Perhaps the most intriguing plotline in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is Kylo Ren’s backstory. Luke — who was training Ben Solo AKA Kylo Ren at the time — sensed a little bit of darkness and conflict inside his nephew while he was sleeping. And in a moment of weakness, he ignited his lightsaber with a fleeting thought of ending Ben Solo right then and there. The future Kylo Ren suddenly wakes up and sees his dearest uncle holding an ignited lightsaber. Heartbroken and feeling betrayed he destroys the entire place and runs away, joining the dark side.
It’s these sequence of events that leads Luke to exile himself and block out the Force. The question is, did Luke actually inform Ben Solo’s parents of this truth or do Princess Leia and Han Solo actually think that their son just decided to betray the family and join forces with Supreme Leader Snoke and the First Order? Rebecca Roanhorse’s Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn just might’ve given us a little insight. The following excerpt from the novel details a conversation between Rey and Leia after the events of The Last Jedi.
“Kylo Ren. He’s your son…”
Ah. Leia nodded and drank from her now cooling cup. Rey squirmed uncomfortably in her seat.
“What happened to him?” she finally asked. “I mean, how did he turn to the dark side? He started in the light, didn’t he? He told me a story about Luke, about his training.” She exhaled. “I guess I just want to understand.“
“I do, too.”
“So you don’t know?”
“I think you would have to ask Ben what happened to him.”
“He wanted me to join him, but I couldn’t. I thought I could help him, but he only wanted me to become like him.”
Rey’s face fell, and Leia could see the pain etched there. The girl cared about Ben, and he had disappointed her. “Ben has made his choices,” Leia said. “No one can save Ben but himself. And I don’t know if that is what he wants.”
There are a couple of interesting things to extrapolate from the above. One, it doesn’t seem like Leia knows exactly what made her son turn to the Darkside. Of course, she could be just bottling everything in. Or maybe she just doesn’t want to talk to Rey about it. But assuming that she doesn’t know, it definitely adds new layers to the already intriguing character writing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Imagine living day in day out thinking that your son betrayed the family for no good reason, when it fact it was your own brother who (accidentally) pushed him over the edge.
On top of that, the excerpt does make me wonder if they’ll dive deeper into Kylo Ren’s darkness in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? And perhaps it’s this discourse that would help fuel Kylo Ren’s redemption arc.