissive of this notion. When he feels a pull to the Light, he expresses to Darth Vader’s helmet that it must “show him the power of the Darkness”. He also insinuates that the battling Forces he commands “tear him apart”, and actually cause him pain of some kind. He wants nothing to do with accepting the Light, which appears to manifest as unwanted link to the life he left behind.

Once more, we can see that Ren is going against Snoke’s desires.

What exactly are all these “personal interests” used to push in the context of the narrative? To create a clear distinction between Kylo Ren and the First Order, to separate him a little from the evilest aspects of the Order. He is his own character, not an extension of Snoke. He places his “personal interests” above Snoke and the First Order on every occasion. That demands a certain level of attention in itself.


1.6: SIBLING RIVALRY

The Force Awakens introduces us to General Hux, an important official in the First Order. Ren and Hux share a bitter relationship that seems to echo a sibling-rivalry, with Hux seeming to constantly interfere with Ren’s more paternal connection to Supreme Leader Snoke.

Hux and Ren are given multiple scenes together, and it becomes quite clear that the character exists as a direct contrast to Ren. We are meant to compare their reactions as they are faced with similar orders.

KYLO REN
How capable are your soldiers, General?

GENERAL HUX
I won’t have you question my methods.

KYLO REN
They’re obviously skilled at committing high treason. Perhaps Leader Snoke should consider using a clone army.

In the above sequence, the film spells out that Ren has nothing to do with the First Order’s indoctrination of child-soldiers. Ren is specifically Snoke’s foot-soldier and a Knight of Ren, not Hux’s partner (as has been discussed, Ren hates the Trooper program). Ren and Hux barely tolerate each other. When you consider the fact that Hux is a twisted, genocidal, power-hungry, sadistic maniac absorbed with self-importance and lacking even a single redeeming quality, it should be obvious that Hux serves the purpose of humanizing Ren, of making him look “better” by comparison.

Hux watches, his eyes WILD WITH POWER AND EVIL.

TIGHT ON KYLO REN as he watches the Starkiller firing.

Hux’s Nazi speech is also entirely his own. Ren isn’t even present on Starkiller Base when the weapon is fired at the Hosnian System. He is watching it from afar, fists clenched. We are given a description of Hux’s eyes, but we cannot know what Ren’s might look like at this exact same moment. He is leaning over the window, watching the weapon fire. It is meant to make us question what Ren really thinks of all this.  

Hux repeatedly rebukes Ren for going against Snoke. He seems to have an innate desire to embarrass Ren in front of his Master. Hux is also fully aware of Ren’s wavering conviction, which makes him all the more dangerous as an antagonist.

SNOKE
Good. Then we will crush them once and for all. Prepare the weapon.

Kylo Ren is stunned by the moment – that isn’t what he meant at all

KYLO REN
Supreme Leader. I can get the map from the girl. I just need your guidance.

Above we have perhaps the most telling comparison. Hux and Snoke decide to destroy the Illeenium System—where Leia Organa, Kylo Ren’s mother, happens to be. Ren is completely against the order, and even tries to offer up another solution, but he is shot down as Hux walks away, giving him a snide glower.


1.7: LIES AND TRUTHS

Despite being the main antagonist of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is a surprisingly truthful character. He only lies once in the entire film, and it is clear at this exact moment that Ren is an absolutely abysmal liar. He and Snoke are discussing the droid, which has fallen into the hands of Ren’s father through a series of odd coincidences. Ren reacts to the news in the following manner:

Kylo Ren reacts with subtle, but real, surprise.

KYLO REN
He means nothing to me.

This scene is closely followed by the famous “pull to the Light” sequence in which Ren reveals that Snoke was fully capable of sensing his deceit. Han Solo does not mean nothing to Kylo Ren.

KYLO REN
You’re my guest.

REY
Where are the others?

KYLO REN
You mean the murderers, traitors and thieves you call friends? You’ll be relieved to hear that I have no idea.

Kylo Ren stops, considers her… then reaches up, unlatches and REMOVES HIS MASK. Rey reacts, stunned. It takes a moment before she regains her own mask of defiance.

When Rey wakes up in the interrogation scene, Kylo doesn’t bother lying to her even once. He could have told Rey her friends were dead, but instead he expresses the truth: he has no idea where they are. He also removes his mask when she reveals her (understandable) mistrust. He is very honest with her.

KYLO REN
… You’re so lonely… so afraid to leave… At night, desperate to sleep… you imagine an ocean. I see it – I see the island… And Han Solo. You feel like he’s the father you never had. He would’ve disappointed you.

He’s also open about what he sees in her head, even going so far as to “warn” her that Han Solo would have disappointed her if he really was her father.

KYLO REN
I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?

Perhaps the most controversial example can be found in Kylo Ren’s conversation with Han Solo on the catwalk. As an audience, we should have been able to infer that Kylo Ren never bothers to lie, opting instead for the truth.

This indirect characterization gives us all we need to know to understand that Kylo is in no way attempting to manipulate his father. He goes through with Snoke’s orders for a “personal” reason, in order to be “free of [his] pain.” He truly could not have kill his father on his own, and genuinely expresses to Han that he needs his help. The scene is heartbreaking on many levels, particularly when you realize that Han resting his hand on his son’s cheek is likely the first true human contact Ren has felt in years.


1.8: THE FATHER AND THE SON

Adam Driver said it himself, Kylo Ren is mainly motivated by what he considers to be feelings of abandonment from his family. His sentiments about his family are complex to say the least, with Ren mentioning them several times throughout the film. As always, Ren reveals far more of himself than he intends to.

“He means nothing to me.”

As we have already discussed, this was proven to be an outright (and pathetic) attempt at a lie.

“Han Solo. […] He would have disappointed you.”

Han Solo disappointed Ren.

“Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father. So I destroyed him.”

Ren considered his father to be weak and foolish for “something”. Is this the same “something” that caused him to harbour so much disappointment in his family? We can only speculate right now, so I’ll leave it at that.

We must also notice that Ren only starts to cry when Han expresses that “we [Han and Leia] miss him”. Ren’s feelings about his mother are perhaps even more difficult to comprehend than those about his father.

Always remember that Han Solo died as any father should, loving his son, forgiving him, and hping that he can someday find his way home.

An extra layer of intricacy can be found between Snoke and Ren. There is clearly a dependence of some kind between them, perhaps because Snoke was there for Ren when Han and Leia weren’t, using his loneliness to manipulate him. The notion is quite tragic, but we simply don’t know enough about the topic yet.


Part 2: Symbolism, Metaphor and Foreshadowing

Now that we have a clear understanding of the most important facets of Kylo Ren’s characterization, this second part of the meta will focus on the artistic devices in The Force Awakens, particularly the use of symbolism, metaphor and foreshadowing that directly pertain to Kylo’s redemption arc.

Once more, a quick refresher on some important terms.

Symbolism is the practice of using an object or word to represent an abstract idea. An action, person, place, word of object can all have symbolic meaning.

