Much like his heavy-breathing grandfather before him, Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo (Adam Driver), has emerged as one of the most engaging characters in the Star Wars saga. His temper tantrums, inventive use of the Force, and emotionally charged declarations have left audiences laughing, gasping and crying in equal measure.
Despite his villainous ways, there are those who have always held out hope that Kylo Ren would one day redeem himself and back towards the light. So, in anticipation of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker this December, here are five moments that prove redemption is indeed a possibility...
1. Killing Han Solo
Now, this may seem somewhat confusing. How can killing one of the most beloved characters in cinema be a sign that Kylo Ren is ripe for redemption?
Well, because taking that lightsaber to his father's torso in The Force Awakens tore him apart. And rather than cementing him in the Dark Side as was Snoke’s plan, it instead left him feeling even more conflicted. The act split the young Ben Solo’s spirit to the quick, and frankly, straight-up villains do not usually struggle so much with villainous acts.
Killing that scruffy-looking nerf herder (as played by Harrison Ford) could well be the event that eventually makes Kylo Ren see the error of his ways. Besides, if Darth Vader can kill millions (including younglings) and still find redemption, surely Kylo Ren can be forgiven for his dramatic daddy issues?
2. Not killing Leia
While Kylo Ren was able to kill his father, his conscience kicked in when it came to his mother, Leia (Carrie Fisher). In The Last Jedi, despite have Leia in his sights, Kylo’s hesitancy wins out, and communicates loudly what is going on behind those tear-filled eyes.
Clearly there is enough light still inside him to stop the Dark Side from fully taking hold, and perhaps it will be the love for his mother that brings him back onside in The Rise of Skywalker. Or perhaps killing one parent was more than enough for the poor, struggling Kylo Ren.
3. Destroying his helmet
From the moment Kylo Ren removed his Darth Vader-inspired helmet to reveal his youthful face, it was clear he was far from the outwardly deformed Star Wars villain that audiences have become used to.
There’s a powerful moment of symbolism in The Last Jedi when Ben smashes said helmet, following a lecture from his overbearing master, Snoke (Andy Serkis). In place of the resolute, overwhelming symbol known as Kylo Ren, the conflicted and very human face of Ben Solo now takes precedence, indicating the struggle for identity that has underscored all the Star Wars movies.
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4. He kills Snoke to save Rey
The moment Kylo Ren expertly uses the Force to ignite Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) lightsaber and split Snoke in half is a real turning point for the so-called Sith apprentice.
Like his legendary grandfather, Kylo cannot stand his master torturing Rey, someone he apparently cares for, and so takes matters into his own hands, ending his abuser’s reign with an appropriately dramatic gesture.
There are some who believe that Kylo killed Snoke for his own gains, as he now takes on the mantle of Supreme Leader, but this is clearly not the case. His affection for Rey is evident, and his plan for their future is to move away from the tyranny of The First Order, leave the Jedi and Sith behind, and create something for themselves.
5. He reaches out to Rey
Throughout The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Kylo and Rey’s connection has been critical, and if redemption is to be achieved this connection will undoubtedly be the driving force.
From their first meeting, Kylo and Rey’s shared struggle to find their identity and place in the story has bound them together, and has led to some of the most compelling moments in this new Star Wars trilogy.
This comes to a head following the death of Snoke and the pair’s stunning team-up. With the bodies of Snoke’s armoured guards strewn all around them, Kylo Ren reaches out to Rey, desperate for her to join him so that the two can forget the past and move forward.
The desperation in his voice could even suggest that Kylo wants Rey’s light to water down his dark impulses. She is integral to Ben Solo’s emotional journey, and it will surely be her influence that inspires his redemption and leads him to become the Skywalker that rises.
The Rise of Skywalker screenwriter Chris Terrio has said the Kylo Ren/Rey relationship is the driving force in the narrative. "Some of the most interesting scenes in The Last Jedi are the conversations between Rey and Ren," he explains.
"We’ve tried to pick up that complicated relationship that really has been present ever since the interrogation in Episode VII. When Ren takes off his mask, there’s a nakedness about him with Rey that he doesn’t express to anyone else. Rian developed that in fascinating ways and we’ve been able to develop it even further."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is released on 19th December. Stay tuned in the next 24 hours for the release of the final trailer and the opportunity to book your tickets.
Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.