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Does Kylo really deserve to be redeemed? Did he deserve to be Reys love interest? — Page 3

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RogueLeader said:

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.

I think it would’ve been possible to channel one through the other, have Vader’s dying for Luke only a component of a larger sacrifice for the greater good. It would’ve taken a better script than the one we got, or at least better direction.

Divergent Universes
Dreams of a Randy Git-Fiend

Make Off Topic great again.

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Maybe Luke and Vader could’ve briefly talked about the Empire during their conversation on Endor. It could’ve paralleled Luke and Obi-Wan’s conversation where Luke says, “I don’t like the Empire but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.” Luke challenges Vader to do the right thing like Obi-Wan once did to him, and we could’ve gotten insight on what Vader thinks about the Empire, but give an excuse as to why he can’t change it. Maybe after he killed the Emperor, he could’ve stumbled over to the Emperor’s throne, with Luke looking on worried if he would sit down to “take the throne”, only to have him call off the attack and order their forces to retreat. Or something along those lines. If the rebels were losing, and Vader’s orders saved them, it would’ve helped tie Luke’s act of nonviolence not only into saving his father’s soul, but also save the Alliance (especially since their ability to destroy the shield generator and then the Death Star is rather disconnected to the battle between Vader and Luke).

I honestly thought Kylo Ren’s redemption was meant to set up a similar idea. Having him become the Supreme Leader, but then to turn back to the light, would’ve allowed him to finally end the war in a nonviolent way. Unfortunately we didn’t get that.

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RogueLeader said:

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.

A part of me wishes Vader hadn’t died in ROTJ, and an alternate ST explored a redeemed Anakin and Luke’s dynamic as he earns true redemption.

Kylo was our second chance of this, oh well.

Maul- A Star Wars Story

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My problem with the idea of either Kylo or Vader surviving their respective redemptions is that even in a fantasy film universe as wide open as the one Star Wars occurs in - I simply don’t see a future for either character where they’re not immediately murdered as retribution for their crimes, either by the respective governments, or by mob rule. Asking audiences to accept that family members (or possible lovers) can forgive the terrible in those they hold dear is one thing. Asking the rest of that fictional universe to get in line behind them is… a lot. And really, really pushing the suspension of disbelief.

Their only real future along those lines is self-exile. Which was actually pitched in the case of Kylo, but ignored by Abrams as a possibility. Kylo communing with the Force for the rest of his life, in solitude, on Ahch-To makes sense to me. Kylo wandering the galaxy like some sort of do-gooder Ronin? I don’t see it. It’d just be wave after wave of people trying to take him out because of, you know, the whole genocidal dictator thing.

I could see self-exiling either character for literally DECADES, and then being summoned out of that exile as a last ditch “you’re our only hope” sort of hail mary for whoever the heroes of that follow-up story were. i.e. “I know of one man who could help. Maybe. But you’re not gonna like it

That’s one hell of a long game to play. But it’s probably the only real shot at a plausible “redemption/atonement” storyline for those characters. You need a ton of time and a whole lot of distance from the events of the movie they redeemed themselves in. Give them a chance to become legends/spectres, and then they finally get a chance to do the right thing for the right reaons on a large scale.

But in the case of Kylo… I just don’t see him surviving like 50,000 assassination attempts if he lived past The Rise of Skywalker. He’d have to hide out in a place where no people go for a very, very long time.

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Thinking in realistic terms like that doesn’t really seem to be right wavelength for these films. This is a universe where most people probably wouldn’t recognize Ben Solo or know who he is, and Kylo Ren would just be the thing of myth.

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Broom Kid said:

My problem with the idea of either Kylo or Vader surviving their respective redemptions is that even in a fantasy film universe as wide open as the one Star Wars occurs in - I simply don’t see a future for either character where they’re not immediately murdered as retribution for their crimes, either by the respective governments, or by mob rule. Asking audiences to accept that family members (or possible lovers) can forgive the terrible in those they hold dear is one thing. Asking the rest of that fictional universe to get in line behind them is… a lot. And really, really pushing the suspension of disbelief.

Their only real future along those lines is self-exile. Which was actually pitched in the case of Kylo, but ignored by Abrams as a possibility. Kylo communing with the Force for the rest of his life, in solitude, on Ahch-To makes sense to me. Kylo wandering the galaxy like some sort of do-gooder Ronin? I don’t see it. It’d just be wave after wave of people trying to take him out because of, you know, the whole genocidal dictator thing.

