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Does Kylo really deserve to be redeemed? Did he deserve to be Reys love interest? — Page 2

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I think the problem w/ Vader’s redemption is in trying to unpack it from Vader’s POV, which is damn near impossible because Vader isn’t really a character RIGHT UP UNTIL Lucas pulls out “I am your father” from out of nowhere late in the script game around 1978. For the sake of having a big twist to carry Empire into Jedi, Lucas almost ACCIDENTALLY gives Vader a completely different dimension.

But that’s still secondary to how it affects Luke. Vader’s status as Luke’s dad – again, one of those things that was made up as it went – is there mostly for LUKE’S benefit as a character, to complicate him that much more. It’s not really about making Vader a more well-rounded character at all, though that does (sort of) happen in Return of the Jedi.

So when Luke succeeds in his mission, does what Yoda and Ben think impossible, and becomes a TRUE Jedi against all the odds, getting his dad on his side IS THE REWARD. It’s for Luke’s benefit as a character, not for Vader’s. Vader turns because Luke is so good he has no choice BUT to turn. It’s the perfect fairy tale ending… for LUKE’S character, in LUKE’S story. I like that it’s there, and I like the way it happens in that movie.

All of “Anakin’s” importance as a character, independent of his utility to Luke’s characterization, was essentially retconned into the OT metatextually via a crush of self-congratulatory interviews with Lucas between 1983 and 1997, and then the Prequels cemented that (unearned) importance into canon. You repeat a thing enough times, even people who aren’t inclined to listen will start hearing it. Lucas’ choice to redeem Vader made sense for Return of the Jedi. His choice to then make that redemption the central point of ALL Star Wars was one of the most tedious and unfulfilling acts of retconning he ever visited on his own story.

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I agree with everything you just said. Anakin’s redemption isn’t supposed to supplement his character, it’s supposed to supplement Luke’s character. He had hope in what seemed to be impossible, and it paid off for him in the end. While I enjoy the prequels as a supplement to the OT, there’s no denying that the OT is Luke’s story.

My preferred saga experience:
TPM/AOTC/ROTS (Hal 9000 edits), ANH/ESB/ROTJ (Despecialized), The Mandalorian.
May the midichlorians be with you.

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To tie it back to Kylo and his redemption, I think the retconning of Vader’s importance as a character, to the point where “The Skywalker Saga” from 1977-2005 effectively became HIS story, and not Luke’s, is partially why I feel Kylo’s ultimate redemption doesn’t work , and the focus on his being redeemed is dramatically unfulfilling and brings down the Sequel Trilogy. TFA has a dual POV. Finn/Rey. Eventually it becomes REY’s story, solidly, by the end of TFA, but it’s mostly a two-hander. Kylo’s character is interesting, intriguing, and NEW in ways a Star Wars villain hadn’t been, no doubt. I still think he’s overall the best villain the saga’s got. But TLJ is pretty solidly Rey’s story. Finn is supporting. And Kylo’s story is there mostly to inform and illuminate and shade both Luke and Rey’s characters.

I think the problem is that, because of how Lucas sledgehammered Anakin into the center of Star Wars through clumsy, repetitive (and most importantly, NOT via successful storytelling) means, people came to believe that making your bad guy interesting and thoughtful and relatable in a Star Wars movie meant you HAD to redeem him because isn’t redemption what Star Wars is all about? Listen to Lucas! What’s he been saying for the last 30 years? It’s obvious that the whole point of Star Wars is this!

And it makes for great copy, but it’s also, if you ignore the after-the-fact interviews and just look at the stories themselves, and the quality of the storytelling within them, not very true. Vader’s redemption isn’t ABOUT Vader, it’s about Luke. Lucas spent three movies TRYING to make it about Vader and it didn’t really work. He then spent 6 (now 7) seasons of a television show to further make that point, and what ended up happening is Anakin’s apprentice became the heart of the story, to the point where Anakin’s fall gained more impact and more meaning to Star Wars as a story in REBELS, during Ahsoka’s realization and ensuing confrontation with him, than it did in Revenge of the Sith.

So if Vader’s redemption is now the FOUNDATION of what Star Wars is, thematically, its’ a shaky foundation because the reason it worked in Jedi is unique to Jedi, and the specific lead-in it got from Empire. You can’t just copy-paste it into other stories. And Kylo’s redemption in Star Wars almost always had a hint of “well, that’s just how Star Wars works” as its key justification, and that’s probably why it never really rang true to me as a possibility, and DEFINITELY didn’t ring true in its eventual execution. Kylo’s redemption was never really established as a thing Rey wants for the sake of saving Kylo. The closest you get to that is The Last Jedi, where Rey specifically calls out how turning him would help END THE WAR. Nothing about his soul, or his light. She speaks about him as if he’s a useful tool. A means to an end. And she’s not wrong to do so. She’s approaching it pragmatically, really, like a scavenger would. She doesn’t like him, but she recognizes he can be useful to her cause, and THAT’S why she goes to Snoke’s ship. And she wouldn’t have if Luke had gotten over himself just a little bit sooner, either. There’s a connection, and a level of understanding… and that just makes it harder for her when he shows her hope in his goodness to be naive and mostly unfounded after the throne room fight.

