- "With the blood of a scoundrel and a princess in his veins, his defiance will shake the stars."
- ―Landonis Balthazar Calrissian
Ben Solo was a Force-sensitive human male Jedi who, after falling to the dark side of the Force, eventually renounced his adopted persona of Kylo Ren and was redeemed. During the New Republic Era, he conquered much of the galaxy as Supreme Leader of the First Order and master of the Knights of Ren. The blood of the most powerful Jedi and Sith flowed through his veins, granting him raw strength in the Force. Ren embodied the teachings of both sides, creating much conflict within him, yet it was through discord that he derived power, and he learned to channel his anger into strength. Ultimately, Ren sought to build an immunity to the light side of the Force and destroy the last remnants of the Jedi Order, fulfilling the legacy of his grandfather—the Sith Lord Darth Vader.
The man who became known as the "Jedi Killer" was born on the planet Chandrila in 5 ABY, when the Galactic Empire surrendered to the New Republic. The son of General Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, Ben Solo was trained by his uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. After the destruction of Skywalker's Jedi temple, Solo renounced his family and assumed the identity of Kylo Ren, becoming a First Order warlord and the apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke. Ren's descent into darkness was marked by the massacre of civilians and the murder of his father, but the act of patricide failed to end his inner turmoil. Believing he was destined to rule the galaxy, Ren assassinated Snoke and usurped the position of Supreme Leader, seizing both military and political control of the First Order. It was not a complete victory for him, however, as Rey, a Jedi apprentice whom he was growing close to, rejected his offer to rule beside him. Though they were sworn enemies, Ren and Rey shared a unique bond with each other, making them part of a prophesied dyad in the Force.
Supreme Leader Ren prioritized the destruction of the Resistance and the capture of Rey, viewing both as obstacles in his path to complete domination. The war came to a head in 35 ABY with the return of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who urged Ren to become the new Emperor by killing Rey. However, the persona of Kylo Ren ceased to exist after his mother died, allowing him to regain his former identity as Ben Solo. After the battle on Exegol, Solo sacrificed himself to revive Rey, and the two shared a kiss before he vanished into the Force as the last of the Skywalker bloodline.
Pre-birth and earliest years
A voice from the future
- "Let the past die."
- ―Kylo Ren, as heard by Darth Vader
Kylo Ren was the subject of Force visions before he was even born. Shortly after the Battle of Fortress Vader, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, the Sith persona of the famed Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, heard the voice of Ren saying that it was time to "Let the past die" as he slaughtered illusions of Jedi while exploring the portal constructed by Lord Momin in Fortress Vader on Mustafar. In 0 BBY, Ren's voice was also heard by the Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger, who visited the world between worlds—a mystical plane that existed between time and space.
The birth of Ben Solo
- "I know where you come from. Before you called yourself Kylo Ren."
- ―Lor San Tekka
Ben Solo was born in 5 ABY in Hanna City, Chandrila on the day that the Galactic Concordance was signed between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire, formally ending the Galactic Civil War, one year and four days after the Battle of Endor, in which his parents, Princess Leia Organa and General Han Solo, led the Alliance to Restore the Republic in a decisive victory over the Empire. Their victory resulted in the deaths of the Emperor, Darth Sidious, and Organa's biological father, Anakin Skywalker, who ceased to be Darth Vader when he was redeemed after decades of bringing despair to the galaxy.
While he was still in his mother's womb, Organa could feel him through the Force. She likened him to a living band of light that occasionally dimmed and was sometimes thrust through with a vein of darkness. Following his birth, there were contradictory rumors that Solo's birth took three days. Another tale claimed that it was a fast and painless birth. There were also rumors that Ben was born with a shock of black hair and a full set of teeth. Though Han lacked the same Force bond that Organa had with her son, he comforted himself with the fact that he had a fatherly bond with Solo. As a toddler, Solo enjoyed playing with the gold dice that belonged to his father and would often follow him around. The people who were closest to his father developed an affinity for his son, such as Han's co-pilot and best friend, Chewbacca, who cuddled Solo when he was toddler. Solo would shriek in delight as he kicked his legs and yanked on Chewbacca's fur, to which he just cuddled Solo close, making a sound that was almost like a purr. Solo affectionately referred to the Wookiee as "Uncle Chewie," and through his surrogate uncle he learned how to fly a speeder and fire a blaster. During target practice, Chewbacca and Solo fired stun shots at a haphazard dummy made of rocks. Solo also showed great affection toward Lando Calrissian, who he referred to as "unca Wanwo."
The namesake of Ben Solo's first name was that of the late Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, a legendary Jedi who went by the name of Ben Kenobi while in exile on Tatooine after the fall of the Jedi Order at the end of the Clone Wars and who sacrificed his life while rescuing Solo's mother from the Death Star battle station in 0 BBY. Solo's surname, that of his father, was originally coined by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin in 13 BBY on Corellia for Han when he enlisted for the Carida Academy to become a pilot. As an infant, Solo had difficulty falling asleep. His father would hold him close in an effort to help Solo sleep. He also introduced his son to a children's holoshow cartoon called Moray and Faz. One night, two years after the fall of the Empire, Chancellor Mon Mothma contacted the Solo house in an attempt to speak with Organa. The household droid, T-2LC, informed Han and activated a holo-projection of the chancellor. In doing so, the droid awoke both father and son, much to the former's annoyance as it had been the first time Solo had slept in days, or so it seemed to Han. The disturbance caused Solo to wake up crying, to which his father responded sympathetically by holding his son close to his chest. After a few moments, Solo drifted back to sleep, his chin resting on his father's shoulder.
In his youth, Solo's parents had active lives in their respective professions. Han, a smuggler before joining the Rebellion, was unable to stay in one place for long. Solo, who aspired to become a pilot like his father since childhood, inherited amazing piloting skills from him. Organa, meanwhile, became a respected senator in the New Republic, the government that arose after the Battle of Endor and that had served the Empire a final defeat during the Battle of Jakku around the time of Solo's birth. Organa and Han's natures clashed, and their busy lives left Solo with feelings of abandonment.
Apprentice of Luke Skywalker
- "For many years, there was balance and then I saw Ben. My nephew with that mighty Skywalker blood. In my hubris, I thought I could train him; I could pass on my strengths. Han was Han about it, but… Leia trusted me with her son. I took him and a dozen students, and began a training temple."
- ―Luke Skywalker
Ben Solo proved to be Force-sensitive by virtue of his lineage as a scion of the Skywalker bloodline, taking after his mother, as well as his uncle and grandfather. Growing up, Solo was unaware of his true lineage—that he was the grandson of Darth Vader. Only his parents and Organa's twin brother, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, knew the truth of Anakin Skywalker's past. Organa decided to keep the truth about Vader from Solo but planned to tell him when he was older, though by the age of twenty-three he still did not know his grandfather's real identity. She nonetheless hoped that she could tell her son the truth, and that Skywalker could explain that, in the end, Vader was redeemed and that the light inside of Anakin Skywalker had returned.
As the Force awakened in young Solo, his parents grew to believe that he needed guidance, having failed in their efforts to build a normal life for their son. In 15 ABY, Solo began his Jedi training as part of Skywalker's initiative to restore the Jedi Order. Organa recognized similarities between her son and her father; therefore, she counted on her brother to prevent Solo from suffering the same fate as his grandfather. Through Skywalker's training, Solo developed a strong sense of devotion to the ways of the Jedi. He kept a calligraphy set filled with Jedi insights in his quarters during his time with Skywalker. As master and apprentice, they traveled across the galaxy accumulating artifacts and learning more about the ancient Jedi in their quest to restore the Order to its former glory.
Like his sister, Skywalker tried to shield Solo from the secrets of their family. However, his efforts to protect his nephew from the dark side left Solo feeling isolated from those around him, and in his isolation a dark voice twisted his fears into reality. It was during this period in Solo's life that he came into contact with Snoke, a mysterious Force user who possessed a powerful connection to the dark side.
Exploration and discovery
- "I'm glad you came along, Ben."
"Yes, Master Skywalker. So am I."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo
During the early years of Solo's apprenticeship, Lor San Tekka, a traveler noted for his expertise on the Jedi Order, informed Skywalker about the discovery of an ancient Jedi outpost on the planet Elphrona. Embarking on a mission to investigate San Tekka's findings, Skywalker brought his apprentice with him, knowing that, like himself, Solo was interested in discovering Jedi artifacts. Along the way, Solo was telepathically contacted by Snoke without Skywalker's knowledge. The dark-side wielder, having sensed anxiety in Solo, inquired after the boy's state of mind. While Skywalker and San Tekka conversed about the outpost, noting that it may have dated as far back as the High Republic Era, when the Jedi greatly expanded their activity throughout the galaxy, Solo informed Snoke about the purpose of their journey and its destination.
Solo digressed about the length of their journey, traveling to the edge between the known galaxy and unexplored space, believing that his master would only collect what they found but never use any of it. Snoke took the opportunity to sow seeds of doubt about the Jedi in Solo's mind, telling the young apprentice that they had a history of hoarding knowledge and power, and considering themselves as masters of the Force. As Solo's unrest continued to grow, he became melancholic at having nothing to do on this mission except to follow his master's lead. Though he expressed admiration for his uncle as a teacher, Solo confided in Snoke his belief that Skywalker was holding him back in his evolution as a Jedi. Snoke reassured him that Skywalker would eventually come to know Solo's true capabilities, but at the moment he saw his student as nothing more than a child.
Their private conversation was interrupted by Skywalker and San Tekka; as they drew closer to Elphrona, Skywalker talked about how they not only had a chance to gain new insights into the Jedi of old, but also how the mission could give Solo an opportunity to indulge his fascination with ancient weapons, knowing that his pupil was particularly interested in them. Solo smiled when his master expressed how pleased he was to have his apprentice by his side, and told Skywalker that he felt the same.
The outpost that they discovered was well preserved and the entrance intact. Both master and apprentice were impressed by it, though Skywalker warned that they should exercise caution while exploring the outpost, recounting a similar situation that nearly ended with his death in years past. Solo understood and told his master that he would be careful. The trio marveled at the numerous artifacts that they discovered upon entering the outpost, including holocrons and a lightsaber rifle. Skywalker called it a treasure trove while San Tekka concluded that the ancient Jedi used it as a repository but never returned to gather the items left behind. Solo assured his master, who considered this latest discovery even more advantageous to their growth as Jedi than Jocasta Nu's cache, that he appreciated the value of everything inside of the outpost when, suddenly, they felt the cold presence of the dark side.
A group of marauders, dressed in black, had entered the outpost shortly after the two Jedi and their explorer companion. A warrior calling himself "Ren" spoke on the group's behalf, declaring that the outpost and its contents were claimed by the Knights of Ren. Solo watched as Skywalker drew his green-bladed lightsaber while rejecting Ren's claim to the property of the Jedi Order. Skywalker also introduced himself as the last Jedi, and therefore, the rightful owner of everything that belonged to the Order. It was a status he did not intend to hold onto for long, however, and with that he looked in the direction of his apprentice, a Jedi-in-training. Solo activated his blue-bladed lightsaber, but remained out of the ensuing fight, as his Skywalker instructed him to protect San Tekka.
Despite Solo's concern for his master's safety, Skywalker prevailed against the Knights, none of whom were able to harm or overpower him in the Force. Ren conceded the battle, accepting Skywalker's offer to leave with his Knights injured but alive. He did, however, turn his attention to Skywalker's young apprentice, who was not only strong like Skywalker, but also possessed an inherent connection to the dark side, not unlike Ren and his Knights. Skywalker issued his final warning when Ren attempted to convert Solo to the dark side, but as the Knights departed in defeat, the dark warrior told Solo to seek them out when he was ready to learn their ways.
New generation of Jedi
- "We were…learning. We all studied together. I was first, but they came not long after. Voe, Hennix and Tai."
- ―Ben Solo, on the other Jedi apprentices
Aside from his mother, whose training with Skywalker was cut short, Solo was the first student in Skywalker's initiative to rebuild the Jedi Order. The Jedi did not remain limited to two members for long, as Skywalker took it upon himself to train multiple apprentices at the same time. In addition to several new recruits, Hennix, Tai and Voe became apprenticed to Skywalker, and as such, they became acquainted with Skywalker's first and strongest pupil. As children, they would sit on the temple grounds learning about the Force through Skywalker's lectures, while, at the same time, honing their skills by levitating rocks.
Solo's natural affinity with the Force did not go unnoticed by his peers, particularly Voe, who found himself struggling to hone her skills despite training just as hard as Skywalker's nephew. While training outside, Voe watched as Solo levitated a large rock with ease, and wondered why he was far stronger than her. According to Skywalker, however, strength had nothing to do with how the Force worked. Using a door as an analogy, he explained that the Force flowed more easily through those who were open to its energy. Despite Skywalker's lecture, Voe never measured up to Solo's level throughout their entire time together. By his own account, and later Voe's, Solo was far stronger than her in every Jedi technique, including lightsaber combat and meditation. During one of their sparring sessions, Solo disarmed and defeated Voe.
His relationships with the other students were different. Hennix could make Solo laugh, and Tai tried to help him cope with the pressures of being a Skywalker. Solo assured his fellow Jedi student that he held nothing back, but through the Force Tai could see that there was a side to Solo that he kept hidden away from the others, including himself. Solo listened, but said nothing while Tai expressed his belief that everyone should be themselves.
The inclusion of multiple students in the training temple caused Skywalker to divide his attention, leaving Solo to search for guidance elsewhere. Snoke, having cultivated a friendship with the young Jedi, intended to supplant Skywalker by becoming Solo's mentor. Recognizing the strength that Solo possessed due to his bloodline, the Supreme Leader worked to sow seeds of doubt about Skywalker and the Jedi in Solo's mind, believing that the Jedi would ultimately fall if Solo turned to the dark side. It was through Solo that he also targeted Skywalker in a calculated effort to break him by destroying the Jedi Order, which he indirectly convinced Skywalker to restore.
Fall to the dark side
A fateful night
- "I never… I didn't want this."
"And you did not choose it, Ben. The Jedi did. Skywalker."
- ―Ben Solo and Snoke
Twenty-four years after the Battle of Endor, the truth about Solo's mother Leia's parentage was revealed by her political enemies, in the Galactic Senate. Leia had yet to tell her son about Darth Vader, and she worried about how he would react after finding out about it in such a public way.
Snoke saw Solo as a focal point between the light side and the dark side—an ideal embodiment of a Force warrior—and wanted to take him as an apprentice of his own. Though his origins were a mystery even to his own subordinates, Snoke was created by the phantom Emperor Darth Sidious and designed by the Sith Eternal cultists to mold Solo into an heir worthy of inheriting the legacy of the Sith.
Skywalker eventually became aware of the darkness which threatened his nephew's soul. He felt a dark movement in the Force, which eventually brought him to his nephew's bedroom one evening. Standing over his sleeping student, Skywalker reached out and sensed an evil, corrupting influence within Solo. The immediacy and severity of the threat caused the Jedi Master to instinctively draw his lightsaber, intending even for a brief moment to kill his apprentice, though the desire to kill his nephew vanished in an instant, and Skywalker was immediately filled with shame. Solo awoke to see his uncle standing over him with his lightsaber raised, unaware of the brevity of Skywalker's instinct. He panicked, and drew his own saber at the sight of the attempt on his life. Fearing for his life, Solo met the blade in a quick parry and, in an act of desperation, used the Force to collapse the entire hut on his master.
A powerful storm brewed above the Jedi temple, razed it to the ground and set the buildings ablaze shortly after Solo emerged from the ruins of his quarters. He tried to save the other students, but was thrown back by an explosion. He lamented their deaths while surveying the destruction around him, confessing that he never wanted to destroy the Jedi Order. However, a voice inside of Solo's head told him that the fault lay not with himself, but rather with Skywalker and the Jedi.
A dark path
- "The Knights of Ren could be your first step on that path. They always seek powerful people to join their ranks. But be warned…the price of admission is steep."
- ―Snoke, to Ben Solo
Returning from an off-world mission, the Jedi students Hennix, Tai and Voe confronted Solo and questioned his involvement in the temple's demise. Solo dejectedly informed them about Skywalker's actions and responded more forcefully when Voe questioned his strength in comparison to their master's power. As Solo turned to leave, the apprentices brandished their lightsabers at him, causing Solo to fight back but only with his Force powers. Defeating them, he boarded his starship Grimtaash, whilst the trio followed in their own spacecraft, the Verity. Though Solo had the opportunity to kill them, he only incapacitated their ship before making his escape, and eventually arrived at a space station where Solo met with Snoke.
Having rejected his future as a Jedi, Solo expressed interest in learning what he could from the Knights of Ren. Snoke not only supported Solo's new path, but also encouraged the fallen Jedi to take the opportunity of forging his own identity absent of Skywalker's influence. Solo had long felt the pressure of living up to the legends he was named after, and therefore wished to be rid of his given name as well as his father's surname. Even before he departed to search for the Knights of Ren, Solo began entertaining the idea of using a name he coined as a child. Snoke approved, believing that the new name represented Solo's true nature and would become known to the entire galaxy one day. Returning to the place where he last saw the Knights, Solo made contact with Ren by using the latter's helmet as a direct line of communication, and was told to seek them out on Varnak in the Mid Rim. By then, the other Jedi students had caught up to Solo, intending to prevent him from going any further down the path of the dark side.
Confrontation on Elphrona
- "I went back there to see if I could find a path to you and the other Knights, but I was followed somehow. By three Jedi. Students of Luke Skywalker."
- ―Ben Solo, to Ren
The battle moved outside of the outpost as Solo tried to leave while defending himself from the other students. Voe and Hennix pressed the attack in unison, forcing Solo to parry two lightsabers while Tai used their distraction to look into the fallen Jedi's mind through the Force. Sensing Tai's mental probe, Solo telekinetically pushed Tai against a wall before leaping high into the air, his temper rising at the students who pursued him in spite of his warnings back at the temple. He implored them to let him go, but Voe continued to give chase. She accused him of betraying the Jedi and their master, but it was her accusation of murder that pushed Solo past the limit of his patience. He used the Force to push her over a cliff, surrendering to the urge to kill the woman who called him a murderer, but it was a fleeting emotion that passed as Voe started to fall.
Solo was taken aback by his own actions and seized Voe in midair with the Force, attempting to save her. However, Hennix saw the exchange and believed that he had just witnessed Solo in the act of killing a fellow Jedi. Before this, he attempted to reason with both Solo and Voe, calling their battle irrational and even "stupid." In his misunderstanding, however, Hennix called Solo a monster and threw his lightsaber at Solo, not realizing that the latter was struggling to keep Voe from falling to her death. The attack caught Solo by surprise, causing him to drop Voe as he instinctively deflected Hennix's blade before refocusing his attention on saving Voe. Though she ultimately survived due to the efforts of Solo and Tai, Hennix was cut down by his own blade, Solo having inadvertently caused it to ricochet in the direction of its wielder. Before Voe and Tai could recover, Solo seized them both with the Force and threw them back into the outpost. With that he used his powers to collapse the entrance, trapping his remaining pursuers inside.
Trials of Knighthood
- "But Snoke vouched for you, and you're strong in the shadow, and that's not nothing. Let's spend some time, see if you like us, see if we like you. Maybe you'll find that good death after all."
- ―Ren, to Ben Solo
With the Jedi subdued, Solo completed his journey to Varnak, where he found Ren and the other Knights lounging in a cantina. Knowing that Snoke had sent Solo to them, Ren informed the young Jedi that he would have to offer them a sacrifice before he could join their ranks. As with Snoke, Ren was doubtful that Skywalker died by Solo's hand, although Solo confirmed that at this point he was responsible for the deaths of other Jedi. Ren, however, needed to know if the Jedi that Solo killed held any significance to him, so he asked Solo to recount the details of his confrontation with Tai, Hennix and Voe. As Solo began telling his story, his thoughts drifted to years past when he was younger—a child surrounded by other young students whom Skywalker had taken under his wing.
Solo recounted his experiences with the three Jedi who followed him to Elphrona, beginning with Voe. He remembered how she treated everything between them as a competition, throughout their time together as Skywalker's apprentices. For Solo, however, nothing with Voe was a contest as he outperformed her in every aspect of their training, despite all of Voe's attempts to reach the level of Solo's skill. Through Solo's recollection of her, Ren deduced that Voe was focused on his strength, whereas Hennix concentrated more on solving the mysteries of the Force as though it were a puzzle. Solo remembered Hennix for his humor and intelligence, but was more cryptic about Tai. Though Solo would not speak of him in detail to Ren, he remembered the way Tai encouraged him to be himself despite the pressure of being who he was—the scion of a legendary family.
Having learned enough about the other students of Skywalker, Ren directed Solo to return to the more recent past regarding his confrontation with the trio that pursued him in the wake of the temple's destruction. Solo took responsibility for Hennix's death, telling Ren that he killed his fellow Jedi. Ren, however, remained skeptical as were the other Knights. Solo protested, believing he met their qualifications, and although Ren agreed that Hennix was technically a death caused by Solo, he knew that the young fallen Jedi was conflicted about it. Nevertheless, Ren allowed Solo to accompany the Knights, at least for the time being, given that he was strong with the dark side as well as the fact that Snoke had already vouched for him. Ren also suspected that, in the course of Solo's journey with the Knights, the former Jedi would eventually make a sacrifice that was worthy of the Knights of Ren.
As far as Ren was concerned, Solo's appearance as a Jedi made him unsuitable to be seen in the company of the Knights. As such, Solo was made to set aside his tattered Jedi robes for a set of black clothes. Once dressed in his new attire, Solo was told by Ren that they would now depart from Vanrak and find something to burn.
By then, Tai and Voe had managed to create an opening in the destroyed entrance of the Jedi outpost. Tai, having seen glimpses in Solo's mind, knew that his former peer was seeking to join the Knights, believing his truth path was with the dark-side warriors. His faith in Solo began to erode upon discovering the dead body of Hennix, whose lightsaber was claimed by Voe as a replacement for her weapon, which was destroyed during her battle with Solo.
The fall of Ben Solo
- "Now you will be who you are. Who you were always meant to be."
- ―Darth Sidious, on Ben Solo's fall to darkness
Journeying to the Minemoon of Mimban in the Mid Rim, the Knights of Ren, along with Ben Solo, found themselves amidst Mimbanese miners. Trailed by the Jedi Tai and Voe, Solo confronted the former as the latter repelled the Knights' attack on the Mimbanese. Tai attempted once again to bring Solo back into the light, but before Solo could respond, Ren used the Force to snap Tai's neck. Ren taunted Solo, claiming that Snoke was wrong about him and that he could never survive against someone who actually wanted him dead. They engaged in a lightsaber duel, and as Solo fell towards the dark side, several people across the galaxy could feel the disturbance in the Force, including Solo's mother Organa, Rey, Snoke and Darth Sidious.
After successfully killing Ren and taking control of his knights, Ben returned to face Voe, snatching Voes' weapon and killed her by igniting Ren's lightsaber through her chest. Back on the Night Buzzard, Solo used the kyber crystal from his saber to bleed all of his dark emotions into it, changing the hue to fiery red-yellow. However, the crystal cracked and exploded, causing an energy surge throughout the ship. Solo then decided to turn his weapon into a relic crossguard lightsaber and took on the name Kylo Ren.
The rise of Kylo Ren
- "And when you called yourself by that new name, you saw your truth. It represents what you want to do on a deep level. The part of yourself you want to cut away. The part you want to kill. Perhaps someday you will do it. The galaxy will hear that name and see you."
- ―Snoke, to Ben Solo
Adopting the name of "Kylo Ren," the former Ben Solo paid a high price for the power of the dark side, becoming isolated from all that he once loved. After leaving the Jedi, he lived a friendless existence between a hated master and underlings he did not trust. In addition to becoming a champion of the First Order, the Empire's successor that Snoke ruled as Supreme Leader, Ren gained the title master of the Knights of Ren, having inherited his predecessor's command with Snoke's blessing. Through his new master's training, Solo became nothing more than a distant memory in the life of Ren. He was the Supreme Leader's most gifted apprentice as well as the embodiment of a new generation of dark-side warriors that emerged to fill the void left by the fall of the Sith, which became extinct with the deaths of Vader and Sidious as the last Sith Master and Sith apprentice under the Rule of Two. Unbeknownst to Ren, Skywalker survived but was also forever changed upon witnessing the destruction of his Jedi Order.