I could see self-exiling either character for literally DECADES, and then being summoned out of that exile as a last ditch “you’re our only hope” sort of hail mary for whoever the heroes of that follow-up story were. i.e. “I know of one man who could help. Maybe. But you’re not gonna like it

That’s one hell of a long game to play. But it’s probably the only real shot at a plausible “redemption/atonement” storyline for those characters. You need a ton of time and a whole lot of distance from the events of the movie they redeemed themselves in. Give them a chance to become legends/spectres, and then they finally get a chance to do the right thing for the right reaons on a large scale.

But in the case of Kylo… I just don’t see him surviving like 50,000 assassination attempts if he lived past The Rise of Skywalker. He’d have to hide out in a place where no people go for a very, very long time.

You’ve actually touched on my entire issue with the Luke/Vader conclusion in ROTJ - the very ‘mob rule’ that would have made a ‘Vader survives’ story untenable is exactly the same ‘mob rule’ that should have made Luke’s story untenable. I keep joking about banter at the Ewok party but I’m actually serious - what did Luke tell everyone about the throne room showdown? Because the truth would have had him strung on the nearest branch. People keep saying “Luke showed mercy and thus destroyed the Sith”. This is not what happened. What happened was that Luke abandoned the fight and, luckily for him, this led to Palpatine’s death. It’d be no different if Luke had left a banana peel on the step and Palpatine had accidentally broken his neck. When TFA opened with ‘Luke Skywalker has vanished’ I was like “who cares?”. What would Jedi Master Skywalker have offered that could have been remotely useful to bringing down the FO? ‘Be kind, never use your weapon, and family comes first’.

This could have been fixed (for me anyway) with a change of dialogue at the Ewok hut. Luke could have said to Leia something like “Vader can sense when I’m here, which means the Emperor is on to us. I’m going to turn myself in. Vader will take me to the Emperor himself - I have foreseen it. I’m going to make sure Emperor Palpatine never leaves the Death Star”. Leia would be understandably horrified - Luke is basically committing suicide for the cause - and Luke would insist. It would be incredibly powerful but also selfless and heroic. That would be a true hero. Vader could still have his change of heart, Luke could still spare his father’s life, but Luke’s intentions would be that of a Jedi Master - someone whose counsel one would definitely wish to seek 30 years later when the war flares up again. And Vader’s redemption would merely be a factor in the events - a very important one for the characters to be sure - but it would still be the story of Luke Skywalker destroying the Sith with Vader’s turnaround as a component of the whole - not Luke’s entire mission.

Which is why I prefer Kylo’s redemption. Kylo was redeemed because he’d never truly lost his attachment to his family and Rey saved his life. So he made serious amends - firstly by helping Rey in the final battle and then by giving his life-force to her. It doesn’t excuse his crimes, but it has infinitely more weight than Vader’s selfish “gotta save my kid” redemption IMO.

And this is exactly the kind of story Rey could tell at the after-party - “Kylo turned to the light, he helped me fight Palpatine, and then he died so that I might live”. Why is this better? Because she wouldn’t have to omit such items as “well I didn’t want to lose my temper so I held back, watched lots of people die, got angry and beat Kylo to standstill, spared him because I’m fond of him, threw my weapon away, declared myself a Jedi while you guys were all being beaten to sh*t in the space battle…”

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Shopping Maul said:

Broom Kid said:

My problem with the idea of either Kylo or Vader surviving their respective redemptions is that even in a fantasy film universe as wide open as the one Star Wars occurs in - I simply don’t see a future for either character where they’re not immediately murdered as retribution for their crimes, either by the respective governments, or by mob rule. Asking audiences to accept that family members (or possible lovers) can forgive the terrible in those they hold dear is one thing. Asking the rest of that fictional universe to get in line behind them is… a lot. And really, really pushing the suspension of disbelief.

Their only real future along those lines is self-exile. Which was actually pitched in the case of Kylo, but ignored by Abrams as a possibility. Kylo communing with the Force for the rest of his life, in solitude, on Ahch-To makes sense to me. Kylo wandering the galaxy like some sort of do-gooder Ronin? I don’t see it. It’d just be wave after wave of people trying to take him out because of, you know, the whole genocidal dictator thing.