So already, right there - Kylo isn’t in a great storytelling position to have a successful redemption because nobody involved really wants it for the sake of his redemption alone, and it doesn’t mean that much to anyone IN THE STORY on that basis outside of Leia… who isn’t really a character in TFA or TLJ, and who, by the end, also doesn’t seem to particularly want Kylo’s redemption. There’s nothing his redemption does to serve ANY of our main characters arcs being fulfilled at that point. THAT’S why it feels unearned to me in TROS, because Abrams and Terrio never figured out a way to tie his redemption to Rey’s character arc meaningfully, or to Leia’s, honestly, and the execution of that was even worse.

Which is probably the most prequel-y thing Abrams could have done.

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I don’t see why Kylo/Ben’s story should matter only in respect to Rey’s. Even if you say Finn’s story in TLJ is supporting, he’s still having a story of his own with its own meaning, separate from Rey’s. These movies have never been about just one character’s story to the exclusion of another.

That said, Kylo’s story is important in respect to Rey’s. They’re supposed to compare and contrast with each other. Ultimately JJ took the mirroring too far by literally just giving them the same story in TROS -overcoming their bloodline. But it’s not supposed to be about bloodline as much as it is legacy. Rey’s story is charting her own legacy when there’s no predetermined path for her. Kylo/Ben spends the whole trilogy in the shadow of his legacy, trying to snuff out the Solo in him in TFA and the Skywalker in him in TLJ. Kylo’s struggle is overcoming the predetermined path, good or bad. His solution in TLJ is an overcorrection - destroy it all, the Jedi and the Sith. In TROS we should expect a progression for the character, a change. If we are shown in TLJ that his motto “kill the past” is wrong and leads to desolation, in TROS we should see him grow and come to understand that there is a healthy way to integrate the past into his life. To me, the natural conclusion is for him to come to terms with his legacy and accept it for what it is after running away from it for two movies.

This is where Rey comes in. If her story in TROS is supposed to be using the knowledge of the past to build something new, then the two should naturally intertwine, for real this time (their team up in TLJ being a tease of what was to come, but not a real union because ideologically they were on two different pages).

After TFA, sure I believed Kylo would be redeemed just because of the simple “because that’s Star Wars” reason. But after TLJ, I knew Kylo would be redeemed because that was the only conclusion that made sense for the character as had been developed.

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I don’t see why Kylo/Ben’s story should matter only in respect to Rey’s. Even if you say Finn’s story in TLJ is supporting, he’s still having a story of his own with its own meaning, separate from Rey’s. These movies have never been about just one character’s story to the exclusion of another.

But I didn’t say “to the exclusion of another” nor did I say that Finn’s story is feeding Rey’s. I said Finn is a supporting character - I didn’t say he doesn’t have his own story arc. Kylo’s story primarily matters in respects to Rey and Finn’s in TFA (and Han and Leia’s, but they’re OBVIOUSLY supporting characters, where Finn is more like a co-lead in that movie) and not so much on his own. It’s the same in TLJ - his story matters most as a reflection on Luke, and as a potential mirror to Rey’s. But his primary utility as a character is to catalyze their actions/reactions. He’s the fuel for what our heroes our doing. He’s not a hero, or even an anti-hero. He’s the villain still.

Villains in these sorts of stories are often catalysts firsts, characters second. Vader is a great example of that - he’s a catalyst primarily that grows into a character just in time for his death to provide the final piece to completing Luke’s arc in that story. It works wonderfully. Kylo is a catalyst with some of the strongest characterization in Star Wars period, villain or not, and it’s great (And Driver makes a meal out of it, and should have been nominated along with Hamill for Last Jedi). But the transition into being a character for his own sake first and foremost never quite happens. If it was going to happen, it would have happened in the third movie, and Abrams couldn’t figure a way to make it work, and so it didn’t. It just didn’t work. And part of that is because for Abrams, character motivations are often secondary to AUDIENCE motivations. He often has characters do things so that their decisions resonate in that sort of “Oh, I recognize that reference” metatextual level before they work on a character level. He absolutely relied on “that’s just Star Wars” a LOT to paper over his bad decision making. That worked for him on TFA where the stakes were lower and the arcs were only beginning. It can’t carry any of the weight he needed it to as an ending, because he’s not doing the work. He’s relying on shortcuts and the faith that the audience will carry the water for him.

I disagree that Last Jedi makes it a fait accompli that Kylo’s getting redeemed, either. it’s ambiguous still. There are things you can point to in the text and performances that supports either read. But structurally, Kylo’s failure on Crait serves Luke and Rey’s story more than it serves his own, and that’s good. That’s honestly how it SHOULD work for a good villain in a moral fable like this. That’s not a failing or a shortcoming. That’s making a choice as a storyteller to maximize the punch you want to land at the end that makes the point you’re trying to make thematically. Kylo’s story is primarily supplementing both Luke and Rey’s arcs, because those are the two most important ones in the movie. That doesn’t mean the other ones (Finn, Rose, Poe, Holdo) don’t EXIST. Just that they’re not AS important on a character level as nailing Luke and Rey.

