redemption [ ri-demp-shuh n ]
an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.
Theology. deliverance from sin; salvation.
atonement for guilt.
SPOILERS FOR THE RISE OF SKYWALKER BELOW!
I’ve seen a lot of fans talking about Kylo Ren’s redemption. I’ve seen bloggers on prolific sites confirming this. But I don’t agree. If you look at the dictionary meaning for redemption, it is an atonement of guilt. I don’t recall seeing a scene in The Rise of Skywalker that shows or implies that Kylo Ren is atoning for his past sins – his father’s murder, the murder of thousands of innocent people throughout the galaxy and the list goes on. That’s because Kylo Ren didn’t atone, and just because he reverted to Ben Solo does not confirm his redemption. Adam Driver has also confirmed in various interviews, the most recent with EW, that he doesn’t feel Kylo Ren needed to be redeemed. This would have me believe that Adam Driver was not playing the character of Kylo Ren as someone who needs redemption or needs forgiveness for the things he did.
What I did see was Kylo Ren become Ben Solo. The one scene I do consider the closest thing to a redemption arc is the scene between Kylo Ren and his father, Han Solo. This was the highlight of the film for me. It was a scene with very few words but was the most significant turning point in Kylo Ren’s character development, where he made the conscious and willing decision to turn his back on the dark side and his dark side persona, Kylo Ren. When Ben Solo turns towards the tumultuous sea behind him, he throws his lightsaber into the ocean. This is the closest we ever see Kylo Ren get to his redemption, but it’s still not an admission of guilt for past transgressions. And Ben’s interaction with Han Solo was a memory, not an interaction with a “force ghost” as many have said.
I do, however, firmly believe that had Ben Solo lived, there would have been time for him to atone or to at least ask for forgiveness from the people he hurt the most. With Leia’s death, we know that she still loved him as she was reaching out through the force to him in the final duel with Rey. But again, this is not a confirmation of redemption. As Leia dies, Ben’s final opportunity for true redemption dies with her.