I could see self-exiling either character for literally DECADES, and then being summoned out of that exile as a last ditch “you’re our only hope” sort of hail mary for whoever the heroes of that follow-up story were. i.e. “I know of one man who could help. Maybe. But you’re not gonna like it

That’s one hell of a long game to play. But it’s probably the only real shot at a plausible “redemption/atonement” storyline for those characters. You need a ton of time and a whole lot of distance from the events of the movie they redeemed themselves in. Give them a chance to become legends/spectres, and then they finally get a chance to do the right thing for the right reaons on a large scale.

But in the case of Kylo… I just don’t see him surviving like 50,000 assassination attempts if he lived past The Rise of Skywalker. He’d have to hide out in a place where no people go for a very, very long time.

You’ve actually touched on my entire issue with the Luke/Vader conclusion in ROTJ - the very ‘mob rule’ that would have made a ‘Vader survives’ story untenable is exactly the same ‘mob rule’ that should have made Luke’s story untenable. I keep joking about banter at the Ewok party but I’m actually serious - what did Luke tell everyone about the throne room showdown? Because the truth would have had him strung on the nearest branch. People keep saying “Luke showed mercy and thus destroyed the Sith”. This is not what happened. What happened was that Luke abandoned the fight and, luckily for him, this led to Palpatine’s death. It’d be no different if Luke had left a banana peel on the step and Palpatine had accidentally broken his neck. When TFA opened with ‘Luke Skywalker has vanished’ I was like “who cares?”. What would Jedi Master Skywalker have offered that could have been remotely useful to bringing down the FO? ‘Be kind, never use your weapon, and family comes first’.

This could have been fixed (for me anyway) with a change of dialogue at the Ewok hut. Luke could have said to Leia something like “Vader can sense when I’m here, which means the Emperor is on to us. I’m going to turn myself in. Vader will take me to the Emperor himself - I have foreseen it. I’m going to make sure Emperor Palpatine never leaves the Death Star”. Leia would be understandably horrified - Luke is basically committing suicide for the cause - and Luke would insist. It would be incredibly powerful but also selfless and heroic. That would be a true hero. Vader could still have his change of heart, Luke could still spare his father’s life, but Luke’s intentions would be that of a Jedi Master - someone whose counsel one would definitely wish to seek 30 years later when the war flares up again. And Vader’s redemption would merely be a factor in the events - a very important one for the characters to be sure - but it would still be the story of Luke Skywalker destroying the Sith with Vader’s turnaround as a component of the whole - not Luke’s entire mission.

Which is why I prefer Kylo’s redemption. Kylo was redeemed because he’d never truly lost his attachment to his family and Rey saved his life. So he made serious amends - firstly by helping Rey in the final battle and then by giving his life-force to her. It doesn’t excuse his crimes, but it has infinitely more weight than Vader’s selfish “gotta save my kid” redemption IMO.

And this is exactly the kind of story Rey could tell at the after-party - “Kylo turned to the light, he helped me fight Palpatine, and then he died so that I might live”. Why is this better? Because she wouldn’t have to omit such items as “well I didn’t want to lose my temper so I held back, watched lots of people die, got angry and beat Kylo to standstill, spared him because I’m fond of him, threw my weapon away, declared myself a Jedi while you guys were all being beaten to sh*t in the space battle…”

You can describe what Luke was doing during the larger battle as keeping Vader and the Emperor distracted and focused on him rather than on the battle. Keeping them distracted kept them from using their formidable power and experience to make the battle worse. If Luke terms his actions like that he ends up being a hero and part of the battle and doesn’t have to lie about anything. Because he was keeping the Emperor occupied at a crucial moment when the Emperor’s plans were being undone. Heck, the Emperor was so focused on torturing and killing him that he didn’t even sense Vader was going to throw him over the railing and down the shaft. And in the process he redeemed his father.

And everyone is right, there is no way Vader or Kylo could live. Kylo could have gone to Ach-to and become a teacher for one-on-one advanced Jedi training, but outside of that he wouldn’t have much of a life. The redemption and death is a better story that solves that issue by having them not only redeem their soul and return to the light, but sacrifice their life to save someone they care about. It makes their redemption more sure and very permanent (they are dead and can’t fall back to the dark side).

