From plot structure to cinematography to original cast members, Star Wars: The Force Awakens draws heavily from the original trilogy, and you can see aspects of episodes I–III as well. Although the movie was not perfect, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and consequently spent time speculating on how similar to and different from the originals the next two movies will be.
Kylo Ren is perhaps one of the more difficult characters to speculate about. Because his role model is Darth Vader, it would seem too cliché to have him stay evil until the last second and then turn on his master. After all, Anakin did that twice in the course of his life. Kylo Ren’s role in the plot practically screams last-minute defection, but the writers might decide to surprise us with something else in store for him. But assuming there is a defection, let’s think about why it might happen.
Young Anakin’s defection can be tied to unbridled emotions, especially as they relate to his mother, Shmi, and his love interest, Padmé. Darth Vader’s emotions are more controlled and are ostensibly tied to his children. Kylo Ren is still young, so he is more likely to follow the path of young Anakin. There was no obvious love interest for him (maybe that will change), but he obviously has parent issues, and he obviously has no ability to control his emotions.
He killed his father, so it will probably be up to his mother to change his mind. I see three potential ways this could happen. One, he kills Leia, and then the remorse from that causes him to seriously rethink his life and join the rebel alliance. Two, Supreme Leader Snoke, General Hux, or someone else kills Leia because Kylo Ren can’t bring himself to do so, so he joins the Rebel Alliance. Three, Leia manages to change his mind without dying.
Outside of Leia, I see one major potential reason that might cause Kylo Ren to join the Rebel Alliance (notice that I’m not saying light side), but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Opposite of Kylo Ren, we have Rey. Some people are upset at how Rey developed her Force powers with no training outside of the few words from Maz about the Force: she is able to outmaneuver TIE fighters in the Millennium Falcon, protect her mind from Kylo Ren, convince the stormtrooper to free her, and rock Kylo Ren with a lightsaber. I think the message that the writers are trying to send with this is that she is crazy strong in the Force.
This strength makes Rey fairly similar to Anakin, and so do her interest in Finn (instead of Padmé) and her anger toward Kylo Ren (instead of sand people). If the ground wouldn’t have forcibly separated them, she would have killed Kylo Ren. These passions pose a threat to the way of the Jedi (see more on the Jedi’s anti-love teachings here), but I’m wondering if the whole “bring balance to the Force” idea means something more than turn the universe in favor of the Jedi.
When Maz was talking about Luke’s whereabouts, she says something that I think could potentially lead to a very interesting story. She talks about both the dark and light sides of the Force being encompassed in one whole. We are so used to seeing the dark side as evil and the light side as good, but I wonder whether this new trilogy is going to show us a peaceful coexistence between the two. It wouldn’t be the first time a story has changed the fight between light and dark to be a fight for equality between the two.
In such stories, the split usually comes from one side or the other becoming proud and condemning the other side. There are plenty of conspiracy theories about the Jedi being villains, and some of the theories seem less nutty than others. Also, some of the Jedi codes seem very unsustainable, such as the disapproval of love and attachment. If midi-chlorians are passed on genetically (as we are led to believe), then the disapproval of attachment seems to be a quick way to extinction unless the Jedi condone procreation with random people.
With those things in mind, I don’t think it’s entirely improbable that Luke’s pilgrimage will turn up some information showing how the dark and light sides used to coexist, like unto yin and yang. If that is the case, then Rey and Kylo Ren will become the two who unite the two halves, leaving Rey free to pursue a relationship with Finn and Kylo Ren free to embrace the dark side without completely forsaking his family.
Also, if Kylo Ren and Rey do work toward that unification, then Supreme Leader Snoke and General Hux will become the main villains. I think General Hux is in a stronger position to take such a role than the Imperial officers that Darth Vader worked with, so such a turn of events is in the realm of possibility.
As for the other characters, I am definitely interested to see what happens when Finn wakes up. Does he go chasing off after Rey or does he team up with Poe for a bit and learn to be a better gunner? Or do those two things combine into the same thing? Will Poe take on a bigger role outside of pilot or stay in his ship? I think it’s likely the Finn takes on a bit of Han’s role in that he’s the reluctant fighter. He hasn’t learned to care about the cause yet, but he has learned to care about his friends and he’s the love interest for the female lead. His current comatose state is even similar to Han being in carbonite, so we’ll see how closely their stories match.
Also, I really hope that Captain Phasma escaped the garbage chute in time so that she can be like Boba Fett and constantly hunt Finn.
Featured image courtesy of MoviePilot.