Stories can’t be everything to everyone at all times, and you have to make decisions on what you want to emphasize and why, and you have to have very good reasons for making those decisions and placing that emphasis. If you’re going to make your villain a hero in the third act, you have to figure out a way to make it work and matter to your MAIN hero in a way that rewards THAT character’s arc. If you can’t do that, it’s not going to play right, and The Rise of Skywalker is a good example of that storytelling failure. Vader’s redemption worked because it was Luke’s greatest reward. Kylo’s redemption doesn’t because it’s not Rey’s ultimate goal. Return of the Jedi keeps hammering home that Luke is going to the Death Star to turn his father. That’s his goal. He wants his dad back, and he’s going to save him. Maybe the biggest failure of Rise of Skywalker is that it never solidly explains WHAT Rey really wants in that movie, and it never settles on a solid answer. “That’s just Star Wars” kinda fills in a lot of those blanks. And a big part of that failure is that Kylo’s redemption is presented as what Rey really wants - but Kylo’s redemption ISN’T why she’s on Exogol. It’s not why she’s on Ahch-To, either. So what is it doing, and what purpose is it trying to serve at the end of a story that is, by that point, obviously Rey’s?

There’s no good answer, becasue “That’s just Star Wars” isn’t enough, and it’s all Abrams has.

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I could nitpick your post, but ultimately the main thing I’m tripped up on is I still don’t buy the idea that the antagonist can’t have an arc of their own (this idea seems to be falling in the trap ‘everything must follow the OT’), to say nothing of the fact that there’s plenty of ways that they could have made Ben’s redemption matter to Rey’s story (without diminishing Rey’s story in the process).

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I still don’t buy the idea that the antagonist can’t have an arc of their own

To be fair other villains like Palpatine, Darth Maul, etc. don’t have arcs

The unfortunate reality of the Star Wars prequel and Disney trilogies is that they will always be around. Forever. They will never go away. It can never be undone.

I also prefer to be referred to as “TNT”, not “Freezing”.

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I still don’t buy the idea that the antagonist can’t have an arc of their own

You keep saying I’m saying this but I’m not saying this. He can have an arc of his own. Vader has an arc of his own, but it’s primarily utility is as a supplement to Luke’s. Kylo has an arc of his own in both TFA and TLJ, but that doesn’t mean he’s a main character in either film (although you can argue he’s the co-lead of Last Jedi).

What we’re disagreeing on is the idea that his arc could and should be a PRIMARY storytelling engine. Ultimately, as the villain, his arc needs to be in service to the main character’s (Rey). This happens in TFA and TLJ. It doesn’t really happen the way it needs to in TROS to realize the effect Abrams is hoping to achieve with his redemption.

This isn’t an OT vs ST thing, it’s a basic storytelling structure thing. It’s not specific to Star Wars. The antagonist CAN become the protagonist, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to get that antagonist to that point, and it’s got to be done in a way that informs and supports THE MAIN CHARACTER primarily before that transformation can be successfully completed. Otherwise you’re trying to switch horses midstream and it’s almost impossible for that not to play as a disservice to the main character, and to the detriment of your overall story.

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Broom Kid said:

I still don’t buy the idea that the antagonist can’t have an arc of their own

You keep saying I’m saying this but I’m not saying this. He can have an arc of his own. Vader has an arc of his own, but it’s primarily utility is as a supplement to Luke’s. Kylo has an arc of his own in both TFA and TLJ, but that doesn’t mean he’s a main character in either film (although you can argue he’s the co-lead of Last Jedi).

Well what I mean when I say “of his own” I mean that it doesn’t have to be in service of another character, which is what you seem to be suggesting it has to be.

What we’re disagreeing on is the idea that his arc could and should be a PRIMARY storytelling engine. Ultimately, as the villain, his arc needs to be in service to the main character’s (Rey). This happens in TFA and TLJ. It doesn’t really happen the way it needs to in TROS to realize the effect Abrams is hoping to achieve with his redemption.

I don’t see why it has to be the primary storytelling engine. Again, I don’t see how he can’t have an arc separate from the main character in the same way someone like Finn does, just because he’s the antagonist. Which is to say nothing of the fact that, like I’ve already said, there are plenty of ways they could have a Bendemption that has meaning for Rey’s character as well.

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Well what I mean when I say “of his own” I mean that it doesn’t have to be in service of another character, which is what you seem to be suggesting it has to be.

I’m suggesting it has to be because the story is REY’S story, not his. He only starts to creep into co-lead status 2/3rds into The Last Jedi. What you’re effectively asking is “why isn’t it Kylo’s story” and my answer is “Because it’s Rey’s.” - and it is. It’s not both of theirs. It’s hers. The “two sides of the same coin” thing got a lot of play, but her side of that coin HAS to be the one that lands face-side up at the end because it’s HER story. And really, the “Two sides of the same coin” comparison only really works as a reflection on, and reference to, Rey as the main character. She’s the focus.