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I don’t know. I think it’d be fairly easy to disguise yourself around the galaxy. Wear Mandalorian or Booush armor. In Kylo’s case, grow a beard and cut your hair. In Vader’s, no one knew what he looked like under the helmet. This would be helped with Luke/Rey claiming they are dead.

The problem with immediate death is it isn’t very interesting. Vader and Kylo never confront what they have done. Love should be used as the tipping point back over, but once on the light, it would have been nice to feel some remorse for their actions.

Maul- A Star Wars Story

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OutboundFlight said:

I don’t know. I think it’d be fairly easy to disguise yourself around the galaxy. Wear Mandalorian or Booush armor. In Kylo’s case, grow a beard and cut your hair. In Vader’s, no one knew what he looked like under the helmet. This would be helped with Luke/Rey claiming they are dead.

The problem with immediate death is it isn’t very interesting. Vader and Kylo never confront what they have done. Love should be used as the tipping point back over, but once on the light, it would have been nice to feel some remorse for their actions.

And I think all of this is well and good, but it’s also going back to that fundamental question of what “Star Wars is about” as if there’s a central unifying thesis behind all the storytelling decisions being made (I don’t think there really should be) as opposed to Star Wars being defined by its look and sound (which I think is the most unifying aspect, and probably should be)

All that to say: I understand the desire and I get why you’d want to pursue the stories of Vader and Kylo into a better ending for both of them, I don’t think it’s wrong to do so and I agree there’s a TON of interesting avenues to go down and I’d even love to see those ideas - I spitballed one of them myself upthread! But then you have to ask why Star Wars needs to be primarily a story about misunderstood genocidal dictators making good on their ruined lives. Why are THOSE figures now THE CENTRAL figures of Star Wars, and why is forgiving them and making their forgiveness the primary focus, the overall goal of this story?

What is it about Star Wars that makes Star Wars fans think the best use of time and energy from a storytelling POV is in pursuing rehabilitation narratives for literally THE WORST people? There are other ways to tell stories of forgiveness and love than to lean as hard as possible into a path where eventually the only acceptable end point is “You’ve only really told a successful story in this fictional universe if you’ve figured out a way to make Herrman Goering or Richard Spencer loveable again.”

But even allowing for that story to be THE primary story of Star Wars - I don’t think it’s “applying realism” to Star Wars to suggest that Kylo or Vader wandering the galaxy to try and atone is sort of a bad call, for multiple reasons.

  1. It makes our heroes liars. Especially in a scenario where they just… let Vader or Kylo go and tell everyone else “Oh, he died.” That’s a HUGE betrayal of trust and responsibility on the part of our hero. “You told me he died” is a pretty big hurdle to have to clear, and even BROACHING the subject shifts the texture of the storytelling you’re working with. They tried to have Obi-Wan reckon with it in Jedi and it… didn’t really work. It’s maybe one of the biggest bits of bullshit IN that movie. Now imagine turning EVERY hero we have that’s in on this story INTO that, but on a larger, galaxy-wide scale. And even then, it’s not “I lied about him dying because I thought you’d have to kill him for the sake of the galaxy,” but “I lied to everyone about him dying because I want him to get as many karma points as he can before he kicks the bucket”

  2. It sends a weird message, in that you can duck responsibility for being a genocidal maniac by simply growing a beard and fighting off farm raiders in the outer rim, or wearing a helmet for the rest of your life. But even that’s likely not going to stop word from spreading about who you REALLY are. And once that word is out - you’re basically on a countdown clock to assassination attempts. But the big contradiction here is that you can’t REALLY atone for what you’ve done while you’re in hiding and denying who you are. That’s not really atonement. You have to be you, and take responsibility for what you did. If you’re “atoning” under an alias and denying who you are (and making good people complicit in that deception) it’s kind of a bullshit “atonement.”

  3. It again, tilts this storytelling towards enabling and making… not excuses, but ALLOWANCES for flat out EVIL behavior. Because there’s no way on these adventures that this bad guy turned good doesn’t get in fights and/or kill good guys who aren’t trying to hear about this atonement world tour. And then you have to step back and ask why THIS is your primary storytelling focus? What is it about Star Wars that has led you to the point where in order to craft a SUCCESSFUL story that embodies THE THEMES of Star Wars, you have to grapple with character choices like “how do I get Kylo Ren out of this jam where a farmer figures out who he is and tries to put a knife in his eye?”

