Annlyel continues her series focussing on the defining moments of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe.
Kylo Ren has unapologetically become my favorite character in Star Wars. He’s complex, Adam Driver is a ridiculously remarkable actor, he looks really cool, and every time he’s in a scene the scene gets ten times better. Now I have to admit, I wasn’t as huge a fan as I am now of Kylo Ren after The Force Awakens but The Last Jedi shed new light on his character and he has become just a blast to watch.
Here are the defining moments that have made turned him into the Supreme Leader that he is in The Rise of Skywalker.
When we meet Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens he’s a troubled and angry individual. He destroys equipment off of a whim, he killed Lor San Tekka just because he said something that upset him, and he emits gloom. Then we find out he’s Han’s son and it’s like, okay, now we’re starting to get an idea of who this character exactly is. There, however, is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the Knight of Ren.
When he confesses to his grandfather’s burnt husk of a mask about feeling the call to the light his story instantly becomes more complex than most villains in the franchise. At that moment we see another side to him, a vulnerable side that he can’t hide, even with the mask on. It makes us wonder if he’s really a villain or if he’s going to eventually crack and become the good guy. This, of course, won’t be the last time we see a conflicted Kylo Ren but it is the first. This scene also subtly hints towards Snoke’s distrust in Kylo Ren as he tells “Darth Vader” how the Supreme Leader senses the conflict within him. That distrust will lead to a lot of things happening in The Last Jedi.
2. Finding the Girl
At the Battle of Takodana Kylo Ren went to find the missing droid and instead came upon the girl who helped the droid, and the traitorous stormtrooper, escape. This scene is very important, for it’s the first time he comes into contact with his future arch-nemesis/ally Rey.
3. The Interrogation
Not only is this one of the best scenes in The Force Awakens because it’s when Kylo Ren reveals his face for the first time but it’s also monumental in the story and relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey because it’s the first time she uses the Force against him, and beats him I must add.
He thought he could just take the information of the map straight out of her head with ease but found that he couldn’t as she put up an impenetrable wall. Then, on top of that, she went into his mind and pulled out one of his deepest fears; that he wouldn’t become as powerful as Darth Vader. It was a haunting fear for him and it made him immediately wary of this girl who was an obvious novice of the Force and yet was already displaying her immense power.
This scene is also very important to the Reylo community, as it highlights, for the first time, a mutual attraction between Kylo and Rey just ever so slightly. I mean when he took off his helmet Rey was definitely shocked in a wow-you’re-kind-of-pretty way. While I didn’t know for sure if their relationship would actually become slightly romantic it was definitely already being hinted at in The Force Awakens and I’m glad to announce this subtle implication in their relationship since 2015.
4. Killing Han Solo
Supreme Leader Snoke knew Kylo Ren had the potential of letting himself grow weak due to his conflict with the Light so he presented him with a task. Kill your father, Han Solo, and you will have completed your training. And that’s exactly what Kylo Ren was willing to do, but he found it much harder than he had anticipated. Here was his father, a man he hadn’t seen in years, and while he didn’t want to admit it, he was happy to see him again. For so long he had been surrounded by enemies and here was someone who genuinely loved and cared for him.
The light within him was rising, it almost seemed like maybe he was going to renounce the Dark Side, and yet as the sun’s brightness went out and the world fell into darkness so too did Kylo Ren. He had made his decision, brutally killing Han Solo, his expression emotionless as Han touched his face one last time, and then he pushed him off of the bridge. When he realized Han was truly gone he was surprised to not feel more powerful but instead a great sorrow. He had just killed his father and it wasn’t sitting right with him. It’s why Chewbacca was able to shoot him and he didn’t even see it coming. This scene would eventually lead to him making one of the biggest decisions of his life; killing Snoke.
After killing Han Kylo Ren went to face the traitorous stormtrooper and the powerful Force-wielder in the forests of Starkiller Base. In a duel that shouldn’t have been as hard as it was he defeated the stormtrooper, slicing him in the back, and then after losing yet another Force contest to the mysterious girl as he tried to claim Luke’s lightsaber as his own, he had to fight her.
At first, he was easily the stronger fighter, pushing her further and further into the forest until they were at the edge of a cliff. He tried to make her his apprentice but instead, she managed to let go of her fear and fought him hard. Because he was weakened he could barely defend himself against her terrible onslaught.
I wonder how he felt lying on the ground with a burning gash on his face, having been beaten by this girl three times in a row? That is surely depressing. This scene would not only make him more aware of Rey’s power but it would also lead to Snoke’s full distrust in his abilities coming to fruition.
6. Berated by Snoke
When Kylo Ren appeared before Supreme Leader Snoke again he was told to remove his mask. After seeing his scarred and bruised face Snoke was furious. He told Kylo Ren that he was weak and that he had misgivings about him becoming the next Darth Vader. This made Kylo Ren furious. Everything he did was to please Snoke. He commanded his armies, unleashing fear and death upon the galaxy, he swore allegiance to him, and he even killed his own father! a feat that Snoke said would be the key to his transcendence to becoming a Master of the Dark Side, and yet after all of that Snoke treated him like he wasn’t good enough. Snoke would soon regret getting on Kylo Ren’s bad side.
7. Destroying the Mask
Kylo Ren was beyond furious and now when he saw the mask that he used to hide his emotions he just felt like destroying it, so he did, breaking the helmet into pieces. I love this scene because it is the beginning of his evolution as the character, Kylo Ren. He’s becoming a new person beyond the identity of just another Darth Vader and that’s what he needed so he could stand out in this trilogy as his own character rather than being a Darth Vader remake.
