Ben Solo Deserved Better

By Corrine Asbell


The title of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, the purported last of the Skywalker saga, is a bit of a slap in the face.


Because the last Skywalker definitely does not rise

We instead see the actual heir to the Skywalker bloodline–Ben Solo–dying peacefully after using the last of his life energy to bring our heroine back from her on-screen death.

And okay, yes, you can argue that technically a “Skywalker” does rise because Rey takes the surname as her own. 

Still, the fact remains, Ben Solo absolutely deserved better.

Recap: The Ben Solo Story in Episodes 7-9

Episode 7

We’re first introduced to Ben as Kylo Ren, Master of the Knights of Ren and serving a similar position as his ancestor, Anakin Skywalker, in his service to Palpatine. A field general, so to speak, of the remnants of the Empire. 

His search for Luke Skywalker starts out by killing an old family friend, ordering the Storm Troopers to slaughter an entire village, and kidnapping Poe Dameron to rummage through his mind. 

Add to that he comes across as kind of a brat with a hair trigger temper.

He’s not exactly a character you’d want to meet in real life. 

But as The Force Awakens continues, we see that Kylo is complex and conflicted. 

His conversations with Snoke show us how he is torn between the Light and the Dark sides of the Force. 

He struggles with the weight of his lineages, both Skywalker and Solo. 

It takes Ben meeting Rey for us to see the potential in this tortured character and believe in a possible redemption. 

Episode 8

Throughout Episode VIII we see him wavering in his beliefs. 

His tumultuous relationship with his father, Han Solo, ended in murder. Yet, Ben is unable to treat his mother, Leia Organa, to the same fate. 

In the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig, Leia observes Han’s struggles with being a family man, and struggling to fit into the role of father. “It’s been hard for Han. He won’t say it out loud, but she can see it on his face. Her husband needs something to do. He’s bored…Han Solo’s got nothing to smuggle, nowhere to gamble, no foolish Rebellion to fight for.” So, we get it, he clearly has daddy issues, what with Han’s being unable to connect with his son.

han solo and leia organa embrace, the parents of Ben Solo, and the article argues that Ben Solo deserved better

Once we learned who his parents were, it made him an even more interesting character. We can imagine poor little Ben Solo growing up amidst the pomp and circumstances of being a Skywalker, Organa, and Solo all rolled into one. 

However, despite this illustrious lineage, Ben’s early life was marred by internal struggles and outside influences. 

From an early age, he exhibited a strong connection to the Force. Sensing his potential, his uncle, Luke Skywalker, took him and some other talented younglings on as Padawans and began to form a new Jedi Order. 

But as Ben grew older, he became increasingly conflicted and vulnerable to the Dark Side’s seduction by Supreme Leader Snoke. 

Snoke, an enigmatic and powerful Force user, saw the potential in Ben. So, Snoke exploited Ben’s doubts and insecurities. Snoke twisted Ben’s perceptions and pushed him further into the clutches of the Dark Side. 

Feeling abandoned by his parents and burdened by his legacy, Ben succumbed to Snoke’s influence and embraced the persona of Kylo Ren. 

luke skywalker attacks ben solo

Of course, waking up to see his uncle standing over him with a lightsaber ready to strike didn’t help too much either.

Episode 9

At the beginning of Episode IX, Kylo Ren remains steadfast in his commitment to the dark side. 

He is still hunting Rey, the last hope of the Resistance, in hopes of turning her to the Dark Side and solidifying his power. 

However, Kylo’s interactions with Rey, who he shares a strong Force-bond with, begin to stir conflicting emotions within him.

Throughout the movie, Kylo receives messages from Emperor Palpatine, who has returned somehow–no literally, we never get an explanation, just Poe Dameoron dramatically saying, “Somehow, Palpatine returned.” 

meme of somehow, palpatine returned quote

As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Palpatine is amassing a new Sith fleet with the intention of ruling the galaxy once again. Palpatine tries to entice Kylo to fully embrace the Dark Side by offering him the throne of the Sith.

The turmoil and inner conflict seen previously has only grown. Kylo Ren is second guessing his decisions, 

Ultimately, Kylo Ren’s redemption arc reaches its climax during a lightsaber duel with Rey on the wreckage of the second Death Star. 

caretakers looking over leia organa's dead body

Leia Organa’s sacrifice and her use of the Force to reach out to Kylo Ren play a significant role in his final decision.  

He finally sheds his pseudonym and embraces his real name–fully embracing the Light Side of the Force. 

We’re treated to a great scene of him literally destroying the last of Kylo Ren while fighting the Knights of Ren. 

Ben Solo emerged victorious, living up to the hopes that his family had for him, fulfilling the potential of being a Skywalker and a Force user. 

Analysis: The Ben Solo Story in Episodes 7-9

The Kylo Ren we see in the movies is not the steadfast and dedicated Sith Lord that he wants to be. 

His conflict, even after the death of his father, is always on display. Ben’s allegiance to the dark side was characterized by his erratic behavior, emotional turmoil, and destructive tendencies. 

