I’ve had so many thoughts about this character, and need to write them down to help me process them, so here they are, in case anyone’s interested.
First, what an interesting character. They took a character who echoes many of the character notes of Darth Vader and made him in a multi-dimensional villain. (Yes, villain.)
Second, way to break my heart, J.J. Abrams and Co. Way to break my freaking heart. I did not ask for this pain. Out of all the EU, you didn’t have to take THIS.
Third, I’m amazed by the possibilities they have established for this character, most of them plausible and fascinating to watch, regardless of the route they choose.
Kylo Ren, you guys. What a piece of trash, and I mean that quite literally (even if I do joking say it sometimes). He’s dark and conflicted, but most importantly dark. He feels the call to the Light, the beliefs with which he was raised, and he denies them. He looks at the options available to him, and he makes a choice. Maybe the legacy placed on him was too heavy for a boy; maybe Snoke has been influencing him for longer than we know. It doesn’t really matter (in the words of my fave Jake Peralta: “cool motive, still murder”). He made a choice. His father (Han, you guys) faces him, weaponless, with his heart on his sleeves and invites him to come home. Han demands to look at him face to face and confronts him with love, not betrayal or anger or bitterness or deserved accusations, love.
And Kylo kills him.
No fancy stories, no misguided youth.
Kills. Han. Solo.
He’s dark. He’s a villain. When faced with choice between the undeserved, unconditional love of his father and the power and ‘glory’ of a darkness that quite literally just killed billions if not trillions of life forms, he chooses the darkness.
We can’t excuse that. We can’t look at that and say “well, maybe Leia and Han didn’t love him enough,” “maybe Luke was too busy for him,” “maybe Snoke just…”
No no no no. Please, no. We can’t look at a villain and see a hero or a misguided man. He’s a villain. Conflicted and multi-dimensional and interesting, yes. But a villain. And Wrong.
(This is your reminder I am talking about the man, not the character. I really like the character of Kylo Ren. The man is a disaster and quite frankly pretty much disgusts me.)
This is not a romantic story. He’s not a romantic character. He’s not someone to be excused or made romantic. His comments of ‘taking what he wants’ from Rey is not romantic. It’s abusive and harsh, because he is a villain.
But here’s what he’s not: irredeemable.
Isn’t that the lesson of the first six movies? That the Dark Side is not the end of a person? That there is room to come back? To feel remorse and guilt and do something that shows that you are no longer that person?
But here’s the difficulty. Others can help him (like Luke for Vader), but it has to be his decision. It cannot be others’ excuses and others’ rationales. It must begin with a moment of reckoning and of recognition that the Dark Side is not right. It must begin with a moment of Kylo recognizing that he is wrong, that he was wrong to murder the children and wrong to kill his father and wrong to torture and wrong to abuse and wrong to fight, wrong.
But it can be done.
His story is not yet over.
I want that story. I want that moment of recognition, I want him to have to live with that knowledge, I want him to have to suffer the punishment, I want him to be forgiven (because isn’t that the most powerful story of all? To know that you do not deserve the love you have been given, but you receive it anyways? To know that someone has believed in you even when you have hurt her in the most unimaginable ways? It doesn’t mean there are not consequences; there should be consequences, but there’s something great and more powerful in love than there could ever be in hate.)
Now, of course, the movie teams might not want to tell that story. Maybe this is a Dark Side Cautionary Tale. Maybe Kylo will never again become “Ben Solo.” Maybe. That’s okay, I suppose. It’s not the story I want to see, but it could be the story they adopt.
But I’m not going to romanticize that story. I’m not going to fall in love with a villain while he is a villain. I don’t want Rey too either. (On that note, maybe Rey becomes his love interest, a la Padme/Anakin. In that case, I definitely do not want her to fall in love with him until after his redemption, and her story arc must be separate from being the “instigator of his redemption,” because no.)
This is a fantastic, rich character, and I take off my hat to Adam Driver who did such a good job.
What she means: OH MY LORD!!! JOHN FUCKING BOYEGA SAID THAT STORMPILOT COULD ACTUALLY BECOME A THING!!! S T O R M P I L O T CAN BECOME CANON!!! WE KNOW THAT OSCAR APPROVES!!! AND NOW WE KNOW THAT JOHN APPROVES TOO!!!!! GOD LET THIS HAPPEN!!!!!!
I remember the good ol’ days. Spark of Rebellion back in 2014. A show about a young boy finding a new family. Good times. Happy times. No one was at a risk for dying, they were just stealing fruit. I remember when Rise of the Old Masters was the darkest episode to date; then Path of the Jedi.