Note: an updated post about Kylo Ren’s Myers-Briggs type can be found on my Star Wars Personalities blog
If you were reading this blog two years ago, you know Kylo Ren is the new Star Wars character I found most intriguing. While most other fans were debating who Rey’s parent’s could be and what we might learn about Snoke’s origins, I was in the smaller group analyzing Kylo’s character arc and reading every in-canon novel looking for glimpses of his backstory.
Honestly, the thing I was most excited for going into The Last Jedi was seeing whether or not I’d still type him as an ENFJ after learning more about his character. My siblings seemed to think that was weird, but what can I say — I love a good Idealist-type villain and writing/thinking about personality types is what I do. Can you blame me?
And so this is my second post about Kylo Ren on this blog. If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet now’s the time to stop reading because
Seriously, if you don’t want to learn about major plot points and character arcs in The Last Jedi then get yourself to a theater before you read this blog post.
Where Are The Knights of Ren?
This might be my biggest question coming out of the film. We caught a brief glimpse of the Knights of Ren in The Force Awakens and learned that Kylo is “master of the knights of Ren,” but that’s about it. People weren’t even sure whether the Knights of Ren were an order Kylo joined or one that he founded (I was on the “founded” side of the argument, suggesting “Knights of Ren” should be taken as “Knights who follow/belong to Ren”).
In The Last Jedi, Luke reveals that he was training 12 students when Kylo destroyed his new Jedi academy. A “handful” of the students joined Kylo and he slaughtered the others. It’s not too much of a leap to say that those students became the Knights of Ren, which would support my favorite theory for their origin, but where are they now? They’re not mentioned by name in this new film and it seems that if Kylo had a half-dozen force wielders sworn to follow him he should have been using them to hunt down the last of the resistance as well as Rey and Luke.
I really can’t talk about Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi without talking about what happened between him and Rey. When they started communicating across the galaxy with each other I was really expecting a sibling reveal. It just so neatly parallels Luke and Leah’s Force-assisted communication. But then we find out Snoke was behind the connection and Rey’s parents are “nobodies.” I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t more of a reason for her connection with Anakin’s/Luke’s lightsaber, but I’m okay with this direction for her character’s story. She doesn’t have to be a Skywalker to be strong in the Force — the thousands of Jedi who existed prior to there even being a Force-sensitive Skywalker proves that.
Anyway, back to Rey and Kylo. It really wasn’t clear there for most of the film whether he would turn to the Light or she would turn to the Dark. I loved that edge-of-your-seat emotional drama. The moment where they touched hands (you know that one I’m talking about) gave me all the feels and watching them fight Snoke’s guard together might have jumped into my top-3 favorite lightsaber battles (I’ll have to watch it again, probably very soon, to be sure).
I Still Think He’s An ENFJ
I’m beyond happy that my post from two years ago speculating about Kylo’s origins and personality type is still relevant after what we learn in The Last Jedi. I don’t think they contradicted any of my guesses, and when we learn that Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy after waking to see his mentor holding a lightsaber over him … well, that just supports my theory that Kylo was desperate for a mentor figure who would actually be there for the “real” him instead of one that was so terrified of his potential to be like Vader that he thought about killing him.
Also, I still think Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is an ENFJ personality type, albeit a very unhealthy version. He’s still showing a strongly idealist (NF) streak and his pitch to Rey when asking her to join him is right out of the NFJ villain textbook. It’s the same kind of argument you see in INFJ Ra’s Al Ghul use: the world is broken, so we need to wipe it clean and rebuild something that actually works.
I had a few people argue on my last post that Kylo is an introvert, but I’m still going to go with Extrovert. I feel like he’s leading with his Extroverted Feeling rather than Introverted Intuition, and when we see him go into “stress mode” it looks more like the ENFJ’s inferior Thinking than the INFJ’s inferior Sensing. I’m sure General Hux would say Kylo is excessively critical, displays convoluted logic, and has obsessive behaviors when in the “the grip” of his 3-year-old mental process. In contrast, a stressed INFJ is usually characterized by obsessive focus on external data (Kylo ignores such data), overindulgence in sensory pleasure (not something we see from Kylo), and adversarial attitude to the outer world (his rage is more focused on specific people than the idea that the world is out to get him).
An Emotion-Driven Villain
I love that as a villain, Kylo’s driving motivation is far more about connection (or lack thereof) than power (which is another reason to type him as a Feeling-dominant ENFJ). His major choices in this film all have to do with who he is and isn’t connecting with. We learn that in the past he lashed-out at Luke and all his students when he believes his mentor was about to kill him, and we see a similar thing happen when he kills his current mentor Snoke. Snoke has been telling Ren the whole movie that he’s pathetic and easily controlled, so when Snoke demands Kylo kill the one person he’s formed a new bond with (Rey), Kylo kills Snoke instead.
