Since it was revealed that Kylo Ren was in fact Ben Solo there has been speculation that he is this trilogy’s Vader and he will be redeemed. There are many that have said because Kylo killed Han he can’t be redeemed. I think they are right but I also don’t think that Vader was ever redeemed. Confused? Lets take a dive into Vader Kylo and what redemption really is.
First I want to give a shout out to Eleventhrityeight and Mark Eldridge for the article on Paths of Redemption which got me thinking. I’m going to avoid hitting the same beats as Mark but you should read his article.
Vader was not Redeemed. Read that again and understand that he could NEVER have been redeemed. Vader murdered younglings and countless Jedi. He force choked his wife and that lead to her death. He was part of the leadership that destroyed Alderaan. He slaughtered the men women and children of a group of Tusken Raiders. Killed and tortured unknown numbers of people in service of the Emperor. None of these things are redeemable. But Vader killed the Emperor and saved Luke you say…. yes those were good actions but I’m not sure that they themselves were even done in the sense of doing what was right. Anakin fell to the Darkside to become Vader because he wanted to save his wife Padme, so when he saved Luke he could have been doing so in the same vein. Save his family. It was only AFTER that, that Vader died and once again became Anakin, but he was not redeemed. He came back from the Darkside and rejoined the light but he was not redeemed. If he had been redeemed, then the story of his redemption and who he was would have been widely disseminated. We know from Bloodline that no one knew Vader was Anakin or that he was the one that destroyed the Emperor or that he was Luke or Leia’s father. These things were hidden because even if Vader did end up bringing down the Empire and freeing the Galaxy he could not be redeemed–only saved from the Darkside.
Kylo cannot be redeemed, like Vader his actions are nonredeemable. This leaves us with a few questions then. What was the goal of Han, Leia and Rey if not to redeem Kylo? He would still be responsible for the crimes he committed and the deaths he caused, those don’t just go away. There is the idea that Snoke manipulated him and perhaps he could have not been as culpable, but Kylo killing Snoke and wanting Rey to join him dashes that idea. So what is the goal? To bring him to the lightside again is part of it, to have him destroy Snoke was part of it but he didn’t bother with the light to do that. For Han and Leia I think it was to have their son back again. They would have accepted the fact that he would likely been imprisoned and have to answer for his crimes but they would have had Ben again. For Rey it is acceptance, a mentor and a friend that can relate to the awakening inside of her. Had Luke been more accepting she might not have gone looking for that with Kylo. The Last Jedi has cemented that Kylo is Kylo and has no motivation or desire to be Ben again. How does Episode IX then deal with all of this? There was a path of Leia bringing him back before Carrie Fisher’s death but now is that possible?
What is the end goal of Kylo Ren’s character arc? Is it for him to be brought back to the light and continue the Skywalker legacy? Is it for him to be the big bad not only in this trilogy but also moving forward to keep the Skywalker saga going but in another new path? Or could he be the end of both the Skywalker line and the end of the main saga? For him to come back to the light, Kylo would have to have a dramatic change in his thought process and I believe Leia could still cause this. Her death at the hands of either a Kylo disciple or Hux could be what causes him to re-evaluate his darkside. But I don’t think that is where they are going. Kylo is Vader if Vader moved against the Emperor. He is the big bad now and it’s a role Kylo has been preparing himself for since he first joined with Snoke and the First Order. He will survive as will part of the First Order to set up the next trilogy because–let’s be honest–Disney isn’t going to end the main saga. Oh and the Skywalker line won’t die with him.