After Snoke berated him for being puny Kylo Ren was determined to prove himself. He led an attack on the Resistance but found, during the battle, that he could sense his mother aboard the main Resistance craft. Here he was again with a terrible decision to make. Would he kill his mother or wouldn’t he?
He, however, had a much tighter relationship with Leia than he did with Han. They both had the Force and so their bond was that much deeper and it’s revealed at this moment in the movie when he finds himself unable to pull the trigger that would utterly destroy his mother. It’s touching because you realize at that moment how much he loved her. Unfortunately, the scene is ruined as a pair of Tie Fighters finished the job for him and he was left to watch in horror as the place where his mother had been was blown to smithereens.
I believe this scene also helped in Kylo Ren’s eventual alliance with Rey. He was losing people he cared about left and right and Rey was there to fill that empty void.
9. Telling Rey What Happened On That Fateful Night
Kylo Ren and Rey had experienced a couple of Force connections before the fateful one that would lead them to ultimately become allies, if only for a brief time. As Rey asked him questions about his motives of turning to the Dark Side he told her what Luke did to him all those years ago.
As he recounted what happened that night you see the moment he turned to the Dark Side from his point of view. He was peacefully asleep when he heard a lightsaber igniting. He looked and saw Luke standing over him, a mad gleam in his eyes. Kylo Ren reacted the only way he knew how as he blocked Luke’s blow before bringing the hut down on Luke’s head. In this version of the story, we see that it wasn’t Kylo Ren who willingly went to the Dark Side but he felt he had to after his master, his uncle! nearly killed him. It’s at this moment in the movie that we see Kylo Ren fully placing his trust in Rey. He wants her to understand why he made his decision in life, he wants her not to look at him with hate, anger, and despise in her eyes, but most importantly he wants her to be his friend. And it worked too.
10. Touching Hands
Kylo Ren had shared his story with Rey and Rey shared her experience in the cave with him. In this scene, they each had a profound trust for each other. When she reached towards him with her hand outstretched he was wary at first. Was this a trap? Was she really offering her hand to him in friendship? He decided to go for it, taking off his glove and slowly reaching out to her.
As their hands touched across lightyears and thousands of stars an unbreakable bond formed between them. They both see separate visions of them joining together but for him, that moment is one of the most important in his life, for it’s one of the few times where he willingly let down his barrier and let someone into his life. He knows from this point that he no longer needs Snoke and he will do whatever is possible to get rid of the Supreme Leader and have Rey alongside him as they rule the galaxy together.
11. Killing Snoke
As Kylo Ren watched Rey undergo a torturous interrogation he waited patiently for the right moment to strike his master down. He knew he had to time it perfectly or the plan would probably backfire and get both him and Rey killed and so he waited. Then the time came.
Snoke watched gleefully as he just knew Kylo Ren was going to complete his training by killing Rey. And then Kylo Ren sliced him in half! It was utterly shocking but it was also the perfect scenario for Kylo Ren’s evolution. Kylo Ren is a much greater and more interesting villain than Snoke and so I appreciate Rian Johnson’s decision to eliminate Snoke out of the equation.
12. Facing Luke Skywalker
Kylo Ren was livid. Rey hadn’t joined him even after he envisioned she would and he wanted to obliterate the Resistance to hurt her. Imagine his shock when he saw Luke Skywalker, the man that he had been trying to find for years, waiting to face him on Crait. He practically lost it.
He went to confront his old master, anxious to strike him down. As he fought him, unleashing all of his pent-up anger, he found that he couldn’t kill him no matter how hard he tried. He couldn’t believe how much more powerful Luke was than him, even after all of these years. When Luke turned off his lightsaber, stood in place, and said, “You may strike me down in anger and I will always be with you” Kylo Ren couldn’t handle that truth. He charged Luke, sliced through his chest to cut him in half, and then realized in horror as Luke still stood there with a hackneyed expression upon his face.
Kylo Ren, at that moment, realized that Snoke was right. He was weak. As Luke vanished like a ghost, leaving him standing there in shock upon the salt lands of Crait he realized that his mission to destroy the Resistance was over. The rebels were gone and this had only happened because he had allowed his hate for Luke, a mirage, to blind him. Kylo Ren had failed again.
13. Losing Everything
Kylo Ren is a deeply emotional character. It’s the basis that he lives on. After the terrible defeat from Luke Skywalker, he walked through the empty rebel base and came upon a room, a room where he could feel the presence of something that was very special to him. In that room, he found the golden dice his father, Han Solo, used to hang in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon. For a split second, he had a small piece of his father back. And then, as the dice disappeared, the profound sorrow he felt when he had killed his father was reborn all over again. Then, as he experienced his final Force connection with Rey he looked at her. At that moment he was vulnerable again, hoping that she would understand him for everything that he was, forgive him for his actions, and change her mind and come with him, but she didn’t. She closed the ramp door on him, supposedly cutting their connection, leaving him feeling more alone than he ever had in his life.
The Last Jedi provided a rather heartbreaking ending for Kylo Ren when you look at the story from his point of view. Kylo Ren is really, at the heart of his anger and confusion, a person who just wants companionship. He didn’t exactly get the attention that he wanted from his mother or his father, his uncle ended up nearly killing him, and there wasn’t anyone in the First Order who he could call a friend.
Rey was that one person he could look to and confide in. She understood him better than anyone else and losing her was the worst thing that could’ve ever happened to him.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to him in The Rise of Skywalker (hopefully he doesn’t die) but I’m sure it will be worthy of his fantastic story arc so far.
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!