My Five Favorite Things About The Rise of Skywalker

So we’ve come to the last film of the sequel trilogy (and of the Skywalker Saga) and I had to pick out my five favorite moments of The Rise of Skywalker. (Solo and Rogue One will come next, as I forgot to put them in the proper timeline, lol). Here are my picks:

Favorite Scene

“Dad..”” I know.” This scene was incredible in several different ways. First, I never thought Han Solo would make any kind of reappearance in Star Wars again, and yet here he is. And it wasn’t just for nostalgia’s sake; it was a very important thread of Ben Solo’s redemption. I’ve seen some fans comment that it should have been Anakin’s ghost he talked to–No. No, no, no. That WOULD have just been for nostalgia’s sake. It had to be his father. Ben never knew Anakin, and misguidedly worshipped Vader. The conflict and crux of his dilemma had always been his father, and it needed resolution. One of the other ways this scene is amazing is the way it was done. Obviously, Han is not a Force ghost. It’s a projection of Ben’s memory of his father. Maybe it’s so vivid because of his connection to the Force, I don’t know, but it was a way for Ben to seek his father’s forgiveness so he could do what he had to do next. It was also a clever reverse on the dialogue between the two when Kylo killed Han. Maybe it’s Ben’s way of “correcting” that scene. That’s my take on it, anyway. However you interpret it, it’s a powerful scene, possibly the most moving scene (for me) in all of Star Wars.

Favorite Duel

Kylo vs. Rey on Kef Bir. Kylo and Rey had a confrontation on Kijimi, which was interesting in its own way (Kylo doesn’t want to kill her; he’s still trying to lure her in), but this one on the Endor moon is epic. At this point, Kylo is trying to kill her, as she’s proving quite stubborn in not joining him. That makes him, well, mad. She’s also furious at him for destroying the Wayfinder they all worked so hard to find. They battle out their rage at each other on the wreckage of the second Death Star, with huge swells of water crashing down around them. They’re both equally skilled, but Kylo is obviously physically stronger, and Rey is still a bit drained from healing the Vexis. It comes down to Kylo nearly killing Rey, until Leia reaches out to Ben. He hesitates, and Rey takes the opportunity to stab him with his own lightsaber. She then heals him, when she could have left him for dead. The water imagery really comes into play here, as it serves as a kind of baptism for Kylo: he’s reborn as Ben Solo again, all the hate and anger and bitterness is washed away, leading up to the scene with Han. The whole thing is quite visually stunning, as well as emotionally satisfying.

Favorite Line

“I am all the Jedi.” This is a great line as a counter to Palpatine’s claim that he is all the Sith; it also happens to be true, as all the prior Jedi spoke to Rey and gave her the strength to get up and face Palpatine again. They’re with her. It’s also the culmination of Rey’s character arc, as she accepts who she is, gains confidence from that, and defeats Palpy once and for all.

Funniest Moment

C-3PO: They fly now! Finn: They fly now?! Poe: They fly now!

Most Impactful Character

I adore Rey’s lightsaber.

Rey Skywalker. Yes, Rey Skywalker. Some people took issue with her choosing the Skywalker name, but those people are the ones who generally dislike the sequels, and Rey in particular. I don’t really care which name she chose (Skywalker, Palpatine, Solo, Organa); it’s the fact that she chose it. Throughout the entire sequel trilogy, Rey is on a mission of identity–we don’t know who she is, or where she comes from, and neither does she. It agonizes her. “Who are you?” Luke queries her on Ach-To, and the question burns in her. Everyone wants to put labels on her: Kylo claims they are a dyad, and she’s meant to join him in the dark side, even though she’s “nothing”; Palpatine claims her as his granddaughter and heir, the Empress; even Finn, her good friend, thinks he knows her: “Rey, that doesn’t sound like you.” To which she replies angrily, “Everyone thinks they know me. I’m afraid no one does.” This is after she learns of her Palpatine heritage, and now, after finally learning who she is and where she comes from, it’s almost worse than not knowing. By the end of the film, however, after claiming “I am all the Jedi,” she’s come to accept who she is: she is all of these things. Part of a dyad, a Jedi, a friend, a Palpatine (though she ultimately rejects it), and someone who chooses her own destiny. And her own name. You can’t choose your blood family, but you can choose who you identify with, who you honor, and who you love. For Rey, that’s the Skywalker family. And oh yeah, she saved the galaxy and stuff.

What are your favorite moments of The Rise of Skywalker? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

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Check out my sister blog The Star Wars Reader. I regularly review Star Wars books, both Canon and Legends.