The decision was made to make it her story for TFA, and that decision was underlined in TLJ. Abrams never put in the work, much less did that work well enough, for there to be a solid case that by the third movie, Kylo’s name should sit right next to hers. It COULD HAVE. But I don’t think the case was ever effectively made, and if a lot of that case rests upon the poorly argued precedent that Lucas himself set by trying to awkwardly (and ineffectively) retcon “the meaning of Star Wars” to be ABOUT Anakin’s redemption, then that’s not a good case in and of itself, and that precedent wouldn’t do Kylo’s redemption any favors. And it didn’t.

I’ve never said redemption was impossible. My primary beef is with the notion that redemption was the ONLY possibility, and therefore storyarcs that would have led to Kylo’s character staying firmly villainous were abandoned out of hand. I’m not arguing against redemption so much as I am arguing for the premature and short-sighted nullifying of story possibilities for the sake of adhering to broken conventional wisdom about what “Star Wars really is.”

If they were going to redeem him, it needed to be better than this, more well thought out, and more thematically rich - and it needed to be a key part of REY’S story. They didn’t really do any of that. And if they could have served Rey’s story better without driving towards redemption, but they decided against that for no other reason than “That’s not Star Wars” I feel they shot themselves in the foot a little.

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I still don’t understand why redeeming Kylo would have made it his story as much as Rey’s. That’s still a logical leap that you’re making.

Even in TROS, the film is still clearly Rey’s story, not his.

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I still don’t understand why redeeming Kylo would have made it his story as much as Rey’s.

I’m not saying that. I’m saying his path to redemption needed to serve her story, ultimately, because the sequel trilogy IS REY’S STORY first and foremost. It’s not his. That’s not a logical leap. It’s not his story, it’s not structured as such, and it doesn’t play that way. It’s her story, and his role as villain is in service to that story. If you’re going to make him a good guy, it needs to happen in a way that resolves her arc just as much (preferably moreso) than his. Otherwise you’re just dividing focus and introducing confusion. This was also a big problem with the prequels, there wasn’t any unified focus to the storytelling.

The redemption of Kylo Ren is poorly done in TROS for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it doesn’t really serve her story or close any of her arcs. His redemption isn’t a key want of hers as she heads into the finale, so when it happens, it’s not as meaningful as it should have been. Not only is his redemption not done very well, it’s not thematically clear who its for. If it’s for HIM, then it’s out of place because it’s not his story. If it’s for Leia, it’s really out of place because the only way that has any impact is through the audience carrying ALL of the water for Abrams via metatextual familiarity with the series. If it’s for Rey, then it needs to be the last piece that slots into her arc that reallizes it’s successful completion - but the movie tells us THAT happens on Tatooine, when she buries the sabers and takes a last name.

So it’s a redemption that doesn’t have a clearly stated purpose, doesn’t serve a primary thematic need, and isn’t done very well on top of all of that. I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened. I’m saying the way it did happen was very unsatisfactory on a number of levels, and the idea that other possibilities were tossed out before even being explored simply because “that’s not very star wars” was probably a mistake.

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Broom Kid said:

I still don’t understand why redeeming Kylo would have made it his story as much as Rey’s.

I’m not saying that. I’m saying his path to redemption needed to serve her story, ultimately, because the sequel trilogy IS REY’S STORY first and foremost. It’s not his. That’s not a logical leap. It’s not his story, it’s not structured as such, and it doesn’t play that way. It’s her story, and his role as villain is in service to that story. If you’re going to make him a good guy, it needs to happen in a way that resolves her arc just as much (preferably moreso) than his. Otherwise you’re just dividing focus and introducing confusion. This was also a big problem with the prequels, there wasn’t any unified focus to the storytelling.

The redemption of Kylo Ren is poorly done in TROS for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it doesn’t really serve her story or close any of her arcs. His redemption isn’t a key want of hers as she heads into the finale, so when it happens, it’s not as meaningful as it should have been. Not only is his redemption not done very well, it’s not thematically clear who its for. If it’s for HIM, then it’s out of place because it’s not his story. If it’s for Leia, it’s really out of place because the only way that has any impact is through the audience carrying ALL of the water for Abrams via metatextual familiarity with the series. If it’s for Rey, then it needs to be the last piece that slots into her arc that reallizes it’s successful completion - but the movie tells us THAT happens on Tatooine, when she buries the sabers and takes a last name.

Just on a basic level though, why does Kylo’s redemption have to be a part of Rey’s story? Why can’t it be a story in and of itself in the way that Finn’s is? Just because he’s the villain? I don’t know if I buy that argument on paper in the general sense.

And again, regardless (and I know I’m repeating this a million times), there’s plenty of ways his redemption could have fed into Rey’s story.