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So true, Broom Kid. Leaving them alive just creates all sorts of issues. Having them die is the cleanest route to take in story telling. It’s not an easy way out, it is the only way that preservers our heroes as heroes.

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I just like ROTJ how it is. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I suppose splitting ROTJ into two movies would have been an ideal pursuit. Draw out Vader’s redemption by having him go semi-turncoat, slowly demonstrating the error of his ways and undoing his damage from within. Maybe he spends more time with Luke, as Luke planting the seeds of doubt and pulls some of the “light” out of him.

Something akin to how Dragon Ball handled Vegeta’s redemption arc would be ideal.

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yotsuya said:

Shopping Maul said:

Broom Kid said:

My problem with the idea of either Kylo or Vader surviving their respective redemptions is that even in a fantasy film universe as wide open as the one Star Wars occurs in - I simply don’t see a future for either character where they’re not immediately murdered as retribution for their crimes, either by the respective governments, or by mob rule. Asking audiences to accept that family members (or possible lovers) can forgive the terrible in those they hold dear is one thing. Asking the rest of that fictional universe to get in line behind them is… a lot. And really, really pushing the suspension of disbelief.

Their only real future along those lines is self-exile. Which was actually pitched in the case of Kylo, but ignored by Abrams as a possibility. Kylo communing with the Force for the rest of his life, in solitude, on Ahch-To makes sense to me. Kylo wandering the galaxy like some sort of do-gooder Ronin? I don’t see it. It’d just be wave after wave of people trying to take him out because of, you know, the whole genocidal dictator thing.

I could see self-exiling either character for literally DECADES, and then being summoned out of that exile as a last ditch “you’re our only hope” sort of hail mary for whoever the heroes of that follow-up story were. i.e. “I know of one man who could help. Maybe. But you’re not gonna like it

That’s one hell of a long game to play. But it’s probably the only real shot at a plausible “redemption/atonement” storyline for those characters. You need a ton of time and a whole lot of distance from the events of the movie they redeemed themselves in. Give them a chance to become legends/spectres, and then they finally get a chance to do the right thing for the right reaons on a large scale.

But in the case of Kylo… I just don’t see him surviving like 50,000 assassination attempts if he lived past The Rise of Skywalker. He’d have to hide out in a place where no people go for a very, very long time.

You’ve actually touched on my entire issue with the Luke/Vader conclusion in ROTJ - the very ‘mob rule’ that would have made a ‘Vader survives’ story untenable is exactly the same ‘mob rule’ that should have made Luke’s story untenable. I keep joking about banter at the Ewok party but I’m actually serious - what did Luke tell everyone about the throne room showdown? Because the truth would have had him strung on the nearest branch. People keep saying “Luke showed mercy and thus destroyed the Sith”. This is not what happened. What happened was that Luke abandoned the fight and, luckily for him, this led to Palpatine’s death. It’d be no different if Luke had left a banana peel on the step and Palpatine had accidentally broken his neck. When TFA opened with ‘Luke Skywalker has vanished’ I was like “who cares?”. What would Jedi Master Skywalker have offered that could have been remotely useful to bringing down the FO? ‘Be kind, never use your weapon, and family comes first’.

This could have been fixed (for me anyway) with a change of dialogue at the Ewok hut. Luke could have said to Leia something like “Vader can sense when I’m here, which means the Emperor is on to us. I’m going to turn myself in. Vader will take me to the Emperor himself - I have foreseen it. I’m going to make sure Emperor Palpatine never leaves the Death Star”. Leia would be understandably horrified - Luke is basically committing suicide for the cause - and Luke would insist. It would be incredibly powerful but also selfless and heroic. That would be a true hero. Vader could still have his change of heart, Luke could still spare his father’s life, but Luke’s intentions would be that of a Jedi Master - someone whose counsel one would definitely wish to seek 30 years later when the war flares up again. And Vader’s redemption would merely be a factor in the events - a very important one for the characters to be sure - but it would still be the story of Luke Skywalker destroying the Sith with Vader’s turnaround as a component of the whole - not Luke’s entire mission.

Which is why I prefer Kylo’s redemption. Kylo was redeemed because he’d never truly lost his attachment to his family and Rey saved his life. So he made serious amends - firstly by helping Rey in the final battle and then by giving his life-force to her. It doesn’t excuse his crimes, but it has infinitely more weight than Vader’s selfish “gotta save my kid” redemption IMO.