Foreshadowing is a literary technique through which an author hints at what is to come.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as some unrelated thing for rhetorical effect that, usually, provides clarity; thus, the implied conceptual relationship rhetorically highlights the similarities between two ideas.


2.1: THE HELMET AND THE SABER

It was revealed in an interview with Adam Driver that Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and helmet are meant to be a metaphor for his character, that he is “unfinished” and “unpolished” and appears as though he might crack at any moment. It can thus be assumed that, in order to develop, Kylo will eventually have to become “finished”, “polished” and “in control”.

Interestingly, some people use this as evidence supporting the notion that Kylo will never be redeemed, that he will become eviler and eviler until he kills Luke and Leia. Hilarious, I know.  

We must realize that treading further along the path of Darkness would not lead to Ren being “finished” or “whole”. He is the focal point of the Light and Dark, and until he accepts both sides of his being he can never be whole, he can never mature naturally or discover his true purpose. That is the true metaphor behind the saber.


2.1: THERE IS “SOMEONE” WHO STILL COULD

We PUSH IN ON REY as RAIN BEGINS – and DAY TURNS TO NIGHT – and she LOOKS UP – we TILT UP –

To see we’re LOOKING UP AT A WARRIOR as he is STABBED BY A FIERY LIGHTSABER! He screams and falls to the ground – we FOLLOW HIM, revealing Rey again, now in a nighttime battlefield. She gets to her feet, frightened by what she sees. We PIVOT AROUND HER to REVEAL KYLO REN, and the six other KNIGHTS OF REN, who flank him!

Come back around to Rey, soaking now, as the RAIN STOPS and SUNLIGHT illuminates her – she turns to look – we PIVOT – and see…

A little girl. Rey as a child. She is sobbing, hysterical. Unkar Plutt’s meaty hand holds her thin arm. She is on Jakku, watching a starship fly into the sky, abandoning her.

YOUNG GIRL
No, come back!

Rey discovers that she has some kind of connection with Anakin’s lightsaber as she touches it and is thrust into a terrifying Force Back. She sees past, present and future, and is pursued by the only individual who seems to acknowledge her presence in the dream sequence: Kylo Ren. He is the focus of her vision more than anything, which is quite interesting when you remember that the saber (according to Ren) belonged to him at one point. Does Rey feel bonded with the Skywalker saber, or with Ren himself? Only time will tell.

Maz Kanata’s speech to Rey directly following the Force Back is one of the turning points of the film. Maz insinuates that Rey’s family is never returning, and that the belonging she seeks is ahead, not behind.

Dear child. I see your eyes. You already know the truth. Whomever you’re waiting for on Jakku, they’re never coming back. But… there’s someone who still could.

There is someone who still could come back. Rey immediately assumes Maz is referring to Luke, but what if she’s actually insinuating that Kylo Ren can still [come back to the Light]? It would make for a brilliant example of foreshadowing in the long-run.

The end of the Force Back scene is also edited in such a way that it appears as though the little girl is speaking directly to Ren. We hear her say “come back” before the child is revealed, and right after we see Ren approaching Rey on the rainy battlefield.

This notion opens up the possibility that the belonging Rey seeks may lie in the focus of her Force Back, in the true owner of the saber: in Kylo Ren. And who is she about to meet in the forest? Who is directly ahead of her?


2.2: THE LIGHT AS SEDUCTION

“I feel it again, the pull to the Light.”

— Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren is quite the tortured soul indeed. He does everything in his power to quiet the call of the Light—which he literally refers to as a seduction—but no matter what he finds that he “feels it again”.  It seems simple enough. Ren is a Dark-affiliated Force-Sensitive who is in great inner-turmoil as a result of the longing for the Light he can’t seem to shake. However small, it is his greatest foil, his most significant element of characterization.

So what is this pull to the Light? Ren makes it quite obvious that whatever connection he maintains to his family incites it. The mere mention of Han Solo causes him to confess his sins to his grandfather’s helmet. It is a pull to his family, to his old life.

But how exactly does Ren’s “pull to the Light” ultimately manifest itself? What is most representative of the Light in The Force Awakens—or more specifically, who?

Rey.  

Many fans have recognized that Kylo Ren develops an unusual fixation on the heroine after first encountering her in the forest of Takodana. Some have postulated that he has an interest in her power, while others say that he is genuinely attracted to her in some fashion, be that physically, mentally or through the Force that flows between them.

I’m much more inclined to believe the second interpretation, because it takes into account Kylo Ren’s characterization and his context in the narrative. He feels genuine compassion for her, he cannot help but bond with her loneliness and her fear. These are not hallmarks of an individual enamoured by power, but rather, by something far more human. That is why combining the themes of Force-related seduction with romantic and sexual seduction are paramount to comprehending Ren’s role in the future of this Trilogy.

Rey is a symbol in herself. She represents everything Kylo Ren has denied himself. She is a beautiful young woman who is highly connected to the Light side of the Force, and he quite literally cannot help but be willingly seduced by her Light.

“By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced.”

— Kylo Ren to Snoke

This is classic foreshadowing and irony in the vein of Vader’s famous “There is no conflict” or even Leia’s “I would sooner kiss a Wookie”. When a character expresses that he won’t be seduced in this manner in the first Episode of a Trilogy and proceeds to become completely fixated on a woman who happens to represent the Light by which he expresses he “will not be seduced” they might as well be spelling out that they will be seduced. In a manner of speaking, methinks Kylo doth protest too much.

We must also remember that this film concluded with Ren being rescued by Hux in order to “complete his training”. By the grace of Snoke’s training indeed.

“There was too much Vader in him.”

— Han Solo

Too much Vader… but too much of “what” exactly? This is left open to interpretation. Vader was a Sith Lord, but he was also Anakin Skywalker, the man who gave his own life to save his only son, the Jedi who fell to the Dark Side because the Emperor manipulated his undying love for his wife. Just as Anakin was prepared to do anything for Padme, Ren may ultimately be willing to go to great lengths for Rey, regardless of whether or not his sentiments are ever outwardly reciprocated.

This definitely ties into the fact that Rey and Ren’s themes are essentially Across the Stars in reverse.

Rey is under a spotlight, practically emanating light. Her light is extending toward the crouched figure of Ren, who is watching her submissively. Ren can’t seem to take his eyes off the glowing young woman.


2.3: THE SUN AND THE SON

Although the new superweapon received a great deal of criticism from fans for being “just another lame Death Star”, Starkiller Base happens to be one of the most effective and blatant symbols in the entire movie. From absorbing a “sun’s” light as power to transforming into a “reborn sun” at the film’s conclusion, the metaphor created is both telling and very artistic.

“It uses the power of the sun. As the weapon is charged, the sun is drained until it disappears.”

— Finn about Starkiller Base

“Snoke is using you for your power.”