Star Wars Fan Art: Kylo Ren/Ben Solo

Kylo Ren is one of those characters from Star Wars that really hit a nerve with a LOT of people. There’s something about his tortured, divided soul that calls to so many. I scrolled through a ton of Kylo fan art. A vast amount illustrated Reylo, and though I’m not against Reylo and recognize his deep connection with Rey, I wanted this to be just about Kylo/Ben.

There’s a lot of great stuff (and a lot of weird stuff, lol), but the following images stood out to me in some way:

I loved this windblown kind of look to a contemplative Kylo. The blood on his hands speaks volumes.

littlechmura.tumblr.com

This is the Ben Solo who would have existed if Kylo Ren had not had a chance to take root. Total “Son of Han Solo” look going on here. I notice he still has his lightsaber, though. A blue one?

therealmcgee.tumblr.com

I thought this one was really interesting: Ben in death and arranged the way his grandmother, Padme, had been at her funeral. The flowers in the hair, and the dice entwined in his fingers the way her necklace from Anakin had been in hers. Shivers.

Viv on Twitter.com

I love the use of light and shadow in this one, and how Kylo is in both, torn between the two.

“Torn Apart” by Veronika-Art on deviantart.com

I don’t usually care for images of Kylo with his mask on–it’s a bit boring for me. I like to see his expressive face. But something about this one haunts me. He looks like a Nazgul or something, a dark, shadowy thing.

KloeDeSaga on deviantart.com

I like this one of Kylo contemplating Vader’s mask, while bathed in the light. The calendar in the background with the Death Star on it is a nice touch, too, lol.

Trystan Pease on twiggymcbones.tumblr.com

What do you think of these Kylo/Ben images? Do you have any favorites? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

Feature image above by Shuploc on redbubble.com.

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Check out my sister blog The Star Wars Reader. I regularly review Star Wars books, both Canon and Legends.

Whatever Wednesday: The Many Faces of Kylo/Ben

Even with the same character, Adam Driver is a chameleon.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren / Ben Solo in Star Wars - TFA 2015.
Emo kid in The Force Awakens
ADAM REN - the-apple-is-the-fruit: Rey and Kylo ready to...
Sad/resentful Kylo in The Last Jedi
Kylo Ren during the Throne Room battle
Messy hair warrior Kylo in The Last Jedi
Ben Solo - The Rise of SKywalker
Determined desert Kylo in The Rise of Skywalker
"in this moment he’s not kylo anymore. he’s ben solo in kylo ren’s clothes
Regretful son Ben in The Rise of Skywalker
𝐛 𝐫 𝐢 loves ben solo on Twitter: "REDEEMED BEN SOLO SAID IM KYLO REN BUT 10x HOTTER AND 10x SOFTER… "
Supportive Ben in The Rise of Skywalker
𝓮𝓵𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪 🌸 on Twitter: "The Last Skywalker #BenSolo… "
Happy savior Ben in The Rise of Skywalker.

The man is an amazing actor with a putty face.

Oh, and we musn’t forget:

VIDEO: Adam Driver Channels Kylo Ren (in a Wig!) for SNL's Hilarious Undercover Boss Spoof
Undercover Boss Kylo

Monday Musings: Should Ben Solo Have Died?

liz (tros spoilers) on Twitter:   "TFA: "The belonging you seek it is not behind you. It is ahead. Whoever you were waiting for on Jakku, they're never coming back. But there's someone who still could."   TLJ: "You are not alone.", "Neither are you." "They would never have to be alone again."   TROS:
No one is ever really gone?

In The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s turn from the Dark Side back to the light and becoming Ben Solo again–“Bendemption”–is one of the highlights of the film, and one of the things I looked forward to the most.

That it would happen seemed pre-ordained. Even after I watched the first film, I had the vague sense that his arc would lead to eventual redemption. But I also knew that it would lead to his probable death. At the time of The Force Awakens, I wanted him to die, to pay for his murder of Han Solo. I hated him.

By the time of TROS, I didn’t want him to die. Every fiber of my being longed for him to live. But the writer in me knew that it was impossible. Why, you ask?

Well, let’s back up a bit. What, exactly, does “redemption” mean, anyway? You know what’s coming: a dictionary definition. Here it is from Dictionary.com:

Redemption:

1. An act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.

2. Deliverance; rescue.

3. Theology. Deliverance from sin; salvation; atonement for guilt.

So how is Ben Solo redeemed?

In several ways. He throws Kylo’s lightsaber away. He rushes to Exegol to help Rey against the Emperor. And most importantly, he sacrifices his own life to bring Rey back from the dead.

