Star Wars has always been a story about good versus evil and the clear delineation between the two. Previously, Anakin Skywalker was pinned in between the pure evil of Emperor Palpatine and the Sith, and the pure good force of the Jedi Order. It’s an iconic dichotomy, but in 2018, it feels a little dated. Thankfully the creators of the sequel trilogy also agree on this, and they have done everything they can to blur the lines that previously made everything in the Star Wars universe black and white. No character has been representative of this new initiative like Kylo Ren.
Following the events of The Last Jedi, it is clear that Kylo Ren has been set up to be the ultimate villain of the trilogy, but that doesn’t mean he’s pure evil. Starting his life as Ben Solo, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, Kylo Ren felt betrayed when Luke Skywalker turned on him for even brushing against the Dark Side of the Force. In the years after his turn, he also struggled to eliminate his remaining link to his family, to fully embrace evil, and find the right mentor. Make no mistake, Kylo Ren is the bad guy, but he’s not all bad. Here are 10 of the worst acts he ever committed and five of his best.
15 WORST: HE KILLED LOR SAN TEKKA
We got our first real taste of what Kylo Ren is capable of when he visited the planet Jakku in The Force Awakens. On the hunt for the map to Luke Skywalker, Ren led his forces to the village of Tuanul, where they killed many innocent people and captured Lor San Tekka, played by Max von Sydow. Remember him?
Though we never learn much about him in the film, Lor San Tekka was a member of the Church of the Force and a devoted follower of Luke Skywalker. Ben Solo knew this man from his time in the new Jedi Order, yet he didn’t hesitate to hunt him down and interrogate him. When he didn’t get what he wanted, Ren brutally executed him in cold blood.
14 WORST: HE KILLED HAN SOLO
When we first see Kylo Ren, he is still struggling to accept his new identity and sever his connection to the life of Ben Solo. He realizes that in order to finally cut ties with his past, he has to eliminate what remained of his family. In a heartbreaking scene where Han Solo confronts his son within the bowels of Starkiller Base, Kylo Ren finally acknowledges what he needs to do.
In an act that truly establishes just how far he has fallen, Kylo Ren stabs his father with his lightsaber and allows him to fall to his death. With his father out of the way, he feels that maybe he can finally be free from the pull of the Light Side of the Force.
13 BEST: HE BUILT A RELATIONSHIP WITH REY
As a scavenger on Jakku, Rey lived a lonely life in the desert before she came into contact with the Resistance and met Luke Skywalker. With no family to call her own, The Last Jedi focuses on the hidden loneliness she feels, even as she proves to be a key factor in saving the galaxy from the First Order.
When Kylo Ren and Rey establish a Force connection between the two, things start off rough, but they soon start to feel a true bond. This is the only other Force-sensitive person she knows, and it becomes a key relationship for her as she establishes her place in the universe. Though Kylo Ren had his own machinations, the bond ultimately proves to be beneficial to Rey because it teaches her who she is and who she is not.
12 WORST: HE NEARLY KILLED FINN
At the end of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren confronts both Rey and Finn, but before he can go toe-to-toe against Rey, he has to go through Finn first. Believing himself to be the hero to save the day, Finn rushes into battle against Ren with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Unfortunately, he stands absolutely no chance against his powerful enemy.
Kylo Ren brutally attacks Finn, ultimately slicing him in the back and rendering him comatose for a significant period of time. Rey was then able to defend her friend, fight off Kylo Ren, and ultimately save both of their lives. The injuries were so severe, though, that he was placed into intensive care and remained in a coma for some time. Sure, it was in the midst of battle, but Kylo Ren didn’t really have to go so hard against someone who was clearly no match for him.
11 WORST: HE ALMOST DESTROYED THE RESISTANCE
In The Last Jedi, Ren used his rise to power to continue the annihilation of all those who opposed The First Order. While Supreme Leader Snoke and General Hux were the ones responsible for the destruction of the Resistance’s fleet of spaceships, it was Kylo Ren who presided over the near decimation of what remained.
With the Resistance barely hanging in there, Kylo Ren chased them to the planet Crait, where they would make their last stand. In the end, he likely would have been successful too if it wasn’t for the fact that Luke Skywalker showed up and Rey was there to get the survivors to safety. Thankfully Kylo Ren is just a moody kid who can’t keep his eye on the prize, right?
10 BEST: HE HELPED REY ACCEPT HER PAST
Through the Sequel Trilogy, Rey has struggled to understand her place in the epic that was taking place in front of her. As a simple scavenger on Jakku, she felt she didn’t belong in a conflict that was essentially a family spat among the Skywalkers. Thankfully, Kylo Ren helped her come to terms with her past in The Last Jedi following their Force bond.
After attempting to recruit her to his side of the Force, Kylo Ren told her the truth about her parentage — that her parents were nobody and that she didn’t matter. Sure, we still have one more movie to go, so maybe that wasn’t the truth, but hearing it out loud allowed Rey to put it behind her, accept what she didn’t want to be true, and forge her own path in the destiny of the galaxy.
9 WORST: HE TRIED TO KILL LEIA ORGANA
Kylo Ren already killed his father in The Force Awakens, so the next step for him to eliminate all connection to his life as Ben Solo is to also take out his mother. The First Order takes out most of what remains of the Resistance, but it becomes Kylo Ren’s focus to take out Leia Organa in order to finally sever his connection to his mother.
Seeing as how Ren is clearly a mama’s boy, he ultimately can’t bring himself to blow up his mother’s ship. However, he has no problem when he leads other ships right to her target and Leia is blown into space. Kylo Ren would have finally been rid of her, without even having to lift a finger, if it wasn’t for her amazing ability to use the Force and fly to safety.