Ren's actions sent shock waves through his family. With his Jedi temple destroyed, Skywalker vanished into exile. Those closest to him believed that he went in search of the first Jedi Temple, which he eventually discovered on the planet Ahch-To. Organa and Solo separated, with Solo returning to smuggling with Chewbacca. Organa returned to a life of war, forming a band of soldiers known as the Resistance when the New Republic Senate refused to take the emerging threat of the First Order seriously. Though Solo believed there was too much of Darth Vader in Ben and that they lost their son forever, Organa never gave up hope that there was still good in him.
By decree of the Supreme Leader, Ren's true name could never be spoken. Ren sought to put his past behind him, become immune to the temptations of the light, and claim his birthright by ruling the weaker beings of the galaxy. He typically wore a combat helmet, patterned after the battle gear of the Knights of Ren, in order to conceal his identity and give him a more intimidating presence. This helmet also contained a vocal modifier, which lowered the pitch of Ren's voice considerably. Ren's actions as a Jedi earned him the nickname "Jedi Killer," a name whispered amongst the First Order ranks who knew Ren had prevented the return of the Jedi Order. No longer a Jedi but neither a Sith, Ren strove to harness the pain of his emotional conflict in order to fuel his extraordinary powers and destroy the last traces of the Jedi tradition.
Ren's desire to put the light side behind him was a key part of how he viewed his heritage. He came to idolize Darth Vader and kept his grandfather's burned helmet as a shrine to the legacy of the Dark Lord of the Sith, hoping to destroy the last Jedi as Vader had once intended and stamp put the last remnants of the light side of the Force. Though Skywalker had redeemed Vader during the Battle of Endor—allowing his father, Anakin to fulfill the ancient prophecy of the Chosen One—Ren and Snoke both believed that Darth Vader was Anakin's true self and that his redemption had simply been a single yet fatal error in an otherwise important life. At one point Ren believed that he had made contact with the spirit of his grandfather, as he once beseeched Vader's helmet to "show [him] again, the power of the darkness."
Ren modified his lightsaber upon falling to the dark side, channeling dangerous amounts of power through a cracked kyber crystal. The crude design was an ancient one, dating back thousands of years to a battle between the Jedi and Sith on the planet Malachor. Even with the additional quillon blades, the kyber crystal within could barely contain the weapon's power. As a result of the broken crystal, the lightsaber required vents on either side to divert the excess heat, necessitating its crossguard design. It also gave the red blade an unstable and fiery, flickering appearance.
Ren became an influential member of the First Order's power structure by virtue of his position as Supreme Leader Snoke's apprentice and enforcer, mirroring his grandfather's status in Sidious' Empire. Though he had direct access to the Supreme Leader and could command military officers, he existed outside of the official military command structure. This led to some tension with the First Order's upper ranks, who contended with him despite being wary that his agenda trumped military objectives. This arrangement deliberately mirrored the Galactic Empire's relationship with Darth Vader, who existed outside of the formal military hierarchy but could nonetheless command the Imperial Military in his own objectives. This tension was particularly palpable with General Armitage Hux, the commander of Starkiller Base, the First Order superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems. Ren, who was part of an unofficial Starkiller Base command triumvirate with Hux and Captain Phasma of the First Order military, had little regard for Hux as a warrior; Hux's military experience was mostly theoretical and based on simulated but nonetheless respected battlefield scenarios. Hux, likewise, was a man of science and had little understanding of Ren's mystical ways. Both vied for the attention of the Supreme Leader.
Over time Ren's reputation came to rival that of Hux and Phasma, both of whom were noted among the First Order ranks for their power and influence. Nevertheless, soldiers such as Captain Cardinal held Ren in high regard, believing he would be the one to lead the First Order to victory. However, although he was highly regarded by some figures of the First Order command, others were less impressed with the young Knight of Ren. Agent Terex, an officer of the First Order's security branch, was disdainfully dismissive of the dark-side warrior's attempt to emulate Darth Vader, whom he had met and considered a truly terrifying figure.
Apprentice of Snoke
- "Use your fear. Let it crystallize into anger. Turn that anger into power."
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
Sometime later, Snoke took Ren to a rocky world in the Rarlech system. As the two stood at the edge of a cliff, Snoke turned to Ren and asked if he was afraid. Ren replied by saying he wasn't. Snoke, using the Force, pushed Ren off the cliff and held him in the air. He proceeded to say that he knew Ren was afraid, as he should have been because he had no control. Instead, Ren was obfuscated and powerless. Snoke continued by saying that feeling that was good. Powerless men turned to anger and could lash out blindly with rage. But powerful ones can harness their anger and use it strike. Either they strike or fall. Snoke then released Ren, letting him fall. He told Ren to use the fear in him, turn it into anger, and make that anger become power. Following the guidance of Snoke, Ren was able to use the Force to survive the fall. He then asked Snoke if he would have rescued him if he wasn't able to save himself. Snoke answered by saying that Ren's former master, Luke Skywalker would have, but in doing so would hinder Ren's progress. Snoke wanted Ren to find his true power and potential if the latter wished to rule the galaxy alongside him.
After leaving the rocky world, the duo arrived on Dagobah. As they prepared to depart from the shuttle, Ren was about to bring his helmet when Snoke ordered him to leave it behind. Ren tried to tell Snoke that he wanted to bring it, but the incensed Supreme Leader slapped him in the face, drawing blood, and once again ordered Ren to leave it, telling him that he couldn't pretend to be Vader where they were going.
The Cave of Evil
- "I feel cold, death, and more."
"The cave is power. And darkness. And you will enter."
"What's in there?"
"Only what you've been too weak to bury. Or you can run away, if you'd like."
- ―Snoke and Kylo Ren
Following the incident on board their shuttle, Snoke and Ren proceeded to head towards the Cave of Evil on Dagobah. Ren made the comment that he could still sense his uncle from his time on Dagobah training with Yoda. Snoke nodded and told Ren that one of the most formidable Jedi began his training here. Ren then asked Snoke why he spoke of Skywalker with respect. Snoke said that Skywalker had earned his respect and fear. Ren told Snoke that Skywalker was weak. Snoke replied to him by saying that Skywalker was not weak; merely misguided. If Snoke had had Skywalker by his side, the galaxy would have belonged to him a lot earlier. They then went to the cave where Ren could sense a coldness radiating from it, along with death and other things. Snoke explained that was where all the fears Ren had been too weak to bury resided. He could go in or run away. But Ren's mind was already made up. He ventured in.
Once inside, Ren had a vision of his uncle Luke, saying that he didn't want to fight Ren. Ren told him that he did not care and activated his lightsaber. Snoke sensed the decision Ren had made and told that it was good and told him that Skywalker would have murdered him in his sleep because he feared Ren and how formidable he'd become. As the two continued to duel, Snoke advised Ren to use his hatred, rise above what was holding him back, and strike against the light within him. Ren did so and impaled the vision of Luke. Thinking he was finished, Ren told Snoke that he was done. But Snoke told him that the vision had just started.
Ren then caught sight of his parents, begging him to quit his actions. He tried to kill the light within him by saying that Ben wasn't his name, but Leia insisted it was and that he was loved. Back outside the cave, Snoke could sense the conflict within Ren, but then he sensed Ren ignite his lightsaber. He told Ren to kill the connection and snuff it out. But, back in the cave, Ren hadn't killed his parents, instead, he used his lightsaber to slice a tree. This action proved that though he hated his uncle, he loved his mother and father and it foreshadowed what he would do to Snoke, who couldn't sense that he had not killed the vision of his parents. Ren then destroyed the Cave of Evil, surprising Snoke who told Ren that the cave had stood for thousands of years and that he had planned to bring other apprentices to the Cave of Evil. Ren answered by telling Snoke that the past was the past and that Snoke would no longer need any more apprentices.
Colonization of the Unknown Regions
- "They also said that someone called Kylo Ren was leading the First Order army. Does that name mean anything to you?"
"You could say that. General Organa will want to hear about this immediately."
- ―Kazuda Xiono and Ello Asty
As one of the commanders of the First Order's military, Ren was heavily involved in its campaign to colonize the Unknown Regions, where the former Imperials had been rebuilding their strength since the Battle of Jakku. Aided by mysterious alien navigators known as the Attendants, the First Order had been able to navigate beyond the frontier of the known galaxy, allowing them to survive and rebuild their power. Several threats lurked in the Unknown Regions, hermetic kingdoms who were confronted by the growing new power. On Supreme Leader Snoke's instruction, the new military undertook a major offensive against several of these kingdoms to seize their worlds and resources to fuel their rise.
In 34 ABY Ren led an army to the world of Tehar, where they subjugated the local population by massacring a village. However, the siblings Kel and Eila survived the destruction of their village and fled Tehar after stowing away on a cargo ship. Since the children bore the knowledge of its aggressive actions against the people on Tehar, the First Order placed a large bounty of twenty thousand credits on their heads, telling informants that Kel and Eila were members of a high-ranking First Order family from outside its military hierarchy.
Kel and Eila eventually made their way to Castilon and sought refuge on a supertanker fuel depot known as the Colossus. After meeting the Resistance spy Kazuda Xiono, Eila told him about Ren's involvement in the raid on her village. Though she knew little about the warrior dressed in black, apart from his name and affiliation with the army that invaded Tehar, Ren's lightsaber reminded Eila of the legends about the Jedi who carried the same weapons. Xiono, who was also unaware of Ren's identity, passed this information to the Resistance while reporting to Ello Asty.
The search for Skywalker
Hunting the last Jedi
- "If Skywalker returns, the new Jedi will rise."
Both Ren and the Supreme Leader understood that if Skywalker and the Jedi were to ever return, they would be a grave threat to the future of the First Order. The people who were closest to Skywalker believed he had gone in search of the first Jedi temple, the location of which had been lost. A partial map was recovered from the archives of the Galactic Empire, but it was missing a key piece of the puzzle. The First Order soon discovered that the missing map fragment was in the possession of Lor San Tekka, a member of the Church of the Force.
Mission to Pillio
- "Tell me where Lor San Tekka took the map."
"…Bayora. He took it to Bayora."
- ―Kylo Ren and Del Meeko
The hunt for Skywalker caused Ren to undertake a journey the planet Pillio. Although San Tekka was not found on the world, the First Order's allies captured and detained Del Meeko, a veteran of the Galactic Civil War who served the Empire and New Republic, in turn, as a member of Inferno Squad. Upon his arrival, the dark warrior was greeted by Protectorate Gleb of Jinata Security. Dismissive of the formalities, he instructed the Aqualish officer to lead him to Meeko. He found the former soldier wounded and alone on the bridge of the Raider II-class corvette Corvus.
Ignoring the prisoner's sarcasm, Ren used the Force to probe through Meeko's mind, determined to learn where San Tekka took the map. For all of Meeko's efforts to resist the probe, invading his mind was a relatively simple task for Ren, who saw memories ranging across the former commando's life—from his service on Scarif as a coastal defender stormtrooper to his participation in the Battle of Endor and the skirmish on Vardos. He also learned that Meeko encountered Skywalker on Pillio and subsequently discovered his faith in the Force. Ultimately, Meeko was unable to resist Ren's powers and revealed that San Tekka took the map with him to Bayora.
Having gained the information he sought, Ren turned the prisoner over to First Order officer Gideon Hask, one of Meeko's former teammates in the Inferno Squad prior the Empire's fall, who executed Meeko shortly thereafter.
- "General Hux… I know where we must go… and I know this is the key. We are so close."
- ―Kylo Ren
Later, Ren, Hux and two First Order admirals gathered in a conference room aboard the Finalizer over the planet GUHL-JO387O. They were discussing travel to a planet in the Western Reaches. While in the conference, the creature that the stormtrooper, FN-2187, was chasing turned off the lights, interrupting the conference. Ren, his temper under control, felt something nearby: something from the planet that should not be on board. He activated his lightsaber to illuminate the room and looked around, but whatever it was had now gone.
After the conference, Ren transmitted orders to Phasma via private frequency. But he had to make sure she got them, so he walked over to the captain's quarters and called her from outside. Only Phasma's helmet appeared through the opened doors. Pleased by her punctuality, Ren relayed what he sensed to Phasma, for he planned to have a discreet search throughout the Finalizer. He ordered her to take a squad of trainees to investigate the planet for any Resistance activity. Anything Phasma may find, she must deliver to Ren. Then the dark warrior left.
Marooned with Hux
- "How did we…? Did you…did you save me?"
"Not intentionally. I saved myself. You were just nearby. Communications are out."
"Which means I have no choice but to talk to you instead of literally anyone else."
- ―Armitage Hux and Kylo Ren
At one point before the attack on Tuanul, an Xi-class light shuttle carrying Kylo Ren and General Hux crash-landed on a distant world. Their shuttle was consequently destroyed and the pilot died in the crash, although Ren survived the incident by protecting himself with the Force. By saving himself, however, he inadvertently saved Hux's life as well. The destruction of their vessel along with its communications system left them marooned and unable to contact the First Order. Realizing that a saboteur was responsible for their predicament, the two rivals began bickering over which of them was at fault. Ren chided Hux as he believed the general was targeted by a conspirator in his own army, to which Hux responded by mocking Ren for his temper and efforts emulate Darth Vader. Ren drew his lightsaber at the mention of his parents and contemplated ridding himself of Hux once and for all, aware that it would be some time before the First Order located their position. However, Hux reminded him of the one person who would learn the truth: Ren's master, Supreme Leader Snoke. Although he did not understand why Hux was important to Snoke's plans, Ren conceded the point that there would be a penalty for killing the Supreme Leader's favored general, and therefore deactivated his lightsaber, sparing Hux.
Following their argument, Ren and Hux were attacked by a norwood, a large creature native to the planet that they were stranded on. Drawing his lightsaber once more, Ren took a defensive stance and told Hux to stay behind him, only to see that the general had already fled in the opposite direction of the beast. Though abandoned by Hux, Ren stood his ground and managed to incapacitate the norwood by using the Force to smack its head against a tree. Believing himself victorious, Ren called Hux a coward and told him to come out from wherever he was hiding, but a second norwood ambushed him and ultimately rendered the dark warrior unconscious, at which point the Alderaanian exile Bylsma emerged and prevented the norwoods from killing Ren.
Hux, who had been hiding in the trees and watching as the event occurred, cautiously approached Bylsma from his hiding place. Recognizing the old man's uniform, Hux came to the conclusion that Bylsma was an Alderaanian palace guard. Bylsma confirmed as much and revealed that he had fled into exile after the destruction of Alderaan. He stranded himself on a distant planet and severed his connections to the larger galaxy, fearing that his new home would suffer Alderaan's fate if he attempted to use his ship's communications, but as a result, Bylsma had no knowledge of the events that unfolded after the disaster. Hux used Bylsma's ignorance of recent galactic history in order to gain his trust. In addition, he used Ren's heritage to his advantage, informing Bylsma that the man whom the norwoods attacked was, in fact, a fellow son of Alderaan. More to the point, he was the son of Leia Organa, the princess of Alderaan. Bylsma, who had known both the princess and her adoptive father, saw the physical resemblance between Ren and his mother and wondered if Ren was anything like the princess he once served. Hux assured him that Ren was indeed like his mother, even if he would have denied it.
Bylsma built a stretcher and carried Ren to his home, where Hux convinced the retired soldier to give him access to the ship's communications so that they could be rescued. After regaining consciousness, Ren played along with Hux's deception until a shuttle arrived to retrieve them. The shuttle ramp lowered revealing Captain Phasma and a squad of stormtroopers, leading to the norwoods' immediate death by blaster fire. Ren boarded the shuttle in silence alongside Hux, who told the captain to spare the old man's life but to disable his communications array, leaving Bylsma truly stranded and alone. They reported directly to Snoke via hologram after their return to Starkiller Base; although Ren offered to punish the culprit responsible for sabotaging the shuttle, Hux insisted on handling the matter personally, given that the conspiracy was directed at him. Snoke approved the general's request, causing Ren to question the Supreme Leader's faith in Hux. Ren, who could sense Hux's ambition to kill and replace Snoke, and therefore, deemed him untrustworthy, was certain that his master knew it as well. Snoke dismissed Ren's concerns, however, and explained why Hux—a vicious and unforgiving man, consumed by ambition and driven by spite, molded as such through years of abuse—was ultimately a useful asset.
Walking in Darth Vader's shadow
Confronting old enemies of Vader
- "But still, we are walking in Darth Vader's shadow. This is the field where he fought. There is glory here."
"Glory? Nah. There's none of that buried out there. There are only wasted lives…"
- ―Kylo Ren and Ruthford
The First Order deployed an army, under the command of Kylo Ren, to the Benathy homeworld in Wild Space, intending to put an end to their expansionist campaign. Ren, who was aware that his grandfather once fought against the Benathy decades earlier during the reign of the Galactic Empire, saw his mission as an opportunity to succeed where Darth Vader failed—by forcing the Benathy to submit to the First Order. Captain Ruthford, a veteran Imperial stormtrooper who joined the First Order, accompanied Ren as his military advisor. Having served with Ren's grandfather against the Benathy, Ruthford opined that Vader managed to subdue the aliens but at the cost of thousands on both sides, resulting in a pyrrhic victory. But where Ruthford was disillusioned by his past experience with the Benathy, believing their conflict with the Empire was pointless and a waste of lives, Ren saw only glory as he walked across the field of battle where Vader once stood, the shadow of his grandfather's legacy looming over the young dark-side warrior.
Despite the army behind him, the First Order's troops were ordered to stand by while Ren conducted negotiations with the Benathy's ruler, King Kristoff, attempting to secure their capitulation without bloodshed. Desiring to expand the Benathy's domain, Kristoff not only conquered four nearby planets but also had them purged of all life, leading Ren to demand that the Benathy cease their expansion immediately. Compared to Ren, the late Vader commanded the king's respect, but only to a degree because while Vader killed Kristoff's predecessor he failed to defeat their Zillo Beast, which the Benathy worshiped as a god. Nevertheless, Ren continued his efforts to resolve their situation through diplomacy and even attempted to dominate the king's will by way of the Force. The mind trick failed, however. Kristoff openly mocked Ren's negotiating skills, causing Ruthford to caution him against provoking the dark warrior. At that point, Ren stabbed the king through the head with his lightsaber, concluding negotiations in favor of open battle.
Leading by example like his grandfather before him, Ren fought alongside his stormtroopers as they engaged the Benathy and personally killed numerous enemy combatants until their deity arrived. Despite Ruthford's skepticism, Ren was undaunted and ordered his men to keep fighting. After their initial efforts to kill the beast failed, he improvised a plan to kill the creature to the dismay of Ruthford, who could no longer restrain himself from expressing his disapproval of Ren's desire to match Vader's achievements. In his view, there was no competition between Ren and Vader because the latter was long since dead.
Despite the captain's lack of faith in him, Ren commanded a shuttle to bring him to the jaws of the Zillo Beast, diving head-first into its mouth. Convinced that Ren was dead, Ruthford was in the middle of recommending the option of retreat to a nearby admiral when the Zillo Beast suddenly collapsed and died. Ren had killed the creature from within, where it was vulnerable, and managed to cut his way out, emerging from its corpse covered in the blood of the Benathy's deity. Declaring that their god was now dead, the dark warrior commanded the Benathy to submit to the First Order, and they did by kneeling in submission to him. In the end, he not only gained the allegiance of the Benathy, but also Captain Ruthford's respect.
Raid on Jakku
- "The map to Skywalker. We know you've found it, and now you're going to give it to the First Order."
"The First Order rose from the dark side. You did not."
"I'll show you the dark side."
"You may try, but you cannot deny the truth that is your family."
"You're so right."
- ―Kylo Ren and Lor San Tekka
Eventually, the First Order learned that San Tekka was on Jakku. Ren, who knew San Tekka from childhood as the explorer was once an old ally of Organa and Skywalker, brought the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Finalizer in his search for the map. The First Order's military attacked the village of Tuanul, where San Tekka lived. Once the First Order stormtroopers, under the command of Phasma, rounded up the denizens of the village, Ren arrived on the battlefield and confronted San Tekka, lamenting how old the former explorer had become, to which San Tekka replied that Ren's fall to the dark side was far worse. Ren demanded that San Tekka give the map to the First Order, but San Tekka refused to submit to the will of the dark side and reminded the one-time Jedi that Ren could not deny the truth of his heritage, at which point Ren struck him down with his lightsaber while sarcastically agreeing with him.
Moments later, he was shot at from afar by Commander Poe Dameron, a starfighter pilot in the Resistance who was sent to Jakku by General Organa to find the map before the First Order. Ren used the Force to freeze the blaster bolt midair, and Dameron was soon brought before him. The dark warrior realized that Tekka gave the map to Dameron and ordered that the troopers bring the pilot onto Ren's command shuttle, before giving the order to kill the rest of the villagers. One stormtrooper, FN-2187, hesitated and ultimately chose not to fire on the civilians, an act that Ren noticed as he could sense his fear before boarding his shuttle.
- "The droid… stole a freighter?"
- ―Kylo Ren, to Dopheld Mitaka
Dameron was brought aboard the Finalizer for interrogation, where he was placed into an interrogation chair. The device, used by Ren to extract information from his prisoners, was based on similar devices once used by the Inquisitors of the Galactic Empire. First Order interrogators were unable to break Dameron, but they did learn that he was the best pilot in the Resistance, a feat that Ren noted once he began interrogating the pilot personally. Though the dark knight was impressed that Dameron had not yet been broken, Ren began to use the Force to mentally extract the information from Dameron's mind. The pilot, who resisted the Force attack, finally was forced to reveal that he had hidden the map inside his BB unit, BB-8, who was likely still on Jakku. Ren informed General Hux of the new development and left the recovery of the droid in the hands of the military.
Shortly after leaving Dameron under the guard of several stormtroopers, Ren arrived on the Finalizer's bridge upon hearing that the Resistance pilot escaped aboard a TIE fighter. Hux confirmed this with the additional information of Dameron having had help from someone within the First Order's ranks. Ren realized that it could only have been FN-2187, after remembering how the conflicted soldier had hesitated in Tuanul, and he said as much to Hux. The TIE fighter was eventually shot down after a brief skirmish, and it crash-landed on Jakku.
The First Order recognized that Dameron and the deserter designated FN-2187 were looking for the droid, so Hux ordered a squadron to be sent to Jakku to recover it first. Hux soon spoke to the Supreme Leader, who ordered them to capture the droid if they could, but destroy it if they must. Ren questioned the capability of Hux's soldiers and training methods, wondering aloud whether the Supreme Leader would be better off using an army of clones as the Galactic Republic and the early Empire had once done. Hux told him that they were more than capable, and warned Ren not to let his personal mission to find Skywalker interfere with the Supreme Leader's orders.
Later that day, a nervous Lieutenant Dopheld Mitaka informed Ren that the astromech droid escaped aboard a YT-1300 light freighter. At first, Ren found it unlikely for a single droid to be capable of stealing a ship but allowed Mitaka to continue. Further intelligence suggested the probability of FN-2187, who had now branded himself with the name Finn, abetting the droid's evacuation from Jakku. Enraged that the traitor had robbed him of the means to find Skywalker, Ren ignited his lightsaber and destroyed the computer terminal in front of him. The dark warrior calmed down, asking if there was "anything else." Mitaka replied that the defector and the droid had help from a girl. Ren used the Force to drag Mitaka towards him, grabbed him by the neck, and demanded to know who the girl was.
Return of the past
The pull to the light
- "The droid we seek is aboard the Millennium Falcon. In the hands of your father, Han Solo."
"He means nothing to me."
"Even you, Master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test."
"By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced."
"We shall see. We shall see."
