(Needless to say, spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.)
Hold onto your hats, Star Wars fans, because I’m about to dish out a harsh truth about our beloved tale from a galaxy far, far, away. This is no longer the Skywalker family story. Time to face the music. This is no longer a story about a dysfunctional family, but more about the family one makes for themselves. And as for the legacy of the Skywalker/Solo clan, it has turned into a story where it’s heroes are honored for their deeds and not their blood or name.
Since the inception of the newest trilogy, Star Wars has not centered around the original three characters, despite what the film’s billing would have you believe. Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are no longer the main characters. Take a moment and let that sink in. When I was leaving Last Jedi, I overheard someone say, “How can you make a Star Wars film without any of the original characters?” Now I believe that the writers have written themselves into a hole, as they killed Han Solo in The Force Awakens and now we see the death of Luke Skywalker. And since Carrie Fisher has passed away, it makes you wonder what they will do to give Leia a meaningful write off without actually having any footage. But the truth of the matter lies in the fact that they’re not the main characters any more. Those roles have now fallen to Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron. And if you were to believe everything revealed to us in Last Jedi, Rey is a “nobody,” as was told to her by Kylo Ren. And while he may be a unreliable source for this information, I am perfectly fine with this being the truth. The major players are all ordinary people. This proves how timeless a story this is, to tell someone that through deeds they can become extraordinary. And in the center of all of this, is the most complex character, Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, depending on his demeanor. He is both a Solo and a Skywalker, and therefore this statement is hypocritical based on my previous argument. That being said, he is also a nobody in his own right.
You’re probably asking how is that possible. Well, it’s because you need to see past Kylo/Ben’s bloodline. And no one else in this story with the exception of Rey can either. In Force Awakens, he is shown as being a knockoff Darth Vader. And it is because of that he originally thought that was the only way to receive recognition, to follow in his family’s footsteps instead of creating his own path. And it doesn’t help that everyone else only saw that as well. Luke had expectations of Ben based on the Skywalker blood in his veins, but when Luke was afraid of his nephew going dark, his moment of weakness left a scared child looking up at a man contemplating killing him. That betrayal left Ben broken, and so he turned to one he thought could have more faith in him. But even Snoke turns on him as well, remarking “I saw in you the potential of you bloodline, a new Vader. But you are just a child in a mask.” Again, betrayed and broken, he smashes his mask to smithereens. This is a crucial moment, as his crisis of identity reaches the ultimate height. In destroying the mask he not only kills in himself the ambition to be the next Vader, but to rebel against his heritage. To Kylo Ren, the names Skywalker and Solo, are stripping away his identity and potential to stand on his own merits.
Because of this, Kylo Ren places blames the past, and the establishments that have led to this society. The Jedi, Sith, Empire, Republic, First Order, Resistance; to Kylo they are all the same. They are a “symbols” of the past, and must die for a new generation to stand on their own feet and change the way the galaxy has been. Luke also believes this, which is reiterated in, “It’s time for the Jedi to end”.
But unfortunately, because Kylo is the product of his upbringing, his theory is only good in theory. The way he chooses to put it into practice is by ruling the galaxy himself, proving that not even he learns from history. Ben and Kylo are two different people sharing one body. Not a split personality, both different character traits belong to each name. Ben is man with a moral conscious, but his anger manifests in him as Kylo Ren, similar to how Darth Vader destroys Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith.
The one person who has been closest to both Ben and Kylo and could be his salvation is Rey. She is the only person who has not given up on him. And he respects her for that, however they will inevitably come head to head. But never before in the Star Wars films have we seen such respect between the two side of the Force. Up until now, there has never been true balance in this galaxy. When the empire ruled, scales tipped toward the Dark, and as for the republic, they tipped back to light. I don’t believe that the true balance can be found within one person, but in the bond between Rey and Kylo. Together they could bring true balance to the Force. Something never seen before. They are the human embodiment of yin and yang and you cannot have one without the other.
We must wait another two years before we find out exactly where they are going with this. Kylo believes Luke is still alive, even though we the audience know better. Granted, I’m certain this will affect Ben/ Kylo’s character. Everything he had set out to destroy has backfired. The Resistance has now again become the Rebellion. Rey has stolen the Ancient Jedi texts, meaning that not only will she complete her training, but she will ensure that the Jedi live on. The questions that must truly be asked for the next film, after the events of Last Jedi are, “Can Rey save Ben?” and even more so, “Is there anything left of him worth saving?”