— Han about Ben Solo

The comparison here is just begging to be made. Starkiller Base manipulates the “light” of a sun as a weapon. In English, the words “sun” and “son” happen to be the same. This is a pun that has been used throughout English literature and even biblical texts to describe the “prodigal son”. Ren is of course the “son” (to Han and Leia), the fallen legacy who wants nothing more than to subdue the light within himself.

“I am too much I’ the sun.”

— Hamlet

The “sun” and the “son” is a powerful symbol that cannot be used lightly, but it only becomes more obvious as the film progresses:

And just then, the LAST BEAM OF SUNLIGHT streaming through the open hatch VANISHES.

Han actually smiles – and reaches out for the dark weapon – but with the light now gone, KYLO REN’S EYES FILL WITH DARKNESS.

At this moment, Kylo Ren murdered his father. Starkiller Base sucked the life from a sun, casting a shadow across the planetary weapon, and across Kylo Ren. The sun’s death heralded Ren’s darkest act. As hope was lost, so too were Ben and Han Solo. The sun, the son and father fell together.

Kylo Ren is somehow WEAKENED by this wicked act. Himself horrified. His SHOCK is broken only when –

We must also take into account Ren’s reaction to killing his father. If this sounds like someone who has gone Full Dark to you… I think you missed the point of the movie.

Something amazing happens at the end of the film:

The X-wings ROAR OFF, skyward as the MUSIC SOARS, the PLANET IMPLODES – THE SUNLIGHT IT CONTAINS BURSTS FORTH, and as we get further and further distance from what was Starkiller Base, we witness the REBIRTH OF A SUN. Light restored to a corner of the galaxy.

This is about as descriptive as any script is going to get. We witnessed the “rebirth of a sun”. Rebirth of a sun… or rebirth of a “son”?

Poe and the rest of the pilots destroyed the oscillator that was containing the sun’s trapped energy and light. This happened in unison with Rey defeating Kylo in the snowy wood. In a story that surrounds the concept of Light and Dark as two sides of a coin and that involved a sun dying to symbolize the loss of hope as a character violently murdered his own father, having that same sun be “reborn” in a flurry of light is very telling. Kylo Ren was filled with darkness as the sun fell, but after being defeated by Rey (interesting how Rey’s name is also a pun on a sun “ray”) he was “reborn” along with the new sun, his father’s eternal resting place.


And if all that symbolism doesn’t drive it home for you, take a look at this Easter Egg from The Force Awakens soundtrack. Two themes are connected by a horn solo, the moment we hear Kylo Ren’s theme for the very first time in “Attack on Jakku Village” and the exact moment the sun is reborn in “Farewell and the Trip”. The same solo can be heard in both songs, referencing the theme of the reborn sun (or in this case, the reborn “son”).

Go to 4:18

The first version is more ominous, as it is combined with Kylo’s dissonant theme.

Go to 0:46

The second is hopeful and triumphant, and even melds with the Force Theme. The solos are exactly the same, however. This hard-evidence proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the writers intended to have Starkiller Base’s rebirth as a “sun” represent Kylo’s own metaphorical rebirth.


2.4: THE BATTLE FOR A SOUL

Kylo’s final fight with Finn and Rey is perhaps one of the most artistically significant moments in the entire Star Wars franchise. From pursuing the duo into the icy forest to being branded by Rey, Ren is quick to reveal the results of his physical, mental and emotional unraveling as he engages Finn and Rey in battle. If a viewer has failed to comprehend Ren until this point, Ren’s behavior will go completely over their head.

Finn, Rey and Ren contrast each other beautifully. They were all children who were separated physically from their parents, and who dealt with the emotional trauma of abandonment in different ways. Finn was brainwashed, but maintained a high level of humanity; Rey dreamed every day of her family returning; Ren gave in to the Darkness that was tugging at him. Acknowledging the fact that they are all foils of each other gives their battle so much more emotional impact. They are fighting themselves as much as they are fighting each other, lost souls who may ultimately need each other to find their way home.

“It’s just us now. Han Solo can’t save you.”

The fight begins with this line. Strangely enough, it appears as though he is speaking only to Rey (translations corroborate this). However, it should be clear based on Ren’s prior characterization that he isn’t just stating that “Han Solo can’t save Rey”. In reality, he’s acknowledging the tragic fact that Han Solo can no longer save him.

“That lightsaber, it belongs to me.”

Ren doesn’t acknowledge Finn until after he has knocked Rey out after she attempted to shoot him. Finn takes up the Skywalker saber in order to protect Rey, running at his ex-superior—the man who allowed him to disobey direct orders—with a lion’s heart.

TRAITOR!”

Why would Ren call Finn a traitor once again. Why would any character who just murdered his own father title someone else a traitor? Because Ren isn’t reprimanding Finn; he’s reprimanding himself, punishing himself physically and metaphorically. We already know that Ren saw himself in Finn, and he still does. He beats his own wounds during their fight, filled with self-hate and rage. Ren is grieving in his own way, his emotions causing him to lose all sense of self. He burns Finn, and finally slashes him up the spine, putting him temporarily out-of-commission just as Rey wakes up.

“You need a teacher. I can show you the ways of the Force.”

Rey and Ren’s battle is—as Harrison Ford once said—fantastic visual storytelling. There is so much occurring on-screen that it becomes almost overwhelming to take in.

It begins with Rey catching the Skywalker saber. All the tension leaves Ren’s body as he gazes at her with his old saber in her hands. It should be clear that he does not view this girl the same way he views Finn. While he was furious and masochistic in Finn’s presence, there is something very different in his countenance with Rey.

He is enamored by her Light, totally and utterly fixated. His expression is one of complete awe, and he maintains it throughout the fight.

He chases her through the wood, battling her as he attempts to disarm her. They are perfect opposites, moving in unison, dancing while in the midst of an epic clash. There is certainly a beauty to it, with the red and blue sabers seeming to create a shade of mauve just as Starkiller Base begins to fall apart. A crack appears in the planet, spewing fire just as they cross sabers.

As they attempt to stave each other off above the abyss, they seem to share a moment. It is at this point that Ren offers himself to her, declaring that “she needs a teacher” and that “he can show her the ways of the Force.” It is interesting to note that Ren doesn’t use the terms “Dark Side/Darkness” (as he did throughout the film). Of course he isn’t offering to teach her about the Light, but we are meant to question his behavior. He isn’t fully trained himself, yet he wants to teach her, to run away with her, to be with her?

Rey takes the opportunity to channel the Force for the first time, and suddenly she gains the upper-hand. She starts to chase him, stabbing at his clothes and body. She is as brutal against him as he was against Finn, and when they grasp arms and balance each other’s sabers, there is an undeniable example of symbolism. Rey is burying the dark saber in the snow, and he looks fully prepared to have it extinguished, to be rid of it once and for all.

She overcomes him physically, mentally and emotionally, leaving him scarred on the forest floor. Rey almost taps into the Dark Side, and has to stop herself from killing him, from wiping out the representation of the Darkness that took away her father-figure and first true friend.

