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Not to judge a book by its cover or anything, but we all knew that Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren was going to be up to no good in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Seriously, no one that obsessed with Darth Vader (and not the good, I’m-gonna-save-my-son-from-this-wrinkly-old-dickweed Vader from the end of Return of the Jedi) is going to be full of sunshine, roses, and happy times. But even as villainous as he is, delivering the most crushing blows in the entire movie, the big question as Star Wars moves forward is can Kylo Ren be redeemed? Well, we have a few thoughts on this matter.
You probably already guessed this, but there are going to be major, major SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens beyond this point. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus and his impending birthday in a few days, read something else. Or go watch The Force Awakens, that’s always an option. Tread cautiously, my friends.
Yes, Leia Will Ultimately Bring Him Back To The LightA mother’s love is a powerful thing. And from what we’ve seen thus far, Leia seems pretty convinced that there is still good in her son, that Ben Solo still lurks somewhere inside of Kylo Ren. She may wind up singing a different tune now that he has killed his father in cold blood. However, I don’t think any mother wants to admit that her baby is completely gone, and it’s easy to imagine her making a play for his immortal soul or whatever. And she has a chance. As she intones to Han, she appears to believe that the familial bond is even more powerful than the Force, and she even has an upper hand in that regard since, though she never trained in the ways of the Jedi, she is still strong with the Force.
No, He Will Take Over For Supreme Leader Snoke And Become The Next Sith LegendDepending on how deep a dive he takes into the darkness, the sky is the limit for Kylo Ren. We’ve seen how powerful he is, even at his relatively young age and in a fairly raw state—stopping a blaster shot is an impressive feat—so the question is can he rise to a level where he presents a challenge to Supreme Leader Snoke and could possibly take over the reins of the First Order? Right now he’s just kind of toiling away at the middle management level, butting heads and having a rivalry with General Hux, but especially as he appears to be fully embracing the Dark Side after striking down his father, his power will likely continue to grow, especially as Snoke said it’s time to finish his training and become fully evil. Between rebelling against his father and Luke’s teachings, Kylo Ren has an apparent anti-authority streak, and perhaps he’ll rebel against his master in time.
Yes, He Will Have One Big Moment Where He Chooses The LightLike his uncle and grandfather, Luke and Anakin Skywalker, before him, the Light and Dark Sides of the Force tear at Ben Solo. However, while his relatives were trying to stay good, but being tempted by the darkness—Luke, of course, successfully fended off his more sinister impulses, whereas Anakin could not—he appears to be something of a mirror. He is struggling to stay on the path to darkness, while continually being tempted by the light; it’s an interesting dichotomy. In reality, he doesn’t so much lose his struggle with the darkness as he chooses it. Still, both sides of the Force are powerful, and perhaps now that Luke is back in the picture, it is possible that he could have a big pivotal moment where he opts for the path towards righteousness.
Yes, Another Character Will Connect With HimAnd if it isn’t Luke who connects with Kylo Ren, it is still possible that another character, likely a fellow newcomer to that far, far away galaxy, could and subsequently lead to his redemption. Given that Rey is the now the center of the franchise, it stands to reason that she’ll play a key part in Kylo Ren’s journey. They appear to have some sort of connection, some kind of link, though right now we know so little about Rey’s story that it’s difficult to discern specifics—though as we guess that Luke will likely train Rey, they will have that shared experience, even if they don’t share a blood relation. More will obviously be revealed over the course of the future Episode movies, but this will be interesting to watch indeed.
Yes, But He'll have To Sacrifice HimselfKylo Ren is so obsessed with Darth Vader that similarly sacrificing himself to find redemption would be an apropos way to proceed. And as with his spiritual icon, dying in a feat of heroism also might be the only path available to truly redeem himself. If this does occur, the question is, what will he sacrifice himself for, and how? Killing Supreme Leader Snoke to save someone—again, like Vader did with the Emperor—is the most obvious option, but for whom would he make such a choice? Aside from Leia, he doesn’t have much family (that we know of), and lightsabering your own father through the heart is an indication that family doesn’t mean all that much in the first place. Like before, the prime candidate seems to be Rey. There’s a lot of time for their story to develop and evolve, so if he does ultimately find redemption through sacrifice—which, let’s be honest, is probably the only way fans will ever be able to forgive him—we suspect it will be for her.
No, There's No Coming Back From What He DidThe danger to having Kylo Ren sacrifice himself to find redemption is that it may be too similar to Darth Vader’s path. At that point it feels like it would be fan fiction lip service. And even if they go that route, will Star Wars devotees accept it? Killing your father is one thing, killing a goddamned cinematic treasure like Han Solo is something else entirely. Redemption is a tricky proposition, and the way he’s going, it doesn’t seem like it’s something he even wants. The scene where Han confronts his son on the bridge on Starkiller Base is a complicated matter, and it really depends on how you read the character in that moment as to whether you think he can be saved or if he’s destined to go full-on evil.
When Ben tells Han that he needs his father’s help, many of us presumed that he wanted to be good, that he wanted to come to the light, and that was his struggle. But what if he needed his father’s "help" combatting his lighter impulses instead of his darker ones? Killing your father is a heinous act, and a pretty good way to ensure that you stay towards the Dark Side. What better way to embrace the darkness and fend off the light than by doing the most evil thing you can think of? Was he playing Han all along? Did he just want to string along his father and toy with him before the execution? Maybe there is no good left in Kylo Ren, maybe Ben Solo is gone, and maybe his path is straight into pitch black.
Can Kylo Ren Be Redeemed?