With so much talk of Bendemption, Star Wars questions involving Kylo Ren’s fate continue to spark debate. Can he be redeemed? Should he? And even if he is, will he get a happy ending?
It has been said that the final installment of the Skywalker Saga is finally going to bring all three trilogies together. This means themes that have appeared and reappeared throughout Star Wars so far are going to come back full force this December.
There’s no question that The Rise of Skywalker is going to leave audiences in awe. Regardless of your opinion of previous Star Wars films, the end to a 40+ year story that has captivated millions over the decades is bound to tie everything together with its epic conclusion.
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And if you’ve been paying attention, it’s impossible to doubt that themes of redemption, love, and sacrifice will be the threads that tie this film — and the Skywalker saga as a whole — together.
One of the biggest arguments surrounding Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s future is whether or not he will be redeemed. Many fans against “Bendemption” insist that Kylo Ren is too far gone for redemption — but judging by past films and characters, this may not be the case.
In the context of Star Wars — we’ll use Darth Vader’s turn in Return of the Jedi as an example — redemption is the transition from dark to light or “bad to good” through an act of selfless sacrifice.
Meaning in order for a Sith Lord or disciple of darkness to be redeemed, he or she must put the lives of others or the greater good before him or herself.
When Vader destroyed Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, he did so to save his son’s life. This was the action that ultimately redeemed him, bringing him out of the darkness and back to the light.
Where once Anakin Skywalker selfishly allowed Palpatine to destroy a life for his own personal gain, he achieved redemption when he faced the same moral dilemma decades later and chose to do the right thing.
Redemption, after all, requires that a person changes their ways.
Whether or not Kylo Ren is “capable” of changing isn’t the question we should be asking. Star Wars has shown us time and again that anyone can change — not everyone does, but everyone can be given the opportunity.
What we should really be asking is: “How?” What will it take for Kylo Ren to come back from the darkness that has consumed him?
Much of Kylo’s pain stems from feelings of betrayal directed toward the family who was supposed to love him. Perhaps in order to be redeemed he will have to sacrifice his hatred to — wait for it — save what he loves. (Whether that’s Leia or Rey or an army of porgs is still up in the air.)
If Kylo Ren were to redeem himself, he would technically be free of the “eternal” consequences associated with his past. He would not, however, be free of the legal or societal consequences of his actions.
Consider how the Rebel Alliance might have treated Darth Vader if he had survived the Battle of Endor. He would have emerged having redeemed himself from darkness. But that would not have changed the galaxy’s dark memories of his actions.
Darth Vader, despite being free of the dark side’s hold on him, likely would not have been a free man. He likely would have been put on trial and sentenced to serve time in prison for his crimes against the galaxy. Most of those he had wronged would not have forgiven him or forgotten what he had done, regardless of his redemption from evil.
We can only guess that Kylo Ren’s fate will follow a similar path. Redeemed, but not excused.
Those in support of Bendemption aren’t saying he hasn’t done horrible things. They aren’t minimizing the weight of his actions or saying his wrongdoings hold no weight. They’re saying that despite the evil he spread throughout the galaxy, at the very least he deserves to, within himself, let the past die.
He must also do so willing to accept whatever consequences may await him after the First Order is dismantled — if this is how it all ends. The First Order could win, for all we know.
Redemption and forgiveness are not the same thing. If you’re against the idea of Bendemption because of all the terrible things Kylo has done, remember that Anakin also did terrible things. In the end, he was still redeemed. And in a way, he still paid the ultimate price for his actions both good and bad.
Questioning the probability of Bendemption doesn’t assume Ben Solo will survive The Rise of Skywalker. It doesn’t downplay the severity of his wrongs. He is a person who has done bad things. That does not mean he cannot be — or does not deserve to be — freed from his suffering and pain.
If you’re still on the fence about how “worthy” Kylo Ren is of redemption, take a look at some of his tragic backstory. Like Anakin, he was manipulated into embracing the dark side. You might even say he was — literally — beaten into submission.
Not all Star Wars villains are wholly evil for the sake of being evil. For many of them, it’s a little more complicated than that. And for some, the chance to do good in the galaxy very well may present itself. They just might be able to turn their lives around after all.
What do you think — can Kylo Ren/Ben Solo be redeemed? Should he still face consequences for what he has done even if that’s the case?