On recent episodes of “Star Wars Oxygen,” David W. Collins and Jimmy Mac have been discussing The Force Awakens soundtrack. First of all, if you’re not listening to “Oxygen,” I beg you to stop reading this and listen to the backlog. Then come back here and read this piece. While you will understand the following without hearing the show, I think that the show is so phenomenal it will enhance the intake of any and all Star Wars media.
That said, Kylo Ren folks. No really, isn’t he an intriguing character? Sure, some people have complained that he is whiny and childish, but critics have said the same about Luke Skywalker. That is until he became a total B.A. I am not implying the Kylo will ever reach that level, just that we keep our mind open. With so much story still to tell about the character, the best may be yet to come.
During one of the conversations the hosts had discussing the soundtrack, it was pointed out that Kylo Ren has two themes/motifs (I will use the terms interchangeably from this point forward). Now I am far from an expert in music, so I am not going to go into the meaning of the themes. I’ll leave that to the pros like David W. Collins. Nonetheless, I think that the fact that Kylo has two themes possibly gives an eye into the internal struggle Kylo is going through.
In the film we clearly see that Kylo is fighting the light and trying to stay in the darkness. Being that both of his motifs have a resonance of darkness, this could be John Williams telling us that Kylo is doing everything he can to stay in the darkness, almost as if it is out of desperation. Part of the reason I think people perceive Kylo as whiny and insolent is because that have not taken into consideration that he is likely very young emotionally. While he is supposed to be somewhere in his twenties,emotionally Kylo is far closer to his mid-teen years, Thus, like a teenager who dresses a certain way or partakes in certain activities to try and fit in, the themes of Kylo are trying to show us that he is trying to become what he thinks he should be, what his grandfather was until right before he died. And he is so desperate to become that ideal he has set, he desperately shoves it in our faces with dark themes and tantrums of anger alike. While only having one theme of darkness just would not be enough. More is better.
Still, I think the idea of Kylo having two themes goes even deeper. It is literally meant to show us that he is two different people. He has a split personality. One is Ben Solo. The other is Kylo Ren. On the platform with Han, Kylo answers to the name of Ben. While in rhetoric he denies that that man exists anymore, the simple act of answering to that name, particularly when it is called out by a father he claims to have no emotion toward anymore, says something. Moreover, Ben says that he has something that he “needs to do” but doesn’t know if he is “strong enough to do it” right before he kills Han Solo. On the surface it may seem like Kylo is just deceiving his father, I see it more as a cry for help, a proclamation that there is a struggle deep within his soul. As someone who has suffered with mental health issues his whole life, it is very clear to me that Ben Solo is dealing with some level of mental health issues. So when Kylo says what he says to Han, I think back to times when I have deceived or played people. Especially when it came to family, everything I said, no matter how twisted it had become, had a modicum of truth somewhere in its base. I would venture that the same is true for Ben Solo.
Much in the line of the darkest characters we have seen in Star Wars, Kylo Ren is two people. Palpatine and the Emperor. Count Dooku and Darth Tyranus. Anakin and Vader. Now Ben and Ren. What makes him all the more dangerous is that while the evolution of dual personas was more natural for the aforementioned, for Kylo it is something he seems to have forced, as we can tell by him saying he feels the “call of the light.” The question then becomes, will he let it in, or will his dark themes truly overtake him?
Comment below and let us know what you think!