Han Solo & Kylo Ren – A Real Life Parallel
SPOILERS – SPOILERS – SPOILERS – SPOILERS
- Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the movie, or, if you don’t care about spoilers then go ahead.
- I loved this movie.
In Episode VII we discover that in the time between Return of The Jedi and The Force Awakens, Han and Leia get married and have a child. This is something I always wish would happen. I was so happy to discover that the stories were continued in the Expanded Universe, now Legends, books. Their continuitng relationship was something fans wanted. Personally I was thrilled that the romance between these two was not over and we got to see them together again.
For the reader’s consideration, I will start with the dialogue from the Scene in The Force Awakens that this post revolves around.
Kylo Ren: “Han Solo. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”
Han: “Take off that mask, you don’t need it.”
Kylo Ren: “What do you think you’ll see if I do?”
Han: “The face of my son.”
Kylo Ren: “Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father, so I destroyed him.”
Han: “That’s what Snoke want’s you to believe, but it’s not true. My son is alive.”
Kylo Ren: “No, the Supreme Leader is wise.”
Han: “Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he want’s he’ll crush you. You know it’s true.”
Kylo Ren: “It’s too late.”
Han: “No, it’s not. Leave here with me, come home. We miss you.”
Kylo Ren: “I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?”
Han: “Yes, anything.”
After Kylo Ren runs the lightsager through Han Solo he says
Kylo Ren: “Thank you.”
I think it would be hard to be a parent if you’re a leader in the Resistance or a former General and hero of the Rebellion. It might be harder to be the child of those parents and the nephew of the last Jedi. Add to that you are a powerful force sensitive, your grandfather is Darth Vader and some powerful being named Snoke has been after your loyalties since birth. This family is not going to be typical. This family has issues.
As a parent of a child who has not made good choices in life, I found myself comparing my parenting struggles with the struggles Han and Leia must have gone through with their son Ben, aka Kylo Ren. I wish we had seen more about the relationship between these three. Perhaps we will see more in books, comics or episode VIII. But, there was enough for me to speculate.
First, I think Han blames Luke for not stopping Ben from turning to the dark side. When he first speaks of Luke to Rey and Fin, saying “Yea, I knew him” in a seemingly disappointed and resentful tone of voice. He does not admit to, or volunteer information that, the boy who betrayed Luke and destroyed it all was his own son. Who would want to admit to that? I’d talk about anything but. Luke is not happy either. Luke felt responsible and now he’s off the grid because of it. I wonder what sort of confrontation Han and Luke may have had. This movie is full of underlying pain.
In an earlier blog post, I talked about Kylo Ren’s bad-boy personality. I talk about the heart ache his life choices would give his family, whoever they might be, and how his turn to the dark side might affect his parents.
I never expected that Han Solo would die in this movie, let alone at the hand of his own son. I was in shock after my first viewing. It has taken 4 more viewings for me to come to terms with this scene and embrace its significance for the saga’s future. I also found many parallels in this scene that resonate with me as a mother of a child who has not made good choices. A child choosing to abuse drugs and alcohol has been a dark side in my parenting experience. They did not learn to make these choices from me or my husband. Those choices have resulted in consequences that I would never wish for my child. Those choices have resulted in heartache and disappointment I never imagined for my family.
I compare the choice to abuse drugs and alcohol to Kylo Ren’s choice to deny the light and choose the dark. Wearing a mask further denies the light into his life. The pull, draw and instant gratification of the dark side is stronger than the light. The light is a choice that takes discipline and self-control. The light also means feeling life’s pain and choosing to address that pain in a healthy way. Kylo Ren’s living family members have all been through more than their share of painful life moments and they did not allow the dark to take over.
When Han Solo tells Kylo Ren to “Take off that mask, you don’t need it.” I think of the times I’ve tried to reason with my child to stop their destructive behavior. I try to convince them that they really don’t need IT, whatever IT might be.
Kylo Ren says, “What do you think you’ll see if I do?” This sounds sarcastic, flippant and defiant to me. Kylo Ren thinks he has the upper hand in this confrontation, but, Han throws is back at him when he says “The face of my son.”
