Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie yet but plan to, then stop reading.
If you’re still with me, then you’ve already seen it, or don’t care one whit about this galaxy far, far away and will stop reading anyway.
If you’re a fan like me, then I think we can all agree The Force Awakens is a spectacular movie in every sense of the word. It delivers on all of our (admittedly high) expectations concerning storyline, action, special effects, and most importantly, perhaps, heart. For me, the beloved characters from the original trilogy were the big draw, and the fresh-faced new characters didn’t disappoint me. Despite a few familiar tropes (droid with important information wandering around on a desert planet; the need to destroy a gigantic planet-killing orb), I loved every minute of it.
Well, almost every minute.
It’s fair to say Han Solo’s death scene was the most painful of my movie-going life. Not only am I shocked, devastated and heartbroken, I’m slightly outraged that this iconic character was done away with in such a way. Not just killed, but murdered by his own dark side-loving son.
Now, I understand that this scene is supposed to evoke a strong emotional response, and it has. But not the kind, I think, the writers were striving for. I understand the symbolism involved: Han was literally and figuratively stabbed in the heart. That his own son could deceive and kill him in such a manner is heartbreaking.
The problem is, I couldn’t connect these two characters as father and son in any meaningful way. We’d just found out about their kinship a half hour before; there’s no history there, no bond that we know about to be severed in such a violent way. To me, Kylo Ren is simply a bad guy cutting down a much-loved character, a character who deserves to go out, if he is to die, in a blaze of glory. Instead, he’s thrown over the railing like so much meat.
And that’s just not right.
I know that scripts, especially in film, are like any other kind of writing: they need to be tight; there can’t be a single unnecessary scene or line. There’s just no time to get into the background of these characters. I get that. But I still feel that they got short shrift here. I can’t help but feel that if Han Solo were allowed to appear in one more movie, we might have found out more of their history, and so give his tragic death more meaning and relevance. But it’s not to be.
We’ll inevitably learn more about Kylo Ren (“Ben”) in the next two films, and hopefully more of his childhood and relationship with his parents. I’m sure we’ll be expected to root for his eventual redemption and return to the light. But at this point, I’m not sure I can forgive him for this, no matter how young and misguided he is.
As Yoda might say: Very upset I am.