And this is exactly the kind of story Rey could tell at the after-party - “Kylo turned to the light, he helped me fight Palpatine, and then he died so that I might live”. Why is this better? Because she wouldn’t have to omit such items as “well I didn’t want to lose my temper so I held back, watched lots of people die, got angry and beat Kylo to standstill, spared him because I’m fond of him, threw my weapon away, declared myself a Jedi while you guys were all being beaten to sh*t in the space battle…”

You can describe what Luke was doing during the larger battle as keeping Vader and the Emperor distracted and focused on him rather than on the battle. Keeping them distracted kept them from using their formidable power and experience to make the battle worse. If Luke terms his actions like that he ends up being a hero and part of the battle and doesn’t have to lie about anything. Because he was keeping the Emperor occupied at a crucial moment when the Emperor’s plans were being undone. Heck, the Emperor was so focused on torturing and killing him that he didn’t even sense Vader was going to throw him over the railing and down the shaft. And in the process he redeemed his father.

You’re right, and I seem to recall the ROTJ novelisation said as much - that Luke was basically keeping the bad guys distracted so the mission could stay on point. I just wish that had been his expressed purpose in the dialogue.

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Broom Kid said:

OutboundFlight said:

I don’t know. I think it’d be fairly easy to disguise yourself around the galaxy. Wear Mandalorian or Booush armor. In Kylo’s case, grow a beard and cut your hair. In Vader’s, no one knew what he looked like under the helmet. This would be helped with Luke/Rey claiming they are dead.

The problem with immediate death is it isn’t very interesting. Vader and Kylo never confront what they have done. Love should be used as the tipping point back over, but once on the light, it would have been nice to feel some remorse for their actions.

And I think all of this is well and good, but it’s also going back to that fundamental question of what “Star Wars is about” as if there’s a central unifying thesis behind all the storytelling decisions being made (I don’t think there really should be) as opposed to Star Wars being defined by its look and sound (which I think is the most unifying aspect, and probably should be)

Except now you’re the one placing limitations on story potential.

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Not really. I’m just asking for a solid justification for why a specific TYPE of story needs to be the DEFINING story type for Star Wars. Because that’s usually how the redemption story arcs are framed by those making arguments for them. So I’m asking why, of all the various sorts of stories that Star Wars can (and does) tell within its framework, that “villain redemption” be the one that ultimately defines the larger shape of “Star Wars.” What’s the justification for that ONE angle taking priority over the others?

that’s not saying those stories have no place, or shouldn’t be told. But it’s an interesting question to pose, I think. At the least, one that should be considered before going down that path too far.

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I just mean in this specific case you’re unwilling to see the potential for a redemption where the villain lives.

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I specifically said multiple times I see the potential, and even pitched my own version of such a story a few posts back.

I understand the desire and I get why you’d want to pursue the stories of Vader and Kylo into a better ending for both of them, I don’t think it’s wrong to do so and I agree there’s a TON of interesting avenues to go down

^ that’s me!

Heck, the post you just responded to has me saying “that’s not saying those stories have no place, or shouldn’t be told.”

Investigating why they’re being told isn’t the same as saying they don’t deserve to be.

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I just have trouble understanding you in general on this topic. Again you’re back to saying that if the villain is redeemed, suddenly that becomes the “central” and “primary” story being told. Again you seem to think the message they’re trying to send is that Kylo Ren is a Nazi. You come up with every possible explanation for why a bad guy shouldn’t live, regardless of whether the implications make sense for the style of story that Star Wars actually is. You could easily apply the same sort of interrogation for plenty of other aspects of the SW universe. It’s the same sort of thing as that argument in Clerks about killing innocent people by blowing up the Death Star. It’s irrelevant to the story as is being told. Star Wars shouldn’t be monolithic, but at some point you have to accept that you’re basically just asking it to be a different kind of thing entirely. Go watch Star Trek or something instead.

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I’m saying Vader’s redemption story being retconned into the PRIMARY story of Star Wars by its creator, informed the notion that Kylo Ren had to be redeemed by the end of the sequel trilogy, because “That’s what Star Wars is.” Retroactively making the villains the main characters is an act that centers the villains in your storytelling as opposed to centering the heroes (which is why the OT is still the most resonant of the three trilogies - it’s the only one remains focused and centered on its hero). So if you’re going to center the villains, and adopt the storytelling ethos that the point of your narrative is to show how and why it’s important above all else that Star Wars represents “Love is so powerful it can save Space Nazis from themselves!” you need to be able to explain why Star Wars should be that, or further, why it needs to be that, and why avoiding that aspect is “antithetical” to the message of “Star Wars” overall.