- ―Kylo Ren and Snoke
With the droid gone, the Finalizer made its way to Starkiller Base. Once there, Ren and Hux spoke to Supreme Leader Snoke, who communicated to his subordinates via an enlarged hologram. Snoke remained concerned that Skywalker's return would be a threat to the First Order, so Hux proposed that they finally use the weapon as intended and destroy the New Republic one and for all. Without the Republic, Hux knew that the Resistance would be vulnerable and could be stopped before they found Skywalker. The Supreme Leader gave the general his permission and Hux left to oversee preparations, while Ren remained behind.
Both Snoke and Ren could sense that the Force was awakening from dormancy once again, and the Supreme Leader told his apprentice that the droid was in the hands of Han Solo; the old smuggler had the astromech aboard his ship, the Millennium Falcon. Ren claimed Solo meant nothing to him and that he would not be "seduced" by the light as his grandfather once was, not while he had Snoke's training. Even so, the Supreme Leader warned that this would be Ren's greatest test.
Though Ren believed he would not be seduced, he nonetheless felt the pull of the light side. In his personal quarters aboard the Finalizer, Ren spoke to the helmet of Darth Vader, searching for guidance and hoping that the legacy of the Dark Lord could remind him of the power of the dark side. He swore that if Vader could somehow show him that dark power, then Ren would finish what the Sith started and destroy the last of the Jedi.
Capture of Rey
- "You still want to kill me."
"That's what happens when you're being hunted by a creature in a mask."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
The First Order soon learned that Solo, the girl, the defector, and the droid had landed on Takodana and were in the castle of the ancient pirate Maz Kanata, who Solo hoped would help deliver the droid to the Resistance. Before the First Order departed, General Hux unleashed the Starkiller weapon against the Republic. After giving a speech to his forces about the end of a regime that he believed could not contain galactic chaos, Hux ordered that the weapon be fired. Ren watched from the bridge of the Finalizer as the weapon's phantom energy left the surface of Starkiller Base and made their way to the Republic's capital of Hosnian Prime, where they destroyed the entire Hosnian system.
With the Republic severely damaged, Ren led his forces to Takodana, where the stormtroopers attacked Kanata's castle. Solo, Finn, and the droid were briefly captured by the First Order before Dameron and the Resistance Starfighter Corps arrived to recover the droid, while the girl and the astromech tried to escape through the forest. The two split up, as the girl led stormtroopers away from the droid. Ren soon arrived on the battlefield and found the girl in the woods. She fired at him with her blaster, but he followed her and deflected the shots with his lightsaber. Finally, Ren froze her in place with a telekinetic attack.
He peered into the girl's mind, learning of her life as a scavenger in the junkyards of Jakku. Going further, he saw that Rey had seen the map. The First Order would not need the droid, he believed, and so he placed the girl in an unconscious state with the Force and carried her to his command shuttle. He ordered the First Order to retreat, as they had what they came for, and their forces left Takodana. The droid ultimately made it out of the forests and into the hands of the Resistance.
Ren brought the girl to Starkiller Base, restraining her in an interrogation chair. When she awoke, she asked where her friends were, and Ren told her he had no idea. He sensed she still wanted to kill him, and Rey said it was because she was being hunted by a creature in a mask. The dark warrior removed his mask to show his young face and asked about the droid, but the girl only gave him BB-8's technical specifications. Ren told her that he knew about the map and that the First Order had recovered the rest of it from the archives of the Empire.
Knowing the girl was resilient, Ren warned her that he could take whatever he wanted from her mind. He touched her face and began probing her mind with the Force. Ren felt an innate connection to the scavenger, although at the time he was unaware that they formed a prophesied dyad in the Force. At first, he got a hold of her name: Rey. Next, he could feel loneliness and fear within her, followed by the sight of an ocean and an island. Then he sensed Han Solo. Ren could tell that Rey looked at the smuggler as a father figure, but he said that Solo would have only disappointed her. Finally, Rey began to be more strongly resistant to his mental attacks. She soon turned the mental probing around on him, using the Force within herself to see that Ren himself was afraid—afraid that he would never be as strong as Darth Vader was.
Snoke's new strategy
- "Supreme Leader, I can get the map from the girl. I just need your guidance."
"If what you say about this girl is true, bring her to me."
- ―Kylo Ren and Snoke
Stunned by the reversal, Ren left Rey behind in the interrogation chamber and spoke to the Supreme Leader, who reacted with incredulity that a mere scavenger resisted him. Ren told Snoke that Rey was strong with the Force, stronger than she even knew. The Supreme Leader asked what happened to the droid, and General Hux, who had just entered the chamber, told Snoke that Ren believed he only needed Rey and allowed the droid to escape. Concerned that the Resistance might have the full map to Skywalker, Snoke ordered Hux to unleash the Starkiller weapon against the Resistance base on the planet D'Qar. Ren swore that he could still find the map in Rey's mind as long as he had his master's guidance, so the Supreme Leader ordered Rey to be brought to him.
On his way to Rey's holding cell, Ren learned that the girl had somehow broken out. The guard who had been ordered to watch her could not fathom how he ended up in his quarters. When asked by a First Order officer if "stronger methods" were needed, Ren declined; any further simple questioning might enable the guard to remember something important. In the meantime, Rey must be found.
When Ren returned to the cell, he needed to see if Rey had truly used her emerging Force abilities to escape. Inspection revealed the interrogation bench was deserted, every one of its restraints left open as if to mock Ren. Enraged, he ignited his lightsaber and destroyed the room, causing two passing stormtroopers to quickly back away.
Han Solo's last stand
- "I'm being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. And I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?"
- ―Kylo Ren and Han Solo
Ren commanded the First Order troops to be on alert for Rey as she began making her way through the base, as he knew that the longer she was able to tap into her powers while escaping, the more dangerous she would become. A trooper reported sensor readings in Hangar 718, which meant Rey could be there. But investigations turned up nothing. Nonetheless, Ren wanted every hangar on lockdown to prevent Rey from commandeering a ship. Right in the middle of that order, he was interrupted by a familiar presence: Han Solo. His father was on Starkiller Base.
Ren ordered for a search of the Millennium Falcon, for the ship had shortly been sighted at the edge of a cliff. By the time he arrived on the scene, everything checked clear and not a single hidden trap could be found. He boarded the Falcon and sat on the pilot's seat, looking for anything that may lead him to Solo's whereabouts. Just then, he spotted Resistance X-wings flying past and assaulting the thermal oscillator, hoping to destroy it and set off a chain reaction that would cause the planet to implode before the weapon could destroy D'Qar. Ren rushed to the oscillator, commanding his troops to find the intruders. He knew Solo had to be nearby, as well as the fact that he did not come alone.
As Ren advanced on the walkway, he stopped upon hearing the voice of his father, calling out to him from behind, using his birth name. He turned about face and said he had been waiting for this eventuality. Solo told him to remove the mask so he could see the face of his son once more. Ren removed the mask but told Solo that he had destroyed Ben, who Ren thought was weak and foolish, much like his father before him. Solo refused to acknowledge Ren's pessimistic stance on the matter, retorting that his son was very much alive and Snoke was simply using Ren for his power, and that once Snoke had exhausted Ren's usefulness, he would be disposed of. Ren, while neither denying nor confirming what Solo said about Snoke to be true, stated that it was too late for him. Solo pleaded with Ren to come home to his true family, claiming that he and Organa desperately missed the presence of their son. Ren, conflicted by the pull towards the light, broke down in tears and told his father that he was being torn apart by the constant struggle between the dark and the light inside him and wanted to be free of the pain that he was feeling. He knew what he had to do to put a permanent end to his inner turmoil, although Ren was uncertain whether or not he could perform the necessary act to do so. Asking for his father's assistance in ceasing the struggle, Solo agreed, not knowing that it was the light that Ren felt conflicted by.
Ren, who was being watched from afar by Chewbacca, Rey, and Finn, took out his lightsaber and Solo grabbed hold of it. As the Starkiller finished draining the star it orbited to power the weapon, and the light on the planet died out, Ren ignited his lightsaber and impaled his father through the torso. A mortally wounded Han Solo touched his son's face one last time before falling to his death in the bowels of the oscillator.
The act of killing his father had an unsettling effect on Ren. Rather than make him stronger in the dark side, as he had thought, it had weakened his spirit. He was rendered unbalanced. The shock had been so profound, he did not register Chewbacca's roar of anguish nor Rey's scream of horror.
Enraged by the loss of his best friend, Chewbacca fired a powerful shot from his Wookiee bowcaster and hit Ren in the left side, seriously injuring the dark knight. Quickly, Ren used the Force to reduce the effects of the wound, lest it may result in his premature death. Chewbacca killed several other stormtroopers in the area as Rey and Finn, who were high above in the oscillator, began firing into the area as well. The Wookiee then ignited charges that he and Solo set throughout the oscillator, causing a massive explosion that breached the oscillator and gave Dameron and the remaining Resistance pilots an opportunity to destroy it. As Ren composed himself from his injury, he made eye contact with Finn and Rey. Anger swelling within him, he was resolved to find them before they could escape.
Duel in the forest
- "We're not done yet."
"You're a monster!"
"It's just us now. Han Solo can't save you."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
Ren followed Rey and Finn into the forests outside of the oscillator, as they made their way back to the nearby Millennium Falcon. He confronted them, lightsaber drawn, and said that they still had unfinished business from which Han Solo could not save them. Outraged by Ren's patricidal actions, Rey denounced the dark warrior as a monster and tried to attack him with her blaster, but he used the Force to throw her into a tree and knock her unconscious. Now it was just Ren and the traitor who had earned his ire.
Finn ignited the Skywalker lightsaber that had been given to him for safekeeping by Maz Kanata—a lightsaber that once belonged to Luke Skywalker, and to Anakin before him. Ren demanded that Finn give him the lightsaber, claiming it belonged to him, but instead the former stormtrooper engaged him in a lightsaber duel. It was a short but brutal contest, in which Ren kept striking his bowcaster injury in order to fuel his anger and power. In the end, Finn, who nonetheless landed one blow on Ren's right shoulder, was no match for Ren's power. Ren overwhelmed and disarmed his opponent, ending the fight with a punch and a lightsaber blow across Finn's back that left the one-time stormtrooper comatose.
With the duel seemingly over, Ren turned his attention towards his grandfather's lightsaber and attempted to use the Force to draw it into his hand. Instead, it flew past him and landed in the hands of Rey, who used the Force to call it to her—as it was her destiny to wield the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker. Rey ignited the weapon and engaged Ren in a tense duel. At first, Ren had the upper hand, remaining on the offensive as he pressed his attack against the retreating scavenger. Their blades became locked, and Ren told the emerging Force-sensitive that she needed a teacher. It was he, Ren said, who could show her the ways of the Force. At that moment, Rey realized she could call upon the powers of the Force and began using that to her advantage. She turned the tide of the fight and pushed her own offensive against the dark warrior, who she was finally able to disarm. In doing so, she slashed her blade across his face, knocking him down and disfiguring him in the process.
Before they could engage any further, the surface of the planet began to break apart—the Resistance was victorious, and the destruction of the oscillator triggered the Starkiller's implosion. Ren and Rey were separated by a deep chasm, so Rey left the dark warrior behind, recovered Finn, and fled the planet with Chewbacca aboard the Millennium Falcon.
As the planet continued to collapse, Snoke ordered General Hux to find Ren and bring the young knight before the Supreme Leader so the young warrior's training could be completed. Hux and several troopers tracked Ren's signal and took him aboard a shuttle, leaving before the planet exploded. Immediately following Starkiller Base's destruction, Ren received treatment for the long scars on his body, though it was too late to erase them completely.
Let the past die
A child in a mask
- "Yes. There it is. You have too much of your father's heart in you, young Solo."
"I killed Han Solo. When the moment came I didn't hesitate."
"And look at you. The deed split your spirit to the bone."
- ―Snoke and Kylo Ren
Following the Resistance's evacuation of the base on D'Qar, Ren was summoned to Supreme Leader Snoke's throne room, located in the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy. The blows inflicted on him, by Rey and Chewbacca, though stitched up some by microsutures, were still as fresh as ever, causing him some discomfort, though he tried to hide this. Kneeling before his master, he listened as Snoke loudly recalled the raw, untamed power that Ren possessed, abilities which had originally brought him to the dark sider's attention. Knowing the potential of the powerful Skywalker bloodline, the Supreme Leader revealed his belief that Ren could fulfill his grandfather's dark legacy.
But in light of his apprentice's most recent setback, Snoke retracted his faith in Ren's power. He chastised the dark warrior, calling him weak and sentimental, just like his late father. The struggle within Ren as he prepared to strike down Han Solo had been sensed by Snoke from afar. It was the trauma from this action that caused him to be outmatched by an untrained scavenger, who had never before wielded a lightsaber. Snoke had never seen such a pathetic display.
Fury building within him, Ren rose to attack his master, but Snoke quickly suppressed the attack with a surge of lightning, throwing the apprentice back. As long as Luke Skywalker lived, Snoke seethed—as long as the Jedi remained—so did hope across the galaxy. Ren would never be able to destroy it because he was a mere child hiding in a mask; nothing like the feared Darth Vader, who would have been ashamed of his grandson. Leaving the throne room, Ren erupted in a rage of self-pity and smashed his helmet against the surrounding metal. He then ordered his ship to be readied, resuming his quest to eradicate the Resistance.
Chasing the Resistance
- "Follow my lead."
- ―Kylo Ren, to his wingmen
As Hux had anticipated through new tracking technology, the First Order armada emerged out of hyperspace to find the Resistance fleet unprepared and defenseless. The warship Supremacy led the charge, its powerful turbolasers showering the fleet with unyielding blasts. To complement the barrage, the Supremacy scrambled its short-distance fighters, with Ren spearheading the assault in his personal TIE Silencer. Covered by three wingmen, until the third pilot was quickly destroyed, the dark apprentice intercepted the Resistance's MC85 Star Cruiser Raddus, capital ship of the fleet. Before the rebel pilots could launch a counterattack, he destroyed the Raddus hangar, leaving them unable to resist the fighter wing.
With the Resistance flagship crippled, Ren turned his fighter to face the bridge of the craft, readying his rockets. At this moment he sensed his mother's presence aboard the Raddus (with his mother likewise sensing him too) and Ren, hesitating, held his thumb over the trigger in a moment of intense doubt. After a moment, he surrendered to his second thoughts and abandoned the trigger control. His wingmen, however, had no such qualms—ever loyal to the First Order, they launched their rockets in Ren's place upon the bridge.
Ren watched the detonation with astonishment. He reached out again, but could not feel Organa anywhere. He believed that if he had had enough time, if he had not been taken by surprise, he would have protected his mother with the Force. Now, however, he had to conclude that she had died, along with all those present on the Raddus' bridge.
Following this last offensive, Hux ordered the fighters back to the Supremacy, as the Resistance fleet had pulled out of the Supremacy's protective radius in the intervening time. Ren, with his wingmen being blown up around him, had no other recourse but to comply.
A growing connection
- "I'd never felt so alone."
"You're not alone."
"Neither are you. It isn't too late."
- ―Rey and Kylo Ren
As the First Order pursued the Resistance fleet, Ren was being treated for the injury he had taken to his face, a medical droid removing the microsutures that had been attached to it, when he sensed a disturbance. Before he knew it, a vision of Rey appeared before him. Taken aback, Ren could only watch as Rey reached for her blaster and shot him. However, no shot injured him. The still-shocked Ren pursued Rey when she ran away and found her soon after and tried to use the mind trick to force Rey to bring Luke to him, only to realize that they weren't actually in the same location and that Rey had not projected her appearance to him as the effort would kill her. He even discovered that Rey had found Luke Skywalker and was now studying under him, although he could not discern where as he was unable to see Rey's surroundings. Whereas the aspiring Jedi regarded their connection as an inconvenience, Ren was intrigued by his bond with the former scavenger and sought to better understand it.
The bond between Ren and Rey was unprecedented in its strength and raw power. It also had an effect on Ren's churning emotions, and as it grew stronger in the Force, Rey started gaining new insights into Ren, who, to Rey's surprise, no longer tried to hide his feelings of pain and misery from her. It was because of the bond and her new understanding of Ren's pain that Rey came to suspect that their destinies were intertwined. Ren eventually revealed his recollection of the night he forsook Skywalker's teachings—how he awoke to the sound of a lightsaber, held by his uncle who intended to murder Ben Solo in his sleep—shaking Rey's faith in her Jedi Master. Although Rey called him a liar, she sensed no deception from Ren. He genuinely believed that his former mentor had betrayed him and intended to kill him while he was defenseless.
After failing to discover the fate of her parents, Rey sought out Ren through their bond because he understood what it was like to feel alone and lost. They comforted each other, insisting that neither was alone and in that moment they touched hands. Rey then beheld a vision of the future, leading her to believe that Ren was fated to renounce the dark side and return to the light, like his grandfather before him.
As a result of what she saw, Rey became convinced that her adversary could be turned from the dark side of the Force. She left Skywalker on his sanctuary and traveled to the Supremacy to see Ren, her actions guided by the belief that Ben Solo could be redeemed with her help. By touching hands, however, Ren experienced a vision of his own and thereby discerned the truth of Rey's father and mother: they were no one, merely a pair of junk traders who sold their daughter for drinking money before ultimately dying and being buried in a pauper's grave in the Jakku desert. This discovery convinced Ren that Rey would turn to the dark side and stand with him as they moved to confront his master together.
- "My worthy apprentice, son of darkness, heir apparent to Lord Vader. Where there was conflict, I now sense resolve; where there was weakness, strength. Complete your training and fulfill your destiny."
- ―Snoke's final words to Kylo Ren
Ren's emotions were fully open to Rey, who could feel that his conflict had grown worse since he killed his father. Clinging to the good she sensed within the dark-side warrior, she reached out to the former Ben Solo and revealed her conviction in the vision she had when they touched hands through the Force. Solo was not fated to continue bowing before Snoke. Redemption was his destiny; of that Rey was certain. Ren, however, revealed that he also beheld a vision that convinced him it would be Rey who turned; because he now knew the truth behind Rey's parentage. Just before they entered the throne room where the Supreme Leader awaited their arrival, Rey sensed that much of Ren's churning emotions were about her.
Snoke, who proclaimed that his faith in Ren had been restored, began appraising Rey who remained defiant in spite of her inability to resist the dark master's Force powers. Although Rey remained certain that Ren would turn, her mental defenses began to crumble when Snoke revealed that he had been responsible for the intermittent connections she experienced with the Supreme Leader's apprentice, a revelation which came as a shock to Ren as well. It had all been a plot to draw Rey, the means to find Luke Skywalker, right into Snoke's hands. Nevertheless, Ren remained silent as Rey screamed, trying in vain to stop Snoke from invading her mind.
Upon discovering Skywalker's location, Snoke planned to wipe him out from above as soon as the more immediate enemy had been dealt with. Rey summoned Skywalker's lightsaber to her hand, only for Snoke to redirect the hilt onto her head; Ren, eyes shut, merely tilted his head to the right to avoid being struck by the flying object. The Supreme Leader revealed through his oculus the Resistance being picked off one by one as they tried to flee aboard transports for safety. All that Ren's mother had fought for would be destroyed by the Supremacy's guns. In response, an enraged Rey pulled Ren's lightsaber into her hands and charged at Snoke, who effortlessly overpowered her. Ren watched the lightsaber fall out of Rey's grip and shut off, sliding on the floor back to its owner's feet.
Snoke, who had grown weary of his oft-conflicted apprentice, exulted at the newfound resolve that he suddenly felt emanating from Ren. Having promised to kill Rey with the cruelest stroke, he immobilized Rey and gave Ren the chance to execute the girl who defeated him on Starkiller Base. Ren retrieved his lightsaber, stood up and stepped towards Rey. He knew what must be done and, as Rey predicted, he did indeed turn against his master. Knowing that Snoke could sense his every intent, he turned his lightsaber to Rey while simultaneously his uncle's weapon rotated to face in Snoke's direction. Snoke, who became distracted by the desire to appreciate Rey's impending doom with the Force rather than the approximation afforded by mundane senses, believed that Ren was about to kill his true enemy—a status he wrongly attributed to Rey.
With a hidden gesture from Ren's free hand, the blue energy blade of Skywalker's lightsaber sprang forth, spearing Snoke through his waist. Almost instantly, Snoke's control on Rey was lost. The blade, which was still under Ren's control, carved through Snoke, cutting him in half before returning to Rey's grasp. After a moment of locking eyes with each other, Ren and Rey stood back-to-back to receive the retaliation of the fallen Supreme Leader's Elite Praetorian Guards, who charged towards the Force-sensitive duo from all sides with the intent of avenging his death. Although the two were eventually separated and forced to contend with multiple guards on their own, they both held their own and continued to strike down one Praetorian after another. Ren, who felt both excitement and a hunger for battle, personally killed half the Guards on his own but was disarmed by his fifth opponent, causing Rey to throw the Skywalker lightsaber to him. He swiftly thumbed it on and off, letting the blade pierce through the last Praetorian's head.
- "It's time to let old things die. Snoke, Skywalker. The Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels… Let it all die. Rey, I want you to join me. We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy."
- ―Kylo Ren
Rey, who stared at Ren through eyes filled with joy, beseeched him to help her save the Resistance fleet. To her disbelief and horror, Ren proposed that he and Rey join together and "let old things die," including the Resistance, and bring a new order to the galaxy. Neither fear or anger influenced his decision; he had chosen to continue down the dark path with a deep resolve. Rey begged Ren to not give into the dark side, but the latter stood behind his convictions. To his frustration, he could see that Rey was still clinging to that futile hope of hers. He urged her to "let go," to admit the truth about her parents—a truth she had always known but hidden away for years. Rey struggled to control her emotions as she admitted that she knew this, that her parents were simply "nobody," but the revelation that she came from nothing threatened to overwhelm her. At that moment, Ren admitted that Rey was not "nothing" to him. Ren, who saw Rey as an ally in destroying the past he hated, wanted the former scavenger to join him permanently. Motioning her to take his hand, he pleaded with her to stay with him so that they could rule the galaxy together.
As on Starkiller Base, however, Rey used the Force to summon the Skywalker lightsaber to her grasp. Ren, his entreaty rejected, raised his own hand to harness the Force around the lightsaber, causing it to stop midflight. Neither Ren or Rey relented as both continued to call upon the Jedi weapon with equal determination. In the midst of their standoff, the lightsaber's kyber crystal wailed through the Force, seeking resonance and harmony where there was nothing but dissonance. The crystal ultimately sheared apart, unleashing a wave of energy that tore the lightsaber in half before consuming the throne room in a flash of brilliant, blinding light. In addition to rendering both Force users unconscious, the shock wave of Force energy coincided with the sacrifice of Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who crashed the Raddus into the Supremacy at lightspeed, splitting the First Order flagship in half before it could destroy all of the Resistance transports.
The reign of Kylo Ren
Long live the Supreme Leader
- "Our Supreme Leader is dead! We have no ruler—"
"The Supreme Leader is dead."
"Long live the Supreme Leader."
- ―Armitage Hux and Kylo Ren
Ren regained consciousness shortly after Hux reached the throne room. Having killed the Supreme Leader and his guards, Ren falsely accused Rey of murder, claiming that she was the one responsible for Snoke's death. Hux, who had contemplated shooting the fallen knight before he awoke, informed Ren that the girl escaped from the Supremacy using Snoke's private shuttle.
Realizing that Rey had awoken before him, Ren pondered why she had spared his life, knowing he was at her mercy while in an unconscious state. It then occurred to Ren that Rey could, in fact, care about him. Regardless, he dismissed it as a sign of sentimental weakness that would eventually lead to Rey's destruction.
Knowing that Rey would travel to Crait in an effort to save the Resistance, Ren ordered Hux to send their forces to the planet where they would end the war and his mother's movement for good. Hux scoffed at the notion of taking orders from his longtime rival and reminded Ren that the army answered to their general. In addition, he pointed out that, without a Supreme Leader, the First Order was cast into a state of disarray. Before he could go on, the General's protests were suddenly silenced by Ren, who applied the Force choke technique on Hux. Overtaken by fear, Hux grudgingly pledged his allegiance to Ren, whom he hailed as Snoke's successor. Even so, Ren remained distrustful of Hux and chose to keep the General close by as a safeguard against treachery.
