I recently published a brief post, The Star Wars Head Fake, in which I discussed my perception of what the Star Wars movies were about.
The TL;DR: The Prequel and Original Trilogies were actually about Anakin and his redemption. The Sequel Trilogy is about Ben (aka Kylo Ren) and his redemption.
Emma’s Random Thoughts was kind enough to comment with her very insightful point of view and sparked thoughts that prompted this post. She said:
The central character in the OTis a bit fuzzy. Before the PT, it was clearly Luke. Once the PT came around, it changed the way we view the OT. As for the idea that the film is about Kylo Ren, that is one of the things that bothers me about him being redeemed. I don’t know how you redeem Kylo Re n without diminishing Rey as a character, ie the Force is using her as bait; she exists for Kylo. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying the writers shouldn’t try. If anything the potential pitfalls make me want to see them take the risk. (Go big or go home Disney! ) I just hope that they avoid the pitfalls of they go that way.
Now, I agree, to a point. This could go so badly. The writers could sideline Rey and completely diminish her character. And that would be tragic on several levels. But I think Rian Johnson has already laid a framework for redeeming Kylo Ren and simultaneously NOT diminishing Rey’s character.
Well, two quotes spring to mind (both addressed to Rey, about Rey):
First from the venerable Luke Skywalker: “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before in Ben Solo.”
Secondly, from Snoke (may he rest in pieces and horrific pain for eternity): “So much strength. Darkness rises, and light to meet it. I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise.”
So, why do these matter? They matter because they both make it clear that Rey is not a subordinate of Ben. She is his equal.
In the novelization of The Last Jedi, author Jason Fry makes a point to discuss Rey and her feelings regarding her place in the story. Rey identifies herself as an instrument of the Force…and she refrains from killing Kylo Ren after she awakens from their epic tug-of-war over the now-shattered Legacy Lightsaber because she believes it is not her place to do so and that the Force has plans for Ben.
These two are yin and yang – they co-exist and balance each other. The blatant imagery from The Force Awakens helps to drive this point home visually speaking. And has there ever been such an epic lightsaber battle as the one on board the Supremacy in The Last Jedi? Ben and Rey moved in perfect harmony, equals in battle, vanquishing the Praetorian Guards – it was truly a thing of beauty.
So, I don’t think that redeeming Ben Solo will necessarily diminish Rey’s character. I think they could be the “two halves of our protagonist” (Rian Johnson’s words, not mine.)