Ren’s scar is an interesting shape, curved just like the Yin and Yang symbol. The scar is a threefold symbol of Rey’s connection to Ren, to the moment she almost crossed the threshold to the Dark Side, and to Ren’s duality. He no longer has to wear a mask to be a “monster”.

Ren is left beaten, but the symbolism of the reborn sun tells us that the Light within him has not been extinguished. There is still a chance for Ben Solo, as his mother rightfully expressed to her husband before he performed the ultimate sacrifice.

LEIA
There’s still light in him. I know it
.

Leia is not about to give up on her son. When Han died, she reacted to Ren’s suffering more than anything (the cut happens just as Ren seems to realize what he has done). I suspect neither Luke nor his sister would be willing to abandon their living link to Han… their true legacy: Ben Solo.


CONCLUSION

Episode VII ends with Rey handing “Luke’s” lightsaber back to its rightful owner… but we must remember that this saber may very well have also belonged to Ben Solo. Again, I have to wonder if Rey’s connection really extends to the Skyalkers at all, or simply to Kylo Ren? Only time can tell.

Well… I guess that’s all I have to say on this subject for now. I’ll conclude this meta by making it clear that there is zero foreshadowing pointing toward this story taking any other direction. If the writers are competent and made use of all these classic literary techniques in good faith, then we can be assured that Kylo Ren will be receiving quite the redemption arc in future Episodes.

If not, I’ll be keeping my money.


EDITS: To add pictures/fix spelling mistakes.

Despite the hardship, Leia always finds the hope in any given situation. This time, her story is entwined with Poe Dameron, the hotshot X-wing pilot played by Oscar Isaac. Their relationship is not just general and warrior.

They’re family.

And in Star Wars, the notion of family goes far beyond blood relations.

Poe is in some ways a surrogate son for Leia,” Isaac tells EW. “But also I think she sees in him the potential for a truly great leader of the Resistance and beyond.”

In The Last Jedi, a torch is being passed. It’s about the peril of meeting your heroes, facing down disappointment, and rising to fight nonetheless. Just as Luke Skywalker – reluctantly – may be passing on his knowledge of the Force to Rey, Leia is guiding Poe, encouraging him to look beyond the crosshairs in his cockpit. There are other ways to fight, other ways to lead.

“Poe’s arc is one of evolving from a heroic soldier to a seasoned leader, to see beyond the single-mindedness of winning the battle to the larger picture of the future of the galaxy,” Isaac says. “I think Leia knows she won’t be around forever and she, with tough love, wants to push Poe to be more than the badass pilot, to temper his heroic impulses with wisdom and clarity.

anonymous asked:

Just a question: we've seen you answer how the Zutara relationship would've worked for both Zuko and Katara. So how, in your opinion, would that relationship have affected the world? Since Katara would've married Zuko at some point, she would've become wife of the Fire Lord, as well as the first member of Fire Nation royalty to be of another nationality, let alone a different bender. I've never seen ANYTHING relating this aspect of their relationship, so I was curious what you thought.

Hello my dearest anon! Disquieted here! 

Thank you SO much for this question; it’s one of the very best we’ve gotten! I’ll try my best to do it justice. Be warned though, I’ve written something similar to an essay as reply, so read ahead at your own peril! 🙈 Dalz will be answering your ask separately later on as well giving you her own pov on the matter. 

Also, please keep in mind that I always pretend LoK never happened, that these are merely personal ramblings and should not be taken to heart, and that there are some things we must discuss before getting to the center of your question. So, without further ado….! 

Part I: War is war.

I’ve never doubted that the reconstruction of a nation, (let alone the entire world!), wouldn’t come with opposition and various difficulties for all parties involved.

Keep reading

“Poe is in some ways a surrogate son for Leia,” Isaac tells EW. “But also I think she sees in him the potential for a truly great leader of the Resistance and beyond.”

In The Last Jedi, a torch is being passed. It’s about the peril of meeting your heroes, facing down disappointment, and rising to fight nonetheless. Just as Luke Skywalker – reluctantly – may be passing on his knowledge of the Force to Rey, Leia is guiding Poe, encouraging him to look beyond the crosshairs in his cockpit.

The Force Bond Awakens

By: FrolickingFizzgig

* This meta was originally published for me on Reylophos’ Tumblr a few weeks ago, but I’ve decided to post an updated version with images and extra content here.

Since its December 2015 release Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has remained a topic of much discourse and debate. Months later fans are still ascribing to their favourite theories and predictions in regards to the future of what has been dubbed the Sequel Trilogy. The success of The Force Awakens was very much rooted in nostalgia, with director JJ Abrams inviting old and new devotees alike to depart on a novel escapade in a galaxy far, far away.

Thirty years have passed since the dawn of the New Republic. In spite of Luke, Leia and Han Solo’s great feats in the Original Trilogy, the galaxy is not at peace. The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. History has faded into myth, and all have but forgotten the Jedi of old. Enter Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, three youths who have grown up with contrasting pressures in the years succeeding the fall of the Empire.

“There’s also heartbreak amid the high adventure, with three lost souls — scavenger Rey, remorseful Storm Trooper Finn, and vengeful, Darth Vader-obsessed Kylo Ren — trying to find purpose to navigating the stars.”

- Director, JJ Abrams

A humble scavenger, a repentant soldier and a petulant black knight… while all are of adult age, our three protagonists are metaphorical children who were prevented from maturing naturally as a result of trauma. Rey was abandoned, Finn was stolen from his parents and subjugated to relentless military training and Kylo Ren’s mind and personality were warped through his innate “gift” of Force-Sensitivity. Though Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren all resonated with audiences, many fans were intrigued by the foundation of a highly unusual dynamic between our new hero and villain. Time Magazine’s review of the film makes reference to the remarkable chemistry brought to life between Kylo Ren and Rey.

“In one of the movie’s finest moments, Ren—unmasked and intense — engages Rey in a major stare-down, an unholy duel between the Light side of the Force and the Dark. The sexual energy between them is strange and unsettling, like a theremin sonata only they can hear.”

With the majority of viewers convinced that Rey will be revealed as Luke Skywalker’s long-lost daughter, the institution of such a potentially inappropriate “energy” has brought about a great rift in opinion, perhaps because no contender has ignited more debate than Kylo Ren himself. 

Fallen son of Original Trilogy lovers Han Solo and Leia Organa, Kylo Ren — then Ben Solo — was ensnared in childhood by the mysterious Dark Side affiliated Supreme Leader Snoke, head of the First Order. He was manipulated into betraying his family and leaving Luke Skywalker’s dream to restore the Jedi Order in ruins, earning the moniker “Jedi Killer.” Regarded as the ideal focal point of the Light and Dark, Ben Solo developed an obsession with his maternal grandfather, Darth Vader. He descended to the Dark Side, training under Snoke and becoming leader of the enigmatic Knights of Ren; however, he was never able to completely relinquish the Light from which he was born. Kylo Ren is a man caught in limbo, at war with the world and with himself.