I’m not going to argue that his redemption wasn’t done sloppily in TROS. But even still, you could make the argument, if you were so inclined, that it does serve Rey’s story in many respects.

So it’s a redemption that doesn’t have a clearly stated purpose, doesn’t serve a primary thematic need, and isn’t done very well on top of all of that. I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened. I’m saying the way it did happen was very unsatisfactory on a number of levels, and the idea that other possibilities were tossed out before even being explored simply because “that’s not very star wars” was probably a mistake.

Personally, I find it very hard to see a scenario where an unredeemed Kylo Ren is a fitting continuation and conclusion for the character and the themes that have been established in the previous two movies. In my mind that’s the main reason to toss the possibility out, even before you get to what is and isn’t Star Wars.

So for me, it’s more a matter of, if you’re going to do this thing - making Kylo go full evil - that is seemingly in direct contradiction of what’s been established so far in this trilogy and in the saga as a whole, you need to have a better reason for doing it than “because redeeming him wouldn’t serve Rey’s story” and “we need to do something Star Wars hasn’t done before.”

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Shopping Maul said:

StarkillerAG said:

Shopping Maul said:

Well why the hell did Vader deserve redemption? At least Kylo had layers, some obvious conflict. The great thing about the TROS version is that Kylo’s redemption was a by-product of what was going on. Rey was on mission (both in the DS wreckage and on Exegol) and Kylo’s turn around came about as a consequence of their interactions (and Leia’s death) - not just a matter of Rey throwing everything aside to win his heart. Luke’s entire focus on DS II was saving Vader when he should have been fighting the Sith with every last breath. The idea that Luke became some kind of legend for this is absurd to me. So I absolutely prefer Kylo’s redemption over the cockamamie “Vader was really just a nice dad and you should always support your dad” thing of ROTJ.

I’ve never seen someone who hates Vader’s redemption before, so this take seems really bizarre to me. If you don’t think Vader had any conflict in the OT, did you even watch those movies? Throughout the trilogy, Vader just seems tired of being the Emperor’s lapdog. When he finds out his son is alive, that becomes his only focus. He was already in a position to be redeemed by Luke, he just needed the push of seeing the Emperor torturing his son. So I don’t think it’s some kind of “support your abusive dad” message, and I feel like the idea that Luke should be religiously focused on fighting the Sith goes against the principles of the saga. The old Jedi were wrong because they were focused on fighting the Sith, and they couldn’t see the manipulation occurring right under their noses. Luke managed to see through the darkness and redeem his father, ending the Sith once and for all.

There was nothing pre-ROTJ to indicate Vader was a conflicted soul. This is primarily because he wasn’t - Lucas hadn’t written him to be the fallen Anakin Skywalker until very late in the process. So ignoring his actions from within the Empire let’s consider Vader from Luke’s perspective - Vader’s dogged pursuit of the DS plans led to the grisly death of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, he tortured Leia on the DS, he killed Obi Wan right before Luke’s eyes, he shot down Luke’s comrades during the DS battle - one of whom was Luke’s boyhood friend, he tortured Luke’s friends on Bespin just to get a rise out of Luke, he beat the crap out of Luke and offered joint custody of a new fascist Empire, and finally Luke was so horrified that he attempted suicide rather than accept Vader as his dad.

I fail to see how from this we get to Luke’s “there’s still good in him” stance of ROTJ. And don’t get me started on the ethics of remaining calm while countless innocents are being annihilated by a super-laser…

What we see in TESB is the shock of the initial news. What we see in ROTJ is Luke the Jedi who has contemplated and reflected and searched his feelings. Even at the end of TESB, Luke has accepted the news and is wondering why Ben and Yoda didn’t tell him. He asks Yoda in ROTJ, but he knew it already. In TESB Luke was brash. In ROTJ he has gained wisdom from his defeat and gained new insight. In TESB he sought to save his friends from the evil Darth Vader. In ROTJ he sees the path of possible redemption for his father.

And we don’t know when during the development of TESB that Vader became Luke’s father because Lucas never put it in the script. That scene was left unfinished and the reveal was only told to Hammil in person. Prowse said “Ben killed your father” on set. So as far as we know, he came up with that idea early on.

And you have to remember that when we meet Luke, he is obsessed with learning about his father. That is kind of a running theme in the scenes on Tatooine. So if he sensed some conflict in Vader, he would jump on the chance to redeem him and get to know him. But alas he only gets a brief time.

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I don’t take the PT as changing the OT. The only part of the OT that it changes is the moment Vader turns and throws the Emperor down the shaft. Outside of that moment, nothing about the PT (or ST) has changed a thing for me in the OT.

For me the PT is Anakin’s story and it is nearly complete. It would be complete if those droids had not ended up at the Lars homestead. For Vader, the OT is about opening old wounds. Even in the original dialog, Vader is after Luke independent of Palpatine. We don’t have clear motivation except the parent child relationship until we get the PT, but it really doesn’t change anything because the OT is Luke’s hero’s journey. And finding his father is his hero’s reward for his victory. Anakin gets a redemption and balances the force in the process, but his story was really done in ROTS. He was a fallen hero. And a lot of that goes back to 1976 with the 4th draft of the original screenplay where Ben talks about how Vader was his student who turned to evil. Vader was always a fallen Jedi in the OT. The PT just told us the details.

