Kylo Ren has fled the destroyed Starkiller Base and is firmly positioned in attack-mode. He also appears to have had his facial wounds bandaged up, which also suggests that this scene happens earlier on in the film (later in the trailer, when Kylo Ren and Rey are interacting with each other, his wounds appear to have healed into an appropriately villainous facial scar). So, assuming that Kylo Ren and Leia do share this scene, and it isn't just an editing trick of the eye, let's assume that the showdown happens during this opening scene. Kylo Ren isn't just scarred physically, but emotionally. He's just killed his father and is noticeably reeling from it. So, when he finally confronts his mother (via respective spaceships at least), emotions are high. Had the killing of Han Solo had the desired effect, killing Leia should come as second nature. He ought to be stripped of his past by now; ready and willing to continue down this path and kill his mother without a shred of remorse.
This isn't going to be the case. His journey isn't going to be as cut-and-dry as he hoped. And Kylo Ren isn't going to kill Leia.
The inner conflict that will be Kylo Ren's journey throughout this movie will be set in motion from the get-go. Whether he outright fires at a First Order ship to save his mother or loses his own inner battle in killing her himself remains to be seen, but it's fair to assume that either one of these two things will happen. In saving her, we will witness an unexpected pivot in his character arc, adding more weight to another theory that the central issue in the continuing Star Wars saga isn't about "good defeating bad," but "good and bad bleeding into one another."
Not the Light or the Dark - a Third Path
In the first teaser for The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker says that it's "time for the Jedi to end." Seems ominous (and even hints at the fact that maybe Luke isn't the good guy audiences remember him as), but it also indicates a shift in goals. The entire saga is predicated on bringing balance to the Force, and while the Sith hardly represent balance, after seeing the events of the prequels, it's clear the Jedi don't either. Both sides buy into dogmatic extremes, and there is no middle ground. No—well—balance. So, as heinous and inexcusable as some of Kylo Ren's actions may have been (and may even continue to be in The Last Jedi and beyond), it's not necessarily worse than anything Darth Vader did - yet.
When you consider the journey that Kylo Ren has been on, despite the fact that the details of his past haven't been completely revealed just yet, there has been one constant: following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Darth Vader. From the color of his lightsaber to the visually-influenced headgear, Kylo Ren even goes so far as to say, "I will finish what you [Vader] started."
Anakin/Vader was never interested in pushing the Sith agenda. His entire life he held a hatred for hypocrisy, and as the supposed fabled Chosen One, it was his destiny to bring balance to the Force. While it might seem that his turn towards the Dark Side permanently marred his attempts/destiny, it might have easily just laid the groundwork for the eventual balance. His influence—strong as it remains to be in the Star Wars universe—is more powerful in death than it was while he was alive (see Obi-Wan's final lines before his death: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine"). Kylo Ren's influence proves this. And while he appears loyal to Snoke, like his grandfather before him, Kylo is no fan of hypocrisy, and, intentional or not, his drive to upend the Light Side of the Force and ultimately destroy the Resistance just might ultimately see him also finding conflict with Supreme Leader Snoke, bringing closer on his journey towards bringing balance to the Force.
If Vader failed in bringing about balance himself, and his son, Luke, eventually realized that abiding by the unyielding rules of the Jedi Code had very little effect on a true equilibrium as well. So, as the latest generation of the Skywalker bloodline, Kylo Ren may very well be yet another cog in the Force-balancing machine, alongside Luke and Rey. That's not to say that the path is without pain (what is balance without a bit of darkness?), but between Kylo Ren's emotional struggle, Rey's eventual inner struggle highlighted in the latest trailer, and Luke's renouncing of the Jedi, very little will play out as it appears to play out in The Last Jedi's trailer.
Following the death of Carrie Fisher, Leia's fate is unfortunately sealed one way or another. Whether by natural causes, in a firefight, or she simply flus off into the stars, the princess-turned-general will eventually leave the franchise. However, when it comes to looking for someone to blame, we can confidently cross Kylo Ren off of that list. For the first time in a long time, he can confidently claim innocence, and despite his shady past, Kylo Ren may still know what it's like playing the "good guy."
The Last Jedi will hit theaters on December 19, 2017.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017