Ren and Redemption

You’ve already seen it; you likely thought to yourself as it was happening the first time: This is not going to go well.

Kylo Ren faced his father on a narrow bridge, miles from the bottom of a pit with no handrails. You can admit it – the dread was gnawing at your stomach and working its way up your throat. You might have even been saying: “No, no, no, don’t do it. Turn back.” And worst case scenario played out in front of our eyes: Han Solo died attempting to redeem his son from the poisonous influence of “Supreme Leader” Snoke.

It’s clear that Kylo regrets what he has done immediately. He’s weakened by it (ask JJ Abrams, read the novelization), and he wishes he hadn’t done it. But he did, and now he has to live with the consequences of his actions.

So do we.

One of my very best friends was having a Star Wars related conversation the other night with a random guy at a random bar. He said that Han Solo’s death was terrible, that he deserved a better death, that he should have gone out, guns blazing. He also said that Kylo Ren would never be redeemed.

Now, I don’t know if we watched the same movie or not, but I think this guy is barking up the wrong tree here if he actually watched The Force Awakens. Of course, I have a list of reasons why.

  1. Star Wars has always been about redemption and the possibility of it. Even Vader was redeemed in the end, and in case you don’t remember, he actually massacred innocent younglings. Was Han an innocent? I’ll let you ponder that.
  2. Han was a gambler; he knew that the odds were not in his favor when he went out on that bridge, but he took the risk. Why? Because he wanted to save his son. And to save his son, even with his death, would be the ultimate sacrifice. And I have to point out, even Harrison Ford felt that Han needed to die, to sacrifice himself as far back as Return of the Jedi. Did he know he was going to die? No, but he knew there was a better than even shot that was going to be how that confrontation was going to play out. As a parent, I can’t think of any more noble sacrifice than to die for one’s children.
  3. Have you seen all the movies? I’m sure you have. Anakin fights the call to the Dark and ultimately falls. Luke fights the call to Dark, but wins. Vader’s compassion for his son is the call back to the Light – the redemption arc in only a few moments at the end of Jedi. He came back from massacring children, supporting the destruction of Alderaan, and a myriad of other crimes in one selfless act – he died to save his son. Kylo is constantly fighting the call to the Light. He wasn’t lying when he was talking to Vader’s helmet. If there is one literary truth that I know, it is that going back to Shakespeare and before, if a character is alone, speaking aloud, you can assume that they are being honest. They are telling you, the audience, something important, and it is the truth as they know it to be. Period. He’s not lying when he’s chatting with Vader’s death mask. He’s Anakin in reverse, people. He fighting the call to the Light, and he will be redeemed before this is all said and done.
  4. If Kylo Ren isn’t redeemed, then The Force Awakens killed one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe for nothing. Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think that’s even remotely a possibility.
  5. The redemption arc has already begun. He doesn’t kill Rey when he as the chance to while they are fighting. He recognizes something in her, and whatever it is, it keeps him from killing her. He’ll be punished for his failures, and he knows that. But he still doesn’t kill her.
  6. On a very prosaic level: The saga films are about the Skywalker family. There is only one Skywalker in this generation, and that is Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. If Disney kills him off, unredeemed, they’ve killed off the Skywalker family and hope of a new trilogy. Is that a business decision that makes any sense whatsoever?

I’m flabbergasted that anyone thinks that fans of the movies like J.J. Abrams and Lawerence Kasden would actually kill Han Solo to have nothing come out of it except to make Leia, Ben, and Luke suffer more. That strains the bounds of credulity. To borrow a phrase that’s sort of popular with the teens these days: I cannot even.




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