Yes, I’m finally going to let my Star Wars nerd flag fly, after all, I’ve already tackled Doctor Who, Star Trek, Breaking Benjamin, etc… So, be warned; SPOILERS ahead for the new trilogy, and especially for The Rise of Skywalker. If you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for? It’s the best of the new 3, it is still in theaters, and I heartily recommend it.
So, Star Wars has been a part of my family since the original, and that included taking a toddler me to the theater… apparently my first Star Wars enjoyment came from R2-D2, and then morphed into a childhood crush on Han Solo. Star Wars games, books, comics, movies, fanfic… it was all fair game, and in fact my online nickname “K’liska” came from a Star Wars fic I wrote many moons ago with my brother (I was a bounty hunter, but a good one, of course). Star Wars has always intrigued those looking for something deeper in their movies, and George Lucas has shared some of the philosophical, cultural, and religious bits and pieces that informed his work, so it’s fair game here.
In the aftermath of seeing Rise, I quickly scanned the net to see what others thought of it all. I always note what parts of a movie hit me and then see if it did the same to anyone else. I wasn’t disappointed as the bulk of the conversation (and cursing) revolved around the culmination of Rey’s and Ben Solo’s storyline(s), especially in regards to Ben Solo’s death.
Ben’s story arc was one of redemption, and the evolution of a fractured, volatile, hostile loner into a man who discovered who he really was, and what he was willing to die for. And die he did… which infuriated a lot of the fan base. Ben wasn’t a Sith, but he was bad news as Kylo Ren; bad news in the sense that he committed one of the big immoral no-no’s; patricide. Yes, he killed his own father, Han Solo. Yet, there were many fans in a rager that Ben’s redemption ended in his own death, and didn’t that “set a dangerous precedent that redemption includes death?!?!” Yes, of course it did, but it wasn’t a precedent; the precedent has already been set in human lore.
For sin comes death. It’s something that Christians should know from scripture. It’s one of the huge lessons we are supposed to be learning down here, and it’s not a pleasant lesson to learn. This is also what leads to the cross, and ultimate redemption via Jesus who died so that we might live. Yeah, yeah, I went there, so let me be clear; I’m not comparing Ben Solo to Jesus Christ, but I am saying death is (super)naturally connected to wrong choices. In Ben’s case his death was a result of having to rush to save the day after a long series of bad choices and wrong actions, including Palpatine’s own immoral actions. Jesus’ death was as a result of humankind’s bad choices all along the way of human history. Ben’s death represented redemption, not only for himself, but also for Rey as well as his grandfather Anakin.
Christ took the idea “for sin comes death,” and put a new spin on it since He was the only sinless one; Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Now we see the value in a life laid down on purpose, for purpose. I get why many fans were so upset over Ben’s death… we had just witness the rise of Ben Solo from the ashes of Kylo Ren, we witnessed the connection and love between Rey and Ben (romantic love or platonic love makes no never mind to me in this article), and the final vanquishing of the evil emperor. Everyone wanted to cheer and be happy, but the world, even in fictional form, has consequences. Ben Solo laid down his life for his friend. We, the fans, had just witnessed the greatest act of love possible. It is heartbreaking in its impact, and that heartbreak leads to emotion.
Good stories (including the kind that play out on film) are meant to impact us and to teach us. Good stories tend not to reinvent the wheel, but rather pull from story telling traditions that reflect actual reality and the human experience. So we recognize Ben Solo’s sacrifice as an act of selfless love but we rage against it because it hurts. That hurt is meant to teach us to live our lives in an upright way, walking tall, while the joy of seeing someone redeemed and saved is meant to make us celebrate and to be brave and to recognize the power of sacrifice.
The Rise of Ben Solo impacted fans enough that it took a real world turn, which I will write about in a separate article soon, link forthcoming (And, here it is: The Rise of Ben Solo). In the meantime, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts dear reader, let me know what you thought of the movie, Ben Solo, Rey, JJ vs. Rian (lol), anything relevant you’d like to share…