KYLO REN

Forgive me. I feel it again. The pull to the light.

Rey on the other hand can only be described as the dramatic antithesis of Kylo Ren. A dormant Force-Sensitive who was abandoned on the desert planet Jakku as a young child, Rey grew up scavenging the wrecks of an ancient battlefield, waiting in vain for her family to return. 

Rey’s lonely existence is changed forever when she encounters rogue Stormtrooper Finn. The two become quick allies, fleeing together from the minions of the First Order. They commandeer the long-lost Millennium Falcon in order to escape Jakku, and their act of evasion soon leads them to old heroes of the Resistance Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia Organa. From this point, much of Rey’s journey involves her integration into Kylo Ren’s family and former life. It can be said that she serves as a replacement for the lost Ben Solo. She comes to view both Han Solo and Leia as parental figures, she inherits the Millennium Falcon and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, and there is very much the suggestion that Rey will be apprenticed to Ren’s uncle and former Master, Luke Skywalker. 

Rey’s strong connection to the Skywalkers is made concrete when she is called by Anakin’s lightsaber. The weapon sweeps her into a Forceback that illustrates past, present and future — Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, the hall of Cloud City, the moment of her abandonment, a rainy battlefield and a snowy wood. She is pursued by a black knight through the vision — he stalks her, storming toward her, saber drawn. The knight is everything she opposes, her worst nightmare in the form of a faceless monster. Fear of her own capacity and of this knight leads Rey to flee the call of the Light, leaving her vulnerable. In the ancient forest of Takodana, she and the black knight with whom her life has become inexplicably entangled — Kylo Ren — are brought together for the first time.

“Without the slightest hesitation, the cloaked figure of Kylo Ren emerged and strode forward to join the battle. A stunned Rey could only track him with her eyes. She had seen this man before, in a daydream. In a nightmare” (The Force Awakens novelization).

Kylo Ren incapacitates Rey and spirits her away in his arms, cementing the inception of a troubling fixation he develops on her as the film winds down. Fans and critics alike have remarked on their unsteady rapport. Rey and Ren are as similar as they are dissimilar, two sides of the same coin, Yin and Yang — he is Dark with a little Light, she is Light with a little Dark.

This essay will discuss their connection by addressing one of the most compelling theories to emerge from The Force Awakens — that Kylo Ren and Rey formed a “Force Bond” accidentally during the infamous interrogation scene. Expect very little reference to non-canon content. My intention is to concentrate on the film The Force Awakens and its accompanying script, novelization and production interviews in order to provide the casual viewer with a coherent introduction to the Force Bond as potentially depicted in the Sequel Trilogy. I will focus on three narrative elements presented in The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren and Rey’s unsettling emotional connection, Rey’s use of advanced Force-Sensitive abilities following the interrogation and Rey’s decidedly familial association with Han Solo and Leia Organa. However, I will not be discussing any other theories relating to the film; this text is solely meant to illustrate the most conclusive evidence supporting the Force Bond.

First and foremost, let’s clarify what a Force Bond is. I will elaborate on the bolded as the paper progresses. “Common to occur between Jedi Masters and their Apprentices, a Force Bond was a link through which two Force-Sensitives could influence each other. It allowed the communication of feelings, thoughts and images […] and granted greater coordination in battle. Through such connections the Force easily flowed, sometimes allowing one’s will to bolster the strengths of the other, or possibly draw upon their strengths” (Wookieepedia).

In brief, a Force Bond is an intimate link between two Force-Sensitives that goes beyond the normal affiliation all Force-Sensitives are capable of establishing through the Force. Those under the influence of a Force Bond share their thoughts, emotions and abilities with another. Force Bonds were made canon in The Clone Wars TV series, which established that a Bond existed between Jedi Master Yoda and his ex-Padawan Count Dooku. In the Extended Universe, Force Bonds could form in a variety of different ways, either over time, after a near-death experience or “through being imbued by a particularly strong Force Sensitive.” But what does all this have to do with Rey and Kylo Ren? I present this passage from the interrogation scene in The Force Awakens final script.

Trepidation flashes across Rey’s eyes. Kylo Ren moves closer, his hand rising toward her. She recoils, but has nowhere to go. Kylo Ren nearly TOUCHES HER FACE…

THEY’RE BOTH SURPRISED: they react to a feeling that passes between them – AN ENERGY THEY RECOGNIZE IN EACH OTHER.
And then it’s gone. Adversaries again.

The implication of this excerpt is fascinating — something unknown passes between Rey and Kylo Ren, linking them briefly, then vanishing. There are many theories in circulation about what these lines might infer to. Are they simply sensing the Force itself in each other? A familial connection? Perhaps even attraction? The elements come together more clearly when the Force Bond is applied to the passage. It has been suggested that this moment in the script represents the forging of the Force Bond itself. They were predisposed to form such a Bond, and the Force literally and metaphorically brought them together.

Kylo Ren’s behaviour and proceeding dialogue have been considered with much scrutiny, his entire interrogation of Rey starkly contrasting the brutal methods he employed on Poe Dameron. There can be no doubt that Kylo Ren has a soft-spot for the scavenger girl. Ren is awkward and almost gentlemanly with Rey in his own way, watching her sleep from a submissive position, removing his mask when she expresses mistrust, reassuring her that he has no idea where her friends are. In the novelization, which is based on a slightly older version of the script, Snoke even reprimands his Apprentice for feeling “compassion” for Rey. Many have acknowledged that Kylo Ren seems to change drastically when he is in Rey’s presence, abruptly adopting a much more tranquil and stoic air. Similarly, Rey portrays a great deal more ferocity and unpredictability when she is around Ren. Could this be proof of Ren and Rey’s mutual capacity to share feelings through the Force Bond?


The evidence takes a much more tangible twist as the film progresses into its Third Act, following the interrogation. When the movie was first released in theatres, reviews popped up everywhere, and most — if not all — addressed what is now considered one of the biggest plot-holes in Star Wars history. Right after the interrogation, Rey abruptly and without any prior suggestion develops powerful Jedi abilities, most notably Mind Reading, Mind Tricking, Force Telepathy, formidable lightsaber skills and a sudden alignment with the Dark Side. 

Why was this considered such a conundrum? Well, because every other Jedi established in the canon had to train for years in order to reach the level of Force mastery Rey managed to achieve in the span of an hour. Both Anakin and Luke Skywalker — arguably two of the most powerful Force-Sensitives ever to exist, the former of whom was literally created using the Force — had to train tirelessly in order to grow more powerful. Yet Rey, it appears, does not fit into this equation. She is an enigma of a Force-Sensitive. Some viewers even dubbed her a Mary Sue, an “idealized or seemingly perfect fictional character who saves the day through unrealistic abilities.” Surprisingly, most fans and critics wrote Rey’s random abilities off as “plot-powers,” but to quote the dearly departed Han Solo…

Could there be a more down-to-earth explanation that doesn’t paint the hero of The Force Awakens as some kind of Jedi Goddess? I would think so, and I posit that a Force Bond is that explanation. Not only did Rey gain access to those abilities through Kylo Ren, she was able to do so because he used them. She was inadvertently feeding on Ren’s training and Force-aptitude through the intimate connection they unknowingly forged. This takes us back to the definition of the Force Bond, which states that those under the influence of a Bond can bolster the strengths of their connected individual. Is it possible Ren was inadvertently heightening Rey’s untrained abilities, unwillingly bolstering her strengths through his own?

