Star Wars The Last Jedi - Adam Driver - Kylo Ren Redemption

There’s no doubt that Kylo Ren is the clear villain of the new Star Wars trilogy the began with The Force Awakens and continued this year with The Last Jedi. However, simply because he’s the antagonist of this series doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope for him to see the error of his ways and come back to the light, right?

Director Rian Johnson was recently asked if the Jedi formerly known as Ben Solo has turned so far to the dark side that he’s now beyond redemption. However, in order to dive into his answer, it means dealing with spoilers. So if you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, then don’t read any further.

The idea of Kylo Ren redemption perhaps not coming at the end of this trilogy (which is meant to be the end of the Skywalker saga) was proposed to Rian Johnson in a recent interview with IGN. However, the director was quick to say that he doesn’t think Kylo Ren is beyond redemption, even after the events of The Last Jedi:

“Are you kidding? Vader was worse than Kylo ever was, I think, and Vader got redeemed.”

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to how the story continues in Episode IX. Johnson continued, “I should just for the record [say] that I’m not involved in the writing of the next movie. I’m an audience member in it, just like you, so when I talk about what’s going to happen next it’s in the context of, as a fan, what I’m thinking of.” Much like the passing of the baton from J.J. Abrams to Rian Johnson, there’s nothing that Johnson is doing to guide where Abrams takes the story next.

Kylo Ren’s path appears to head deeper into the dark side after the murder of his master, Supreme Leader Snoke. Though Rey believed that he had turned against Snoke as a way of giving into the light, Ben Solo had instead removed himself from the anchor who was holding him back from reaching his true potential. Now he’s the Supreme Leader, and it seems like he’s done with everything in his past.

Though this is a key development for his character, it certainly doesn’t mean he’s beyond redemption. But at the same time, the fact that he actively made this decision to turn against Snoke and continue down the path of darkness himself speaks volumes. Johnson might see that the character isn’t beyond redemption, and the continued conflict he’s had across two movies indicates that he’s still struggling with his feelings, but do we really need to see Ben Solo turn back towards the light?

Part of me feels that Kylo Ren redeeming himself would be a cop out. But another part of me sees how this would make him live up to the legacy of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Then going back to the other side, Kylo Ren never coming back to the light would be a bold choice for his character to make in Episode IX and it would make him move past the struggle that Vader couldn’t overcome in the end.

No matter what happens, I can’t wait to see another Adam Driver performance as this character. It’s up to J.J. Abrams where Kylo Ren goes next, and we’ll be anxiously awaiting how his character arc is completed with Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

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