Battle of Crait
- "General Hux, advance. No quarter. No prisoners."
- ―Kylo Ren
As far as the new Supreme Leader was concerned, the Battle of Crait would prove to be the final battle in the war between the First Order and the Resistance. He would give no quarter to his enemies, nor take a single prisoner. Looming overhead in his command shuttle, Ren oversaw the deployment of AT-ATs, AT-M6s, and AT-STs to the salt-covered surface of Crait, gathered from what remained of the Supremacy. It would be a relatively straightforward operation, with Ren's forces marching on an abandoned rebel base which the Resistance had appropriated for its defense.
When the First Order discovered a massive shield door impeding their advance into the enclosure, Ren further deployed a superlaser siege cannon—a sort of battering ram equipped with miniaturized Death Star technology—to his advantage. In response, the Resistance launched a number of old ski speeders, an ultimately futile attempt to stop the cannon. While the Resistance attempted to halt the First Order's progress, Chewbacca and Rey joined the fray in the Millennium Falcon, and Ren furiously sent every TIE fighter present to destroy his father's old ship.
Showdown with Luke Skywalker
- "I've failed you, Ben. I'm sorry."
"I'm sure you are! The Resistance is dead! The war is over, and when I kill you, I will have killed the last Jedi!"
"Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong. The rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning, and I will not be the last Jedi."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren
Shortly after the First Order breached the base, Luke Skywalker appeared and Ren, in a futile attempt to eliminate his uncle, ordered all of his forces to fire at him. After Skywalker shrugged off the attack virtually unharmed, Ren ordered his command shuttle to be set down. Hux tried to advise him against what he considered a waste of time, but Ren thrashed the General against the wall with the Force, knocking him unconscious. The nearby pilot needed no further prodding and complied with the command.
The time had come for Ren to face Skywalker personally. He slowly advanced until he was but a few meters from the old Jedi. He tauntingly asked if Skywalker had come to be his salvation. Skywalker answered half-heartedly in the negative. Then lightsabers were drawn. Skywalker made no effort to harm his nephew and only moved to avoid Ren's attacks. He apologized for failing in his duty as Ben Solo's mentor, but Ren took it with sarcasm and declared that the war had ended with the death of the Resistance. In addition, he stated that Skywalker would die as well, marking the end of the Jedi Order itself. He was wrong on all accounts; according to Skywalker, the war had just begun, the Rebellion was reborn, and he would not die as the last of the Jedi.
Ren felt that Skywalker was talking about Rey, the old man's supposed "Chosen One." He vowed that he would see her annihilated, along with Skywalker and "all of it." In response, Skywalker turned off his lightsaber. He warned his nephew against striking him down in anger, otherwise, Skywalker would always be with Ren, just like Han Solo. It was thus that he opened himself up for the final blow.
Ren charged at Skywalker once more until he slashed through him with no effect. Confused, he pointed his lightsaber in the Jedi Master's direction and moved forward until the blade harmlessly passed through his uncle again, revealing that Skywalker was not actually present for the battle; he had been projecting himself through the Force from Ahch-To. With one final chiding goodbye, the image vanished.
At that moment, Ren realized what had his uncle had done: by distracting him, the old Jedi had bought time for the remaining members of the Resistance to escape. Hux had been right all along. Angered by the deception, Ren, Hux and their forces scoured the now-empty base, but finding only a projection of his father's golden hanging dice, all Ren could do was kneel in defeat as they vanished from his hand. As the Resistance evacuated, Ren saw Rey once more as she boarded the Millennium Falcon; no words were said as she closed the door on him, although Ren sensed that Rey felt neither hatred nor compassion for him. Both knew that this struggle between them was far from concluded. Ren had become the Supreme Leader, all but destroyed his mother's Resistance and struck down his uncle on the battlefield of Crait, but it did not feel like a victory to Ren.
After Crait, Rey and Organa discussed Ren and his actions. Rey wanted to understand him and how Ren had turned to the dark side, but Organa told Rey that she would need to ask Ren to know. Rey told the general that Ren wanted her to join him and that, while she thought she could help him, all he had wanted was for her to be like him. Organa could see that Rey cared about her son and also that he had disappointed her, so she informed the young Jedi that Ren had made his decisions, adding that the only person who could save him was himself, but Organa was unsure if that was what her son wanted. Rey understood this, but she had held onto hope, although Organa believed that hope was a good trait.
Campaign of terror
- "We can and will chase every rumor, every scrap, every vapor trail across the galaxy! We will mobilize every bounty hunter and informant and turn over every rock to find all of them…and wipe every one of them out of existence!"
- ―Kylo Ren, to Armitage Hux
Kylo Ren's reign as Supreme Leader was marked by a fierce crackdown on any star systems exhibiting signs of independence or defiance. Opposition to the First Order grew, in part, because of the persistent tale of Ren's defeat by a "legendary Jedi" at the Battle of Crait, which proved a difficult fable to suppress. In order to root out malcontents and crush the spirit of rebellion, Ren declared every world guilty of disloyalty to be subversive, making them prime targets for his stormtroopers and the dreaded Knights of Ren.
Although General Hux survived the regime change within the First Order, the new Supreme Leader was distrustful and refused to lower his guard around someone as devious as Hux. Ren ensured that his one-time rival would have little independent authority without supervision, giving assignments to Allegiant General Enric Pryde or even to the Knights of Ren before entrusting Hux with anything of importance. The years that Hux spent jockeying for power against Ren ultimately worked against the general, his authority being superseded not only by Ren, but Pryde as well. At some point during the war, Ren sought an update on the Order's stock of refueling stations, leading to a short notice meeting aboard the Titan that Hux attended. Prior to the meeting, Hux mentioned Ren seeking an update to Stormtrooper Commander Pyre. Ren also kept Hux close by to countermand the general's orders when necessary; on one occasion, Hux dismissed a reported sighting of the Resistance operative Finn, believing it was a waste of the First Order's resources to follow up on every rumor regarding the Resistance. This led Ren to openly chastise Hux on the bridge of the Finalizer, ensuring the general understood that they would use every available asset to find and destroy the Resistance.
The Supreme Leader made good on his vow to punish any world that showed anything less than absolute loyalty. Making his way to the neutral planet of Fondor, Ren placed it under military occupation after learning that the Resistance had passed through its system. Although an official of Fondor swore that his government held no allegiance to the insurgents, having refused to assist them in any capacity, the mere contact with the enemies of the First Order provided Ren with his justification for seizing control of the Fondor Shipyards. Convinced the Old Empire had been too lenient, Ren adopted a zero-tolerance policy in regard to the Resistance, and as such, he personally decapitated the official. Ultimately, Fondor was made an example to the rest of the galaxy, warning them to stay away from the Resistance on pain of death. Such measures were intended by Ren to prevent the Resistance from replacing their lost resources.
Actions at Batuu and galactic conquest
- "The First Order is on the verge of bringing unprecedented peace to the galaxy. An era of harmony once unimaginable amid the corruption and chaos of the New Republic. As we hunt down the Resistance, our troops have taken operational control of Black Spire Outpost."
- ―A stormtrooper sergeant, 709th Legion
The Supreme Leader launched a manhunt for the surviving members of the Resistance, deploying First Order forces to various locations across the galaxy. Ren personally oversaw the search for Resistance fugitives at the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, having traveled to the remote installation via a TIE/es assault shuttle—along with the 709th Legion, elite stormtroopers chosen by Ren himself—after receiving word that Rey had apparently been sighted on Batuu. Upon his arrival at Docking Bay 9, Ren was greeted by a First Order officer whom he deemed incompetent, and consequently strangled the officer by way of the Force. At one point during his time on Batuu, Ren confronted Resistance spy Vi Moradi, but she refused to give secrets to the Supreme Leader. Before Ren could strike Moradi down, Rey arrived, and the two Force-sensitives began a lightsaber duel. However, Ren was ultimately forced to leave when a stormtrooper informed him of an incident aboard their destroyer.
Ren was in command of the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer that captured a Resistance Intersystem Transport Ship. However, Poe Dameron managed to escape before returning with a sizeable fleet that caught the First Order off guard. Ren, who commanded the First Order forces alongside General Hux, realized that the Resistance was using a hijacked First Order Fleet Transport and eventually engaged in a pursuit. Despite his efforts, the Resistance operatives escaped from the Star Destroyer using one of its escape pods to return to the ruins of Batuu.
The First Order was confident that, under the new Supreme Leader, the galaxy was on the verge of achieving unprecedented harmony. A sergeant in the 709th Legion regarded his leader's regime as the harbinger of peace, establishing a new era in place of the fallen New Republic, which the sergeant viewed as a turbulent period of chaos and corruption. As the war continued, more and more worlds capitulated to Ren. Decades of peace led to complacency, and the demilitarized galaxy was not prepared for the unified, mechanized war machine of the First Order's fleet and army. Rebuilding his command in the wake of the Supremacy's destruction, Ren brought Allegiant General Pryde to the fore after discovering the reserve forces under his command. He also transferred his command to Pryde's Star Destroyer Steadfast, bringing Hux with him after their old flagship, the Finalizer, sustained significant damage from the run-in with Resistance forces over Batuu.
As Supreme Leader, Ren formed a regime that was different from the one overseen by his predecessor. He sought to foster cooperation among the top First Order military leaders, and as such Ren formed the Supreme Council, a cabinet consisting of members of High Command, such as Allegiant General Pryde, General Hux, Admiral Frantis Griss, and generals Amret Engell, Bellava Parnadee, and Domaric Quinn. They were all proud men and women who were unaccustomed to Ren's leadership, having risen through the ranks in a time when most high-ranking officers knew little of the First Order's goals and capabilities. Despite Ren's motivation for creating the Council, their meetings aboard the Steadfast became marred by sniping and turf wars.
The Colossus cell
- "I will not suffer the existence of any Resistance cell. No matter how small."
"We understand, Supreme Leader."
- ―Kylo Ren and Tierny
In retaliation against the Aeosians who supported the Resistance, a fleet of Resurgent-class Star Destroyers invaded their homeworld of Aeos Prime and devastated it. After completing the orbital bombardment, First Order Security Bureau Agent Tierny and Stormtrooper Commander Pyre reported their actions to General Hux but found Supreme Leader Kylo Ren waiting on the other side of the holoprojector.
Ren was aware of Pyre and Tierny's failure to defeat Colossus resistance and declared that he would not tolerate the existence of any Resistance cell. Reaching out through the Force, Ren influenced the two to stand and point their blasters at each other. He then severed the transmission, leaving his subordinates with an ominous warning about the price for failure.
Though they managed to locate the Colossus station in the Barabesh system, the ensuing battle did not turn in the First Order's favor. Betrayed by the TIE fighter pilot DT-533, the First Order failed to prevent the Resistance operatives Kazuda Xiono and Jarek Yeager from warning their allies of the impending attack. Rather than retreat, however, the citizenry of the Colossus held their ground against the forces of the First Order. While the Ace Squadron intensified their attack run on the main Star Destroyer, Tierny received a transmission from Supreme Leader Ren. She beseeched him to send reinforcements, but Ren rejected her request and declared that the First Order had no tolerance for the weak. With that, Ren telekinetically choked the First Order agent with the Force, unleashing his final punishment on Tierny.
Investigation on Vendaxa
- "If they are indeed hiding on Vendaxa, then we will pin them down, smother them with numbers, and the Resistan—"
- ―Armitage Hux
During the hunt for the Resistance, General Hux announced to a squad of stormtroopers that the First Order had received word of the rebels operating in secret on the planet Vendaxa. Supreme Leader Ren interrupted the general and dismissed the stormtroopers, intending to investigate the planet alone. However, Hux insisted on accompanying the Supreme Leader. They began their investigation upon arriving on Vendaxa, only to start bickering over their loyalties and sacrifices for the First Order. During their argument, an Acklay approached the pair, causing Hux to run for his life while Ren stood his ground. Ren was unafraid and fought against the creature, but Hux took the opportunity to shoot at the Acklay with his SE-44C blaster pistol, causing it to run away. Ren and Hux ultimately returned to the First Order after confirming that there were no Resistance operatives on Vendaxa.
The return of Ben Solo
Complete submission to the dark side
- "I know my son is gone."
"No one's ever really gone."
- ―Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker, on Ben Solo
By the time of Kylo Ren's ascension as Supreme Leader of the First Order, his submission to the dark side of the Force was complete. His descent into darkness had led his family to lose hope that he could ever be turned back to the light side. His father believed that nothing could have been done to save Ren, for he was too much like his grandfather Vader, whereas his mother held out hope for so long until she too grew to believe that her son was lost to the dark side. Even Skywalker was convinced that the darkness rising in his nephew was beyond his ability to fight. Though not a member of Ren's family, Rey's insight into his conflict by way of their mysterious connection led her to believe that Ren's former self was still alive within the dark-side warrior. Ren, however, was entrenched in his conviction to rule the galaxy through the dark side, a decision that led Rey to lose faith in him as well.
His chosen name symbolized the rejection of his hated past, but as with so much else about him, that was more wish fulfillment than reality. Ren had never fully destroyed the part of himself that was still Ben Solo; he neither learned to resist the pull to the light side nor had the will to excise the sentimental streak that—in his eyes as well as Snoke's—destroyed his legendary grandfather. Snoke had been especially disappointed by Ren's unwillingness to use his power to redirect the course of his destiny.
The phantom Emperor
- "He's gone mad. Flames of rebellion burn across the galaxy and Ren chases a ghost."
"No. Someone was behind that transmission. And Leader Ren will answer to no one."
- ―Armitage Hux and Enric Pryde
Within a year of Kylo Ren's ascension to supreme power, a mysterious transmission broadcasting the voice of Darth Sidious—the long-dead Galactic Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith—reached the far corners of the galaxy. Ren had the message memorized, but was unsure if he believed that Sidious had actually returned. He was certain, however, that others besides himself would investigate it. Unwilling to tolerate any threat to his rule, Ren was determined to solve this mystery before everyone else. As a result, he diverted his attention away from the Resistance, much to General Hux's dismay, in order to focus entirely on investigating the message. By then, he had discovered that his old master, Supreme Leader Snoke, was not the apex of the First Order's dark-side pyramid. Visions in the Force as well as scraps of arcane lore uncovered in Snoke's old bases were leading Ren to an ancient mystery.
Ren required a Sith wayfinder in order to locate the Emperor. As such, he undertook painstaking efforts to find one, from diverting ships and sending out spies, to tracing old records and enduring the smug disapproval of Hux. Through such efforts, however, he discovered that a wayfinder was located on Mustafar, the volcanic world once ruled by Darth Vader. Accompanied by a squad of stormtroopers, the Supreme Leader journeyed to Mustafar in order to claim his grandfather's wayfinder, which was located on the castle grounds of Fortress Vader in the region known as Corvax Fen. The Alazmec of Winsit, a tenacious sect of colonists devoted to protecting the fen, attempted to block the Supreme Leader's path to the crumbling ruins of Vader's castle.
Allegiant General Pryde and General Hux accompanied Ren to Mustafar, watching the battle from a safe distance as the Supreme Leader and his stormtroopers cut a swath of blood and destruction through the Mustafarian colonists. Hux observed that the barbarian colonists and their primitive weapons were no match against the First Order's modern weaponry and Ren's lightsaber. While Hux remained disdainful of Ren, believing the mission to Mustafar was a waste of time, Pryde openly admired the dark-side warrior's finesse on the battlefield. Even Hux, who saw Ren as a contradiction to discipline and order, found himself mesmerized as Ren met an Alazmec's charge head-on, plunging his fiery crossguard into the attacker's abdomen. Ren did not spare his fallen foe a single glance; he simply rushed forward into the woods, outpacing his stormtrooper escort as he sought his next victim.
To Ren's disappointment, there was no one left to kill, and therefore, no outlet for his rage remained. All was eerily silent as Ren gathered himself and strode away into the woods. Although Ren was on the verge of claiming the mysterious object for which he had traveled halfway across the galaxy with the First Order in tow, a contemptuous Hux exclaimed that the Supreme Leader had gone mad. The First Order faced rebellion across the galaxy, but Ren's priority was to investigate the mysterious message sent by the long-dead Emperor. Hux dismissed its source as a pretender and a distraction that had set back the First Order's agenda. Pryde defended Ren's decision, however, declaring that the Supreme Leader would not tolerate any challenge to his rule.
Ren, who had finished killing the hapless cultists without mercy, found himself grudgingly appreciating the landscape of the Corvax Fen, as he admired anything that struggled to survive in an otherwise desolate environment. Hux had earlier proclaimed that Mustafar was a "desolate hell-scape," but Ren sensed that the planet was teeming with life—all connected through the Force. He was not surprised that his grandfather had chosen Mustafar as the site of his castle.
Ren kept his lightsaber ignited as he strode through the forest, sensing malevolence and darkness as he drew closer to his goal. He was careful and alert, knowing that someone had been observing him as he massacred the Alazmec cultists. His path through the woods eventually led him to a small lake with brackish water, bordered on all sides by forest and large black lumps of apparent boulders, which were in fact remnants of Darth Vader's castle. A spider-like being emerged beneath the lake, identifying itself as the Eye of Webbish Bog. Knowing that Ren sought the object which Vader had entrusted to its guardianship, the Eye warned him that the path he was on would end with Ren discovering his true self. His patience waning, Ren glared in silence until the creature acquiesced to his demand. The Eye proclaimed that, in accordance with Vader's wishes, Ren had earned the right to take the wayfinder by defeating its protectors. Pointing to an island-like altar in the center of the lake, the Eye informed Ren that the wayfinder would guide him through the Unknown Regions, taking him to the hidden Sith world of Exegol, where the Sith Lord Darth Sidious resided.
Ren was surprised at how easy it had been to reach the wayfinder. Neither the cultists nor the creature they protected were a challenge to him, and he had assumed that his grandfather would have left behind a more difficult trial for someone who sought the wayfinder. However, as he was Vader's descendant and heir, Ren concluded that it was his birthright to claim the ancient Sith artifact. After taking the wayfinder, Ren was filled with a feeling of triumph, having gone to great lengths to find that which would take him to the source of the transmission. Mesmerized by the wayfinder, he lost track of time and failed to notice the Eye slipping beneath the surface of the lake. Determined to reach Exegol as soon as possible, Ren wasted no time returning to the Steadfast. He dismissed his subordinates back to their regular duties and proceeded into the Unknown Regions on his own, to no one's protest.
Heir to the New Empire
- "Kill the girl. End the Jedi. And become what your grandfather Vader could not. You will rule all the galaxy as the new Emperor."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Kylo Ren
With the name "Exegol" burned in his mind, Ren used the wayfinder to navigate a dangerous route through the Unknown Regions. The onboard navigation computer of Ren's modified TIE whisper assimilated the data within Vader's wayfinder, lighting up with new information yet also a warning that the coordinates would take him beyond the Western Reaches into the Unknown Regions. Throwing caution aside, an unconcerned Ren overrode the warning and jumped his starfighter to lightspeed. Notwithstanding the navigational risk of traveling through a chaotic web of anomalies that created a near-impenetrable barrier to exploration, Ren felt that it was worth the effort. Though motivated by the promise of finding immense power, which he felt emanating from Exegol, he also sensed that the transmission had caused a ripple effect within the First Order, spreading doubt through its ranks. He was incensed at the thought of anyone challenging his reign, having sacrificed much to become the Supreme Leader.
Yet the thing that filled him with absolutely incandescent rage was the thought that Snoke—his master, whom he looked up to above all others for guiding him away from the light side of the Force—had been a figurehead for someone else the entire time. Unwilling to resume a subservient role to yet another master, Ren was determined to destroy the source of the transmission, ensuring that no one could challenge his right to rule supreme. Strengthened by his faith in his grandfather and the power of the Force, Ren drew on all his rage and frustration of the last few days to maintain his cold focus and keep his flight steadied.
Ren eventually arrived in a glowing red mesh of hexes. He had heard tales of the Red Honeycomb Zone, but was uncertain if they were true until finally seeing it for himself. It was one of the only known safe passages through the anomalies of the Unknown Regions, but also caused his TIE's sensor indicators to flash wildly as the system was unsure of what to make of the region. Uncertain of what he would find upon exiting the red zone, Ren was prepared to attack or evade, only to find himself on a perfectly normal approach to the planet Exegol.
Following a difficult entry and an easy landing, Ren strode away from his TIE whisper, walking across boundless cracked ground. By reaching out with the Force, he detected a moderate amount of life near his location, most of it deep below the surface, although he noted that Exegol was almost devoid of life in comparison to Mustafar. Exegol's atmosphere did not afford much visibility, so Ren did not see the massive Sith Citadel until he was almost upon it. Nevertheless, he did not need to see the entrance to know where it was, for he sensed a dark, welcoming presence beckoning him. It was not the soft, welcoming of home or safety, but rather one of conquest and need. Ren could feel the presence of the Force on Exegol, but it also felt different to him, twisted, rotten, as though filtered through a miasma of decay.
Ren was awe-struck by the brutal edifice of stone that towered high above him. Notwithstanding his respect for the power that built the citadel, he was determined to claim that power for himself. As he descended into the depths of the citadel, Ren found himself captivated by the wall before him, which was carved with colossal stone faces, all rendered in exquisite detail. Despite his strong aversion to the past, he retained his fascination with history and was mesmerized by the monuments before him. With so much history and memory surrounding him, Ren was caught between reverence and rage. He was the grandson of a Sith Lord; therefore, he felt that everything in the citadel was his inheritance. The deepest level beneath the citadel was reminiscent of a cathedral. The stone faces were high above him, crowning the statues of ancient lords. Ren sensed that he was not alone; black-robed figures moved within the shadows, their faces cloaked, but they posed no threat to the Supreme Leader and simply carried on with their tasks.
A voice spoke to Ren telepathically, and he instantly recognized it as that of Darth Sidious. He had heard it his entire life, ever since he was a young man it had been like the wisp of a dream, one he could not quite grasp. After Sidious' voice flooded the galaxy, Ren not only dreaded the thought that the Dark Lord had returned, but that it had been Sidious all along, his voice comforting, guiding, and tormenting Kylo Ren as far back as his life as Ben Solo.
Exulting at the killing of his master, Ren declared that he would kill Sidious, just as he had killed Snoke. Sidious, however, was unbothered by the young warrior's threat. He then revealed his connection to Snoke as the one responsible for the former Supreme Leader's creation. Sidious also expressed his approval of Ren for killing his master. In doing so, Ren had passed the final test in his ascendancy as heir to the Sith legacy, making him a worthy successor in Sidious' view. As Sidious continued to telepathically communicate with Ren, his voice morphed into that of Snoke and Vader in turn, revealing that the phantom Emperor was every voice that Ren ever heard inside of his mind. Until then, Ren had been unaware that Sidious was his true Master in the ways of the dark side, whereas Snoke merely served as the Dark Lord's proxy.
A flash of lightning illuminated a large glass tank, containing three creatures modeled on the same template—that of Snoke. This discovery led Ren to realize that his mysterious master was originally from Exegol. At the same time, a figure materialized before him, cloaked in the shadow, and moving oddly with a mechanical gait. The creature appeared more dead than alive to Ren, although he sensed power emanating from it as well. Raising the tip of his lightsaber to the creature's face brought clarity to its features, revealing that the Emperor's eyes were filmed over with milky blindness. Ren also caught a glimpse of his hand, half rotted away, leaving only a few fingers covered with skin like melting candle wax. Ren could see that Sidious was incredibly frail, his body dangling from an enormous mechanism that the Supreme Leader had seen before, while studying the Sith, and again while researching clues about Vader's wayfinder. It was an Ommin harness, a mechanical spine worn by an Ancient Sith king. The vials that punctured the Emperor's neck were also familiar to Ren. He had seen this apparatus in the past, back when he studied the Clone Wars as a boy. He noticed that the liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was nearly depleted, having fought a losing battle to sustain Sidious' putrid flesh. Ren knew how much Sidious relied on the harness, for he could not live without it, given his current state at the time.
