Darcie explores Ben Solo‘s arc of redemption and questions whether he truly had to die to bring balance to the Force?
By now most of us will have seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker more than once! Whilst there is so much to unpack and explore in this movie there has also been a pretty mixed reaction. I loved the film, but one thing that’s stuck with me is the death of Ben Solo. Ben/Kylo Ren is one of the most complex Star Wars characters I think we’ve seen in the Skywalker saga and TROS furthered this complexity and I think that he should have been given an alternative ending. So, I thought I’d share my argument as to why I think Ben Solo should have survived.
Redemption is a central theme throughout the Star Wars universe, The Rise of Skywalker builds upon this theme with the redemption of Ben Solo. Redemption forms the very centre of my argument. It seems that once a character has been redeemed, they must die, Anakin’s death made sense and was meaningful – Bens was not. Why must redemption end in death? The redeemed tend to be characters that have carried out great evil and whilst these acts should not go unpunished should they always end in death? Would it not have been more powerful for Ben to have survived and rebuild the Jedi in memory of his family? Maybe.
Within the first five minutes of TROS, it is revealed by Palpatine that he has been manipulating Ben with the use of voices for the majority of his life. Whilst it could be suggested that Ben was perhaps susceptible to the dark side and may have turned without the interference of Palpatine, I think that the fabricated voices especially the voice of Darth Vader were the direct cause for Ben’s descent to the dark side. His descent is shown in The Force Awakens to be rather fast, unlike the decent of Anakin – who was walking the line between the light and dark in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones – long before Palpatine started to manipulate him. Moreover, Bens decent could have been avoided if Luke had handled the situation differently. One thing I’d like to point out here is the slight plot hole regarding Vader/Anakin – are we to assume that no one told Ben the full story, Ben idolises Vader with little thought to his redemption which leads to the defeat of the Sith and the balance of the force?
The main argument I’ve seen for Bens demise is that he had to die because of the terrible things he had done. Whilst I fully understand this argument it’s hard to see Ben as the same person as Kylo Ren, Adam Driver does such a fantastic job of depicting each persona that it’s hard to imagine Ben in the role of Supreme Leader and it is hard to imagine Kylo Ren with a blue lightsaber. In fact, Ben seems more natural, he has the flare of his father (Han Solo) and he puts his own safety aside to help Rey defeat Palpatine. On that note you could even argue that Ben brings Anakin’s story full circle – by turning back to the light he balances the force, he manages to save the person he loves (contrasting with Anakin’s failure to save Padme) yet he still dies. Both conversations Ben has with Rey and Han on the Death Star wreckage, highlight the feeling of loss and regret Ben feels – he does not feel he can return to Leia, he regrets killing his father and he feels scared to return to light (which is understandable considering the light lead him to the dark and took him from his family). The ‘I Know’ scene also conveys the love Ben feels for his family. This deep conflict was caused by Palpatine and I think this is the reason Ben should have survived – he should have been given a chance to repent and to find himself again.
How nice would it have been to have seen a happy, surviving Skywalker at the end of the Skywalker Saga? I’m not saying Ben would have been welcomed by the rebels, but I do think he should have survived and met Rey on Tatooine. I think a character that had been used as a puppet, that had been conflicted the whole time and that had finally found happiness should have been given a chance to change the universe in a positive way. With all of that said I really love Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and I cannot wait to watch it on repeat – I may, however, feel the injustice of Ben’s death with every watch.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Darcie Gray is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. Aside from being a passionate Star Wars fan, she loves every genre of movies and she channels her passion for film into her personal blog Just Another Film Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Darcie_Letitia where she shares her love of film regularly.