It’s that last one that we need to look at closely. When he finds Rey on the floor and realizes she’s dead, he’s devastated. But you can see in his face the moment he realizes what he must do. He knows he can bring her back. And he knows that he must exchange his own life for hers. He mulls this over for about two seconds, and then willingly, without hesitation or regret, brings her back. They have a few precious moments together, and then–he dies.

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Ben realizes what he must do.

So, I think it’s important to remember here that Ben chooses to give his life for Rey’s. It’s not like he wasn’t sure what would happen, but tried it anyway, and then died. That would have been his life being taken away from him, and kind of unfair. No–he knew. His life wasn’t taken away from him; he gave it away, for the sake of Rey. It’s an important distinction. It makes any notion of fairness moot.

It makes sense that to bring a life back from the dead, a life must be given. It’s all about balance, in the Force, in the Galaxy, in life and death.

But supposing the writers decided he didn’t have to die to bring her back. What then?

Could Ben Solo really ride off into the sunset with Rey to live happily ever after? Should he?

Not to get too Crime and Punishment here, but does his act of bringing Rey back to life warrant complete forgiveness? Yes, he did have a hand in helping Rey defeat the Emperor, which saved the galaxy. Does it erase all the terrible things he did as Kylo Ren? Maybe. What kind of atonement can account for all that?

I'm just an empty void waiting to be filled... #movietimes Star Wars | Adam Driver | Animation |
Bringing her back

Perhaps he could spend the rest of his days doing Good Works, bringing the Jedi back, working for the good of the galaxy. That’s supposing he’s accepted back into the fold after all he’s done, which is not guaranteed. He could very well be tried for crimes against humanity. Just because we the audience see his complete turnaround to the Light–and perhaps Rey’s testimony to it as well–doesn’t mean the rest of the Galaxy would forgive him. Kylo, Ben, what does it matter? To them, he’s the same dude who did a lot of bad stuff.

And finally, Ben’s death just makes sense from a storytelling standpoint. There needs to be an emotional wallop in the third act. Not just Kylo turning back to the Light, not even Ben saving Rey’s life. There has to be some poignancy, a sense of loss to complement the victory. Freedom isn’t free, as they say. Something has to be offered, sacrificed, to bring it to fruition. And in TROS, that something was Ben’s life.

Am I happy about it? No. I’m devastated. But that’s the mark of a good story: it moves you, leaves a mark on you, haunts you in some way. It offers some bitter to the sweet.

That’s my take on it, anyway.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Ben should have lived? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

My Compassion Awakens: Kylo/Ben

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

When The Force Awakens premiered in 2015, I was pretty excited. I’d been a huge fan of the originals when I was a kid, but not so much the prequels when I was older. This new series looked promising, exciting, something new.

Sitting in the theater, I watched, enthralled, as the beloved original characters–Han, Chewie, Leia–came back into my life after so long an absence. We were all older, wiser, a bit battered from life. I could see that both Han and Leia harbored some great wound that had forced them apart. What could it be? What was their story?

Many years ago I’d read a little bit of the Star Wars novels that came out a few years after Return of the Jedi, the Thrawn series. In them, Han and Leia had two children, twins: Jaina and Jacen. I wondered, with this new trilogy, if that would be the case here.

Hardly. Turns out, that angry, reactionary villain, Kylo Ren, was their kid. Whaa? I’ve missed something here. How the hell…?

Well, I told myself, let’s see what’s going on here. There’s an interesting story here, I just wish I knew what it was. And this Kylo Ren…he’s a puling kid, really. Impatient, selfish, violent. A crybaby. How did these two stellar heroes produce such a disappointing child?

Adam Driver Talks About Working With JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson
Angry Kylo

I’d loved the whole Han/Leia love story in the originals. For years I dreamed of their future together after Return of the Jedi. They’d have amazing children. Yes, they’d have awesome Jedi powers, and they’d be beacons of light in the universe. To say my heart sank when I realized this Vader-wannabe was Han and Leia’s child is an understatement.

And then, the kicker: this damaged, twisted boy kills his own father. No, he murders him in cold blood. My favorite character in all of Star Wars, my childhood screen idol, slain and pushed off a catwalk like so much meat. A father, torn up by his son’s fate, wanting, needing, to help him–only to be betrayed by his own child.

God, I hated this guy Kylo Ren.

On some level, I knew this character’s arc would lead him to eventual change and possible redemption. This was the obvious question posed by the character, even in the first film. His conflict between light and dark was plain.

Did I care? Nope.