The Force, however, belied any perception of frailty, and Ren could feel the darkness and need swelling within the creature, along with power that he had never before encountered. Even as his caution gave way to exhilaration, Ren was still set on killing Sidious, whose only reply was that he had already died once, but that the dark side was a pathway to abilities that seemed unnatural to others. Ren knew better than to feel kinship with the creature, but nor could he deny that the Jedi would consider him unnatural as well. In perceiving himself as an abomination, Ren remembered that Rey thought of him as a monster.
Now that he was aware of Sidious' involvement in the creation of Snoke, whose purpose had been fulfilled with his death at his apprentice's hands, Ren realized that he was the heir to a vast Empire—forged by Sith loyalists through technology coupled with the occult to bring forth unnatural embodiments of the dark side—waiting to be unleashed from the depths of the Unknown Regions. He also learned that, through the cult known as the Sith Eternal, belief in the Sith tradition had continued in spite of the the last Sith Lord's demise. Though entranced by the power that emanated from Exegol, Ren was not easily swayed by Sidious' words, having been subjected to false flattery and sycophantic compliments his whole life—from his past life as the heir presumptive to the Skywalker legacy and the son of a princess, to his ascension in the dark side as master of the Knights of Ren and ultimately Supreme Leader of the First Order.
Ultimately, Ren concluded that the Emperor lived once more, albeit with his spirit sheltered in a vessel that had been cloned from his original body. It was also clear to Ren that it was an imperfect host, unable to contain Sidious' immense power, and could not last much longer. Sidious knew this as well and as such he revealed his intention to execute the final stage of the First Order's conquest of the galaxy, with Ren acting as the instrument of his revenge. Drawing on the Force, Sidious caused the surroundings to vanish into a fog, replaced by a vision of a starfield of Star Destroyers, numbering in the tens of thousands. They were all Xyston-class Star Destroyers, modeled to an extent on the Imperial Star Destroyers of yesteryear, but outfitted with axial superlaser cannons that were capable of destroying entire planets.
Ren found his heart racing as he observed the Sith Eternal fleet that the Emperor's disciples labored for a generation to create. Once deployed, it would be the largest fleet the galaxy had ever known. It also confirmed the rumors that Ren had heard about Exegol, particularly the Sith Eternal cultists who resided on the ancient Sith redoubt in the Unknown Regions. They were true believers in the dark side of the Force; they had devoted their entire lives to creating a fleet that would annihilate the rebellion, and it was their intention that Ren should inherit the Sith legacy by leading this armada against the galaxy.
The vision of the warships eventually faded away, replaced by the image of hundreds of thousands of Sith troopers—elite stormtroopers shining in crimson armor. The thunderous sound of their marching filled Ren's ears, and with it came the barest hint of a scent he recognized, that of blaster-seared blood. It took tremendous effort on Ren's part to set the vision aside. He sensed that everything he had seen would soon belong to him, but nor did he consider himself a fool to believe that such gifts came easily, especially from a Sith. Sidious assured Ren that the might of the Final Order was almost ready, and that it would indeed be given to him, but first Ren was bidden to finish what Sidious and Vader began decades ago: the destruction of the Jedi Order. As such, he urged Ren to kill Rey before she could complete her training as a Jedi. In fulfilling this mandate, Ren would succeed where his grandfather failed by becoming Sidious' true successor as the new Emperor, reigning unchallenged over the entire galaxy.
Despite the Emperor's promises, Ren sensed deception in his words, yet also truth. When he inquired about the future in which Rey became a true Jedi, Sidious replied that the First Order would fall and Ren would die. This time, Ren sensed no deception, only truth. Time was of the essence, however. The arcane and technological means by which Sidious lived on borrowed time could not sustain him for long. Ren watched with detached interest as the cultists scrambled to resuscitate their lord as his breath became a mechanical wheeze before stopping completely. As they worked to restore Sidious' dying clone body, Ren tried to gauge the creature's strengths and vulnerabilities. When Sidious regained his speech, he warned Ren to beware that Rey was beginning to suspect that there was even more to her past than what she had learned from Ren. Ren recalled the glimpse that he caught of Rey's parents. He had seen a poor, frightened couple living on the edge of desperation and ultimately dismissed them as nonentities. However, Ren also knew that Force visions were filled with half-truths and potential realities, and began to consider the possibility that he had missed something about Rey's origins. Bringing all the power of the Force to bear, Ren demanded to know who Rey was, to which the rotting remnant of Darth Sidious smiled.
Ren ultimately accepted the mantle from Sidious, but knew there was still much work to be done. Though he had every intention of ruling a new Sith Empire, he had no desire to kill Rey. In learning the full truth of her origins, he realized what they could achieve if they ruled together, as he originally proposed during their last encounter. Returning to his quarters on the Steadfast, Ren meditated using his grandfather's mask, attempting to find Rey through their connection in the Force. Rey was running an obstacle course outside the Resistance's new base on Ajan Kloss when Ren contacted her. As their minds began to flood with memories of past events, the young Jedi apprentice struggled against her inner dark side, but eventually lashed out after momentarily losing control.
Return of the mask
- Kylo Ren: "I sense unease about my appearance, General Hux."
- Armitage Hux: "About the mask? No, sir. Well done."
- Bellava Parnadee: "I like it."
- ―Kylo Ren, Armitage Hux, and Bellava Parnadee[src]
Undeterred by Rey's efforts to hide from him, Ren proceeded with his plans for the scavenger, but in order to find her quickly he needed the Knights of Ren. Until then, he had been working alone, pursuing the wayfinder without the Knights or his mask. Summoning them had been unexpectedly and uncannily easy for him. However, they accepted Ren without question, affirming the results of his trial still stood and, therefore, he remained their rightful leader. With the Knights at his side, Ren felt that the time had come to reforge the symbol of his leadership. That task fell to Albrekh, a Sith alchemist trained in metallurgy, capable of smithing feats that were unfamiliar to the modern galaxy. He was also the first Symeong that Ren had ever encountered.
Ren gave the shards of his mask—all painstakingly scavenged from the wreckage of the Supremacy—to Albrekh, though he was uncertain how the alchemist could work with so many pieces, especially the ones that were warped beyond recognition. Ren knew that the repairs to his helmet would take a long time, and while he was not known for his patience, on this occasion he was willing to wait. He watched as the alchemist spread the shards across the table and began solving the puzzle of their fitting with uncanny perception and speed. Ren could see how the pieces would again become a mask as Albrekh started placing them in proximity to one another. Albrekh had told the Supreme Leader that he would use Sarassian iron, the toughest ore in the galaxy, to fuse the shards together. He placed the adjoining pieces side by side, and then applied the blood-like iron into the cracks between them, creating a red adhesive stronger than steel.
Ren watched with interest; he was fascinated by power, and regarded the alchemist's extreme competence as a type of power. He was spellbound as Albrekh repeated the process of fitting the shards together, molding them with red ore with severe patience, focus, and precision. When his work was finally completed, Albrekh gave the mask to his master, assuring Ren that it was safe to wear. Ren took the mask and found himself admiring the alchemist's handiwork. He considered it a work of art, of jagged beauty. The shape was the same as before, but now it was full of red fractures like crimson lightning.
The mask had been broken and re-formed, not unlike the Knights, his grandfather, or Ren himself. The Knights raised their weapons to salute their master as he redonned his mask. He found it heavier than before and reeking of molten metal. The mask was perfect to Ren. He wore it not only to mark himself as a Knight once more, but because in killing his master Ren regained the confidence to wear his once shattered mask. Hence, he reaffirmed his affiliation with the Knights, but this time on his own terms. The reforged mask's intimidating fractures also marked Ren's reign as the new Supreme Leader.
Accompanied by his Knights, the Supreme Leader charged down a corridor of the Steadfast, ignoring the stormtroopers and officers who flinched at the sight of a phalanx of sweeping black robes and black masks. Word had reached Ren that a spy had been captured on the Sinta Glacier Colony. Adopting a policy of zero tolerance for the enemies of the First Order, he intended to make another example out of the prisoner to remind others about the penalty of espionage. They came to a halt before Admiral Griss. The admiral, who kept his uniform in perfect condition, noticed the mud that Ren and his Knights were tracking through the ship, but decided it was wise to say nothing. The spy, an Ovissian alien miner named Boolio, was dragged before the Supreme Leader by stormtroopers. Without hesitation, Ren ignited his lightsaber and decapitated the spy in a single fluid motion.
The members of the Supreme Council were already seated around the table of the High Command conference room when the Supreme Leader strode inside. He slammed the severed head of Boolio on the table, and to his satisfaction, the officers flinched, including Pryde. By then, the Allegiant General had reported the details of Ren's journey to Exegol, albeit excluding the information he learned about the scavenger, which Ren kept to himself. They were, however, aware of the Star Destroyer fleet as well as Ren's intention to commandeer it through the deal he made with the clone of Darth Sidious and his Sith Eternal movement. Though he assured his officers that the First Order was on the verge of becoming a real Empire, the Council remained silent.
Hux, who stared fixedly at Ren and his mask, was questioned about his anxiety by the Supreme Leader, who sensed the general's unease about his appearance. Hux denied it, though, and complimented Ren on reforging the mask. Parnadee concurred, wanting to remain in the good graces of the mercurial Supreme Leader. Quinn, however, disdained their new alliance with the cultists on Exegol. Being old enough to have served as a junior officer in the Old Empire, Quinn had little patience for anything related to religion or mysticism, and made no effort to hide his contempt for a cult that awaited the return of the Sith. Unlike Quinn, who dismissed the Sith Eternal as conjurers and soothsayers, Pryde supported the alliance, noting that legions of Star Destroyers would increase the First Order's resources ten thousand fold, making up for the considerable loss they sustained with the destruction of Starkiller Base.
Ren knew that Pryde was one of the few officers who did not fear him, and that did not sit well with the Supreme Leader. He had considered liquidating Pryde, but found him far too competent to lose. He also noted that Pryde possessed greater intelligence and wisdom than Hux, and was content to feed the younger general's insecurity by keeping the higher-ranking Allegiant General in a position of power. Though partly motivated by pettiness over his past rivalry with Hux, Ren thought it better to keep his officers at odds to prevent them from uniting against him.
As the First Order's senior ground commander, Parnadee gleefully proposed increasing the First Order's recruitment efforts by resorting to the mass conscription of children throughout the galaxy. Engell agreed with Parnadee, having already doubled recruitment since taking charge of the stormtrooper training program in the wake of Captain Phasma's death. Engell admired Ren as a leader, and the new Supreme Leader appreciated her enthusiastic support for his regime. Quinn, however, remained skeptical about the agreement between Ren and Sidious, wanting to know if the fleet was a gift or if the phantom Emperor demanded something in return. Not wanting the Council to learn of the Emperor's interest in Rey, Ren reached out with the Force, calling upon all of his anger and impatience. Quinn flew high, his body slamming against the ceiling, fracturing loudly on impact. Ren cared not whether the general's internal wound was mortal, because he kept Quinn suspended on the ceiling, gasping for oxygen until he gradually choked to death.
As Ren stared the remaining officers down, he noted with satisfaction that Hux was visibly shaken. He informed them of his intention to personally hunt the scavenger with the aid of his Knights, leaving the Council with instructions to punish any world that defied the First Order. Though the Emperor had bidden Ren to kill Rey, he had no intention of carrying out Sidious' wishes. He remained committed as ever to putting his past behind him and ruling supreme over the galaxy, and he was certain that the fleet on Exegol would allow him to finally turn his ambitions into reality. Yet he realized that his greatest ambition was the thought of reigning side by side with Rey. He acknowledged the power of their connection, knowing that it helped them to destroy Snoke. Together they were invincible.
Though the Council was concerned by the Supreme Leader's total devotion to the dark side of the Force, preferring to rely on orthodox tactics and strategies for the conquest of the galaxy, his return from the Unknown Regions with the promise of new warships bolstered their confidence in Ren's leadership. But the actions of Boolio led them to suspect that a traitor was operating in their ranks, supplying intelligence to the Resistance and their sympathizers. Ren was more concerned with the intricacies of Sidious' plans, but was ultimately committed to the goal of returning the Sith to power. More than ever, he wanted to fulfill his grandfather's legacy and become ruler of the New Empire.
Reunion with Rey
- "I offered you my hand once. You wanted to take it. Why didn't you?"
"You could have killed me. Why didn't you?"
"You can't hide, Rey. Not from me."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
Despite the resources at their disposal, the First Order made little progress in discovering the whereabouts of the scavenger. Yet to Hux's astonishment, Pryde was able to report their lack of progress to the Supreme Leader, whose Knights were almost constantly at his side ever since he called on them to serve as his hunters and enforcers. Ren's mercurial nature and lack of compassion were well known to Hux, although the general suspected that he harbored feelings for Rey. Yet for reasons unknown to Hux, Pryde was virtually immune to Ren's wrath. As Ren and Pryde discussed the ongoing hunt for Rey, Hux felt relieved that his former rival had redonned his mask, feeling that it spared him the indignity of looking at Ren's hair, which the general considered to be the furthest thing from regulation. Though a small detail, it was nonetheless one of the many things that fueled Hux's hatred of Ren, whose status made him the exception to every rule within the First Order. Hux swore that if he became the Supreme Leader, his first act would be to make Ren cut his hair.
Ren acknowledged Pryde's report with uncharacteristic acceptance, realizing that he would need to locate Rey on his own. Hux interjected, offering to personally lead the kill squads. Ren initially ignored Hux and continued speaking with Pryde, commanding the Allegiant General to adjust their search by targeting a Corellian YT-1300, knowing that Rey would be traveling on board his father's old ship, the Millennium Falcon. Ren turned to Hux, and without a smear of contempt in his voice, nor impatience nor irritation, he dismissed the general's suggestion by stating that the hunt was too important to risk error. As such, he assigned the task of hunting Rey to his Knights.
The bond between Kylo Ren and Rey still allowed them to commune with each other across the stars. Ren was in his private quarters aboard the Steadfast when the Force bridged their minds across the galaxy once more. For Rey, the sky darkened all at once, as though day changed to night in the space of a moment. The bonfires suddenly grew bright, casting the Forbidden Valley of Pasaana in ethereal light. The sounds of the Festival of the Ancestors faded as her senses were filled with a familiar anger and desperation. She sensed Ren before she saw him, still clad in black, his cape sweeping the ground. Ren stared at Rey in foreboding silence, whereas Rey found himself staring at his repaired mask, noting that it appeared different than the last time she saw him wearing it. The dark side emanated through Ren's presence in the Force, causing Rey to feel cold due to their proximity.
It was the first time that their Force-bond reconnected them since the Battle of Crait, and through it Rey realized that Ren had been searching for her. Ren broke the silence between them by informing her about the Emperor's desire for her death. Rey was disappointed, though she did not understand why, and asked if Sidious had become his master. Ren rejected the notion of being subservient once more, stating that he had other plans. With a voice that was maddeningly calm to Rey, Ren asked her why she rejected his offer to rule together, when he knew that she had wanted to take his hand. Rey did not deny it, but she retorted by asking Ren why he did not kill her when he had the chance. Ren dismissed her efforts to avoid his question, telling the scavenger that she could not hide her thoughts from him. But in hearing her name on Ren's lips, Rey found herself affected in ways that she did not understand.
As the shock of seeing him again began to wear off, Rey noticed that Ren's voice carried an undercurrent of tension and regret. She also took note of his muddy boots and the way his cloaked form cast a shadow over the desert floor, as though he was physically on Pasaana with her. Sensing Ren's struggle to reconcile his patricidal actions, she imagined the moment when she saw Ren murder Han Solo and transmitted that thought to him through their bond. Seeing his father reaching out to touch his son's face, gazing at Ben Solo with love even as his dying body slumped over the red lightsaber that had skewered him, caused Ren to flinch. He recovered, however, and retaliated by throwing an image back at Rey, reminding her of all the days she marked while waiting for her parents to return after abandoning her on Jakku. Determined to find her, Ren deduced that Rey was on a planet that reminded her of Jakku, which in turn, reminded her of the loneliness she felt over the years she spent waiting to see her mother and father again.
Ren's words struck a nerve with Rey, who struggled to hold back her tears so as to not show weakness in front of him. Ren asserted that he was the only one who could see the darkness within Rey, an aspect of her that neither his mother nor her friends had any awareness of. Before Rey could act on her impulse to tell him to kiss a rathtar, Ren quickly closed the distance between them, looming over her as he entered her space. At such proximity, Rey could smell the molten iron that fused the shards of Ren's mask together. Ren confessed that he had no wish to kill her. Instead, he wanted to find her in order to convert her to the dark side. Rey snapped at Ren when he confidently declared that she would not refuse his proposal a second time, but before she could blink the Supreme Leader ripped the husk necklace from her neck, leaving her nape stinging.
When the connection ended, Rey realized that Ren had transported her necklace to his location through their Force-bond. It was their most powerful Force connection yet, proving even stronger than the time when they touched each other's hands on Ahch-To. Even that had been nothing like their connection on Pasaana, which felt so vivid and dangerously palpable. This time, they had been in each other's spaces.
Using the necklace as a clue to Rey's location, Ren gave it to Tishra Kandia, an intelligence officer and one of the few who did not balk at his willingness to expend First Order resources to find the scavenger. While Kandia conducted a microanalysis of the necklace, Ren informed Pryde that he had found Rey through the Force, only to be met with the Allegiant General's skepticism. Ren was uncertain if Pryde doubted the power of the Force or the Supreme Leader himself. When Kandia returned with the necklace, she reported that it originated from the Middian system, specifically the Forbidden Valley on Pasaana. A feeling of hope surged through Ren. He had no idea what Rey was searching for on Pasaana, but he knew that she would leave as soon as possible, now that their Force connection had alerted her to his intentions. He ordered Pryde to deploy a division of local troops and to prepare his personal TIE/wi modified interceptor.
While Rey and her companions were in the Forbidden Valley, the Millennium Falcon was found by a group of First Order stormtroopers and the Knights of Ren. A desert trooper reported their findings to the Supreme Leader, who ordered them to confiscate and scan the ship before ultimately destroying it. Complying with Ren's orders, the desert troopers forced their way into the Falcon and transported it to the Steadfast. Meanwhile, Rey sensed Ren's presence in the Force. Realizing that he was drawing closer to her location, she left her friends to confront the dark warrior on her own, determined to prevent them from being harmed. All of her attention was drawn to a black mote on the horizon, and she knew it was Ren's TIE fighter.
Ren likewise sensed Rey before he even saw her. Glowing with determination and ferocity, she was a bright presence in his mind. As he piloted his TIE whisper on the flat desert surface, Ren felt his conflict intensifying. The thought of facing her reminded him of the choice he made to kill Han Solo. The realization that Rey was the source of his inner light, and therefore, the cause of his agony dawned on Ren. Despite Han's death, Ren had failed to destroy the light within himself because Rey was still alive. Though he wanted her to join him in the dark side, Ren began to consider the option of killing her if he failed to turn Rey away from the light, now believing the Emperor may have been right all along.
He could sense that the girl was terrified as he caught sight of her on the horizon. Yet despite her terror, Ren also sensed that Rey was unwavering, ready and waiting for him. That in turn fueled Ren's anger. He was indignant at being defied and rejected by a scavenger from a forlorn planet like Jakku. Consumed by his own rage, Ren's vision turned red with hatred as he hit the throttle, accelerating his TIE whisper in Rey's direction. In that moment, he stopped caring about everything, including the Emperor and the promise of a Star Destroyer fleet. All Ren wanted was for his pain to end. Now he had every intention of killing Rey, unless she could show him her true nature.
Ren was so overcome with pain and killing rage that Rey could feel his emotions through their bond, and what she felt was breathtaking to her. Knowing his intentions, she reached into the Force, using the mysterious energy field to guide her actions as Ren's TIE approached her with increasing speed. The TIE was on her in moments, but with her training under Organa and a lot of assistance from the Force, Rey leapt into the air and flipped backward, whipping her lightsaber down at the support pylon. Below her, Ren craned his neck to track her flight, but it was too late. The TIE wobbled as Ren grew frustrated while attempting to compensate at the controls. The support pylon buckled, the left wing clipped the ground, and soon the vessel was out of control. The TIE tumbled across the desert landscape, ripping the wings off their struts while the remaining ball holding Ren rolled at great speed, leaving a furrow in the sand. The sight of Ren's destroyed TIE lying in flames on an embankment left Rey feeling conflicted. She did not know whether to hope that Ren died or survived.
Ren emerged from the burning wreckage of his TIE unscathed. However, he chided himself for losing control of his emotions, allowing rage and temptation to blind him from seeing Rey's plan. With this realization came another certainty: he was relieved that he did not kill her. Despite killing Snoke, Ren still relied on the lessons he learned from his old master, pursuing his impulses as a shortcut to the dark side and its unimaginable power. However, his impulse to kill Rey had almost ruined all of his plans. He knew from experience that the path to the dark side lay in pursuing one's desires, but his greatest desire and the thing he wanted most was Rey.
Through the Force, he could feel her straining to telekinetically hold a First Order transport in place. Ren neither knew nor cared why she was so desperate to prevent its escape. He would not allow her to have it. Reaching out with the Force, he felt the massive machinery in his mind, and began pulling it toward himself. He nearly ripped the transport out of Rey's grip, resulting in a Force tug of war over the shuttle. Sensing the familiar presence of Ren, she now knew that he had survived the crash. She strained to regain control of the transport, believing Chewbacca was on board as a prisoner of the First Order. Her concentration wavered, however, causing the ship to list more in Ren's direction. Out of desperation, Rey embraced her feelings of terror, anger and loneliness, and unwittingly channeled the power of the dark side until lightning emanated from her fingertips.
The transport was hit by the burst of Force lightning, causing it to explode into a fireball to Rey's horror and Ren's astonishment. The Supreme Leader watched from a distance as a derelict freighter took off, leaving Pasaana with Rey and her companions aboard it. Though she had prevented Ren from seizing the transport, he felt triumphant nonetheless. In pushing Rey to the limits of her patience, Ren had witnessed her true potential in the dark side. He sensed that she was almost ready to turn, leaving him hopeful that together they would extinguish the light within themselves, becoming free to fully embrace the darkness. It also renewed his desire to seize the Sith Eternal fleet and Sidious' throne with Rey at his side. In spite of her defiance, Rey was hiding a secret—a vision of herself sitting on a Sith throne alongside Ren.
A dyad in the Force
- "My mother was the daughter of Vader. Your father was the son of the Emperor. What Palpatine doesn't know is that we're a dyad in the Force, Rey. Two that are one."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
The quick shuttle trip back to the command ship was not nearly enough time for Ren to prepare for his reunion with Chewbacca. He rallied his thoughts as he approached the interrogation room, reminding himself that the Wookiee was part of his past, and therefore, meant nothing to him. Chewbacca, who was shackled to the wall, stared at the Supreme Leader with fury in his eyes. Ren had not forgotten that it was Chewbacca who shot him on Starkiller Base, inflicting a wound that had resulted in a defeat at Rey's hands as he had not been in top fighting form. With a gesture of his hand, Ren released the Wookiee from his restraints and discarded his lightsaber, taunting Chewbacca to avenge Han Solo.
Knowing he could not overcome Ren's powers, Chewbacca made no attempt to attack him, but the Supreme Leader continued to goad the Wookiee mercilessly. Sensing the Wookiee's anger, Ren told him that the anger he felt was the dark side, and that Rey would come to know that power as well. Mentioning the scavenger by name caused Chewbacca's anger to subside, replaced by fear on the girl's behalf. Ren sensed that he had grown to love Rey, and in time he would love her as much as he had loved Han. That feeling, however, reminded Ren what Snoke had taught him long ago—that the people he loved, including Chewbacca, never really loved him back. The thought fueled his rage.
