Arguably the biggest moment in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the death of Han Solo. Pleading with his son Ben – who had turned to the Dark Side of the Force and became Kylo Ren – to come back home, the iconic smuggler was stabbed through the chest with a lightsaber, meeting his ultimate end at the hands of his own offspring. It was a shocking and emotional sequence that obviously had major ramifications for the future of the franchise. Kylo Ren, who spent the movie feeling the “pull of the light,” seemed to fully commit to the darkness to the point of no return. After all, he took the life of one of the most beloved figures in the series.
As the sequel trilogy progresses, it will be interesting to see how Ben Solo is further developed as a character. His actions in The Force Awakens have been interpreted many ways, and the question of whether or not he can be redeemed is one that looms over the upcoming films. Some fans are convinced that Kylo Ren cannot be saved, feeling that he deliberately used his father’s love as a weapon to lure him in for the kill. But according to director J.J. Abrams, it’s far more complex than that.
Episode VII will be released in a special collector’s edition 3D Blu-ray on November 15, and the set will include bonus features that were not available on the initial Blu-ray that came out this spring. Chief among them will be a commentary by Abrams, which should definitely make for an intriguing listen. USA Today shared an exclusive clip of that commentary during the fateful scene between Han and Kylo Ren. Here’s what Abrams had to say about the villain’s state of mind:
“People have asked me if I think Kylo Ren was just playing with him the whole time, if he meant to kill him from the beginning. And the truth is, I think Kylo Ren in this moment is actually being convinced to walk away from this. Snoke is, as Han says, using him, and I think that somewhere Ben knows this. But I think that he can’t accept it. Deep down he has gone too far.”
Though it wasn’t readily apparent in the final film, the Force Awakens screenplay shed some light on Kylo Ren’s wellbeing after killing Han. Instead of feeling strengthened by what he did, Ben was “weakened” and “horrified,” with the initial shock wearing off only after he was shot by Chewbacca. Also, the canon novel Bloodline (which takes place six years before Episode VII), suggests that Ben’s turn was rather recent in the chronology. The few times his name is mentioned in the book, Ben is still Luke Skywalker’s Jedi apprentice, traversing the galaxy with his uncle. What spurred his push to the dark remains to be seen, but for most of his life, Ben was on the side of his relatives. It couldn’t have been easy for him to murder Han Solo. Kylo Ren felt he was a disappointing father, but they still must have had good times at some point.
Supreme Leader Snoke’s final line in Force Awakens makes reference to his prized pupil completing training, and that should be a truly fascinating angle to explore in Star Wars: Episode VIII. Adam Driver has continuously praised Rian Johnson’s script in interviews, revealing that he learned new things about Kylo Ren while reading it. Most eyes will be on Luke and Rey, but Kylo could very well have another compelling arc. And given that Star Wars 8 picks up just moments from where its predecessor left off, chances are his emotions are raw and running high when audiences see him for the first time.
Several fans are curious to see where Kylo Ren ends up, and the debate won’t end until the sequel trilogy reaches its conclusion. While some would like to see him come back to the light, others believe that would be too close to Darth Vader’s journey in the original trilogy. The Force Awakens was criticized for mirroring A New Hope too closely, and the hope is the next episodes introduce new concepts and themes to the saga. Watching a young Dark Side user succumb deeper and deeper to evil is something we haven’t seen before. It would be interesting if Kylo Ren ended up being the inverse of Luke. Time will tell.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be available on 3D Blu-ray November 15, 2016.