I think he was a good villain in TFA, and a great villain in TLJ right up until Rey runs away from him and he takes over the First Order. Frankly, once it was clear that he wasn’t going to team up with Rey, I lost a lot of interest in the character. There was a real opportunity to develop Kylo’s character into something we’ve never seen before in having him team up with Rey and become something beyond just a Jedi or a Sith, but it just… didn’t happen. I don’t know if Johnson wasn’t confident enough to bring the story in that direction or what happened, but I definitely feel like it was a missed opportunity. And it’s certainly possible that Johnson never intended to do that with Kylo’s character at all, but I’d argue that if that’s the case, then maybe the idea just shouldn’t have been brought up in the first place. It seems like a really good way to set the audience up for disappointment and not much else.
Well I think the set up is quite necessary for what Johnson is going for. They have a chance to team up and both want to, but the reasons why they can’t is very telling for their characters and the direction they’re going in (not to mention the thematic thrust of the story).
I think you got a lot more out of the scene than I did. I’ll have to keep this in mind for the next time I watch TLJ, see how my perspective changes.
I remember the first time I saw it I was very much hopeful of the team up too, and somewhat disappointed with Kylo’s reluctance. But then when he started talking it became obvious to me that this was the right way to go. I definitely think that anticipatory build up is intentional on Johnson’s part. He wants you to identify with Rey here, he wants you to be just as devastated as Rey is when she realizes he isn’t going to help her save the rebel fleet. This is her moment of failure, where she realizes she’s going to have to do it herself.
With Kylo, he’s trying to take control over his life. Which is what he thought he was doing when he turned to Snoke, but I think, with the help of his father he realized he was just being used. For Rey and Kylo, both of their stories are about self actualizing and making their own destiny beyond what was seemingly set forth in front of them. So when they meet up, it’s the crux of both of their stories converging. They have the power in that moment to finally move away from the past (which has trapped both of them for so long) and forge their own paths. Kylo chooses to “kill the past,” and he makes his case for Rey to do the same. She comes from “nothing,” she has “no place in the story,” but he offers her one on a silver platter. So for Rey, it’s a very important moment for Kylo as an antagonist. He stands in direct opposition to her external goal of saving the fleet but is offering her what she’s wanted all along. For her to reject Kylo’s team up, which is the whole reason she went the Supremacy in the first place, is a big deal for her story - not only is she going to finally move ahead by herself while believing in her own power to do so, she’s going to bring some of the past along with her, and not just blindly destroy it all like he will.
I don’t know, it works for me.
I’d say I’m apprehensive about the future of Kylo’s character. I’m sure he’ll still be an interesting enough character in the next movie, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be well-acted, but I fear he’ll never reach that height of “depth” again.
I don’t think the depth went anywhere. If anything there’s moreso than before. Kylo has a “resolve” at the end of TLJ and has become the Vader figure he alternately wanted to or didn’t want to be, but it’s all a sham. He still doesn’t know what he wants, he’s still just a tormented soul. At the end he’s essentially got a whole galaxy that’s his, but he’s clearly just as alone as ever and not any happier than before. In my mind, the fact that even after he’s yelled and screamed that he’ll “destroy” Rey he still looks at her hopefully in their final Force time shows that the “depth” in him is very much alive.
Good point, and you’re right, there’s definitely plenty of room for the character to grow. I hadn’t considered the possibility of the next movie exploring Kylo’s dissatisfaction with his newfound power, I kind of assumed he’d turn into just another bad guy. I guess I should have more faith in JJ.
I have faith in JJ, and would personally be surprised if he didn’t go this route in IX, but even still I try not to hold specific expectations for what should or shouldn’t happen. If there’s a way to make an actually good Kylo story where he’s legitimately satisfied with his newfound power, I’m all for it, even if it’s not what I’m expecting. But… if I were a betting man I’d say that’s unlikely (both that that’s the direction they’d go in and that if they do that it would turn out well).
All that said; in a vacuum where there’s no third movie, I still think the idea of Rey and Kylo teaming up could’ve been really interesting to explore.
I agree, if TLJ were the conclusion to the Skywalker saga, it would have made a pretty cool finale. Even still, though, there’s something about that last moment with Kylo and the dice that feels right to me. Reminds me of the last scene of the Godfather Part II. Hopefully, Episode IX will justify its existence more than Godfather Part III.