8 WORST: HE DESTROYED LUKE’S JEDI ORDER
After the defeat of the Galactic Empire and the death of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker set out to recreate the Jedi Order. He gathered Force-sensitive children across the galaxy and got to work rebuilding what had been destroyed. It wasn’t long before he took in his nephew Ben Solo as well, but things didn’t go so well there.
Solo eventually fell to the Dark Side of the Force, and his first act was to completely destroy the new Jedi Order. He left Luke for dead, killed many of his fellow students, and destroyed the new Jedi Temple. This failure resulted in Luke secluding himself away from the world and Ben Solo became a tool of Supreme Leader Snoke as Kylo Ren. It was a true tragedy for everyone involved.
7 BEST: HE GAVE UP THE DARTH VADER LEGACY
Kylo Ren has gone through a journey of self discovery through Episodes VII and VIII. He starts off in the thrall of Supreme Leader Snoke, attempting to follow in the footsteps of Darth Vader. However, in his journey to snuff out the past, he also gives up on the legacy of Darth Vader.
In a key scene from The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren smashes his helmet against a wall. It was a helmet modeled after his idol Darth Vader, but it’s something he doesn’t actually need to go down the path he travels. While the film sets him up to be the ultimate villain in Episode IX, his rejection of his dark legacy at least leaves the possibility of redemption in the future. He no longer wants to be Darth Vader, so maybe he doesn’t have to commit so much evil.
6 WORST: HE LED THE KNIGHTS OF REN
It wasn’t bad enough that Ben Solo turned to the Dark Side of the Force and destroyed the new Jedi Order. Now the tool of the First Order, his new master gave him an elite squad of warriors known as the Knights of Ren to help him snuff out the Jedi.
Rey witnesses them in a Force vision she has when she touches Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. She sees them striking down the enemies of the First Order in what can only be described as a massacre. Little is still known about them but they are clearly a terrible force of destruction and oppression in a galaxy that is already filled with it. While the group was not seen in The Last Jedi, there’s no telling what Episode IX holds. Hopefully Rey can take them out before everything is said and done.
5 WORST: HE USED TORTURE
If there’s one thing Star Wars has established about Kylo Ren, it’s the fact that he has absolutely no problem using torture to get what he needs. In the quest to find Luke Skywalker, he uses the Force to extract information from Poe Dameron in order to learn where the star map has been hidden. That leads him to Rey, who he also captures and tortures to get the location to Luke.
Electronic Arts picked up on this practice when they created Star Wars: Battlefront II. The video game fills in some information just before the beginning of The Force Awakens. Del Meeko, a former Imperial Trooper turned Resistance fighter, is eventually captured and Kylo Ren interrogates him in order to find the location of Lor San Tekka. It’s a brutal encounter, which leads to Del’s execution.
4 BEST: HE PUT HUX IN HIS PLACE
Supreme Leader Snoke established two power structures within the First Order. One was Kylo Ren and his Knights of Ren, who were tasked with the eradication of the Jedi. The other was the military arm of the First Order, led by General Armitage Hux. Ren and Hux are often seen vying for power, but it’s Hux who seems to be the weasely bootlicker, while Ren has his own agenda.
When Kylo Ren first takes control of the First Order, it is Hux who challenges the new power dynamic. It isn’t until Ren uses his Force abilities against his rival that Hux finally accepts him as the new Supreme Leader. We also get a rather satisfying scene in The Last Jedi, where Hux is thrown against the wall of the vehicle they are in.
3 WORST: HE WAS A PARTY TO GENOCIDE
Kylo Ren may not have pushed the button or given the order, but he didn’t seem to object to the idea of completely wiping out an entire star system to eliminate the New Republic. In The Force Awakens, the First Order has a new super weapon called Starkiller Base, which can use the power of a star to destroy multiple planets at once.
Ren and Hux are put in command of the base, and it is Hux who suggests that they use it to wipe out their competition in one swoop. In the hardest hitting allusion to fascism in the Star Wars franchise, the First Order, Kylo Ren included, are all there to witness the first firing of their new super weapon. It’s a truly terrifying scene, and it’s perhaps the worst crime on Ren’s growing rap sheet.
2 WORST: HE TOOK CONTROL OF THE FIRST ORDER
Perhaps the single worst thing that Kylo Ren has done thus far is take control of the First Order. It wasn’t enough that he eliminated Snoke, but now he’s usurped him as Supreme Leader, and the galaxy has much to fear. While Ren was busy forgetting about the past and moving on, he certainly seems to have no trouble following in his former master’s footsteps.
The scariest part of all is the fact that Kylo Ren has proven himself to be an angry and immature child, who lashes out any time something doesn’t go his way. When someone like that ascends to a position of power, it can prove to be extremely problematic for his victims. What happens when he gets upset at a rival faction? Will his answer to everything simply be to murder everyone who challenges him?
1 BEST: SAVED REY AND KILLED SNOKE
Without a doubt, the best act that Kylo Ren ever committed was choosing to save Rey from his former master and ultimately deciding to kill Supreme Leader Snoke. Given the choice between continued servitude or the chance to be an equal with someone so powerful, Ren obviously made the selfish choice. However, not only did he save one of the most important people in the galaxy, he also took out one of the most dangerous as well.
Now that the powerful Snoke is out of the way, the Resistance will have a better chance at snuffing out the First Order. They will still have to deal with Kylo Ren, but they would likely rather face one evil Force user than two. Everyone who desires freedom in the galaxy benefitted from this personal grudge playing out.