As we close in on The Last Jedi, one thing has started to play on my mind. Having recently read the Phasma book a fact that was made abundantly clear was the sheer brutality of the upbringing of both Hux and Phasma. Both of those characters have been revealed to have had quite different, but equally savage, youthful development. Likewise they remain truly brutal as adults. As readers of Phasma will know they are content to take out anyone, friends and family alike, to consolidate their grip on power.
Leaving aside what they might be like in the time period of The Force Awakens, their fundamental development was steeped in the use of raw cunning power. As adults they have brought that to bear to gruesome effect. Snoke now utilises both, Phasma the ultimate solider ideal, and Hux as the military leader, alongside Ren. Ren, who is seemingly there to act as the dark spiritual feature of The First Order. So why my concern over such a fiend?
Well it’s like this, upon viewing The Force Awakens a lot of people acknowledged the fact that Ben Solo/Kylo Ren did not resemble a stereotypical all powerful and self-assured villain. There is a vulnerability there. He struggles internally. He has the hallmarks of someone from a good home with decent values, who has experienced hardship or difficulties, and has then made the wrong life decisions. Faced with a choice of moving back from those wrong decisions or doubling down on them Ben does the latter on Starkiller Base. Now his path to redemption will be much, much harder for all concerned.
Throughout it all I can still see an underlying humanity in him, and I think that’s what makes him such a good character. He is complex and doubtful and we still see a glimmer of hope for him in his eyes. That glimmer is much more exposed than Vader’s ever was.
When Leia thinks of Ben fondly in Claudia Gray’s Bloodline, or in The Force Awakens it comes from a place of family knowledge, albeit family knowledge overshadowed by her father Anakin and his wrong choices.
“If you see our son, bring him home”
Leia Organa to Han Solo, The Force Awakens
When it comes to his Triumvirate of Hate (Ren, Hux and Phasma) Snoke is happy to direct from behind the scenes. With all their other competitors within The First Order dispatched, and on foot of Ren’s defeat to Rey (which Phasma witnesses – see Phasma comic) Kylo may now finding himself facing the same fate as Brendol Hux (see Phasma book) as his competitors sense weakness. With Snoke also looking to Rey (perhaps even calling out to her if he is the voice alluded to in the novelisation of The Force Awakens), I fear that time is running out for Kylo to rethink his life choices before his life choices rethink him.
It may sound trite for me to speak of concerns for someone like Kylo Ren. I do however believe in second chances and I’d like to see Ben Solo redeemed and walk that hard road of living with his decisions. I still believe that as the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa there is ample room for him still to do good, even if that can never make amends for his past.
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