Ren was previously characterized throughout the film as being a powerful — be it unpredictable and not fully-trained — Force-Sensitive. He portrayed three distinct abilities: he was able to stop a blaster-bolt in mid-air using Telepathy, he retrieved information from the minds of others and he displayed a highly unusual and effective lightsaber style. Is it a coincidence that Rey gained all of these abilities as well, not just because he used them, but when he used them on her? Not before, not after, but when. 

When Ren entered her mind, she shifted the balance of power by entering his; she took the Mind Trick she used on the Stormtrooper guard right out of Ren’s head, as suggested by Star Wars “loremaster” Pablo Hidalgo.

When Ren attempted to use Telepathy to draw Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber into his hand, Rey surprised even herself by snatching the saber in Ren’s place. 

When Ren offered to teach Rey the ways of the Force after battling fiercely with her, Rey suddenly gained lightsaber skills that strikingly mirrored the style Ren utilized against both she and Finn (hard blows, circling movements and a lack of emphasis on defence). Rey even used one of Ren’s signature one-handed saber flips to scar his face after he was already disarmed, much like how Ren slashed Finn’s back after his saber had been lost.

Kylo spins like Kylo.

Rey spins like Kylo.

Rey is even walking like Kylo in the below image. This gif does not do it justice at all. Her fists are even clenched, a physical characteristic Ren maintained throughout the entire film.

Every ability Rey gained access to was previously established as being a “signature” of Ren’s Force-aptitude, or one of his “strengths.” His Mind Trick, his Telepathy, his lightsaber style, his deep affiliation with the Dark Side. Throughout the final fight Ren bolstered Rey’s strengths through the Force Bond, unintentionally allowing her to assimilate his abilities.


On another note, Rey’s interactions with Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker — the family Kylo Ren denounced — take a decidedly familial twist. Simply put throughout the film Rey comes to view Han Solo and Leia as parental figures. The transformation is uncommonly swift, with Rey seeming to feel an immediate connection to Kylo Ren’s family, even likening them to her own family. Observe these quotes from the novel and script.

“’And Han Solo,’ Ren continued relentlessly. ‘He feels like the father you never had’” (The Force Awakens novelization).

“Leia found herself fiddling with the seals on the on the front of the jacket Rey was wearing. Feeling foolish, she told herself even as she continued. […] But it felt so right, and so natural, to be doing so” (The Force Awakens novelization).

[Leia] embraces Rey. A mother’s embrace.

Taking into consideration the fact that Force Bonds grant Force-Sensitives the ability to share or transfer feelings and emotions — perhaps even assimilate strong emotional affiliations — is it so strange that Rey would be privy to a strong parental bond with Kylo Ren’s family? Bear in mind the fact that Rey had never interacted with before embracing. Perhaps Rey is feeling a particularly powerful connection to those who were once central in Kylo Ren’s life as a result of a subconscious capacity to bolster Ben Solo’s emotions through the Bond. Leia is also Force-Sensitive, and would possibly be able to sense her son’s connection to Rey through Rey herself.

The release of Episode VIII’s working title — Space Bear — also supports the Force Bond theory. Not long ago actors Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill shared an on-set photograph of the director’s chair, which featured the insignia of a panda wearing an astronaut’s helmet. While this might seem inconsequential, it is interesting to note that pandas are huge symbols in Chinese philosophy relating to the iconic concept of Yin and Yang.

Because the philosophy is complex I’ll make my description as succinct as possible. Yin is the passive “female” principal, associated with the earth, darkness and cold. Yang is the active “male” principal, associated with heaven, light and heat. Together, Yin and Yang represent “opposites” in perfect harmony. One cannot exist without the other. Yin is dark with a little light, Yang is light with a little dark.

A comparison can immediately be made between Yin and Yang and the Dark and Light sides of the Force, but applying the concept specifically to Kylo Ren and Rey sheds even more light on the potential symbolism. 

Ren is Yin — passive and submissive (to Rey, who overcomes him mentally and physically), “female” (he is often described as feminine), dark (the Dark Side of the Force) and cold (he is associated with Starkiller Base, a weaponized planet blanketed in snow). 

Rey is Yang — active and dominant (over Ren), “male” (she is a girl in the traditionally “masculine” hero role), light (the Light side of the Force), and heat (her name is a variant spelling of a “sun ray”, and she is associated with the desert planet Jakku).

While the Yin and Yan philosophy can easily be attributed to Star Wars through the Force, but the very specific symbolism pandas bring to the table is completely new. It implies that the Dark and Light must harmonize in order for the Force to achieve true “Balance.” Could the Force Bond be the connection that allows opposites to find harmony in each other?

The Force Awakens sparked hundreds of theories, some ridiculous, some believable and some inherently compelling. The Force Bond appears to be one of the most logical and non-convoluted to come out of this entire film, perhaps because it heightens what is already widely considered to be one of the most fascinating and passionate hero/villain dynamics ever brought to the big screen. Fans can only expect that this connection will be further elaborated upon in the next two Episodes. Writers, you’re our only hope.

I end this essay with entries from the film’s script that further strengthen the validity of the Force Bond theory.

KYLO REN

Don’t be afraid. I feel it too.

REY
I’m not giving you anything.

*   *   *

The FEROCITY of confrontation builds until it hits critical mass AND REY DOES THE UNTHINKABLE! SHE ENTERS HIS HEAD, AMAZED AT WHAT SHE IS SEEING!

*   *   *

SLOW PUSH IN ON REY, shackled, mind still racing over what’s happened between her and Kylo Ren. She is flooded with emotions, feeling her potential, her strength, that in this moment of being restrained, perhaps anything is possible.

*   *   *

Kylo Ren GESTURES, INCREASES HIS POWER – LUKE’S LIGHTSABER FINALLY FLIES OUT OF THE SNOW, BULLETS TOWARD KYLO REN –
– AND SPEEDS PAST HIM!

KYLO REN TURNS TO SEE LUKE’S LIGHTSABER LAND IN THE HAND OF REY, WHO STANDS, FACING HIM, HAVING REACHED FOR IT HERSELF, BUT UTTERLY STUNNED THAT IT LANDED IN HER HAND! SHE IS SHOCKED – AND SO IS KYLO REN!

*   *   *

KYLO REN

You need a teacher! I can show you the ways of the Force!

REY
The Force.

Rey closes her eyes for a long beat. When Rey opens them, she is centered, fortified, and she POUNDS BACK, SINGLE HANDED SWIPES, hitting Ren’s gnarly, spitting saber with incredible FORCE. It’s so fast now, so furious, that Kylo Ren FALLS BACK – She ATTACKS HARDER!