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“Just on a basic level though, why does Kylo’s redemption have to be a part of Rey’s story?”

I don’t know how else to answer this for you! LOL. By the point his redemption becomes legitimately viable, it’s firmly her story and he’s HER villain. He’s not a supporting or secondary protagonist. I don’t understand how you possibly make his redemption NOT in service to her story under those circumstances, and those ARE the circumstances by the time his redemption is seriously on the table. It’s not a what-if or a hypothetical at that point. It’s 2 1/2 movies into a 3 movie cycle that is absolutely her story, and his place IN that story is just as firm and absolute. He’s the villain of her story. His redemption needs to be in service to that to be successful.

And even if I grant the argument his redemption as it is serves her story, just the mere fact it serves the story isn’t enough to overcome how poorly it’s done. Just because a thing is baseline done doesn’t mean the doing of it was laudable. The Prequels tried to do a lot of things, and you can argue that those things WERE achieved. But they were largely done poorly. The execution of a storytelling goal is just as important as the arriving at it.

I disagree that Kylo’s potential descent into irretrievable villainy for the third movie is “in direct contradiction” with what came before, but we’ve done that do-si-do, LOL. Kylo Ren’s direction as a character is up in the air after his defeat on Crait. The film itself makes an argument that he could double down on pursuing the dark just as clearly as it makes the case Rey could have turned him. I don’t think a failure to be redeemed in part 3 contradicts anything that’s there in the first two Sequel Trilogy stories. I feel if it directly contradicts anything, it’s that conventional wisdom of “Star Wars” as retconned by Lucas via promoting Anakin’s redemption story as its ultimate “true meaning”. But like I’ve said, I find that conventional wisdom not only to be fundamentally broken, but unnecessarily limiting.

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Kylo doesn’t have to be redeemed, it’s just that whatever he does needs to play a role in Rey’s story and arc.

The unfortunate reality of the Star Wars prequel and Disney trilogies is that they will always be around. Forever. They will never go away. It can never be undone.

I also prefer to be referred to as “TNT”, not “Freezing”.

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Broom Kid said:

“Just on a basic level though, why does Kylo’s redemption have to be a part of Rey’s story?”

I don’t know how else to answer this for you! LOL. By the point his redemption becomes legitimately viable, it’s firmly her story and he’s HER villain. He’s not a supporting or secondary protagonist. I don’t understand how you possibly make his redemption NOT in service to her story under those circumstances, and those ARE the circumstances by the time his redemption is seriously on the table. It’s not a what-if or a hypothetical at that point. It’s 2 1/2 movies into a 3 movie cycle that is absolutely her story, and his place IN that story is just as firm and absolute. He’s the villain of her story. His redemption needs to be in service to that to be successful.

Well, that’s brings us to a different line of discussion. If he’s redeemed, who is she up against? That was the central question that forced JJ to bring back Palpatine, so I guess I’m starting to see your train of thought as to why this was sort of the incept point for things going wrong with TROS.

But there’s a few things to consider. First of all, the Palpatine aspect of TROS was pretty bad, but it wasn’t inherently bad - there are ways it could have been done better. Second, there were other villains who could have stepped in - you have the whole First Order, Hux, and the unused potential of the Knights of Ren to consider. Finally, Rey’s main conflict this trilogy has never been her vs. Kylo Ren. It’s always been her vs. herself and her perception of who she is and who she can be. One of the few right ideas (executed poorly) that they had for TROS was that the main threat for Rey was herself, and her own potential for the dark side. When she fights Kylo, she beats him, but it’s a failure because she’s acted out in anger. That’s smart, regardless of execution. I think there are many ways they could have followed down this path of Rey, rather than Kylo, being the villain of her own story. In my mind that’s the proper continuation of what’s been set up. To me, super powered good Rey facing off against super powered evil Kylo as the climax of the film/trilogy/saga is boring. That’s why the DOTF confrontation is so lame. These characters should be more complicated than that.

That’s why, in my mind, Kylo shouldn’t Rey’s final antagonist in IX. In TLJ for most of the film her antagonist is actually Luke, then Snoke, and only becomes Kylo again at the end. Yet, despite this, they have a now have a much more complex relationship than the typical good guy/bad guy. DOTF abandons this complexity for the worse. TROS at least attempts to continue with it, even if it’s not handled so elegantly.