I’ll never forgive him, I told myself. No matter what happens in these films, no matter what he does from here on out, I’ll never forgive this little shit. Killing your own father. Killing Han frickin’ Solo. It’s insupportable. Unforgivable.

Well.

Then The Last Jedi came along, and there I was, ready to ward my heart against any possible melting in that regard. And the ridiculously talented Adam Driver returned with his sad, puppy dog eyes…his tender Force connection with Rey…his version of what happened with Uncle Luke when he was young and vulnerable…his very obvious emotional and psychic pain. His admission to Rey that he didn’t hate his father. And the shirtless scene, to say the least, was a low blow.

complicated enemies. Kylo Ren and Rey. Reylo. Such a beautiful face. Those lips. - Ideas of Star Wars Kylo Ren #kyloren #sith #starwars -   complicated enemies. Kylo Ren and Rey. Reylo. Such a beautiful face. Those lips.
Sad Kylo

And, tellingly, he couldn’t bring himself to kill his mother Leia when he clearly had the chance. All of these things, taken together, began to work on my hardened heart, loosen the chains of implacability.

Ah geez, I’m starting to feel sorry for this guy.

And then, a spark of hope: He and Rey fight together against Snoke’s guards in the Throne Room. A spectacular scene, and my heart soared for a moment. He killed Snoke, saved Rey, look at them together, they’re magnificent, maybe, just maybe…

But no. I knew there was a whole other movie to go, and his refusal to help the Resistance fleet was no surprise. But his heartfelt plea to Rey, that she came from nothing, but she was not nothing to him–the vulnerability in his face was touching. He held out his hand to her. He even said Please. Part of me almost wanted her to take his hand. Clearly he’s in love with you, woman, take his hand and help this poor guy somehow, for God’s sake–but no. It’s wrong at this moment, not meant to be. Yet.

reygirloflight I needed to see this so I made it on my drawing app merging the - Ideas of Star Wars Kylo Ren #kyloren #sith #starwars -  reygirloflight I needed to see this so I made it on my drawing app merging the two images together.
Pleading Kylo

Rey’s rejection of him hardened him again for the first two acts of The Rise of Skywalker. He’s back to his cold, violent, Dark Side tricks. He’s still trying to get Rey to join him in the Dark side. He believes he can’t go back to the Light, so she must come to him. At this point, though, I know the flip-flop is coming, and–despite my earlier vow–I’m rooting for it. It’s all I’ve been waiting for, in fact.

At the very beginning of The Rise of Skywalker, we get an illuminating tidbit that turns out to be the key to the puzzle that is Kylo Ren. When he confronts the Emperor at Exegol, Palpie’s disembodied voice says, “I have been every voice that has ever been inside your head.”

To me, that’s like learning the devil has been whispering in your ear since birth. Ah, now it makes sense–why young Ben Solo abandoned his family and turned to the Dark Side. I get it now. And it’s a terrible revelation. I’m angry on his behalf. How dare he steal the heart and mind of Han and Leia’s son for his own twisted ends? Monster!

But we knew that.

It can be argued that Ben Solo had choices, as we all do in the face of evil. But really, if he’d been influenced since he was a young boy, what choice did he really have? He’d been shaped and molded by evil. He was the rope between the tug of war between the Light and the Dark, and the Dark won. Initially.

At any rate, an extraordinary confluence of events occured to affect the change from Kylo Ren to Ben Solo.

The first: his mother Leia calling out to him from across the galaxy, expending her last bit of life force to do so (and when Mom calls, you better answer!).

The second: Rey heals the fatal wound she gave him with his own lightsaber, and the words, “I wanted to take your hand. Ben’s hand.”

And the third: possibly the most touching scene in all of Star Wars, Ben’s conversation with his dead father, Han. Now, I don’t care what Han’s appearance may signify. Whether it’s Leia somehow projecting the image (she still hasn’t disappeared into the Force, mind you), or Ben’s memory, or a ghost or the boogeyman. The point is, it doesn’t matter. Ben is finally confronting the pain and guilt of killing his father. And when Han forgives him, we do, too.

"in this moment he’s not kylo anymore. he’s ben solo in kylo ren’s clothes
No more Kylo

And there I was in the theater, near tears, and eating a heck of a lot of crow. But you know what? It’s okay to hate Kylo Ren. I just wish I could have seen more of Ben Solo to love.

In all honesty, I find Kylo/Ben to be the most fascinating character in Star Wars, and I’ll be posting more of my thoughts on him in the future, including on “Bendemption” and “Reylo”.

In the meantime, how do you feel about Kylo/Ben? Post your thoughts below and we’ll talk about it!