Kylo Ren: Should He Have Lived Or Died?

Love or hate the latest Star Wars trilogy, the one thing that fans seem to like the most is Kylo Ren. Why him? In short, he’s everything George Lucas intended Anakin Skywalker to be when he wrote the prequels. While Anakin was mostly whiney, pompous, and demanded entitlement, Kylo Ren was the conflicted young warrior and a slave to his unstable emotions. Oh, and he wasn’t trying to get in Rey’s pants, because that’s all Anakin cared about. Yes, prequel lovers, Anakin is a creep and let’s not pretend otherwise. Oh, and Kylo Ren is also Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo. For those who dislike the new trilogy, just remember that Kylo Ren, his only son, killed him in cold blood. Yes, Anakin betrayed the Jedi Order, but he didn’t kill his father. Well, he doesn’t really have one, but that’s irrelevant.

The point is that Lucas intended for us to feel sorry for Anakin while rooting against him, but that was a big misfire. Where Lucas failed, J.J. Abrams and even Rian Johnson succeeded in making a morally conflicted character that actually works. That’s something I always found interesting about Kylo Ren’s character development under the two directors. One of the biggest problems with the new trilogy is that there is no organic flow to it. With the first and last movies of the trilogy are under Abrams’ vision, the second one is under Johnson’s, and it’s obvious that the two directors didn’t exactly have the same plan in mind. It shows it many aspects, but one of the few things that actually worked well under them was Kylo Ren.

From my point of view, it seems that Johnson made a checklist of everything he liked from The Force Awakens and said “Kylo Ren killed his dad and feels bad about it, but also wants to be a bad guy… I like that!” Johnson chose to stick with Kylo Ren’s great development and make him more sympathetic. It worked, it made sense, so Abrams should’ve given him the best treatment in Rise of Skywalker, right? Well, not exactly. To make it short, Kylo Ren ended up redeeming himself after a touching pep talk with his dead-but-not-a-force ghost-father and actually sacrificed himself to force heal Rey back to life. Yeah, I still don’t get that resurrection power but more on that later.

The point I’m making here is that Kylo Ren really was one of the best things about the new trilogy. Was he given the best treatment in the end? I’d say yes and no to that one. Personally, he’s my favorite character of the new trilogy and I’m not too happy that he died in the end. However, that’s not really because I like him, but it has more to do with how he turned good. In the first few drafts (or the movie that should’ve been), Kylo Ren actually stayed evil. Heck, he even blinded Rey and she needed the force ghosts of Luke, Obi-Wan, and Yoda to help her defeat him. Now if only we actually got to see that, because it would’ve been cool. In that case, yes, Kylo Ren needs to die and I say kill him.

Him actually becoming Ben Solo again does indeed change my perspective, however. On one hand, I wanted him to stay evil, because I feel like the failed redemption story would’ve suited him better. We’ve already seen the evil, red lightsaber-wielding dark lord redeem himself when it seemed he couldn’t come back, and that was done right. The main bad man, Darth Vader, became a much better character in his final moments, because he found his way back to the man he wanted to be in the beginning. In dong so, he saved his son and (not really) destroyed the Emperor. Yes, that’s awesome, and it would be fitting for his grandson to go through the same thing, but that also makes it predictable.

Unlike Anakin, Kylo Ren struck me as the one who didn’t need to be seduced by the dark side. The dark side of the force just appealed to him and he wanted to experience its power. The only thing that stopped him from fully embracing it sooner was the influence of his parents. Throughout the trilogy, he was like a switch. One moment, he’d be going nuts, and the next, he’d come to his senses and stop himself from doing the wrong thing. the best example of this would be when he was about to destroy the cockpit carrying his mother, then pulled back. He didn’t stope there, as he killed Snoke and saved Rey, only to take his place as Supreme Leader. This made me excited because I thought the directors wouldn’t take the cliche route of redemption.

The thing about Star Wars is that the best movies end in tragedy. Yes, there is always that glimmer of hope, but what made it special is that heroes needed time to lick their wounds. That’s how it was with Empire and Revenge of the Sith and that’s why they’re the best of their trilogies. The happy ending in Rise of Skywalker was underwhelming because it left a lot of things unanswered. What was Rey doing on Tatooine with a yellow lightsaber? Where did Finn and Poe go after the war ended? In fact, why did Kylo Ren even die? I guess the answer is too much force energy, but that’s just silly, even for Star Wars’ standards.

Speaking of which, does anyone else remember Reylo? Yeah, I’m not saying that he should’ve lived for that to happen, but since he turned good in the end, Abrams should’ve let him live. The biggest downside to that is his past as a genocidal dictator. During his time as Kylo Ren, he murdered many people, so putting him on a pedestal as a big hero would’ve been very weird. However, letting him live would’ve given him the chance to slowly earn his redemption. I’m not too big on the Reylo romance, but he could’ve walked that path with Rey or on his own. Heck, that would’ve made for a cool series or next movie. Will that ever happen? Hey, it’s Star Wars, so anything can happen.

In my opinion, Kylo Ren’s redemption heavily mirrored Darth Vader’s. That’s a problem, because it made for a predictable and cliche ending to a great character. In terms of the Star Wars universe, Anakin found redemption, but the real tragedy is his legacy. His grandson failed to fight his demons like he did and because of Darth Vader’s influence, the rest of Anakin’s family paid the price. Would’ve made for a tragic and yet great ending, right? I think that’s what should’ve been, but unfortunately, that’s not what we got. Kylo Ren was already a great character on his own, so why have him follow in the exact same footsteps of another?

To answer my own question, if Kylo Ren stayed evil, he should’ve died. If he turned good, which he did, he should’ve have lived, and we could’ve seen Ben Solo as a totally new character. You know, if these reboot rumors turn out to be true, it’s possible we just might see that.

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