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I 100% agree that there was an abundance of villains who could have slid into Kylo’s role post-redemption for both of them to face off against, and Palpatine didn’t HAVE to be done the way it was, it could have worked (and I figured the move was so bold that it HAD to be supported by a great take on how he came back, which was a mistake on my part, LOL) in other ways. The potential of this part 3 was abundant! A story where Hux goes completely barking mad and Kylo is redeemed on the way to Rey & Kylo finally taking him down could have worked. A story where Hux pursues his weird Force fetish as in Trevorrow’s script but instead of him comically trying and failing to lift a rock or whatever, THAT weird obsession leads to the resurrection of some ugly monstrous Palpatine-THING at his hands (w/ the help of the Knights of Ren, even) could have also been great. There were a lot of ways that could have gone, and I think a lot of discussion about TROS is going to by default end up a requiem for the failed potential, left unfulfilled. The point you made about Rey’s threat being her own insecurity and unsurety pushing her to the darkside is a great one! And I wish THAT had been made a little more concrete and was done a LOT more cleanly and effectively! And you can see how that’s sort of what they’re TRYING to do by “completing her arc” on Exogol, but it just doesn’t land because it’s all done so poorly, and it’s being sorta/kinda presented as PART of the same thing that leads to Kylo’s redemption, but the two aren’t really linked very strongly at all, and it ends up diminishing BOTH arcs in the end.

We’re both, when we’re not splashing around in the sadness of all this failed storytelling potential as presented in TROS, advocating for the same thing, really: A better, tighter, more clear and thematically satisfying resolution to Rey AND Kylo’s story. We disagree on how to get there in some pretty big ways, and you’re maybe a little more inclined to disqualify some options than I am, but really, we’re more or less starting from the same point: “This could have gone another way, a much more satisfying way, than how it was given to us.”

So far as the Reylo aspect goes, I do honestly feel like the only legitimate romance this trilogy ever had an honest shot at was Poe and Finn. That’s not just shipping wars stuff, those two actors were the only two to have anywhere near the sort of chemistry that Ford and Fisher had in Empire. So if you’re not going to actually get those two together and make the most out of the sparks they were throwing, then I think there probably shouldn’t have been a romantic element to the sequel trilogy AT ALL. To some degree, all the other possible pairings (Finn/Rose, Rey/Kylo, Rey/Poe) just didn’t have it, and it was palpable that it wasn’t really there.

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You’re absolutely right about Finn/Poe, clearly a source of untapped potential, considering their chemistry.

Finn/Rose is a weird one because even in TLJ it’s clearly a one-sided crush. I think the kiss was Rian tipping his hand a bit too much about the direction he wanted that to go in, and, honestly, as upsetting as Rose’s diminished role in TROS is, it’s not terribly odd that she and Finn aren’t together. Chemistry or not, their story in TLJ is not them falling in love.

Either way, the dumbest possible pairing is Rey/Poe. As if it wasn’t bad enough that they didn’t share the screen together until the final moments of TLJ, to shove them together as Trevorrow did, with the implication that they’ve been in love for awhile is supremely silly. It’s not the actors’ chemistry pushing the pairing, and it’s obviously not the preexisting story pushing the pairing - it’s just Trevorrow/Connelly/certain fans who want the two hot people to kiss because that’s what happens in movies.

As for Reylo, I’m not a shipping type of person, but I find it easy to see the ways in which them coming together romantically fits as a conclusion to both of their arcs. Regardless of whether they ended up together, I do think they were purposefully playing for romance in TLJ, and I felt like it was necessary for this to be acknowledged in some way in IX. Whether the way they did it was the right way to do it is another question.

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Broom Kid said:

The point you made about Rey’s threat being her own insecurity and unsurety pushing her to the darkside is a great one! And I wish THAT had been made a little more concrete and was done a LOT more cleanly and effectively! And you can see how that’s sort of what they’re TRYING to do by “completing her arc” on Exogol, but it just doesn’t land because it’s all done so poorly, and it’s being sorta/kinda presented as PART of the same thing that leads to Kylo’s redemption, but the two aren’t really linked very strongly at all, and it ends up diminishing BOTH arcs in the end.

This reminds me that I saw something about a deleted moment where Ben tells Rey not to strike Palpatine down in anger on Exegol. I’m not sure how this scene worked in practice, obviously, but if true that it existed it’s a real shame it didn’t make it into the film. In my mind having Rey and Ben face essentially the same struggle seems redundant, but if there had been a moment like this, where you see Ben plead to Rey not to make the same mistakes he did, I wouldn’t have minded it as much. In a fitting way it would have been full circle for his “you need a teacher moment.” Not to mention it would potentially have resolved the issue where Rey seemingly does exactly what Palpatine wanted (killing him) and that’s a good thing somehow.

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Sorry, I haven’t kept up with the whole conversation, but to give my opinion on the main post, I think asking if someone deserves redemption or forgiveness is a rather philosophical question. Based off a religious perspective, forgiveness or redemption isn’t a question of whether they deserve it, but if they ask for it. If someone asks for forgiveness and seeks redemption, they receive it.

The original trilogy affirms that by Vader redeeming himself and seeking forgiveness from Luke. You can say, “but he killed all these people, and he did all these bad things”, but what the person has done is irrelevant from a religious or mythic standpoint once they start down the path of redemption. People can certainly apply a real-world perspective on crime and punishment to Star Wars, but Star Wars isn’t a real-world story. It is a fairy tale meant to teach people, especially children, lessons. And the lesson of Kylo Ren to me is like a retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In that story, did the foolish son deserve to be welcomed back with open arms by his father? If you think he didn’t, why do you think the father accepted him back? What do you think that story is trying to teach people?

