Possible Spoilers for the Entire Star Wars Saga up to The Force Awakens
When Luke Skywalker showed up in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi. He was doing some things which made us question where he was mentally and spiritually after The Empire Strikes Back. Robes in black, Luke strode through the palace using Force Choke (an ability at this point only associated with the Dark Side) on a Gamorean Guard, and using his droid friends as bargaining chips. These hints of darkness added real tension to later scenes in the Emperor’s Throne Room as the Emperor and Vader taunt Luke to give in to the dark side. We are primed to feel a sense of internal conflict within Luke and while Return of the Jedi has many faults, this is not one of them. Luke and Vader were both men set on different paths until Vader and Luke threw that path into doubt. Would Luke fall trying to save his father? Would Vader be redeemed in his attempt to save his son? These familial connections and the way they interfere with one’s chosen path in The Force are core traits to Star Wars, and are the very same reason Kylo Ren is an amazing character.
Young and Naive:
We have seen, many times, the story of the young and naive hero facing off against the competent and mature villain, by Kylo Ren is also young and naive. Moviegoers have seen Luke and Anakin Skywalker stumble their way to ascension as a hero and now we get to see Kylo Ren stumble his way ascension as a villain. By the time Anakin becomes Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, he’s already an accomplished Jedi Knight but in The Force Awakens Supreme Leader Snoke informs us that Kylo’s training is incomplete. Kylo has raw power and indeed a measure of skill, but he still has much to learn and has not yet learned to focus or hone his rage. Gone is the cool, calculated anger of Vader and Sidious. Instead, we are treated to what it looks like when the Dark Side is a wild fury, unleashed and unrefined.
Feels the Call to the Light
With the way the Jedi and the Sith talk about the Force, one would assume that the light side is the passive norm and that the Dark Side is the intrusive, active side of the Force. Vader’s conflict with the Dark Side was never explicitly detailed but it seemed to hinge on him resisting the Dark Side and choosing his own sense of moral standing and familial obligation to make himself turn from the dark path. But Kylo provides us with proof that the Light Side is active and it is calling to Kylo. In fact, Kylo’s mission to prove his fealty to the Dark Side is to severe those family ties that undid Vader. If Kylo Ren is redeemed to the light, it will be because Snoke denies the activity of the Light side of the Force. This all makes for interesting conflict in a character and no matter where Kylo Ren ends up, it is better that he gets there in doubt rather than the certainty we’ve already seen.
There is an erroneous claim that Kylo Ren is nothing more than a poser or that Rey is overpowered. Neither of these things are true, and The Force Awakens goes to great lengths to prove it. Kylo Ren is introduced by using the Force to stop a blaster bolt mid-air; a feat we haven’t seen from anyone in all of Star Wars. Later in the film, we can see Kylo use the Force to restrain Rey, locking her movements completely. Kylo is also capable of using the Force to probe into the minds of others, though Rey learns to thwart him in this (not unprecedented as Leia was able to resist Vader’s drug-aided interrogation despite no training). Kylo Ren is shown as a figure of such power that the film had to reinforce the might of Chewbacca’s bowcaster throughout the film to demonstrate just how he’s barely hanging in there for his climactic clash with Finn and Rey. A clash in which Kylo Ren was specifically instructed not to kill Rey, but to subdue her and bring her before Snoke.
I, for one, cannot wait to see where they take Ben Solo in The Last Jedi.He’s already become one of my favorite Star Wars characters in a single film.