Wanting to know Rey's next destination, he pressed Chewbacca for information about the girl's mission. Chewbacca proved unwilling, and so Ren began probing the Wookiee's mind, ripping away his memories and thoughts. It was exhausting for him, and not at all satisfying to watch his late father's comrade wincing in fear. By delving into Chewbacca's mind, Ren saw flashes of his father as a young man, and felt the joy Chewbacca experienced at watching his friend marry Organa, whom he had grown to love as a sister. He also saw the Wookiee cuddling Ben Solo when he was a toddler, followed by memories of Chewbacca teaching Solo how to fly a speeder and fire a blaster. Ren remembered the name he used to call the Wookiee: "Uncle Chewie." Nausea threatened to overtake Ren by the time he finished the interrogation. Attempting to center his thoughts, he convinced himself to be content with having gained the information he sought, believing that the sense of triumph would follow soon after.
Ren was followed by Pryde, Griss, and Hux as he strode away from the hangar bay and interrogation rooms. He was practically frothing at the mouth when he ordered the officers to have the Wookiee's belongings brought to his quarters. Hux was pleased to see that torturing Chewbacca had affected Ren. Knowing that the prisoner had history with the Supreme Leader, Hux was certain that Ren had lost his focus. Pryde and Griss reported that the Knights had successfully tracked Rey to a settlement on the occupied world of Kijimi. When Hux inserted himself by offering to have the city destroyed, Ren stuck a long finger in the general's face, effectively shushing him. Ren dismissed the officers by ordering them to set a course for Kijimi and was adamant that the scavenger be taken alive.
His conflicted mind was still dwelling on the torture of Chewbacca when the Steadfast arrived at Kijimi. Sensing Ren's thoughts, Rey realized that Chewbacca was still alive and became desperate to rescue him. Unaware of Rey's plan, Ren proceeded toward the settlement alongside his Knights. Their arrival was witnessed by Zorii Bliss, the leader of the Spice Runners of Kijimi, who helped the Resistance to infiltrate Ren's Star Destroyer. As they approached a squad of local stormtroopers, Lieutenant Barok informed the Supreme Leader that his men had established a perimeter around the city, although Ren sensed that they were too late, as the scavenger was already gone.
A frustrated Ren ignited his lightsaber, unable to contain his anger any longer, and began slashing it back and forth in a rage. By the time he was done, boulders and lantern scrap lay scattered on the ground. The snowtrooper squad had slunk away from his wrath, while his Knights looked on with amusement. After regaining his composure, Ren deduced that Rey and her friends were helped by some of the locals. He ordered his forces to place the city on lockdown, and to hunt and destroy the ones who were in league with the Resistance.
The Force eventually reconnected Ren and Rey, but as before they could not see each other's surroundings, although the snow on his cape indicated to Rey that he was on the surface of Kijimi. Ren asked the scavenger where she was, and noted how hard it was to find her. Rey dismissed his question and attempted to turn away, telling herself that he was not worth her time. Ren, however, explained that he had to provoke her anger in the Pasaana desert in order to gauge her true potential, and because he also wanted to awaken her to the power of the dark side. He revealed that he now knew the full truth of her origins. Alarmed by his assertion, Rey pointed her lightsaber at Ren's throat and called him a liar.
Ren denied that he ever lied to her, and although the scavenger conceded that there was always an element of truth in his words, she nonetheless believed that his intent was pure falsehood. Ren continued despite Rey's desperation to remain ignorant of her past, now fearing the implications of her mysterious background. He told her that her father and mother were, in fact, no one of consequence because that was the life they had chosen in order to keep their daughter safe. Rey felt herself growing more infuriated with Ren; she hated that he had knowledge of her that she did not possess, and she did not want to hear the truth from him. Ren was relentless, pushing the scavenger to remember her past in spite of her efforts to avoid it.
Rey desperately swung her lightsaber at Ren, who brought his own to bear, resulting in a lightsaber duel through the Force. Even as they battled, Ren continued to push Rey into remembering her parents. He succeeded, as Rey beheld a vision in the form of a long-buried memory of her mother, a beautiful woman telling her young daughter to be brave and that she would be safe on Jakku. Rey also remembered watching her parents leave Jakku on the same freighter that she found on Pasaana. Rey suppressed the vision, even as she pushed back against Ren's lightsaber.
As they circled each other, Ren revealed that Rey's parents had sold her to Unkar Plutt to protect her from Sidious, who had sent an assassin to kill her. His calm was maddening to Rey. The girl rushed him again, swiping and stabbing her blade at him in a series of blows. Even though Rey had grown faster and more accustomed to lightsaber combat, Ren countered her attacks easily. Throughout the duel, he made no attempt to harm Rey, and only used his lightsaber for defense against the Jedi apprentice. He dodged another swing from Rey's lightsaber, and the blade sliced through a basket. Red berries spilled out across the white floor of Ren's quarters. Rey was surprised, realizing that they were in each other's minds and spaces. They were separate, yet together at the same time, but Rey did not care. She grew desperate to land a blow, wanting to hurt Ren, but her efforts were for naught as he continued to block and dodge her.
Ren stood back, putting more space between himself and Rey in order to tell her that Sidious had ordered her parents to be taken for questioning. Rey circled him, looking for an opening in the hope of silencing Ren. He revealed that Sidious gave the order to kill them, causing another vision to fill Rey's mind, this time of her parents' murder. An enraged Rey launched herself at Ren, and as their blades clashed she glimpsed his location, as if she was physically on Kijimi with him. Having failed to break through Ren's guard, Rey swung her blade blindly and chaotically, only to meet Ren's own saber once more as he moved to block her attack. As a result, the pedestal was shattered by both blades. Vader's mask tumbled toward the ground, disappeared from Ren's quarters, and reappeared at the foot of the Supreme Leader on Kijimi.
Realizing that Rey and her friends were on board the Steadfast, Ren felt immense satisfaction. The connection ended with Ren telling Rey that he would tell her in person why the Emperor wanted Rey dead ever since she was a child. He informed a stormtrooper officer that the scavenger was on his command ship, which he ordered to be placed under immediate lockdown. Rey regrouped with her droids, C-3PO and BB-8, and told them to find the others in their group, believing they were safer taking their chances in the maze of a Star Destroyer than facing Ren. A TIE entered the hangar bay; sensing that it was Ren in the cockpit, she strode toward his starfighter to confront him.
They circled each other, slowly and intensely, like stalking wolves. First Order stormtroopers charged into the hangar to watch, forming an audience around them. Using the memory of her mentor Organa to strengthen her resolve, she asked Ren why Sidious commanded her death. The dark warrior replied that the Emperor had foreseen Rey's potential to become a Jedi, and that the source of her power was Sidious' own bloodline. A dark miasma of dread filled Rey; she knew what Ren was going to say before the words left his mouth—she was the Emperor's granddaughter, a scion of the Palpatine bloodline.
However, Ren had also discovered something that the Emperor was unaware of. Vader's grandson and Sidious' granddaughter were a dyad in the Force. The revelation left Rey stunned, but she knew in the depths of her soul that Ren spoke the truth. Revealing his plans for them to kill her grandfather and take his throne, Ren removed his mask as a gesture of vulnerability, though he also wanted Rey to know that he trusted her. It suddenly occurred to Rey that it had been a long time since she last saw Ren's face, and noted that the scar on his cheek had faded, yet it would remain with him forever.
He extended his black-gloved hand to Rey, reminding her that the last time he made this offer was in the wreckage of Snoke's throne room. Though she admitted to herself that they were capable of great things together, acknowledging that their combined power had resulted in the previous Supreme Leader's demise, Rey chose to deny Ren again. The Millennium Falcon, recovered by her friends, rose before Rey. Its pilot, Poe Dameron, used the ship's thrusters to blow back everything in the hangar, causing the stormtroopers to slide away helplessly. Ren braced himself, using his powers to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground while Rey returned to the Falcon. Turning to look at Ren one more time, she hated him for revealing her lineage. However, she was also thankful to know the truth, especially about their connection as a dyad.
In the aftermath of the Falcon's escape, Ren and Pryde surveyed the hangar bay, noting that four stormtroopers were dead, along with one cargo pilot and two maintenance workers, all of whom had been pushed into Kijimi's atmosphere by the Resistance vessel's engines. Ren was unbothered by the loss of life, considering their deaths a small sacrifice for the chance to look upon Rey in person once more. He had enjoyed provoking her into a rage, and was relieved to finally tell Rey about the truth of their bond. Consumed by his thoughts of Rey, he barely paid attention to the fires that burned throughout the bay, the injured stormtroopers around him, or the remaining maintenance crew that quickly restored the hangar to working order. Having analyzed the dagger before Rey retrieved it, Ren ordered Pyre to set a course for the Endor system, knowing that the scavenger was traveling to the moon of Kef Bir.
The last duel
- "You were right. I did want to take your hand. Ben's hand."
- ―Rey, to Ben Solo
Ren was standing in a corridor of the Steadfast when he heard the Emperor's voice in his mind. As only Rey had been powerful enough to communicate over long distances like this, Ren realized that Sidious was more powerful than he thought. Ren pondered on his bond with Rey, wondering if that was the only reason they could see and hear each other across the stars, whereas Sidious did not need a connection to interact with another Force wielder in the same way.
He sensed, however, that such a demonstration of power was taking a toll on the Sith Lord's failing clone body, making the necrotic vessel appear paler and even more frail than before. Though his eyes were closed, and his breathing labored, Sidious warned Ren that he could turn the Sith Eternal fleet against him, suspecting that the dark warrior was planning to betray him. Shielding his thoughts, Ren assured Sidious that he was in pursuit of Rey, and that he would not allow her to become a Jedi. Sidious reiterated his wishes, demanding that Ren kill her, his voice as loud as thunder in Ren's mind.
Ren brought down a mental curtain to sever their connection in the Force, finding it increasingly difficult to contain his sense of triumph. Exultation filled his senses as he felt that the Emperor was terrified of Rey and the power she wielded. He was now more certain than ever that Rey would join him in the dark side, just as soon as he convinced the scavenger to embrace her part in their relationship as a dyad.
While en route to Kef Bir, Ren was informed that Allegiant General Pryde had discovered the identity of the spy in their ranks. It was General Hux, who was summarily executed at Pryde's hands for committing treason against the First Order. Hux's last thought was of the scavenger that he hated and blamed for the failure of his plans. Nevertheless, Hux died hoping that Rey would be the cause of Ren's downfall.
After arriving on Kef Bir in a TIE fighter, Ren found Rey in the corroded ruins of the Emperor's throne room, located amid the wreckage of the Death Star II. By the time of his arrival, Rey had found the Emperor's wayfinder, but also encountered a dark mirror version of herself. She dropped the wayfinder while fighting the vision of her future self, causing it to slide across the floor to Ren. Despair choked at Rey; she had escaped her dark version only to be confronted by her nemesis, and part of her feared that it was destiny bringing them together in this moment.
Ren had come to Rey without his mask. The scavenger had a feeling that he would never wear it for her again. His voice betrayed feelings of contempt as he noted Rey's desperation to prove herself as a Jedi to his mother. But in embracing her darker emotions, Ren believed that Rey had become as isolated as he was, and that she was no longer able to return to Organa any more than he could. Yet Rey continued to defy him, confusing the Supreme Leader. He was surprised that she could still resist, but continued to provoke her nonetheless, asserting that the dark side was in their nature. He urged her to surrender to it. Rey ordered Ren to give back the wayfinder, even pushing with the Force, but her attempted mind trick had no effect on Ren. She panicked as she sensed his next move. Ren declared that she would never find Exegol unless she joined him, and with that he shattered the wayfinder in his hand.
Rey screamed as hot, primal rage rose inside her like volcanic magma. The object that she had traveled halfway across the galaxy for, risked the lives of her friends for, was obliterated by Ren. She erupted forward, swinging her lightsaber. Rather than igniting his own lightsaber, Ren leapt out of the way of Rey's blow, ducked under the next attack, and whirled away from her. The fact that he was not fighting back further enraged Rey, who had all but lost herself to her own fury. Her attacks increased in speed as she drew more power from the Force, until Ren could dodge no longer. Bringing his own lightsaber to bear, he began blocking Rey's blade while she continued to swipe, slam and stab her weapon at him. However, Ren countered all of her attacks with effort, matching her ferocity. He eventually gave ground, dropping into a shaft with Rey leaping after him without a second thought.
The Force wielders ended up outside of the wreckage, continuing their battle on a bridge-like hunk of metal only meters wide. A massive gun turret loomed over them, and beyond it lay Ren's parked TIE. Rey pressed her attack, oblivious to the added danger of the ocean raging around them. Ren finally went on the offense as well, feeling he had no choice but to attack in kind. The impact of his blade against hers shivered through Rey's shoulders, but she welcomed the distraction from thoughts of her Sith heritage.
During the duel, Rey sensed one of her companions, the former stormtrooper Finn, nearby. Alarmed by his presence, Rey was overcome by an instinct to protect her friend from Ren. With no thought at all, she pushed Finn with the Force, sending him flying away in the opposite direction toward their new acquaintance, his fellow deserter Jannah. As the sea boiled with a rising tide, Rey increasingly gave in to her rage, which allowed the Force to flood her body with more power. Massive waves came crashing against the area where they fought, forcing both combatants to leap out of the way. As determined as Rey was to continue their duel until one of them died, she found herself unable to break through Ren's guard. She poured her Force energy into her next attack, which Ren countered by flying backward and landing neatly.
Ren advanced with a series of attacks, pushing back against Rey with his own Force energy. The Jedi apprentice stood her ground, but the effort was physically taxing, making her temples throb with pain. During their lightsaber duel, the two sparred telepathically, with Ren reminding Rey that he knew her in ways that no one else could. The longer they fought, the clearer it became that Ren was physically stronger than Rey. Despite being a little faster than Ren, she could not overcome his strength, which he began using to his advantage. He pushed his chaotic blade closer to Rey's face when their sabers collided, to the point where she could feel its vibrations near her cheeks.
The ocean had reached a high tide, sending a colossal oncoming wave that Rey leapt away from, using the Force to propel herself high and far away before the wave came crashing down. At first, Rey thought the wave had washed Ren away. Out of the ocean water, however, Ren was striding unerringly toward her. He had withstood the wave, not bothering to avoid it as Rey had. She could see the self-confidence in his expression; Ren could withstand anything in his way. Rey attacked and Ren countered, although this time she moved slower. She was tired from fatigue as well as sleep deprivation and the taxing effect of overusing the Force, especially when she healed a vexis on Pasaana. Ren, by contrast, was in top fighting form. Pain surged through Rey's hand with every blow from Ren's lightsaber. Ren put increasing pressure on Rey, bringing more of his strength to bear until his attacks overwhelmed her, knocking her off her feet.
Ren loomed over Rey, who stared at him as he raised his lightsaber. In that moment, Rey was convinced that she would die on the wreck of a space station, accepting that she may not be fast enough to dodge his next attack. But as she readied herself for death, Ren froze where he stood, his lightsaber held high. His gaze suddenly became distant; across the galaxy, his mother called out his birth name with her dying breath. With all the life, love, hope, and forgiveness in her being, her last thought washed through the galaxy, reaching her son across light-years. Ren dropped his lightsaber, sensing her mother's death through the Force while Rey, exulting at the prospect of victory, caught the Supreme Leader's weapon and pierced his abdomen, running him through with the stolen blade.
He collapsed to the ground in agony, his chest heaving against physical and emotional pain. By then, Rey also felt Organa die through the Force, snapping her out of her rage. Sensing that Organa's last thoughts were of her son, whom she still loved and forgave, and never stopped seeing as Ben Solo, Rey realized that her master had given her life attempting to call him back to the light side of the Force. Ren's wound was mortal, his cheeks wet with ocean water and tears for his mother. He closed his eyes, accepting death as the inevitable conclusion to his life, but Rey found herself even less eager to watch Ren die, despite her own attempt to kill him.
Thinking of what Organa would want, Rey reached out, putting her hand on his chest. Ren opened his eyes, staring at Rey with confusion and longing. Drawing on all of her energy as well as the life force around her, she gave much of it to Ren. As a result, his wound was completely healed, disappearing altogether along with his facial scar. Ren was astonished by Rey's actions, but also alert, whole and brimming with life and energy, whereas Rey was exhausted by the effort. She sensed his unasked questions, and explained that he had been right. She did want to join him, but only the side of him who was Ben Solo, not Kylo Ren. Disillusioned by her ordeal, Rey commandeered Ren's TIE fighter and left Kef Bir, allowing instinct to dictate her next move out of desperation to escape the galactic conflict.
The death of Kylo Ren
- "I miss you, son."
"Your son is dead."
"No. Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive."
- ―Ben Solo's memory of Han Solo
The death of his mother and Rey's act of compassion threw Ren's mind into turmoil. He stood on the wreck of the Death Star for a long time, contemplating recent events while gazing at the ocean. He had not known that the Force could grant its wielder the power to heal physical wounds, and because of it he felt better than he ever had in his life. While he was curious as to how Rey was able to use this power, the question that troubled him most was why Rey would heal him in the first place.
He was also confounded by the feelings he sensed from his mother as she lay on his deathbed. He realized that Snoke had lied to him about everything, now that he knew his mother never stopped loving him. The voices in his head, the ones that tortured him throughout the years, led him to believe that his family only cared about the New Republic, and later, the Resistance. But his mother had sacrificed herself to reach him, and Rey healed him, at great cost to herself, in spite of everything he had done. He knew now that all of the voices had been lying to him. It then dawned on him that he had failed to kill the light within himself because it surrounded him all along, through the people who knew him the most: Rey, his mother, and even his father.
In thinking of his father, he heard another voice in his mind, this one belonging to the late Han Solo. The visage of his father stood before him, untouched by ocean spray. He looked exactly as Ren remembered, except his features were calm and peaceful. Ren knew that the person standing before him was not actually there. It was only his memory, but it felt real to him nonetheless. He tried to assert his belief that Ben Solo was dead, only to be told that it was Kylo Ren who died, not his former self. With eyes full of love, Han urged his son to come home.
The voices that had influenced Ben Solo for so long had convinced him that it was too late to repent. He still believed that because his mother was dead. But Han reminded him that it was not too late to honor her legacy and everything she fought for. Solo could only stare at his father, afraid to believe Han's words. He was also afraid of his memory and the feelings it was drawing out of him. He knew what he had to do, but as before he did not know if he had the strength to carry on. Han placed his hand on his son's cheek, which Solo remembered perfectly. He realized that Rey had been right; he could not stop himself from remembering the warmth of his father's palm, nor the acceptance in his eyes.
Han Solo still believed in him, as did Organa and Rey. He raised the hilt of his lightsaber, just as he had done on Starkiller Base, the last time he saw his father, except this time he called Han "dad." Han smiled at his son, telling him he knew. Ben Solo turned away, and launched the lightsaber that he used to commit patricide into the air. He watched as it sailed high above the wreckage before disappearing into a mist of ocean spray. With that, the memory of his father was gone, leaving Solo alone in the middle of the sea. With his original persona restored, Solo vowed to find the strength to do what he knew had to be done.
Redemption and sacrifice
- ―Ben Solo's memory of Han Solo
Darth Sidious' plan was disrupted by the loss of Kylo Ren. The clone Emperor blamed Ren's mother, Leia Organa, for this setback, though he remained confident that victory was at hand, believing the Princess of Alderaan had died in vain. Without Supreme Leader Ren, command of the First Order defaulted to Allegiant General Pryde, who secretly remained loyal to the Emperor he once served as an officer in the Galactic Empire. With Pryde's allegiance secured, Sidious officially declared the formation of the Final Order, combining the Sith Eternal's forces with those of the First Order.
Stranded on Kef Bir, Ben Solo climbed through the ruins of the Death Star in search of a hangar bay. It took him a long time to find one, and even longer to find an old scout-class TIE fighter and coax it into flying again. He then followed Rey's transmitted tracking markers toward Exegol, but the scout's barely functioning navicomputers threw Solo off course, nearly stranding him in unknown rough space. Using all of his concentration, Solo corrected his course and found himself back on track.
The battle of Exegol was well under way by the time of his arrival; the Resistance had deployed its forces to the Sith world in a last-ditch effort to abort the deployment of the Final Order fleet. Solo landed his TIE scout next to Rey's starfighter, an old Rebellion T-65B X-wing starfighter that had once belonged to Luke Skywalker. He paused for a moment to stare at the two ships, essentially old enemies, and now parked side by side. A familiar awareness tingled at the base of his skull, and Solo recognized it as Rey's presence in the Force. She not only sensed him as well, but understood that he was no longer Kylo Ren. Solo sensed that his presence brought relief to Rey, which turned into joy, but then he felt nothing from her.
Recognizing that she was in trouble, he sprinted for the monolith, unencumbered by his helmet, his cape, or his black tunic and gloves. He launched himself into the shaft, determined to not allow anything to stop him from reaching her. He caught himself on one of the massive chains dangling from the ceiling, but the floor was so far below him that it was lost in darkness. Though it was too far to climb down quickly or jump down safely, Solo was unconcerned about his own safety as his thoughts revolved around Rey and that she healed him. Driven by the desire to make amends for all that Ren had done, Solo called on the Force, and dropped to the surface of the cavernous cathedral.
Rey, who confronted her grandfather in the Sith Citadel throne room, had been stalling for time after sensing that Solo was on Exegol. Sidious implored her to kill him in anger and become a Sith empress, using her attachment to her friends as leverage. She nearly succumbed to the temptations of absolute power and the dark side of the Force, but Solo's presence was shining bright with the light within her mind. Knowing that he had come to help her, she feigned defeat and acceptance while shielding her true intentions from the Emperor, a skill that she had honed through practice with Ren.
The Sith cultists, who had welcomed Kylo Ren to their sanctuary beneath the citadel, launched themselves at Ben Solo with fury, determined to prevent him from interrupting the ritual in the throne room. With only a blaster as his weapon, Solo easily defeated them and several Sovereign Protectors, making every kill with one shot. Whereas Ren would have reveled in their deaths, Solo was consumed by his desire to help Rey. As he reached the end of the Sith monoliths, the Knights of Ren emerged from the shadow, first Vicrul and then Kuruk, until all six warriors were arrayed before their former master.
For the briefest moment, Solo thought that they had come to fight alongside him, but their hatred emanated like waves of fetid air. It dawned on Solo that the Knights had never truly been loyal to him; their true allegiance was to Sidious. They raised their weapons for the kill, which Solo saw as a final betrayal in a long history of deception. He was surrounded by the Knights, those he once considered his faithful brothers, now circling him like predators slowly stalking their prey. As Solo assessed his situation, realizing that he could not defeat all six Force-sensitive warriors with only a blaster, he received a telepathic message from Rey through their bond, and he knew what she intended to do.
Solo stalled for time, blasting one attacker and Force pushing another before the rest of the Knights overwhelmed him, hitting him in the back of his skull and his abdomen with their weapons. Rather than killing him outright, they backed away, supremely confident in their ability to defeat a single opponent who seemed defenseless to them. As they circled for another attack, Solo could feel Rey reaching for the connection that they shared, showing him her plan. He acknowledged her, and for the first time their bond felt different, yet right and good to them. It was the feeling of coming home.
Solo and Rey were equally stunned, but also took a moment to revel in this new sharing. With this clarity came the realization that they were now a true dyad, the way it would have been if not for the machinations of Sidious and Snoke that had driven them apart. Rey lowered her weapon behind her back, as if preparing to strike down her grandfather, who leaned forward with gleeful anticipation, but when she raised her hand it was empty. She had projected her weapon away, and with horror the Emperor realized his mistake in allowing Rey and Solo to come together. Their bond had been refined in the fire of mutual searching, shared grief, rage and hate, but also compassion and empathy, and it was the one thing that Sidious had not foreseen.
Solo felt the grip of the Skywalker lightsaber in his palm, and in that moment he knew that the weapon—forged by his grandfather, inherited by his uncle, and given to Rey for a time—belonged to him. It was now an extension of his very own self, as it had once been for his grandfather and uncle in turn. He raised it slowly, relishing the feel of it, while the Knights startled backward a few steps upon seeing the plasma blade shining blue.
Thinking of what his father would say in this moment, Solo shrugged his shoulders at the Knights, as if to say "surprise." He attacked them, killing Cardo and Kuruk with a swing of his blade to their masked faces. At the same time, Rey ignited her spare weapon, Leia Organa's lightsaber, as a cohort of Sovereign Protectors surrounded her. As before on Pasaana and Kijimi, they were separate but also together, with Rey battling the crimson-robed guards and Solo confronting his former comrades. This time, however, they were drawing on each other for strength, becoming even more powerful as one instead of two.