*   *   *

And she could kill him – right now, with ONE VICIOUS STRIKE!
But she stops. Realizing she stands on a greater edge than even the cliff – the edge of the dark side.

PJO WWII

OK, something that has been bugging me about PJO’s take on World War II is that the fandom plays it straight along trope lines; evil=Hades=Hitler (no questions as to whether or not Hitler was evil, he was), good=Zeus=Roosevelt/Churchill and that ticks me off a little bit because it completely ignores the character and canon disposition of the gods in the PJO-verse. May I propose an alternative. 

I will be focusing on the main leaders of each faction here, but since this part of history is not my forte I will happily accept any comments

  • Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany: Son of Zeus (Hitler seized upon the national depression after WWI, wherein Germany was brutally penalized so that England and France could dominate it, and many considered it justice to conquer France. Zeus was a patron of justice, and also capable of immense cruelty for those who opposed him)
  • Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy: Son of Mars (A charismatic leader who lead the army to depose the state. Not only was this VERY VERY Roman, his role as the head of state in the aftermath is much more like Mars than Ares)
  • Franklin Roosevelt, President of the US: Son of Athena (because not only was he a great leader in popular perception he also championed the rights of the poor and marginalized (mostly), and Athena always stood with the human heroes)
  • Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the UK: Son of Poseidon (strong and steadfast, Churchill and England stood alone in the early part of World War II, but they never wavered. Hitler’s fear of crossing the English Channel may have been fear of Poseidon protecting his offspring)
  • Charles de Gaulle, Leader of the French Resistance: Son of Hades (In occupied France, de Gaulle often had to work from the shadows (i.e shadow travel) to oppose the Nazis. He was also devoted to his cause, and after the war looked after French interests above all)
  • Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the USSR: WAS NOT A GREEK/ROMAN DEMIGOD because he was so thoroughly anti-Western Culture. He was probably descended from the Slavic or Georgian gods.

So, many of you have probably read [this] post where I shared what a youtuber had to say about the Force Bond theory. I managed to run into them in another video comment section and they were gracious enough to show me their full write-up of the Force Bond theory.

They don’t have a tumblr so they allowed me to share this with all of you. Many of us have already read about the Force Bond theory at some point or another, but this is a wonderful essay and I recommend you take the time to read it!

 "The Force Bond Awakens"

                                                           By: FrolickingFizzgig [x]

Since its December 2015 release Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has remained a topic of much discourse and debate. Months later fans are still ascribing to their favourite theories and predictions in regards to the future of what has been dubbed the Sequel Trilogy. The success of The Force Awakens was very much rooted in nostalgia, with director JJ Abrams inviting old and new devotees alike to depart on a novel escapade in a galaxy far, far away.

Thirty years have passed since the dawn of the New Republic. In spite of Luke, Leia and Han Solo’s great feats in the Original Trilogy, the galaxy is not at peace. The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. History has faded into myth, and all have but forgotten the Jedi of old. Enter Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, three youths who have grown up with contrasting pressures in the years succeeding the fall of the Empire.

“There’s also heartbreak amid the high adventure, with three lost souls — scavenger Rey, remorseful Storm Trooper Finn, and vengeful, Darth Vader-obsessed Kylo Ren — trying to find purpose to navigating the stars.”

- Director, JJ Abrams

Keep reading

Why I Do Not Like Kylo Ren

So, predictably, after my discussion of the Star Wars marketing business last night and my not-so-gentle assessment of Kylo Ren, I woke up to anons this morning informing me that I had missed the entire point of his character and I would probably think differently if I didn’t hang around only anti Kylo Ren blogs (as that is apparently something I do, which is a surprise to me). But I figured there is in fact more to say than what I did last night, and in a spirit of debate, let us elucidate.

It goes without saying that if you are a fan of the character, or do not want to read some constructive criticism of The Force Awakens, you should probably avoid this post. If not, continue.

Keep reading

The Generals of The Force Awakens

Leia in her role as a general is fascinating to me.  She’s the General of the Resistance.  In Return of the Jedi, Leia is not named a General.  She is referred to as “Princess”, which always bothered me because both Han and Lando are referred to as generals, and she was there first, part of the Rebellion since a teenager.  But apparently this bothered JJ Abrams, too, because she was not just a general, but The General in TFA.  But she’s also not the only general in the film.  As the figure of the heroic general, she also has a villainous counterpart.  I’d like to discuss how this unlikely pair function act as foils for the other in TFA.

Keep reading

NATM Characters & Their Respective Hogwarts Houses: the super lengthy analysis.

Ultimately, many of these placements were decided based upon how the characters relate and interact with others, and how the Hogwarts Houses might alter or deepen those relationships. Feel free to debate any of these how you see fit.

Keep reading

American Sniper: hero worship and the rewriting of history

by Michael T Fenn

“’Terrorism’ is what we call the violence of the weak, and we condemn it; ‘war’ is what we call the violence of the strong, and we glorify it”
–Sydney J Harris
 
This is the problem with veteran narrations about their war experience—they are often told through an emotionally charged, ideological filter that reflects the misinformation told to them by their leaders. And as a society we do nothing to correct these inaccurate accounts of America’s wars. Instead, we eat them up, celebrate them as truth, and feed them to the next generation of Americans who are doomed to make the same mistakes Chris and I made.”
–Ross Caputi, Former Marine who participated in the 2nd Siege of Fallujah
 
“Chris Kyle didn’t view Iraq like me and Garett, but neither of us have attacked him for it. He’s not the problem. We don’t care about the lies that Chris Kyle may or may not have told. They don’t matter. We care about the lies that Chris Kyle believed. The lie that Iraq was culpable for September 11. The lie that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The lie that people do evil things because they are evil.”
–Brock McIntosh; former Afghanistan veteran and anti-war advocate, who has been active, along with other veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, in support groups for returning soldiers.
 
“While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”
–Fyodor Dostoevsky
 
There is little doubt that American Sniper will go down as one of the most effective pieces of propaganda—justifying America’s wars—ever to come down the Hollywood pike. It has been a huge box office success, grossing close to $200 million and achieving the second most successful R rated opening since the The Matrix. This popularity seems unfathomable (and disconcerting) given the odious justifications for the 2003 Iraq War have long been proven false, and despite the disaster the “war on terror” has been. Its timing seems suspicious fortuitous, given the new terror threat that has surfaced in Iraq (ISIS), in which American leaders are once again clamouring for more war and intervention in the Middle East.
 
Hero worship
The film begins dramatically, with our hero Chris Kyle—the real life sniper whose exploits in Iraq (based on his best-selling auto-biography) are the inspiration for the film—in middle of a combat mission in Iraq where he is faced with “radical evil.” He kills a boy, and his mother presumably, who are being used as a “human shields” to deliver a grenade to an advancing infantry and tank convoy.
 