Yes, you could apply the same sort of interrogation to other aspects of Star Wars, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in doing that. It’s certainly not a condemnation of those other aspects, just like my interrogation of it here isn’t a condemnation of Kylo Ren’s redemption. But I also don’t think the redemption is all that well-justified as it stands, and there aren’t a lot of good ways TO justify it, in my view. But it’s certainly not impossible. It just takes the kind of work and forethought that a good interrogation would bring out. I don’t think it’s particularly fair to describe my poking at notions of what atonement means, and what it means for the characters embodying that idea in Star Wars, to Dante and Randal talking about contractors on the Death Star in a comedy movie, nor is it all that fair to tell me to “just go watch Star Trek instead.” If you’re going to argue for thoughtfulness in the creation of Star Wars on the part of its creators, these are exactly the sorts of questions you want them (and the audience) to be considering when they’re done watching.

My disagreeing with your more generous appraisal of Kylo’s quality as a character doesn’t mean I don’t understand where you’re coming from, or that you’re wrong for thinking that way. I just don’t agree with it that’s all. It’s not a personal flaw or anything. You liking the character more than I do (and I don’t even know if that’s honestly the case, I like Kylo Ren as a character a LOT, and I think he’s the best villain this series ever had) doesn’t mean you’re WRONG for doing so, and I’m going to show you the light or whatever. But I do think there are a lot of ways a potential story where Kylo lives and just gets to “atone” for his “misdeeds” (which is a pretty light euphemism for the atrocities he committed, really) could really resonate in some unseemly ways if not carefully looked at and considered.

My biggest problem with that is, again, the idea that you can “atone” for what you did wrong while hiding your identity. The first step of atonement is owning what you did fully, and you can’t really do that - at least not helpfully and honestly - if you’re pretending to be someone else, and asking other people to assist you in that fundamental deception.

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I will always support thoughtfulness in terms of the storytelling of Star Wars and its meaning, I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But everything has their own wavelength, and so naturally there are things that would feel out of place from that wavelength. I just think what you’re suggesting is something more in the vein of Trek, where it less about grandiose myth and fairy tale and more about nitty gritty politics and and the nature of justice and such. SW has never really been about ‘justice’ in that way. Yes, the Jedi are the guardians of peace and justice, but their ethos are compassion and benevolence. Understanding and forgiveness. Retribution, revenge, punishment, these things aren’t supposed to be part of the Jedi philosophy, and, by extension, the philosophy of the series itself.

For me, Star Wars being “about” redemption is more just that redemption fits in cleanly with all the other things it’s “about.” You can’t just ignore that aspect, because they’re all connected, like a house of cards - pull one out and the whole thing tumbles (and I would argue the whole thing did tumble in TROS, but because of other areas). For me, looking at whether the good guys or the bad guys are the main characters is the wrong way of looking at it. Hero or villain is the wrong way of looking at it. Kylo Ren was designed to toe the line of that easy classification. Ever since TESB, the idea that the potential for the dark side exists within all people who use the force became a huge point of the story of the series. From then on, it wasn’t as easy as Luke being the hero who would defeat the evil and win. That evil power, that was something he had to face within himself - that was something he could become. The fight against evil is not an ‘us vs. them’ thing, it’s a universal struggle that we all must face within ourselves - right vs. wrong, selflessness vs. selfishness, etc. That’s what the dark side is, not some other, not some one dimensional space Nazi that we can so easily put into a box. This is the brilliance of TLJ, for instance. We assume things about Kylo because he’s the villain, and Luke because he’s the hero - but the truth is that it was Luke who succumbed to the dark side which was the thing that pushed Ben over the edge.

Kylo Ren is a perfect continuation of that central conflict, and that central story - not redemption, but that idea of freedom of choice, and choosing to do the right thing. To cast the character aside as just ‘bad guy’ or ‘villain,’ whose story must be defined in those terms only, is to miss the point completely.

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For me, looking at whether the good guys or the bad guys are the main characters is the wrong way of looking at it.