Trudgen attempted to cleave Solo in half from behind, but Rey warned him in time. He brought up his saber to block his back before impaling the Knight. Flipping over Trudgen's fallen body, he did the same to Ushar. With the Knights of Ren destroyed, Solo sprinted toward the throne room where Rey had defeated all of the guards save one, whom Solo tossed aside using the Force. They stood facing each other, together at last. Rey observed how different Solo was from Ren, and wondered how she never noticed the resemblance between him and his parents until then. They raised their lightsabers as one, dropping into a fighting stance before Sidious.
Sidious snarled at his would-be heirs, exclaiming that they would die together as he raised his rotting hand and impaled them with the Force. The pain that Solo and Rey experienced was breathtaking; their lightsabers dropped to the ground, and the Emperor pulled them toward himself. They were helpless against his power. As a side effect, however, their combined life force began to heal the clone vessel. Sidious gasped, watching as his hands began stitching themselves back together, bones re-growing, and pale flesh closing over them. He was astonished to discover that his granddaughter and Vader's grandson were a dyad in the Force, and their bond the equivalent of the power of life.
Gleeful triumphant thoughts entered his mind as he harnessed power from the dark side of the Force and all the Sith who came before him, allowing Sidious to pull more life energy from the dyad to restore himself as the one true Emperor. It poured from them against their will, flowing from Solo and Rey like a river of light, rejuvenating Sidious while leaving them weak and drained. They lay collapsed on the floor as he released himself from the Ommin harness, now that his clone body was whole. Solo struggled to his feet, pushing through the pain of his near-lifeless body to face his enemy. Unimpressed by Solo's show of defiance, the Emperor lifted him with no more than a thought, declaring that just as he had once fallen, then so would the last Skywalker fall to his death. Solo was thrown across the floor of the cathedral, tumbling end over end before disappearing into a bright abyss.
Solo's fall had been caught on a jagged outcropping. As a result, his ankle was twisted, and he sustained two broken ribs, but he knew that he had to get back to the throne room because he could no longer sense Rey through their bond. She had reached for him too, trying to sense him through the Force until her body gave out from the effort of destroying her grandfather, even with the help of all the Jedi past. Climbing up to the surface had been agonizing for Solo. Pain and dizziness threatened to send him tumbling back into the abyss, but he persevered until finally reaching the top. He dragged himself to his feet, only making it a few steps before he crumpled to the ground. Forcing himself to his feet yet again, he limped forward and saw Rey. The sight of her body lying motionless on the floor filled his chest with pain far greater than that of his physical injuries.
Solo hardly knew what he was doing as he crouched beside Rey, wrapped his arms around her limp form, and pulled her onto his lap. At first, he thought she appeared at ease, as though she were sleeping, but her barren eyes were lifeless and dull. A sense of guilt washed over him as Rey's skin grew cold. He imagined her eyes accusing him, telling him that he was to blame for her death. However, he banished those thoughts from his mind, recognizing them as the vestiges of Snoke's conditioning that turned Ben Solo into Kylo Ren. He understood that Rey would have never reproached him with anger or resentment, regardless of what he had done, because of her compassion for him.
He pulled her to his chest and hugged her to himself for a moment. The despair and grief that he felt were overwhelming. He knew that he had wasted his life, but to lose Rey just after they had truly found each other was devastating to him. The aching emptiness was unbearable, as was the sense of loss so sharp and terrible it felt like a vise around his gut. In his despair, he realized that everyone who could have guided him back to his true self was dead—his parents, his uncle, and now Rey.
As he held her, he sensed the tiniest spark of life still within her body, and knew that the Force had not yet claimed her spirit. There was no doubt in Solo's mind about what he had to do. After a lifetime of conflict and regret, this was the easiest decision he ever made. He cradled her gently and placed his hand on her stomach. Closing his eyes, he called on the Force. Even though the Emperor had drained so much of his strength, he would perform the Force healing technique that Rey had shown him in his last moments as Ren. In giving everything he had, Solo discovered untapped reservoirs of power that he never knew he had. Without hesitation, he gave his whole self to her.
Rey's eyes lit up as her diaphragm rose with a breath. Solo felt her warm hand covering his as he looked into her eyes, realizing that she was surprised to see him. They stared at each other for a moment. Though she did not draw away, he waited for her to understand the sacrifice he had just made. He expected neither gratitude nor acknowledgement from her, expecting that she would go on with her life without so much as a backward glance at him. Part of him believed that it was what she should have done. But she was glad to see him, and to be with him in this moment. She smiled and whispered his real name, and Solo felt that it was the greatest gift she could give him.
Solo's heart was full as Rey reached for his face, her fingers lingering against his cheek. A sense of wonder washed over him as Rey leaned in and kissed Solo. She kissed him not only out of gratitude for what he had done for her, but also as an acknowledgement of their bond and to celebrate that they had found each other at last. But then she drew back, becoming concerned as she felt him growing cold. Ben Solo smiled at her. He did not feel that he could atone for all of the darkness that Kylo Ren had wrought, but bringing Rey back to the galaxy left him feeling content. He had no regrets as he fell to the ground. His final awareness was of Rey, clasping his hand with her own as the Force beckoned him, reaching for him in welcome. Ben Solo's body vanished into the Force before Rey as tears streamed down her face.
Rey began to despair, believing that she had lost him. She had struggled to live with her solitude and loneliness throughout her years on Jakku, only to learn that she was part of a dyad the whole time. She had also come to see their bond as a precious connection, but without Solo, she felt that the incredible oneness of their combined being had been ripped away from her. Through the Force, however, Rey heard Ben Solo's voice comforting her, telling that he would always be with her. Rey smiled at the sound of his voice, letting the truth of his words wash over her, realizing that he was not truly gone.
- "I will always be with you."
"No one's ever really gone."
- ―Ben Solo's final words and Rey's response
With the Final Order's destruction on Exegol, an uprising against the First Order commenced with the galaxy openly rebelling against the military junta. Without Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, Allegiant General Enric Pryde, or the reinforcements of the Sith Eternal, the First Order faced defeat and destruction across multiple worlds, including Endor, Bespin, and Jakku.
Ren was considered a merciless leader by his contemporaries and himself. He saw himself as a monster, believing it was too late to atone for his actions as a dark-side warrior. That dark persona was not mourned by Rey, though she had healed Ren out of compassion, but she found herself feeling cheated at the same time, knowing she would have dearly loved the chance to get to know Ben Solo. She cried for him, knowing that in the end he had sacrificed everything for her. Watching him as he vanished into the Force left Rey with a profound sense of emptiness, as if half of her was suddenly missing. However, she soon took comfort in hearing his voice through the Force, and realized that the other half of the dyad would never leave her.
Even after his fall to the dark side, Solo was still loved by his family, who missed him and held out hope that there was still light within him. Organa never saw her son as Kylo Ren; he would always be Ben Solo to her, despite all he had done, including the murder of his father. Chewbacca's fury over Han Solo's death caused the Wookiee to shoot his closest friend's son. However, he still retained joyful memories of their time together when Solo was a child. Lando Calrissian, another surrogate uncle to Solo, discovered a holodisk in Chewbacca's cabin in the Millennium Falcon, revealing images of the Wookiee with a young Ben Solo. Calrissian could not bear to look at them for they reminded him of his own daughter, who, like Solo, had been conditioned by the First Order to destroy everything their parents fought for.
In the aftermath of the battle of Exegol, Rey undertook a journey to the planet Tatooine, where she found the childhood home of her first master, Luke Skywalker. After burying both Skywalker lightsabers in the sand, she gazed at the twin suns of Tatooine. Her mind was filled with thoughts not only of the friends she had grown to see as her adopted family, but Ben Solo as well. Without him, she knew that she would have never succeeded in resisting the Emperor's will or surviving against his power. Rey saw the spirits of her two Jedi mentors watching over her, and assumed their family name, calling herself "Rey Skywalker." Rey's decision to adopt Ben Solo's and her mentors' family name as her own honored their memory while severing ties to her Palpatine lineage.
Personality and traits
- "At least he could have let me fly the ship. Would give me something to do. He's a great teacher, very strong. I've learned so much from him… But he never seems to want me to use any of it."
- ―Ben Solo, on his apprenticeship under Luke Skywalker
Ben Solo was a human male who stood at 1.89 meters and weighed 89 kilograms. He had black hair, brown eyes, and light skin. As a child, Ben's eyes appeared ancient to his father. From Han's perspective, it was as though his son had been waiting for a millennium just to be born.
Even prior to his descent, however, Ben Solo nonetheless had deep-seated insecurities rooted from Han Solo and Leia Organa's neglect in raising him. He also believed that his parents thought he was disturbed, having overheard their conversations about him and his perceived lack of control over his innate Force abilities when he was still a child. As a result, he interpreted his mother's decision to send him away for Jedi training as her way of abandoning him.
The expectations of being a Skywalker—the nephew of the last Jedi and the grandson of a prophesied Chosen One—weighed heavily on Solo. Being named after legends only fueled his insecurity, causing Solo to hate his full name. He felt as though everyone wanted him to be like his namesake, Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi, even though he had never met the famous Jedi. Moreover, Solo knew that the surname he inherited from his father was an invented name, adding to his belief that his family's legacy was built on a lie.
Possessing an inquisitive mind, Solo endeavored to gain greater knowledge about the Jedi ways and the Force during his apprenticeship under Skywalker. He recorded his insights into the Jedi on parchment scrolls, creating handwritten documents which he kept next to his calligraphy set. As a young man, Solo practiced the art of fancy handwriting or "calligraphy," an art that had fallen into disuse as almost no one wrote by hand during the era of the New Republic. In his pursuit of knowledge, however, Solo's focus wandered into the dark corners of the Force, and, with Skywalker's attention split among multiple students, he started falling under the influence of another master.
Solo regarded Skywalker with great esteem. Though he had misgivings about Skywalker's teaching methods, Solo saw his uncle as an amazing teacher and a legendary Jedi Master. He recognized his master's strength and knowledge with the Force, having learned much under Skywalker's tutelage. Despite the boredom that Solo tried to cope with on some of their missions together, he shared his uncle's enthusiasm for discovering ancient Jedi relics. Solo was particularly interested in ancient Jedi weapons; on one occasion he marveled at a lightsaber rifle. In private, he lamented how Skywalker hoarded such treasures by storing them away in his temple, never to be used.
Seeing his uncle standing over him with an ignited lightsaber had a profound impact on Solo's psyche. For Solo, it was an unspeakable betrayal that confirmed every worst fear he had about his family. Overcome with anger and confusion, he believed his uncle would have murdered him in his sleep. The experience also left him disillusioned with the Jedi way, which Solo now viewed as a lie that his life had been wasted on. When the temple was destroyed Solo tried in vain to help his fellow students. As he surveyed the burning ruins and the bodies scattered around him, Solo was left in a state of shock, expressing how he never wanted this outcome and blaming himself for it. His initial remorse was suppressed by the voice in his head, which convinced Solo that he was not to blame, but Skywalker and the Jedi were.
After renouncing the Jedi way, Solo no longer felt obliged to hold back his power, having known he was more powerful than any of Skywalker's other apprentices. As far as Solo was concerned, the notion that the others were his equal was a facade fabricated by his uncle. In reality, he was the prize pupil in temple, greater than all of the students combined and, in his mind, even more powerful than Skywalker himself. In his desire to put the Jedi behind him forever, he was willing to inflict harm on the apprentices who tried to stop him from leaving, although even he was momentarily surprised by the extent to which he hurt them with the Force. Though at the time he believed that Skywalker had died by his hand, Solo was not ready to kill his former peers, and so he settled for disabling their starship using the expert piloting skills for which both his father and uncle were known throughout the galaxy for.
While he initially considered returning to his mother, Solo ultimately resolved to seek out Snoke, whom he regarded as the only friend he had left. Snoke, in turn, used the situation to further discredit Skywalker in Solo's eyes, convincing the boy that his youth had been wasted learning the ways of the Jedi.
- "Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That's the only way to become what you were meant to be."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
Kylo Ren was the embodiment of conflict. The dark warrior, whose blood flowed with the legacy of some of the most powerful Jedi and Sith in galactic history, represented a focal point between the dark side and the light, a balance that made him a target of Supreme Leader Snoke so Ren's powers could be used to further the ambitions of the First Order. His fall to the dark side suppressed the boy who had once been named Ben Solo, a name that the Supreme Leader decreed could never be spoken in the First Order.
Ren strove to bury his past, though the painful experiences and emotions from his youth were nonetheless something he could channel in order to further his own power. He ultimately hoped to build an immunity to the light, and to succeed where Darth Vader failed. Although he intended to adhere fully to the dark side's teachings, he did ultimately have reservations to what he deemed to be unnecessary casualties, and spoke out against the ordered destruction of the Ileenium system before being outvoted by Snoke. While he was not born into the First Order, he was convinced that they were on the right side of history. In the aftermath of Starkiller Base's destruction, however, Ren accepted the idea that he was a monster with cold reservation.
Ren saw himself as carrying on the tradition embodied by his grandfather, Darth Vader, although his understanding of Anakin Skywalker's history was twisted by his dark mentor, Supreme Leader Snoke. Like Vader before him, Ren believed it was his destiny to rule over the weaker beings of the galaxy. He idolized his grandfather, but only the darkness that was Vader—not the light of Skywalker. To Ren and the Supreme Leader, it was not poor strategy or arrogance that brought about the fall of the Galactic Empire: it was the sentimentality Vader held for his son, Luke Skywalker, which led to the Sith Lord's redemption; a foolish error in judgment and a momentary lapse in an otherwise great life. Ren believed that if Vader had not succumbed to the light, the Empire would have prevailed. Although Ren admired Vader, he remained torn by his conflict and was afraid of never attaining the strength his grandfather possessed. He kept a shrine to Vader in his personal chambers aboard the Finalizer, with the charred remains of the Sith Lord's helmet that had been recovered from his funeral pyre on Endor, as both a monument to the dark side's powers and its weakness. He also kept a table of ashes made from the remains of his enemies.
Though Ren feared the light and knew he had to avoid Vader's sentimentality, the Supreme Leader nonetheless encouraged him to use the heritage of both the light and the dark, which only furthered Ren's inner conflict. He studied both the skills of the Jedi and arcane dark-side lore, contradictory teachings that gave him his power through discord. These teachings made the often angry dark warrior, one whose great temper was honed to be a weapon of the First Order, the archetype of a new kind of dark-side user that filled the void left behind when the Sith were destroyed during the Battle of Endor.
Ren often kept his face covered with a mask modeled on the battle gear of the Knights of Ren. His mask projected and amplified his voice in a deeper way, and his robes were a remnant of his training with the Supreme Leader and became singed from many battles. These elements combined to make Ren an intimidating presence as he boldly stepped onto the battlefield, where he sometimes arrived after victory was secured, yet he had no fear of battle. He boldly strode into battle, confident in his powers and his purpose. Like his grandfather, Ren was a leader who fought alongside his troops on the front lines of the battlefield. Although he would ignore the counsel of his advisors, favoring brute force over negotiation, Ren overcame the aggressive Benathy with his ferocity as a warrior, and his slaying of a Zillo Beast won him the respect of the Imperial veteran Ruthford. Having honed his fighting skills on the battlefield, Ren had little respect for his rival, General Armitage Hux, as a warrior. He regarded the general with disdain throughout their rivalry, seeing Hux as neither brave nor trustworthy.
Notwithstanding the confidence he had in his powers, Ren had deeply rooted insecurities that he attempted to conceal by wearing his mask and acting like Vader. Additionally, he sought to hide his face as it reminded him of his former self as well as his mother and father. After usurping the title of Supreme Leader, Ren redonned his mask, now feeling that he was a Knight of Ren on his own terms. The reforged helmet was symbolic of Ren's growth as an individual—its fused shards mirrored the breaking and rebuilding of Ren's identity.
Despite his feelings of neglect and abandonment, Ren did not hate his parents. During his trial on Dagobah, he could not bring himself to attack the vision of his parents, even as Snoke urged him to kill the source of his conflict. Although he was adamant that Han Solo meant nothing to him, Ren struggled with uncertainty when his father confronted him, attempting to reach the boy he had named Ben Solo. He was plagued with self-doubt, not knowing if he had the strength to sacrifice his own father. His decision to kill Han was not motivated by hatred, but rather his desperation to escape his past by freeing himself from his attachments. However, his connection to the dark side did not grow stronger after committing patricide. Instead, the act of killing his own father caused Ren to feel weaker, affecting his very spirit and leaving him feeling more lost than ever. Snoke, having observed that Ren remained at war with himself, derided Han's murder as an act of petulance instead of strength. When faced with the chance to kill his mother, Ren was surprised to sense her concern for him, having anticipated anger at the death of her husband. In the end, Ren could not bring himself to fire on her.
After becoming Kylo Ren, the former Ben Solo retained some of his parents' traits. Similar to his father, Ren had a sarcastic sense of humor. He responded with jest at Captain Ruthford's remarks on his negotiating skills, saying how no one objected to his terms once the Benathy king was dead. During the attack on Tuanul, he told Lor San Tekka that the latter was "so right" just before decapitating him, in reference to the old man's claim that Ren could not escape the truth about his heritage. Ren's sarcasm was also evident during the interrogation of Poe Dameron, whom the dark warrior asked if he was "comfortable." Shortly afterward, Ren posed a rhetorical question to General Hux in regards to the reliability of First Order stormtroopers, only to answer his own query by denouncing all of them as potential traitors. Like his mother, Ren was heir to the legacy of Alderaan, being the adopted grandson of Bail Organa. Though Ren would have denied it, even General Hux saw the similarities between Leia Organa and her estranged son.
In contrast to the enduring sentiment that he harbored for his mother and father, Ren never forgave Luke Skywalker, believing his former master had intended to murder him in his sleep. He struck down a vision of Skywalker on Dagobah without hesitation or regret. When confronted by his uncle on Crait, Ren ordered his army to open fire on the lone Jedi Master, his hatred intensifying to the point where his single-minded determination to destroy Skywalker caused him to overlook inconsistencies in his old master's appearance.
Ren, whose master had promised him a future in which he was heir to the Force, with no Jedi to oppose him, reacted with fury when Finn challenged him while wielding the lightsaber that once belonged to the dark warrior's grandfather. He struggled to control his temper, yet often failed in his efforts when dealing with setbacks or criticism, resulting in devastating tantrums such as the destruction of computer terminals as well as his interrogation chamber. His tantrums were common enough that nearby stormtroopers avoided the area he was currently destroying. In addition to his temperament, Ren was known for his lack of patience.
Ren was furious when his master derided him as a failed apprentice. He struggled to control his emotions while listening to disparaging remarks made by Snoke, who regarded the killing of Han Solo as an example of petulance instead of strength. In Snoke's eyes, Ren was too weak and sentimental to be worthy of his grandfather's legacy. Ren felt the dark side rising within him to the point where he was physically unable to keep it contained, causing him to take a defiant stand against Snoke until the Supreme Leader subdued him with the Force. Once dismissed, however, Ren unleashed the dark side in the form of a violent outburst of emotion, destroying his helmet and damaging the elevator in the process. Just as Ren's physical wounds were healing, Snoke's berating punishments had opened hidden emotional wounds. His pain caused him to explore the connection he and Rey shared and question his loyalty to Snoke. In addition, his father's warning that the Supreme Leader was only using him for his power echoed in his mind. Ren was plotting his future through uncertain times and, with dark-side-fueled ambition, prioritized his survival and ultimate ascension.
Ren was simmering with rage and resentment after his master called him "a child in a mask." At first he was desperate prove his worth to Snoke, but a lifetime spent living in the shadows of powerful mentors fostered in Ren a need to determine his own destiny and discover his own path. Castigated by Snoke, Ren questioned the gifts given to him by his master, recognizing them as cages and leashes designed to keep him obedient under the Supreme Leader's rule. After killing Snoke and usurping his throne, Ren finally gained the freedom and power he coveted as an apprentice, and yet still felt shackled to a fate he was only beginning to understand. As the new Supreme Leader, Ren jealously guarded his independence and was unwilling to serve another master, having sacrificed far too much to be subservient. As such, he felt no indebtedness to Darth Sidious or the Sith Eternal cultists, for they were but a means to an end.
Relationship with Rey
- "You come from nothing. You're nothing. But not to me. Join me. Please."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
Ren was puzzled by the strange connection he felt with Rey during their first encounter. He was also surprised by her ability to read his mind while he probed hers, which allowed her to sense Ren's thoughts as well as his inner conflict and doubts. To Ren's surprise, Rey evoked feelings of compassion within him, according to Snoke, who decried his apprentice's sentimentality as a form of weakness. Ren denied his master's accusations, unable to comprehend how he could feel anything except hatred for an enemy of the First Order. Nevertheless, he offered to make Rey his apprentice after gauging her raw strength in the Force. Even though she defeated him, Ren had sensed that their destinies were somehow intertwined. He plotted his own path to regain the power and status he lost to her blade. Rey's fate was inextricably tied to his own, and he was unable to deny their Force-bond. Henceforth, Ren's churning emotions were as much about Rey as they were himself.
His emotional state became even more intense as their Force-bond grew stronger; to Rey's surprise, Ren no longer bothered trying to hide his pain and misery from her. yet despite lowering his mental barriers, Ren was still guarded with his feelings as Rey attempted to learn more about his fall to the dark side and specifically his actions in regard to Han Solo. At times he found her questions amusing, but when the scavenger tried to force Ren to confront his conflict, he would fall back on his usual tactics of deflection and derision. Ren behaved as though he were the master and Rey was his student, keeping her at bay and off balance by his questions. His façade, however, broke when Rey called him by the name he had been born with. In that moment, he looked lost.
Ren understood Rey's feelings of solitude and abandonment; having experienced such emotions as well, he was all too familiar with the psychological effect they had on a person in the long term. He allowed Rey to confide in him and insisted that she was not alone. When Snoke ordered his apprentice to complete his training by killing Rey, Ren knew what he had to do. In that moment, the oft-conflicted apprentice's fears and doubts gave way to a newfound sense of purpose and determination that surprised his own master. He did not hesitate to kill the one he considered his true enemy, who turned out to be Snoke instead of Rey.
Ren wanted Rey to join him, as he had when they first dueled on Starkiller Base, by forming a coregency between themselves as rulers of the galaxy. Rey sensed that there was no threat in Ren's intentions toward her; he wanted Rey to overcome her past, and as such he told Rey that her parents were no one, believing that revelation would make her embrace the dark side as he did. Ren wanted Rey to be like him, yet his brutal honesty gave way to a softer approach when he beseeched her to join him, telling Rey that while she was no one, she was still important to him.
Rey's refusal to join Ren left the dark warrior feeling betrayed. He wondered why Rey had not taken the opportunity to kill him while he was unconscious, and for a moment he contemplated the possibility that Rey actually cared for him. He pushed such thoughts aside, however, convinced that Rey's feelings made her foolish and sentimental, and would be the death of her. Ren vowed to destroy Rey along with everyone else who opposed him, but upon seeing her again through their bond, he was left with a feeling of emptiness despite his recent accomplishments, which included his ascension as the new Supreme Leader.
Ben Solo reborn
- "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it."
- ―Ben Solo's memory of Han Solo
After returning to the light side of the Force, Ben Solo lost the qualities that he had developed as Kylo Ren, with the exception of his compassion for Rey. From the moment he reclaimed his former identity, his only consuming desire was to protect Rey from Darth Sidious. He allowed neither Sovereign Protectors nor the Knights of Ren to stand between him and Rey, defeating everyone who tried to prevent him from reaching her. His compassion for her also drove him to survive the Emperor's attempt on his life, and despite the agonizing pain of his injuries, he persevered using the thought of Rey as his motivation to survive. The sight of her lifeless body left him reeling with sadness and pain that was worse than any physical wound that he bore. His entire being ached with emptiness and the pain of loss.
