Will Kylo Ren’s journey culminate with him turning his back on the dark side during Star Wars: The Last Jedi and beyond?
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived upon our screens at the back end of 2015, it quickly established Kylo Ren as the villain of the franchises new sequel trilogy which is set to conclude with the currently untitled Star Wars: Episode IX. But with his apparent confliction taken into consideration, will he come full circle by turning his back on the dark teachings of Supreme Leader Snoke in the climax of the trilogy?
It has been a subject of great debate amongst the Star Wars fan fraternity, with several possible alternatives being forwarded. But, nothing concrete has been confirmed by Lucasfilm and we are set for an agonising wait for answers until The Last Jedi arrives around the world on December 15th.
During his pursuit of Rey, BB-8 and the all-important map to Luke Skywalker he was carrying, Ren was revealed to be consulting the charred severed head of his Grand Father Darth Vader, apparently seeking guidance and reaffirmation of his faltering commitment to the dark side of the Force. His dithering devotion betrayed the conflict blighting his thoughts which is comparable to the emotional upheaval behind Vader’s eventual return to the light side.
With Kylo Ren taking the first steps on a comparable journey, could this be the stepping stone for him returning from the Dark Side? The cold-blooded murder of his father, Han Solo would suggest otherwise, and yet the unravelling of his dark alter ego appears to be continuing in The Last Jedi. The early images of Ren from the new movie have revealed definite parallels to Anakin Skywalker’s tragic journey through The Clone Wars before embracing Palpatine’s dark teachings of the Sith, and may well have revealed the next step of his transformation.
When dissecting the supporting evidence, the connections seem almost trivial. But, once these tidbits of information are combined, they form a pattern which is hard to discount and may preclude a dramatic turn away from the Dark Side. I have taken a step back from the momentum established with the release of the first teaser trailer and have concluded that there is indeed a basis for his return to the Jedi fold.
Join me in taking a closer look at these potential connections here:
Helmet and Scar:
For The Last Jedi, Ren has abandoned his masked helmet which was vaguely reminiscent of his Grandfather’s to reveal the horrendous fascial scar that stretches the length of the right side of his face. The wound, was of course inflicted by Rey’s lightsaber strike in the climactic duel of The Force Awakens where the pair faced off in an epic encounter. In comparison, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith found Anakin Skywalker boasting a similar scar which also ran the length of his face adjacent to his right eye.
Throughout Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is seen wearing the full Darth Vader styled attire complete with dark flowing robes, and yet in the stunning The Last Jedi promotional pictures recently released by the team at Vanity Fair, his attire appears to greatly be reduced to be more reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s costume from Return of the Jedi.
Throughout The Force Awakens, Ren is seen desperately attempting to reinstall his faith in the dark side despite every fibre of his soul being pulled toward the light. His ultimate fear that Supreme Leader Snoke senses the conflict within him forces him to take the drastic step of murdering his father to prove his loyalty to the cause. His conflicted attitude projects the stance of a torn individual who is desperate to prove to himself that he has what it takes to become a dark Jedi, when his very nature is pulling him back towards the light. It is this conflict that will be the critical element in his transformation back to the light side…if it comes to fruition.
The unswerving leader of the Resistance, and paternal mother of Kylo Ren states throughout The Force Awakens that there is still a small sliver of light remaining within the heart of her son. Her unshakable belief is akin to that of her brother Luke’s about the conflict residing within their father Darth Vader. A conflict that was validated when Vader yielded to the resurrection of Anakin Skywalker who swiftly dispatched the Emperor into the Death Star’s chasm shaft. Ren’s murder of Han Solo would seem to eradicate the last remnants of the light side within him, especially with his awakening fascial expression in the aftermath of the dastardly deed. But, that expression could be interpreted as a moment of clarity that finds him questioning his actions further. A “what have I done” moment that culminates in his frustrated “traitor” scream towards John Boyega’s Finn. Could this be a frustrated scream designed to reflect his tortured opinion of himself in light of his father’s murder…his conscience eating away at his conviction?
Kylo Ren or Ben Solo, is almost certainly on a journey like that of Anakin Skywalker. Whereas Anakin began his journey on the light side of the Force but was seduced to the Dark Side by the sinister Darth Sidious, he still harboured that faint glimmer of light within him…despite partaking in some of the most heinous atrocities in the galaxy. Kylo Ren walks a similar path, but we first met him after the initial turn to the dark teachings of Snoke. His path appears to work in reverse of Anakin’s with him acquiring his fascial scar whilst under the dark side’s influences whilst fighting against its magnetism.
This would suggest that Kylo Ren will turn away from Snoke’s dark teachings before the conclusion of Episode IX…perhaps destined to duel with a dark side empowered Rey, who will undoubtedly face trials of her own on the planet Ahch-To with a jaded and tortured mentor in Luke Skywalker. Her aggressive fighting stance in the latter stages of the duel with Kylo Ren betrayed her flirtation with the dark side, to a point where she was clearly channelling her hatred into an offensive action. This is the reverse of the Jedi way which advocates the use of the Force for knowledge and defence…never for attack.
Whether this hypothesis holds any weight remains to be seen, but with The Last Jedi a mere seven months away, we won’t have to wait long for a few more pieces to the puzzle. With Rey learning the intricacies of the Force, including the fundamental and delicate balance to its nature throughout The Last Jedi, this theory could play a pivotal role in the latter stages of the new saga. One way or another, we are set for an emotional roller-coaster ride of Star Wars action on the road to Episode IX…and leading the way is Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.
The wait until December 15th will be a long and arduous one. But, we are one with the Force and the Force is with us…