I don’t understand how else to look at it if you’re going to discuss structure, theme, and narrative intent. That’s the bones of the story. The scaffolding. It’s the way you build a story so that the meaning comes through loud and clear. If this is a conversation about those sorts of things (and I was under the impression it absolutely was) then you HAVE to look at it that way, don’t you? What’s the alternative? Even fairy tales have to be created by someone who wants to figure out how best to effectively communicate the idea they want to get across. The ideas don’t just happen accidentally.

I’m not arguing for what’s easy. I think that’s sort of obvious simply due to how many words I’m devoting to how hard it is to tell these stories well, and how much thought you have to put into those sorts of decisions for them to work in ways that resonate this strongly. It’s not easy at all. I don’t think it SHOULD be easy. And that means you have to think about what you’re suggesting for your characters, and what those suggestions do for the messages they embody AS characters, and the ideas they exist to represent.

I’m going to disengage at this point, sorry. But again, thank you for spending the time and being fair and patient about it.

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Broom Kid said:

For me, looking at whether the good guys or the bad guys are the main characters is the wrong way of looking at it.

I don’t understand how else to look at it if you’re going to discuss structure, theme, and narrative intent. That’s the bones of the story. The scaffolding. It’s the way you build a story so that the meaning comes through loud and clear. If this is a conversation about those sorts of things (and I was under the impression it absolutely was) then you HAVE to look at it that way, don’t you? What’s the alternative? Even fairy tales have to be created by someone who wants to figure out how best to effectively communicate the idea they want to get across. The ideas don’t just happen accidentally.

Well, the question is if we’re talking simply about the mechanics of storytelling or if we’re talking about whether it’s acceptable to have a protagonist who might also be a “bad guy.” You seem to take exception with the fact that Anakin is the main character in the PT, so that’s where I’m coming from.

I’m going to disengage at this point, sorry. But again, thank you for spending the time and being fair and patient about it.

Fair enough.

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I feel like many people look at Kylo and Vader through the lens of them being authoritarian dictators, when I think we should look at them through the lens of family. Fathers and sons. This isn’t a story about Adolf Hitler or a Neo-Nazi, it’s a story about your estranged father or your misguided son. Or even you, after you’ve realized you’ve made some mistakes in your life and you may have hurt people you care about. And I think the films try to send a message that it is never too late do try and do the right thing. To make amends with your loved ones.

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RogueLeader said:

I feel like many people look at Kylo and Vader through the lens of them being authoritarian dictators, when I think we should look at them through the lens of family. Fathers and sons. This isn’t a story about Adolf Hitler or a Neo-Nazi, it’s a story about your estranged father or your misguided son. Or even you, after you’ve realized you’ve made some mistakes in your life and you may have hurt people you care about. And I think the films try to send a message that it is never too late do try and do the right thing. To make amends with your loved ones.

Yes. I think it’s important to note that, while the Empire and First Order clearly invoke fascist iconography, Vader and Kylo don’t. Vader looks like a samurai, Kylo a black knight. They exist outside of the typical structure of the Empire and FO leadership. Their biggest crimes, in terms of how the story portrays it, is killing their fathers.

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RogueLeader said:

I feel like many people look at Kylo and Vader through the lens of them being authoritarian dictators, when I think we should look at them through the lens of family. Fathers and sons. This isn’t a story about Adolf Hitler or a Neo-Nazi, it’s a story about your estranged father or your misguided son. Or even you, after you’ve realized you’ve made some mistakes in your life and you may have hurt people you care about. And I think the films try to send a message that it is never too late do try and do the right thing. To make amends with your loved ones.

I think you’re right, but more specifically I think this was only correct post-TESB. It’s like Lucas suddenly deciding that Leia was Luke’s sister, or that Anakin was only 45 when he died. Lucas clearly decided that it was all about the father/son thing circa ROTJ, but he just didn’t seem to acknowledge what had gone before, just like he seemed to have forgotten Luke and Leia’s flirtations in the previous films. Vader was not a sympathetic character - the first thing he did in ANH is lift a guy up by the neck and crush his larynx! I just think George got the balance wrong. It’s nice for someone, even Vader, to get a shot at redemption, but I wish the whole thing had been more nuanced from Luke’s POV.

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My logic is that Vader’s redemption came outta nowhere whereas Kylo’s is set up, so it’s hypocritical to say Kylo couldn’t be redeemed but Vader could be.

Also, I’m pro-Reylo.