In my opinion, this is what the redemption of Ben Solo is trying to teach others. Lucas wanted Star Wars to be myth for a modern audience, and while the Sequel Trilogy may have stumbled a bit on the execution, I certainly think the it succeeded on that front to some extent.

EDIT: Also wanted to add that Rey and Ben Solo always felt endgame to me. I think an enemies to lovers story was a great way to end the saga. Bringing the two sides back together.

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I disagree that Kylo is Rey’s villain. He isn’t. He is on a parallel journey to her. Both are trying to figure things out and both think the other can help. And with how things ended, you can argue that Kylo is the last Skywalker by blood and Rey is the last Skywalker in spirit. They are yin and yang. Together they are balance. So it was never supposed to be about defeating Kylo but reaching that point of balance. TROS did it by transferring force energy back and forth.

But the picture of redemption that the saga gives us is that you can redeem your life at the end by sacrificing it for someone else. Vader for Luke and Kylo for Rey. It is not as if they get up and walk away and we have to address the aspect of forgiveness on a galactic scale. They are dead and have paid for their sins. They are redeemed for us the audience.

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StarkillerAG said:

Shopping Maul said:

StarkillerAG said:

Shopping Maul said:

Well why the hell did Vader deserve redemption? At least Kylo had layers, some obvious conflict. The great thing about the TROS version is that Kylo’s redemption was a by-product of what was going on. Rey was on mission (both in the DS wreckage and on Exegol) and Kylo’s turn around came about as a consequence of their interactions (and Leia’s death) - not just a matter of Rey throwing everything aside to win his heart. Luke’s entire focus on DS II was saving Vader when he should have been fighting the Sith with every last breath. The idea that Luke became some kind of legend for this is absurd to me. So I absolutely prefer Kylo’s redemption over the cockamamie “Vader was really just a nice dad and you should always support your dad” thing of ROTJ.

I’ve never seen someone who hates Vader’s redemption before, so this take seems really bizarre to me. If you don’t think Vader had any conflict in the OT, did you even watch those movies? Throughout the trilogy, Vader just seems tired of being the Emperor’s lapdog. When he finds out his son is alive, that becomes his only focus. He was already in a position to be redeemed by Luke, he just needed the push of seeing the Emperor torturing his son. So I don’t think it’s some kind of “support your abusive dad” message, and I feel like the idea that Luke should be religiously focused on fighting the Sith goes against the principles of the saga. The old Jedi were wrong because they were focused on fighting the Sith, and they couldn’t see the manipulation occurring right under their noses. Luke managed to see through the darkness and redeem his father, ending the Sith once and for all.

There was nothing pre-ROTJ to indicate Vader was a conflicted soul. This is primarily because he wasn’t - Lucas hadn’t written him to be the fallen Anakin Skywalker until very late in the process. So ignoring his actions from within the Empire let’s consider Vader from Luke’s perspective - Vader’s dogged pursuit of the DS plans led to the grisly death of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, he tortured Leia on the DS, he killed Obi Wan right before Luke’s eyes, he shot down Luke’s comrades during the DS battle - one of whom was Luke’s boyhood friend, he tortured Luke’s friends on Bespin just to get a rise out of Luke, he beat the crap out of Luke and offered joint custody of a new fascist Empire, and finally Luke was so horrified that he attempted suicide rather than accept Vader as his dad.

I fail to see how from this we get to Luke’s “there’s still good in him” stance of ROTJ. And don’t get me started on the ethics of remaining calm while countless innocents are being annihilated by a super-laser…

I feel like you’re missing the point. Yes, Vader did bad things, but he never did them with glee.

Except when he needlessly murdered Needa.

He projected an imposing figure onto himself, but there was still a light side to him. Luke was able to see his inner light when he saw that Vader couldn’t bring himself to kill him on Bespin. When Vader destroyed the Emperor and ended the Sith, it confirmed Luke’s hope.

Hermann Goering had enough love for his anti-Nazi brother, Albert, to intercede whenever Albert found himself at risk of Nazi persecution. Who can say how much Hermann’s fraternal instinct indirectly benefitted the Jews Albert was helping. But none of this absolves Hermann of the crimes he was complicit in. And Vader saving Luke doesn’t absolve him of his crimes.

Vader’s sacrifice should’ve been motivated by a desire to save the Rebel Alliance and put an end to the regime he helped impose, not merely to save his genetic offspring. Then the more cynical fans such as Shopping Maul and myself would be better able to buy into his redemption.

Divergent Universes
Dreams of a Randy Git-Fiend

Make Off Topic great again.

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That is an interesting perspective. I think the importance of Vader’s redemption rests on the father/son dynamic, and I don’t know if a political motivation would have resonated with people on the same level as what we got.