Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson reveals Kylo Ren's final scene in the movie was partially inspired by one of his favorite images in the prequel trilogy. Much changed for the former Ben Solo during Episode VIII, who continued on his path down the dark side by becoming the new Supreme Leader of the First Order. Watching Kylo murder Snoke and emerge as the sequel trilogy's true big bad was one of the film's greatest surprises, and it sets the stage for a truly fascinating Episode IX.
When audiences last saw Kylo in Last Jedi, he was alone walking through the Rebellion base on Crait, holding the projection of Han Solo's gold dice while watching the Millennium Falcon take off. This is the moment that seemed to (literally) close the door on Ben's redemption, as Rey shut the ship's ramp and severed their connection. It was definitely an emotional scene for the characters, but Kylo's mindset was purposely left ambiguous by Johnson.
During a Q&A session hosted by Collider after an IMAX screening of the film, Johnson was asked by a fan about Kylo Ren's emotions at the end of the film. The director stated he made it open for interpretation as a callback to a key scene in Revenge of the Sith:
I think that’s such a beautiful notion of 'what does he regret in that moment,' it’s the same way I think about in Revenge of the Sith, that mask is coming down, that beautiful shot of Anakin’s eyes right before it goes over and you see that glimpse of… Is it fear? Is it regret? What is it? What is going through his mind at that moment? That’s that kind of moment for Ben and I don’t want to put that moment in your guys’ head. I feel like that’s a moment that everyone should read into themselves.
Kylo has a lot to regret as we close the book on The Last Jedi. Because of his actions in the sequel trilogy, he has left himself in an isolated position with no close allies to lean on. After splintering his blood family by turning to the dark side, Ben threw away a second lease on life when he tried to convince Rey to join him and leave the Resistance behind. Rey and General Leia Organa were the two who believed it was possible for Kylo to come back to the light, but both had seemingly changed their minds after their Episode VIII experiences. Unless there are some Knights of Ren still alive, Kylo is very much alone. General Hux probably isn't going to warm up to his new Supreme Leader anytime soon.
Johnson making Kylo's expression cryptic should benefit J.J. Abrams for Episode IX. Lucasfilm never mapped a full story for the sequels, so Abrams won't be boxed in by any predetermined plot points. He'll be able to run with the baton as he sees fit, crafting a Kylo Ren that best serves his Star Wars 9 narrative. It's similar to how Abrams relegated Luke Skywalker to a wordless cameo in The Force Awakens, which gave Johnson plenty of freedom when writing Last Jedi. There are many ways for Kylo to go from here, and it will be interesting to see what Abrams ultimately goes with.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019