Star Wars: Does Kylo Ren Have to Die in The Rise of Skywalker?

Although Star Wars has pointedly killed a Skywalker at the end of each of its trilogies (Anakin/Darth Vader) ,The Rise of Skywalker presents an interesting dilemma: With Anakin gone, Luke as part of the Force and Leia’s death probably too cruel due to the loss of Carrie Fisher, the only Skywalker remaining is Kylo Ren.

On a superficial level, he’s a decent villain to kill: He murdered his own father, refused Rey’s call to the light, ordered an all-out assault on his uncle and former mentor, and promised to destroy what's left of the Resistance and the Jedi. Plus, he’s clearly an unstable coworker and a terrible boss; even by First Order standards, he should be dead.

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However, given Kylo’s conflicted nature, and the bond he formed with Rey, death by her hands would be predictable, and, thus, anticlimactic. Even a redemptive moment beforehand would be merely repeating history, a la Return of the Jedi, even if fans who consider his actions irredeemable may find his fall cathartic.

Despite his faults, Kylo Ren doesn’t quite deserve the traditional villainous death, mostly because the thing that gives him his power (the Force) also seems to be at the center of his conflict and suffering. Even his kyber crystal is splintered. So maybe the best thing for Kylo Ren to become Ben Solo again would be the healthiest, less-bloody solution of severing his connection to the Force – or at least removing his ability to use it.

Would that even be possible? The existence of Force Sensitives and “inactive” Force Users (such as Rey, Luke and Leia before they were “found”) suggests the ability to manipulate the Force has to be activated and mastered, because it’s not completely innate. Furthermore, Snoke’s (and to a lesser degree, Kylo’s) experiments with telepathy, information extraction and long-ranging Force bonds are indicative that this “unlocking” resides in the mind: i.e., in The Force Awakens, Rey learns mind-manipulation techniques after Kylo tries to read her thoughts.

In The Last Jedi, Luke voluntarily severed himself from the Force to the point that Rey couldn’t even see sense him in Ahch-To. Count Dooku was able to plant ideas into Yoda’s mind, and Palpatine clouded the entire Jedi Council by tapping into the pool of Dark Side energy trapped beneath Coruscant’s Jedi Temple.

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The Expanded Universe (no longer canon, yet still mined for ideas) offers other ways to accomplish that feat. In the video game Knights of the Old Republic, the Jedi can temporarily block another Force-user’s ability, through the use of Force-suppression, artificial memory loss or by the cruder method of throwing a static bomb in their general direction. However, those solutions are not permanent, and the victim almost always reverts to their original state, only then they are furious.

Chiss General Thrawn surrounded himself with ysalamiri, furry lizards that created a Force-repellent bubble around them. There were also the Yuuzhan Vong, an extra-galactic species that had been entirely cut off from the Force for reasons related to their warmongering.

However, as hilarious as the idea is of Kylo Ren covered with furry lizards, it is unlikely we will see either the ysalamiri or the Yuuzhan Vong in the new canon. George Lucas expressed his disbelief at ysalamiri being able to exist in a universe where the Force flowed through all living things.

The idea of the Force feeding life itself (other than mentions of midi-chlorians and Darth Plagueis legends) canonically appears in the Mortis arc of The Clone Wars, in which Anakin could resurrect Ahsoka by funneling the Daughter’s Force through his body. The Daughter, a god-like being, died. However, would she have died if she were partly made of crude matter? Or would the Daughter only have lost her connection to the Force?

Kylo Ren Rey The Last Jedi

That is the reverse of the story of Vitiate (non-canon Legends), the Sith Emperor who planned to achieve immortality by absorbing the Force of 8,000 Sith Lords and an entire planet. He didn’t succeed, but what is interesting is that he did convince 8,000 Sith Lords to submit to the ritual, an exercise that sounds like herding cobras. A popular fan theory is that Vitiate established Force bonds with his vassal Darths, offering them protection in exchange for some of their strength, only to then abuse his power horrifically. It’s difficult to ignore that one of Kylo Ren’s titles is “Master of the Knights of Ren,” which implies a similar lord-vassal bond, just like Vitiate had with his 8,000 Sith Lords.

This is pure speculation, but the powerful Force bond shared by Kylo and Rey has brought them closer to each other than to anyone else in the galaxy. That Force Users can manipulate minds, plant visions and unlock abilities in each other, that the Force is directly connected with life and that preventing Kylo Ren from accessing the Force might be the gentlest, most Jedi way to defeat him should he accelerate his dark side free fall.

There is one but: The Force User doing the suppression is almost always on the Dark Side, and the look of horror when Rey discovered that Luke had cut himself off from the Force makes this ablation seem like a capital sin in the Star Wars galaxy. Then again, Rey turning to the darker side of the Force to suppress Kylo’s abilities would be an interesting twist, because it would force Rey to give up her light. However, that wouldn’t quite fit the hopeful, fairy-tale ending the cast and crew of Episode IX have promised to deliver.

If we are looking at happy endings, but we still want Kylo Ren dead but Ben Solo alive, the only path left is the one where he sacrifices his power to save somebody else – possibly Rey, but also, very probably, himself. So far, every leak and every serious analysis of the overarching plot of the sequel trilogy is pointing toward a redemptive moment for Kylo. But what would be the point of this redemption if the protagonist died? Wouldn’t it be more fitting for that person to have a second chance? Besides, Ben Solo draining the Force to return from the dead would perfectly fulfill the explicit promise of The Rise of Skywalker.

Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives on Dec. 20.

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