And because of all that, we know he wasn’t truly lost to the Dark Side. 

We know he has potential for growth and a hell of a redemption arc. 

The discord in his very being should have been fleshed out and fully realized. He should have been given a chance to move beyond the shadows of his ancestors–to forge his own path.

han solo as a force ghost reaches for ben solo, his son

Instead, Ben never really confronted his inner demons. He just had one scene with the ghost of his dad after he felt his mother die. Plus, we got that cool fight scene in The Last Jedi where he kills Snoke. But he was never given the chance to make amends for his past deeds. 

Ben’s connection with Rey helped shake him up and point him in the right direction, but his journey to real salvation was cut short.

Ultimately, the resolution of his backstory comes when he confronts his past, rejects the Dark side, and redeems himself by saving Rey and sacrificing his own life. 

A quick kiss, and “oh, he’s dead now.”

An Arc Cut Too Short

We were robbed–Ben Solo was robbed–of the chance for a more nuanced exploration of his redemption arc. 

His story is one of internal conflict, manipulation, and the search for identity.  

We got to see him briefly overcome these struggles and just begin to find his own identity. 

But how easy is it to stick to your convictions? 

Should we have had another Skywalker saga movie with Ben and Rey struggling to rebuild after the fall of Palpatine? Watch Ben struggle to make up for all the harm he’d caused the galaxy? 


Ben Solo deserved better. And so did we.

Story Arcs We Could Have Seen

The sequel trilogy hinted at Kylo Ren’s fall to the Dark Side being influenced by Snoke’s manipulation and his fear of never living up to Darth Vader’s legacy. 

We could have used an extended exploration of these internal struggles, through his training with his uncle, perhaps exploring the differences between Uncle Luke and Jedi Master Skywalker. 

Or another arc we could have explored was Kylo Ren’s independent journey to strengthen his connection to the Dark Side. 

In the beginning of Episode IX we see briefly him fighting his way through to reach Palpatine. 

Instead, we would have liked to see a more in-depth exploration of his journey. We wanted to see him learn from ancient Sith holocrons, discover hidden Sith temples, and seek out other Dark Side users. That could have showcased his determination to become a powerful Sith Lord like his grandfather.

While the Knights of Ren were teased in the sequel trilogy, their backstory and dynamic with Kylo Ren were not fully explored.We never get to see how he became the leader, who the Knights even are. 

a panel from a comic book about the Knights of Ren

We learn these things in the canon comic book miniseries, Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Will Sliney. But it could have been more powerful and evocative learning about the six warriors strong with the Dark Side of the Force. How they followed the ways of the Ren, which was the name given to a red-bladed lightsaber and a Force-sensitive human. 

The ideology behind the Knights of Ren was based on the lightsaber, which was simply, “it’s nature and nothing else.” The Ren had no remorse or concerns about right and wrong.  

But about that ending that we got…

In total, we got a somewhat decent first and second act to Ben’s story, but the third act is a letdown. 

We follow his character, we see him begin down the path of a redemption, but we aren’t presented with very much of his path to the Light Side of the Force. We got maybe five minutes of screen time with him and the Light Side.

Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, fights Rey

He fights Rey on the ruins of the Death Star, and the death of his mother, is the catalyst for him literally shedding the Kylo Ren persona and taking up the mantle of Ben Solo again and fighting his way through his former compatriots to take up arms against Palpatine. 

And then once the former emperor is defeated, Ben gives his life force to revive Rey, gets a kiss from the girl, and goes gently off into that good night. 

We would have LOVED to see the aftermath of the former Supreme Leader’s actions. Imagine Ben on trial with other First Order officers, having to justify his actions and prove his change of heart. 

A chance for atonement where Ben has to travel the galaxy attempting to make up for the chaos and suffering he caused. Then rebuilding the Jedi order, or rather building a new Grey Jedi order, where light and dark are balanced finally. 

Ben Solo kisses Rey

And for those of us Reylo shippers, we spent three movies with the unresolved romantic tension between Ben and Rey. The intense connection of the Force-bond and their strong personalities would have led to a memorable pairing between the two. 

But with Ben’s sacrifice we don’t get a resolution.


Throughout the sequel trilogy, Ben Solo has been a tortured figure, whose life had never really been his own. 

For the first time we finally see Ben take control of his own life when he chooses to shed the moniker of Kylo Ren and head down the path of redemption.

After a tragically short amount of time fighting for the Light, he sacrifices himself for Rey. We’re not saying Rey didn’t deserve to live, but rather that Ben Solo didn’t deserve to die. 

Rey tries to coax Ben Solo back to life

He deserved the chance to finally live for himself. He was a victim of manipulation and abuse from a  young age and earned a happy ending.  He was robbed–and so were we–of the chance to live and try to make his wrongs right. 

The movie is called The Rise of Skywalker after all. The last Skywalker should have risen and been given a chance to prove himself worthy of the name.


  • Corrine Asbell

    Corrine Asbell is a former journalist and an unashamed video game aficionado. When not glued to her PS5 she’s rewatching Star Wars and trying to learn Swedish. Hej hej!

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