The film then cuts to Chris as a young boy attending church with his parents and younger brother, as a southern Texas Baptist minister gives a sermon about how “God’s plan will seem a mystery to us”. From there the scene switches to the young boy hunting with his father, the father sternly admonishes his son for leaving his rifle in the dirt, but then praises the boy’s marksmen skills, saying that he has a gift (by god no doubt), and will be a great hunter someday.
 
Then we find ourselves at the family dinner table where his father gives the boys a speech about how so many people refuse to believe that any evil exists in the world. And that if “it ever darkened their doorstep they wouldn’t know what to do about it”. Apparently the boys have been in a schoolyard fight in which Kyle comes to his little brother’s aid. His father then gives his own sermon on how there are three kinds of people in the world; wolves, who are violent, cruel, and prey on the weak (the sheep); and lastly sheep dogs- who despite their “gift of violence” uses it to defend the sheep from the wolves. He then says, as he slams his belt on the table, that he has no intention of raising any wolves.
 
Clearly, screen writer Jason Hall and director Clint Eastwood has constructed a sort of American “Greek Tragedy”, informed by a conservative, militaristic, Christian American culture. One that is designed to dramatically canonize Chris Kyle (the hero sniper in the film) and his fellow American soldiers. It is a pure hero worship—in which manly virtues (“gifts” for violence and bravery) are valorized. 
 
The only problem is that to make this hero worship effective—as propaganda, or as an art form that might actually make some money at the box office—is that its makers must distort both the war and the nature of the insurgency. They therefore cannot avoid the criticism that their film was intended to be “political” (ideological) with the claim that it was merely supposed to be a “character study”. Because they must validate their hero’s view of the world, which was highly political: that he was defending America against “terrorists” and or selflessly liberating Iraqi’s (referred to by Kyle, and his fellow soldier, both in his memoirs and the film, as “despicable” “savages”) from a tyrant. And that the insurgents were just a bunch of evil religious fanatics who hate and want to kill American’s simply because of their “perverse interpretation of religion”. 
 
Otherwise our hero, and his fellow heroes (US soldiers) who shared these attitudes and beliefs, no longer seem “heroic” but rather as tragic victims of their own ignorance and prejudice—which was of course spoon fed to them by both the military and the media, including Hollywood. In this context our hero/heroes appear more like sheep, whom, tragically were unable to discern real evil when it did happen to darken their doorsteps.  
 
War crimes and resistance
Such distortion is set from the very first scene, which, ironically, depicts the second siege of Fallujah. The real life scene of one of the most notorious crimes committed by the US occupation. Despite the inhabitants desire to negotiate a cease fire, American military leaders simply ignored it, and then proceeded to blanket the city with poisonous phosphorus (an illegal weapon of mass destruction) killing 4000- 6000 civilians, and displacing 200, 000. This was also where the US army attacked a hospital (which was also a war crime under the Geneva Convention), dumping patients on the floor, beating up and detaining doctors, for supposedly spreading “propaganda” on the number of civilians that were wounded and killed.
 
As mentioned earlier this was the scene where our hero came face to face with what he would describe as “radical evil”. He has to kill an innocent boy who has been handed a grenade by a stoic emotionless Iraq women wearing a burqa, urging the boy toward an infantry convoy entering the city. The women then picks up the grenade to finish the job and is immediately shot dead by Chris. The woman was working at the behest of an evil terrorist named the “butcher” (because he dispatches his victims (informants) with a drill), which we later learn in the film is the right hand man of a foreign Al Qaeda Sunni extremist named Zarqawi.
 
This completely rewrites history and claims that extremist groups were the cause—rather than the consequence—of the Iraq War. It also justifies the murder of Iraqis, while dismissing that they had any reason for armed resistance against the US, which had invaded their country and brought untold misery and death. The insurgency was a perfectly legitimate exercise of self defense against a foreign aggressor and occupying power denying them the right to self-determination.The Iraq War and occupation killed a million people, stole billions in Iraqi oil money, gutted public sector jobs, created an unemployment rate of 70 per cent, and allied with a sectarian government that fomented civil war. It was the Iraq War, not resistance to it, that led to ISIS, but now the US is using this new threat to justify further military intervention—with help from this film.
 
The point here is not to blame the soldiers, who are also victims of hero worship. What American Sniper should teach us rather is just how powerful the cult of the hero is, which provides a cover for war and muzzles all criticism of it. It causes us to not notice the wolf that has clothed itself in the sheepdog’s image. 

spaci1701  asked:

As you're the queen of meta I was wondering about your take on something. All the sets of movies have the same5 basic elements & the same core of five characters: 1) villain 2) evil overlord 3) hotshot pilot 4) jedi 5) leader. So, in the PT that's 1)Maul & Dooku 2)Palpatine 3)Anakin 4)Obi-Wan 5)Padme. In the OT it's 1)Vader 2)Palpatine 3)Han 4)Luke 5)Leia. Which means in TFA it's 1)Kylo Ren 2)Snoke 3)Poe 4) Rey 5) Finn? Is Finn gonna be a leader? Especially as 3 & 5 are always the love story.

I don’t think it maps that neatly, I’m afraid.

At the outset of TFA, we’ve got our pieces more or less lined up in the appropriate roles, though I’d define them differently:

- The captive: Poe = Leia, Padmé

- The prodigy hero: Rey = Luke, Anakin

- The mentor: Han = Obi-Wan (OT), Qui-Gon -> Obi-Wan/Palpatine

- The anti-minion: Finn = Han

- The fallen hero: Kylo Ren = Vader, Dooku

- The overlord: Snoke = Palpatine

Okay, and actually, I’ve been meaning to write about the significance of TFA characters taking on these meta-roles, so this is what this became. The real answer to your question is simply that I don’t think the roles the characters play in TFA tell us anything about where any of them are headed.

Keep reading

Kylo Ren’s Goals

“And I will finish what you started.”

After watching the movie several times and reading theories that provided canon information about certain subjects, I’ve come to realize that we really don’t know what Kylo Ren wants throughout TFA. His motives are almost completely grey and dodgy unless you take everything at face-value and believe him to be a total puppet of Snoke– which I would have to disagree on since he’s shown on multiple occasions to act on his own will.

So what this all boils down to is… what the hell are his motives? What has Darth Vader done that Kylo Ren must finish?

Keep reading

Guild Wars Lore: History of Lion’s Arch

“I say we build a port of our own. We build it, and we defend it against Orr. We make it a free port, not beholden to any nation, open to anyone who sails the sea. We’ll teach others how to fight against the dead ships, using charr weaponry, asuran innovation, and human courage. The port would be open to any and all, so long as they’ll fight against Orr and help to keep the waters clear.” - Cobiah Marriner

Hello everyone! Today’s lore post is on the history of the most popular hub in Guild Wars 2, AND Guild Wars 1, Lion’s Arch! It has played host to many major events in the history of Tyria, and has seen invasion, destruction, but more importantly, rebuilding. 

Keep reading