Kylo Ren: A Villain’s Journey

We can all relate to Kylo: to that anger of being in the turmoil of adolescence and figuring out who he’s going to be as a man; dealing with anger and wanting to separate from his family. He’s not Vader — at least, he’s not Vader yet- RJ

By Contributing Writer, Haroon Shareef

Star Wars is known for it’s unique and extraordinary characters. Disney’s soft reboot of the saga ‘The Force Awakens’ left fans satisfied and pumped after watching their favorite characters return and seeing new characters take the spotlight. Kylo Ren was hands down the best character of Disney’s ongoing Star Wars era & one of the best in the whole saga. His transformation from Ben Solo to Supreme Leader Ren engaged me thanks to the amazing writing and Adam Driver’s exceptional acting.

The Force Awakens:

In my opinion, The Force Awakens wasn’t great but I loved the new characters and it had some great moments including every scene that involves Kylo Ren! The film opens with an attack on a village and we witness Ren and the stormtroopers slaughtering it. The Force Awakens introduces Kylo Ren as this fierce villain who can match the greatness of Darth Vader but that’s clearly not the case as the film continues.

Kylo had a troubling childhood. While it’s mostly Snoke’s fault for Kylo’s turn to the dark side, I’d say that there lies some fault in Han, Leia & mostly Luke. Maybe they (Han & Leia) thought that Kylo would grow up to be a strong Jedi and hence, sends him to Luke for training and that made things worse in my opinion.

In the novelization of The Force Awakens, there was an extended scene of the conversation b/w Kylo Ren and Snoke.
The dramatic and moving redemption of Anakin Skywalker/Vader at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi is dismissed by Snoke, who sees his heroic turn as a moment of weakness for an amazing man.

‘The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did’. Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.” ‘Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.’

Snoke wants Kylo to become the best parts of Vader. He wants Ren to block the mistakes that were made by his grandfather, and become a true servant of the dark side.

Ren’s relationship with his parents is exemplary. Ben still has got feelings for his parents but he considers them as his weakness. Ben hates his past and the person he was before. When Luke looked into his mind, he saw darkness that he could never imagine, Snoke has already turned the heart of Ben Solo.

“He means nothing to me. By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced” Kylo admits and knows that he is weak. He hates Snoke but wants as much guidance and training he can get from Snoke. Han says: “Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he wants, he’ll crush you” and Kylo already knows this. The irony is that he is using Snoke for his benefit. He wants to learn as much as he can from Snoke, a powerful force user, and after he’s done learning, he’ll get rid of Snoke which is exactly what he did in The Last Jedi.

I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I’ve to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it

In Episode VII, Kylo is a kid with very few guidance. He hates Snoke but he can’t make the move because he is too weak and unprepared.  At the end of the film, he lost to Rey who is a newbie to the force which further shows how much weak and unwise Kylo is and this is why he needs Snoke’s guidance.

The Last Jedi:

Let the past die, kill it if you’ve to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be

I know that a lot of you hate The Last Jedi and I agree that there are some elements in the film that makes it bland. I loved The Last Jedi and even most of those who hated the film loved how Rian treated Kylo Ren. The Last Jedi is all about Kylo Ren & Rey. Maybe fans are pissed because Rian hasn’t given much attention to the legendary Skywalker and the mysterious Snoke. Rian wanted to tell his story and it’s a story about hope, loss & being a disappointment to your student/master. This film challenges Ben & Rey to their maximum while respecting the legacy of Luke and having some fan-favorite moments like Yoda’s appearance.

In The Last Jedi, we see Ren first with Snoke and it ended with him being angry and depressed. This was my favorite scene from this film:

We see Snoke disappointed in Kylo for being weak and useless, unlike Vader. “I killed Han Solo. When the moment came, I didn’t hesitate!” Lies. Snoke knows how much weak and foolish Kylo is. What surprised me in the scene is that Kylo tried to attack Snoke. I wasn’t expecting him to lose his temper with Snoke this early in the film. Ben’s anger and frustration towards Snoke increases as the film progresses. I love how The Last Jedi’s first Ren appearance had him shown as a failure and a disgrace to his master. He is angry and very impatient in this scene.

Let’s talk about Reylo. Rian Johnson wanted these two characters to interact in the film but if they meet face to face, they’d fight and hence he introduced the force connection. And we eventually find out that it was Snoke who connected them. Kylo believed that if Rey was told the truth about what happened between him and Luke, then she’d join him in the dark side. Darth Vader failed in turning his son to the Dark side but Kylo believed that he will not fail and that Rey would join Ren.

Kylo says “I know what I have to do” to Rey before killing Snoke mirroring to what he said to his father in TFA. He has then learned his lesson. The curiosity and doubts are gone and he is ready to kill his master. Now that is a deep character moment for Kylo Ren. I can’t call him ‘weak’ anymore as he has transformed to a better and stronger person. He and Rey unite to fight Snoke’s guards and did he turn to the light? Was that ever his intention? Nope, Rey was wrong about Ben & Ben was wrong about Rey (kids these days!).

It’s time to let old things die. Snoke, Skywalker, the Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels; let it all die. Rey, I want you to join me. We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy!

“We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy” mirroring to what Vader said to Luke in Empire. You may have noticed that Kylo’s voice has turned a little ‘Vadery’ when he said that. “Don’t do this Ben. Please don’t go this way” mirroring to what Padme said to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. “I’ve failed you Ben” mirroring Obi Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. I love how much Rian respects and loves the originals and the prequels. Maybe its Rian’s love and homages to the prequels that made these trolls outraged (or maybe not lol).

It would be a debate on whether Kylo has won/lost at the end of The Last Jedi. When Leia felt that her son was truly gone, I think it shows us that Kylo Ren has won and become a true agent of the dark side. His transformation to Supreme Leader and being his own master is why I think he has succeeded at the end of the film. Kylo has ‘almost’ finished what Vader started. The important thing is that Kylo is now a free bird and his final battle with Rey is what awaits in JJ Abrams’ Star Wars Episode IX.

Luke: No one’s ever truly gone

Do you think Kylo Ren will turn to the light at the end of Episode IX? Or will he die as a villain? I am so looking forward to what JJ and Christ Terrio have got up their sleeves for Kylo Ren, my favorite Star Wars character.