As father and son meet in the middle of the narrow catwalk, Ben spouts the lies that I believe Snoke has fed him. “Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father, so I destroyed him.” Han tries to reason with Ben. “That’s what Snoke want’s you to believe, but it’s not true. My son is alive.” Ben comes back with the comment “No, the Supreme Leader is wise.” In this reply to Han Kylo Ren is conflicted and desperate, I believe he could not think of a better thing to say. He knew his father was right about Snoke. “Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he want’s he’ll crush you. You know it’s true.”
Kylo Ren answers Han’s statement with “It’s too late.” These words are hauntingly similar to Darth Vader’s reply when Luke tried to convince him there was still good in him. You can see Kylo Ren struggling to speak. Han steps closer to him and replies, “No it’s not. Come home, we miss you.” Kylo almost takes a step forward towards his father. You have to watch carefully to see it. The pull to the light for Kylo Ren is strong in this moment. He’s taken off the mask, he is looking his father in the eye. He is tearful and obviously shaken. Han has thrown the dagger, as he called it in the Novelization, the ‘we miss you’ dagger. In the book, the line is “Your mother misses you.”
When Kylo replies to Han he is fighting tears, his chin is trembling. There is a change in his voice, it becomes more childlike “I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.”
I have spent countless hours pleading with a wayward child about making changes. You want to burst into tears and become a puddle on the floor every time. But I had to be harsh and hard, I had to use tough love. I hated being that way. All I see is the face of my infant child in my arms while I look at their tortured adult face. They acknowledge that the changes need to be made. They look me in the eye and tearfully ask me to help them, and like Han, “Yes, anything.” is my reply. I’ve offered help and advice that is seemingly well received. They look me in the eye and make promises that I want to believe. But, the pull to the dark is too strong. Unexpected, the metaphorical lightsaber shoots through my chest and I fall into a bottomless pit, and the pit blows up.
How hard it must have been for Han to confront Ben that day. I have caught myself looking at my child and saying to myself “I don’t like this person, I love this person, but I really don’t like them.” I know why it was easier for Han to be angry and run away. I have said to my own child that if I stop being angry then I will have to feel the pain of loss, loss of who I dreamed they could be. I would have to feel the pain of disappointment in my expectations for my child. I would endure the pain of not being able to be proud of my child. Never, as a new parent holding my newborn son or daughter, did I entertain the thoughts of: This child will be a drunk, a drug addict and be hateful towards me when he/she grows up. The pull to the dark side is strong. As a parent, I only wish light and happiness for my children. To me, nothing is more heart breaking than looking at who my child is and wishing they were someone else. Han solo was a prideful man, his son had become a source of shame.
At the moment before his death, Han reached up to touch the face of his son. Perhaps he is thinking “This is the face of the son that I love, no matter what he became.” This last gesture by Han is a weakening for Kylo Ren. He thought the act of killing his father would make him stronger, it makes him weaker. Perhaps if Han hadn’t shown him love till the last his final test would not have failed. Snoke misjudged Han Solo. He turned Kylo Ren against his father, naming him weak and foolish. In this moment, I believe Kylo Ren has discovered that his father was not as weak as he believed him to be. He is still pulled towards the light with the revelation that his father still loved him.
In spite of their poor choices, I have continued to show my child love, acceptance, tolerance, and patience. In the novelization of The Force Awakens, Han expresses regret for things left undone and unsaid while he was alive, just before he falls from the catwalk. The following is standard advice for all of us: live life each day like it is our last, hold those we love close and tell them you love them every day. Don’t fall from the catwalk with unsaid words and regret. The dark side threatens to consume my life daily. Star Wars has always been my escape from real life darkness. I will continue to use love and hope to fight the dark. Love is the light!
I can’t wait see what happens to Luke, Rey, Kylo, Fin, Poe, Leia, BB-8 and Chewie. I am overjoyed that, in my lifetime, I will see more and new adventures take place in that beloved galaxy far, far away. I will be watching intently to learn the fate of Kylo Ren. Will there be redemption for him? More importantly, in the real world, will there be redemption for my child? I pray and wait for better things. If you are so inclined, you can pray as well.
May the Force be with you…always.
Many thanks to Verkomy on Tumbler for the use of her excellent and poignant drawing of Han and Ben in this post.