He could not bring himself to accept that she was dead. She had helped him to become Ben Solo again, and by becoming his original self once more, he felt that they had truly found each other. As such, he had no reservations about sacrificing himself to bring her back from the dead, believing that Rey deserved to live more than he did, and he knew that Rey would have done the same for him as well. In a selfless act of compassion, empathy, and contrition, he gave the full essence of his life to Rey without hesitation or regret. He was content to know that by his actions, she would live on, but his heart was truly full to see that she was glad to be with him, despite all that he had done as Ren.
The kiss that they shared left him with a feeling of surprise, curiosity, and awe. He saw her concern for him as his body grew colder, and he smiled at her. His last thought was of Rey as he became one with the Force. Though his corporeal form had vanished into the Force, the spirit of Ben Solo remained strong and capable of speaking to Rey. He communicated with her almost immediately after his body disappeared, wanting her to know that they would always be together.
Solo's compassion for Rey completely filled his mind and attention, but there remained an undercurrent of remorse and guilt over the darkness that he had wrought as Kylo Ren. He had yet to forgive himself for killing his father, though he hoped that with time he might learn how to, now that he had finally accepted his parents' love and forgiveness. While vestiges of Snoke's training continued to influence him to a degree, Solo fought to overcome his dark conditioning, using even the memory of Rey to keep himself anchored in the light. In the end, he was inspired by her goodness, her kindness, and her compassion for him.
The personas of Solo and Ren were distinct to the point that Rey was surprised by how different they were as individuals. Whereas Ren was guarded, using derision and deflection to hide his conflict from her, Solo was unguarded and relaxed around Rey. Until his return to the light, she had never noticed the way he embodied the qualities of his father and mother. He had the long face and posture of Han Solo, and the warm brown eyes of Leia Organa. He also retained his father's sarcastic humor, shrugging his shoulders as if to say "surprise" after revealing the Skywalker lightsaber to the Knights of Ren.
Though he had cast off the persona of Kylo Ren, a part of Ben Solo still thought of the Knights as faithful brothers, having trained with them after renouncing the Jedi Order. He was surprised to sense their hatred for him, and realized that they had never been truly loyal to him. Nevertheless, he derived no satisfaction from their deaths, and only killed them to defend himself and help Rey. Whereas Ren reveled in his fury, enjoying the thrill of battle and destruction, Solo felt no pleasure in taking life.
By becoming Ben Solo once more, virtually everything he believed as Kylo Ren had changed. While he once held the teachings of Snoke as truth, believing that the light was weak and the dark side embodied the true power of the Force, he ultimately rejected everything he had been taught as lies and manipulation that led him astray from the Jedi path. He felt despair while cradling Rey's body in his arms, convinced that his life had been a waste because of his own actions. But in act of pure compassion and selflessness, he gave his life for Rey, not believing that it would atone for the darkness of Ren, yet satisfied to know that it was what he could do for her and the galaxy.
Powers and abilities
- "I've seen this raw strength only once before in Ben Solo. It didn't scare me enough then. It does now."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The heir to the Skywalker bloodline, Ben Solo was gifted with extraordinary strength, raw and untamed, a fact which did not go unnoticed by either Luke Skywalker or Snoke. Yet whereas Skywalker feared his nephew's power to a degree, Snoke was intrigued by the young Solo's potential to become a Jedi of limitless power. The Supreme Leader, therefore, conspired to bring that power into his service at the expense of the resurgent Jedi Order.
Even as a child, Solo was exceptionally powerful with Force. Though he considered all of the other students beneath him, knowing his potential alone eclipsed all of their powers combined, he was less sure of himself when compared to Skywalker, whose abilities he considered greater than his own. Skywalker, however, held a different view. He recognized that his nephew, though still only a boy at the time, possessed Force powers that were already immense, courtesy of Solo's lineage as a Skywalker. After surviving Skywalker's attempt on his life, Solo believed that he had killed his master, a feat which caused his confidence to grow.
After becoming Kylo Ren, Skywalker's fallen apprentice was tasked with destroying any remnants of the Jedi, including his own uncle, whose attempt to restore the Jedi Order was thwarted when Ren betrayed him and the other Jedi students. Ren wanted to be as powerful as Darth Vader, who began the elimination of the Jedi at the end of the Clone Wars, but was afraid he would not be as strong as the Sith Lord once was. Though not yet at the heights of his grandfather's or his uncle's power, Ren's raw strength still gave him powerful abilities with the Force and in combat.
The dark side that flowed through Ren made him a nearly unstoppable force, and he was exceptionally skilled in telekinetic attacks and defenses even before adopting the persona of Kylo Ren. When defending himself from Skywalker the night his master came close to murdering him, Ben Solo was able to telekinetically collapse an entire hut on Skywalker while keeping it from harming him and clashing blades with Skywalker at the same time. Solo was capable of using his mind to control both objects and other people; in the wake of the temple's burning, he used his telekinetic abilities to attack three Jedi apprentices, hurling numerous pieces of fiery debris in their direction. After he was tracked to Elphrona by the same students who confronted him at the temple, Solo telekinetically lifted both Tai and Voe, tossing them into the abandoned Jedi outpost. Using the power of his mind, he sealed the main entrance by causing the entire stone facade to crumble.
Whether as Solo or Ren, his ability to effectively use the Force was dependent on his concentration and state of mind. Though he could still use his telekinetic powers under mental duress, he nonetheless experienced greater difficulty controlling the Force when his focus was interrupted. During the duel on Elphrona, Solo managed to catch Voe in the air after pushing her over a cliff. Unlike before, however, he struggled to maintain his hold on her through the Force. Hennix's interference broke Solo's concentration completely, causing him to lose his grip on the Jedi. On the world of Starkiller Base, Ren found himself struggling to summon his grandfather's lightsaber to his hand, having sustained physical and emotional wounds in the wake of killing his own father.
Ren notably used his telekinetic skills to Force push Rey, sending the scavenger flying against a tree. He also pulled Dopheld Mitaka by the neck to his hand, as well as to hold him up with one hand while still pulling them with the Force. Ren was proficient in the use of Force Stasis, enough to use such telekinetic halts in combat, which notably allowed him to freeze the motion of a target, allowing him to immobilize and restrain people, to hold a blaster bolt midair for over a minute, and to block a lightsaber blade with the Force. He was also able to manipulate the movements of living beings, which allowed him to force Rey to point her blaster at the floor as he simultaneously froze her in place. By the time he arrived on Batuu, Ren's proficiency in telekinesis allowed him to crush a person's larynxes—an ability used by his grandfather before him—as he demonstrated on a subordinate at the Black Spire Outpost.
By the time he ascended to the rank of Supreme Leader, Ren's ability with the Force allowed him to influence the actions of others across the galaxy. While communicating with Agent Tierny and Commander Pyre via holographic communication, Ren demonstrated the range of his Force powers by telekinetically controlling his subordinates, forcing them to stand and aim their weapons at each other. When Tierny failed him again, Ren sent the agent another transmission and began choking her by way of the Force.
Ren was also powerful in using the Force to strengthen his body, becoming sufficiently durable and resilient to having survived a long ranged blast from Chewbacca's bowcaster while only briefly doubling over in pain despite the severe injury even though the weapon could instantly kill armored stormtroopers on impact. His natural ability with the Force allowed him to contain the blast and minimize the damage it caused, thereby preventing the resultant wound from being fatal. He could also cut ahead of Rey and Finn in this state, demonstrating remarkable speed. He even utilized his wound to further hone his power in the dark side by punching himself directly on the wound, hard enough to spurt out blood. Additionally, Ren was capable of exerting enough strength to crush the Emperor's wayfinder with his bare hands and was able to leap across great distances to an even greater extent than Rey and Voe.
Ren excelled in interrogation, as he could telepathically invade the minds of his prisoners and psychologically torture them into revealing withheld information. His abilities also allowed him to render opponents unconscious without harming them, as he did to Rey on Takodana, causing her to fall asleep with a wave of his hand so he could capture her without resistance. Although Snoke was capable of probing his apprentice's mind, Ren was able to deceive his master into believing that he intended to kill Rey when, in fact, his actual target was Snoke himself. Specifically, he used his master's reliance on reading his every thought, twisting it to his advantage and ultimately outmaneuvering the Supreme Leader.
- "He really was the prize student."
- ―Voe, on Ben Solo's overall ability as a Jedi
Ren, who pulled from the teachings of the light and the dark to hone his power, possessed superb skills in lightsaber combat. As Ben Solo, out of the many apprentices his uncle trained, he was the most talented and skilled with a lightsaber. The destruction of Skywalker's new generation of Jedi earned him the nickname of "Jedi Killer" amongst the First Order ranks, and his abilities with a lightsaber were what ultimately prevented the art of lightsaber combat from returning to prominence as he eliminated the remnants of the Jedi. Ren's own lightsaber reflected his skills in designing one; while its crude appearance suggested construction by an inexperienced hand, its partially exposed inner workings allowed for easy modifications and upkeep. Although Ren was capable of repairing his lightsaber, he preferred its unstable, volatile nature. In combat Ren typically utilized his lightsaber in the standard grip form, but he was also proficient in the unorthodox reverse grip.
With his proficiency in the art of lightsaber combat, Ren could fight outnumbered and prevail against multiple adversaries. Back when he was still Ben Solo, he fought off three of his fellow students on Elphrona. He fought alongside Rey against the Elite Praetorian Guard until they were separated, forcing Ren to fight four guardsmen on his own. He killed two Praetorians with his crossguard lightsaber and, using a dead guard's vibro-voulge as an improvised weapon in conjunction with his saber, demonstrated his ability in the art of Jar'Kai while defeating a third guard. Though he was outmaneuvered by the fourth and final Praetorian, Ren survived by stabbing the guardsman through the face with Rey's lightsaber. After reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo, although he was briefly outmatched by the Knights of Ren as he was outnumbered by his former subordinates, once armed with his grandfather's lightsaber, Solo swiftly bested and killed all six Knights on his own.
Ren's loss to Rey—a girl unfamiliar with the lightsaber—was an isolated case according to his master Snoke, who believed his apprentice lost because he was unbalanced by the murder of his father and also weakened due to having been badly injured earlier. Despite defeating Ren, Rey felt his strength in the dark side and knew that he was only getting stronger. Luke Skywalker even regarded his nephew Ren as a strong adversary who was far more powerful than Rey. Their fight against the Elite Praetorian Guards displayed his greater seasoned skill and versatility as he had visibly less struggle against the foes. Even after Rey's skills in lightsaber combat had greatly improved due to an entire year of training, Ren still proved to be superior to Rey ultimately, as though their first fight ended abruptly in a stalemate. In their final fight on the ruins of the Death Star, Ren was able to overpower Rey, and dominated their duel until the moment that Leia tried to reach them. Rey capitalized on his distraction to impale him, ending their confrontation.
Ren was highly accomplished in both an acrobatic and offensive form of lightsaber combat and the art of defense; even in his injured state, he deflected all but one of Finn's attacks that injured him in the shoulder, and returned with his own fierce blows that visibly overwhelmed Finn before finally disarming and severely injuring the stormtrooper. He also maintained a fierce offense on Rey before she tapped into the Force to overwhelm him and managed to parry some of her blows afterwards despite ultimately losing. On Kef Bir, Ren succeeded in parrying all of the improved Rey's lightsaber attacks, swiftly returning with punishing blows that eventually knocked her down during their last duel. He was also adept at evading close-quarter attacks while unarmed, sidestepping Rey's blade several times before activating his own lightsaber. Ren was also accomplished in hand-to-hand combat, seamlessly incorporating martial arts strikes into his lightsaber sequence.
- "He took out our main engines. One shot. If he was even the tiniest bit off, we'd be hot vapor right now."
- ―Voe, on Ben Solo's piloting skills
Ben Solo's inherent Force ability came from his mother, whereas he gained his amazing reflexes and piloting skills from his father Han Solo. He was an excellent pilot—both as Ben Solo and Kylo Ren—hailing from a bloodline of expert pilots that included not only his father, but also his grandfather Anakin Skywalker.
Following the destruction of Skywalker's temple, Solo fled from the scene in his starship, the Grimtaash. Pursued by his fellow Jedi students, Solo made an attack run on their vessel, the Verity. Knowing that Solo's father and uncle were both accomplished pilots in their own right, Tai was convinced that Voe's attempt at evasive action would fail. Indeed, they did not succeed in evading Solo. With one shot, his attack rendered the Verity's main engine inoperable. Taking note of Solo's accuracy, Voe mentioned that the slightest imprecision would have destroyed the Verity. This affirmed Tai's belief that Solo was not a murderer, as he had only disabled the Verity instead of destroying it outright.
Ren, however, exercised little restraint against his enemies, until faced with the decision on whether to fire on his mother. Utilizing his personal TIE/vn space superiority fighter, Ren led the First Order's initial attack on the Resistance fleet. He was able to evade the Raddus' defenses and destroy the vessel's starfighter hangar, owing to his own talents as a pilot. Ren was never satisfied with the speed and responsiveness of his craft and pushed the First Order engineers to outdo their best efforts. He modified his TIE whisper's astrogational systems to accept Darth Vader's wayfinder as a signal source, and the ancient device sent out binary signals that the ship's hyperdrive interpreted as jump coordinates.
Behind the scenes
Creation and development
- "I've written four Star Wars movies now, and there's never been a character quite like the one that Adam [Driver] plays. I think you're going to see something that's brand new to the saga… He's full of emotion. No matter how we express ourselves in the world, whether we hide it and act very calm or whether we're very out there and demonstrative, everybody's roiling with emotion. And you want your characters to be that way, too. Then they have to deal with their emotions as best they can, with what they are."
- ―The Force Awakens co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, on Kylo Ren
On October 30, 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, and announced that they would be making the long-awaited Star Wars sequel trilogy, beginning with Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015. In the months prior, as Lucasfilm co-chair (and eventual president) Kathleen Kennedy began the work to produce the new slate of films, it became clear to the creative team that the story could not just rely on characters from the previous films but would have to introduce new characters to carry the franchise forward.
Since George Lucas' earliest versions of the film's story, a son of Han Solo and Leia Organa struggling with the dark side of the Force was always in the mix. In some of these versions, the son's name was "Skyler" and he was corrupted to the dark side by Darth Talon, a character originally created for the Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Legacy comic book series. Talon's role was then morphed into that of the "Jedi Killer," the initial name of the character who evolved into Kylo Ren, which was used throughout the film's pre-production before the director and co-writer J.J. Abrams and his team settled on a name for the character. The character's design went through a number of iterations before the final design was approved on March 11, 2014. One design made him look similar to Darth Vader. According to concept artist Christian Alzmann, the idea behind the similarity was that Darth Vader, as a Lord of the Sith, was not a "one-off" look. Instead, "he has a specific title and a specific look that goes with that title. Even though the mask was helping him breathe, there was still a certain look to it." Concept artist Glyn Dillon, who designed the final look of the character, said that the design of the Jedi Killer was like "trying to land a helicopter on a penny. We couldn't be too Vader-ish, but we couldn't reference something else too heavily, either."
Additional design concepts showed the Jedi Killer as someone who ate matter from stars. He would be in a meditation chamber, where energies from a sun could come into the room and he would consume whatever power was within it. Another piece of art showed him with a more robotic look, holding the mask of Darth Vader; at one point, the mask of Darth Vader was a central element to the film, before becoming part of the shrine that Kylo Ren had in the final story. One rejected piece of concept art showed the Jedi Killer with a red and black mask with a circular pattern in the center. This design later inspired the appearance of the Guavian security soldiers, the cybernetically enhanced security soldiers of the Guavian Death Gang.
Other designs the crew worked on included a fortress for the Jedi Killer. Concept artist Doug Chiang took "iconic shapes that we know from Star Wars" but put "different material on them—in this case turning them into concrete instead of that slick painted metal." The crew also considered giving the Jedi Killer his own droid, such as a torture droid or something else that looked ominous. The idea of the Jedi Killer having an interrogation droid ultimately made it into the film, with Kylo Ren using interrogation droids and other torture techniques to break his prisoners.
The final design was meant to be memorable, much like Darth Vader's mask—upon which Ren's look was intentionally based. Costumer designer Michael Kaplan said that Abrams wanted the look to be memorable for kids, and that Abrams loved the final design when it was presented. In developing the character, original screenwriter Michael Arndt, whose screenwriting duties were taken over by Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan when Arndt departed the project, said the character's backstory came about because the writers needed a rationale for the heroes of the original trilogy to have separated after the events of the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Abrams wanted Episode VII, which came to be named The Force Awakens, to tap into parental fears of a child gone wrong through Kylo Ren. He also wanted the film to tell the story of someone who was still becoming a villain, saying that the only reason Ren had "any hope of being a worthy successor" to the iconic Darth Vader was because he kills Han Solo. "There's nothing I could think of that is more hideous than patricide," Abrams said, "especially when it comes to Han Solo." At Rian Johnson's request, the position of the character's facial scar was moved slightly for The Last Jedi.
Ren's parentage was initially to have been revealed earlier in The Force Awakens, when Ren speaks to Darth Vader's helmet. Ren calling Vader his grandfather would have been the reveal, and the scene was written to take place shortly after Finn and Dameron escaped from the Finalizer. Ren would have blamed himself for not having done anything about Finn's change of heart regarding the First Order, and he would have sought the counsel of his grandfather for guidance. Eventually, the film's editors, Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon, felt that the revelation came too early and it was a waste of a good moment. Instead of its original placement, they moved the scene later in the film to foreshadow Han Solo's death.
Rian Johnson, writer-director of Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, stated that he felt the most interesting option for Kylo Ren would be to take out the character's shaky foundation at the start of the film. Johsnon stated that, by the end of The Last Jedi, Ren is no longer a Darth Vader copy, and he is now his own complex villain taking control. He also felt it was good setup for the ninth film in the Skywalker saga, which was eventually titled Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker.
Kylo Ren shares some similarities with Jacen Solo, the son of Leia Organa Solo and Han Solo in the now non-canonical Star Wars Legends storyline. Jacen, the twin brother of Jaina Solo Fel, was a Jedi Knight who ultimately turned to the dark side of the Force and became the Sith Lord Darth Caedus. It was Jacen's hope to lead the Galactic Alliance in bringing order to the galaxy after the horrors of the Yuuzhan Vong War. He killed his aunt Mara Jade Skywalker, and committed atrocities across the galaxy before he was finally killed by his sister. Ren also has an incredibly similar name to that of Kybo Ren, a space pirate from the Legends animated series Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Additionally, Kylo Ren's helmet resembles the mask of Revan, a Dark Lord of the Sith who first appeared in the 2003 video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Casting and portrayal
- "When they think of their actions as morally justified, it makes them dangerous and unpredictable. There's no level they won't go to to accomplish what they're after. I never thought of the character as an evil person."
- ―Adam Driver on Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren was portrayed by Adam Driver in The Force Awakens, a role he reprised in the 2017 sequel Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi. Abrams originally saw other actors for the role, including Eddie Redmayne, who had been cast in other films by casting director Nina Gold, but all of them lost out to Driver. Driver didn't need to audition for the role, however, and instead had a meet and greet with Abrams where the director wanted to get a look at the actor. Just as Abrams had to consider whether to cast Driver, the actor had to decide whether he wanted to take the part. Abrams described Driver has having a "wonderful ferocity that was perfect for this character."
Driver does not see Ren as a villain, a stance he took in order to get into the head of the character and portray him as well as possible. Rather, Driver sees him as a religious fanatic who sees his actions as morally justified. This makes Ren more dangerous and unpredictable for the actor, as there is no level that Ren will not go to in order to accomplish his objectives. Getting into Ren's head was one part of Driver's method-acting approach. On set, Driver often stayed in character, keeping his helmet on to do so. Co-star John Boyega, who plays Finn, recalled that acting with Driver was intense because Driver wanted to forget he was in Star Wars and take the role as seriously as any other role he had ever played. The process of getting into Ren's costume provided an extra motivation for the actor; Driver said that by the time he was in the costume and ready to shoot, the "cumbersome and difficult" process left him feeling "so pissed by the time we were ready to start shooting that I felt totally ready."
In previous roles, Driver did not watch his performance because he preferred to not see himself on screen. He comes from a theater background, where actors never saw their own performances, and always hated noticing mistakes that he could not correct. He made an exception for The Force Awakens, however, and watched the film in a private screening with just his co-stars Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher, who played Rey and Leia Organa respectively. He felt comfortable sitting through the film and watching it with them because of how much time and effort he and his co-stars put into the film.
Besides his standard actor Adam Driver, he also had two voice actors in Star Wars: Battlefront II, one for while he wore the mask, and the other for when he had the mask removed. The former was voiced by Matthew Wood, who previously voiced General Grievous in various Star Wars media, while the latter was voiced by Roger Craig Smith.
For the film's soundtrack, composer John Williams wrote a theme for Kylo Ren that first appears in the track "Main Title and The Attack on the Jakku Village." It is reprised throughout the film, including in "Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle." In composing the theme, Williams approached it as an extension of Darth Vader and "The Imperial March," without it being too similar. He wanted the theme to convey Ren's great and evil power and strength, as well as the threat he posed. These elements came together to create a theme that could be instantly accessible to the audience.
- "Hi. I'm Matt. I'm a radar technician."
- ―Kylo Ren as "Matt" in Saturday Night Live's "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base" sketch
Kylo Ren was well received by critics upon the release of The Force Awakens. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called him "gorgeously cruel, spiteful, and capricious," remarking positively on his "petulant temper tantrums" that set him apart from Darth Vader. Terri Schwartz of IGN praised Driver's performance and said that it "adds great depth to a character who could have come off as one-dimensional." Comparing him favorably to Darth Vader, Melissa Leon of The Daily Beast said that Ren was a "living battleground between darkness and light," which made "him a far more resonant and familiar portrayal of that struggle than we've ever seen in Star Wars," making him an interesting villain. While Kyle Buchanan of Vulture.com said he was underwhelmed by Ren's true appearance under the mask, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said that, despite the "bald-faced attempt" to draw similarities to Darth Vader, "Driver, masked and unmasked, gives [Ren] hypnotic and haunting contours." Leon also praised the fact that beneath the intimidating mask of Kylo Ren was nothing more than "a normal, vulnerable young man" with a mind "clouded by fear, hate, and anger." Driver was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Force Awakens.
In popular culture
On January 17, 2016, Driver hosted the popular sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and filmed a sketch called "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base." Parodying the show Undercover Boss, Kylo Ren disguises himself as a radar technician named Matt and mingles with the crew of Starkiller Base—including a stormtrooper played by future Star Wars Resistance voice actor Bobby Moynihan—to learn more about what it is like to work on the base. Throughout the sketch, in which he becomes friends with a Lieutenant Colonel named Zack (Taran Killam), whose son he killed months earlier, Ren displays his fiery temper on numerous occasions, particularly when crew members criticized Ren without knowing who they were speaking to. In the end, Ren says that he feels he understands the crew of Starkiller Base better and that he is ready to show everyone a brand new Kylo Ren—as Zack's lifeless body sits in the background.
In the skit, "Matt" comments to a group of stormtroopers that a friend told him that he saw Kylo Ren in the shower and that Ren "had an eight-pack" and was "shredded." These lines proved a source of retroactive amusement when The Last Jedi featured a scene in which Ren appears to Rey shirtless and sporting a heavily muscled chest. However, director Rian Johnson stated that the scene was not merely gratuitous, but was intended to establish that through their Force-bond, Rey could actually see his body and not simply hear his voice or see just his face and eyes.
Kylo Ren was confirmed to appear at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in one of several promotional trading cards for the ride that were handed out during the December 16, 2017 "Galactic Nights" event. The card in question, called "RESISTANCE RECRUITS FACE KYLO REN'S INTERROGATION," showed a Resistance soldier being lifted telekinetically by the Knight of Ren.
- Star Wars Roll Out – "Ben Solo and the Bug Hunters – Chapter 1"
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- Jedi Training - Trials of the Temple
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Poe to the Rescue"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Attack of the Conscience"
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "Scouting for Leia/A Mission with Maz"
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "Rolling with BB-8/Resistance on the Run"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Notes and references
- Kylo Ren on Wikipedia