Whether you loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens or thought it was just a retread of George Lucas’ original (come to think of it, we fall into both camps on that one), it’s hard to argue that the death of Han Solo at the hands of his son Ben, aka Kylo Ren, wasn’t a big, impactful moment.
While the scene leaves no question that Kylo kills his father—he stabs him through the chest with his lightsaber and lets him fall into an abyss—there has been much debate about the would-be Sith Lord’s frame of mind when he makes the decision to kill his father. Some have theorized that Ben always planned to kill his father, while others have even suggested that killing Han Solo was the only way Kylo could commit fully to the Dark Side and is all part of his plan to take down his master Supreme Leader Snoke and the Dark Side in turn.
Now, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has shared his own thoughts on why Kylo Ren committed patricide and it’s an explanation that touches on the character’s complicated relationship with his father and the Dark Side. Speaking on a new commentary track included on the upcoming special collector’s edition 3D Blu-ray release of the film on November 15 [via USA Today], Abrams took a moment to speak about the villain’s state of mind when he decides to kill his father:
“People have asked me if I think Kylo Ren was just playing with him the whole time, if he meant to kill him from the beginning. And the truth is, I think Kylo Ren in this moment is actually being convinced to walk away from this. Snoke is, as Han says, using him, and I think that somewhere Ben knows this. But I think that he can’t accept it. Deep down he has gone too far.”
This explanation is certainly in keeping with other sources that have revealed more about Kylo Ren since the release of the film. There are notes in the Force Awakens screenplay that state that Ben is “weakened and “horrified” by his actions and is only able to overcome the shock after being shot by Chewbacca. Additionally, the canon novel Bloodline, which takes place six years before the events of Episode VII, hints that Ben’s turn to the Dark Side was relatively recent and that for most of his life, he was on the same “side” as his mother, father, and uncle and Jedi master Luke Skywalker.
It’s still unclear what prompted Ben’s turn to the Dark Side, but this likely something that will be examined further in Episode VIII, which hits theaters next December and sees Rian Johnson replacing Abrams in the director’s chair.