It’s a very Sith-like move to kill your mentor and take an apprentice, but that’s not exactly what Ren is trying to do. He’s been building an emotional connection with Rey and his pitch to her is less rule-the-galaxy-and-bring-order (like ENTJ Vader) than it is bury-what-hurt-us-and-build-something-new. And that’s on top of his assurance that she means something to him personally after they learn that she comes from nowhere and is a “nobody” (Update: director Rian Johnson has confirmed that Kylo, at least, believes he’s telling the truth). Even if the rest of the universe doesn’t care about them they could share a connection that would reshape the entire galaxy. It’s about relationship, not just power. And when Rey leaves him too, Kylo lashes out with such violence that even Hux thinks it’s excessive. When the red-headed Nazi thinks you’ve gone too far it might be time to reign yourself in.
It’s going to be really interesting to see where this goes next. Much as I would love to see him truly follow in the steps of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker by turning back to the Light, I’m not really expecting a redemption arc for Kylo at this point. It’s probably more a toss-up whether Rey or Hux manage to kill him first (maybe Rey will best him in a duel, then Hux will shoot him as she’s struggling to decide whether or not to spare Kylo).
9 thoughts on “Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains”
INFP here. I thought maybe Kylo was trying to gaslight her when he called her a nobody then said “but I want you”. I thought there may be a chance she was not a nobody. Especially if their visions were being influenced by Snoke. Maybe it was just hard for me to let go of the notion they are brother and sister. Why was the dark side so strong in her at first?
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Hum, maybe. Gaslighting is something he’d probably do and since his vision came from Snoke that does make it suspect. But she’s the one who said “they were nobody” first (if I remember the conversation correctly), so that made me think Kylo was right about her knowing the truth and having blocked it. Personally, I find it easier to believe she’s not connected with the Solo/Skywalker family than to think Han and Leia abandoned their daughter on Jakku (though I’ll admit there was a part of me that wanted them to be siblings or cousins, too).
My guess for why the dark side was so strong in her is that it’s simply connected to her being strong with the Force in general. I assumed her power is sort of “neutral” at first and she has the potential for equal affinity for the Dark or Light. Kind of like Anakin (not that I’m saying she’s the new “Chosen One,” just using his potential to bring balance as an example).
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Uh-oh. I discovered a fellow Sabbatarian is also a rabid Star Wars fan. I actually loved TLJ, having seen every Star Wars movie’s first showing since ESB in 1980 (I actually saw the first Star Wars on July 4th 1977). I think TLJ is a movie I could literally write several sermons about. I would love to have church leadership watch the movie and then have a panel discussion afterwards.
I think one of the best things about the Rey story arc is that she IS a nobody. We have been conditioned via the prequels that Force Users happen via bloodline. This is why so many fans have pulled their hair out over the idea that Rey is not related to Leia, Luke or Obi-wan and that The Force chose a nobody from a backwards wilderness to be an answer to rising darkness because Skywalker refused to do what he was supposed to do in the Star Wars version of Matthew 28:19-20 and even shut himself off from The Force.
If The Force can be used as a metaphor or allegory of the Holy Spirit, the Jedi as a metaphor/allegory of the church – TLJ is ripe with teaching moments about whom God works with when men have other ideas, and the arrogance of those who believe they are the only gatekeepers and teachers of the way The Force works and with whom. That Rey is a NOBODY and the Force is available to anyone is such a perfect teaching tool to how God sends His Spirit to call those whom He will. It’s not up to the Jedi/Church to decide whom God will work with and exactly how He works with them for His purpose. As Luke tells Rey in the cave, the Jedi’s arrogance blinded them to having someone rise up in their midst to wipe them out from the inside. Where have we seen that played out in recent church history?
Anyway – love what I am reading from your blog! I could not help but think about the limits put on women in teaching/preaching roles when you have aptly demonstrated such a brilliant capability of doing that when I was digesting several of your essays on the Armor of God.
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I’m so excited to meet another Sabbatarian and Star Wars fan! That’s exciting 😀
I like that Rey’s a nobody, too. Some fan’s insistence that Force sensitivity is a bloodline thing puzzles me. There were once thousands of Jedi and they were mostly born to parents who weren’t strong with the Force. It shouldn’t be surprising that Force-sensitive children would keep being born.
There are so many parallels we can find between Star Wars and faith. I love that it has become a modern mythology for our culture and that we can draw on it to teach.
Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog! One of several reasons I initially started it was because I felt God wanted me to share my Bible studies in some way and this was really the only avenue open to me. The limits put on women teaching have frustrated me quite a bit, and also confused me since I’ve wondered why God would give me a teaching gift He didn’t want me using in the church. Now I have this blog and last year He opened doors for me to give two seminars at church events, so it’s been really encouraging to know that there are ways for female teachers to share.
I love Kylo Ren’s messy emotional-ness. It’s so unheard of (at least in my limited movie world, and especially for a guy) and really interesting. I really hope he gets redeemeed! Agh!
Also, I like how he and Hux play very nicely off each other in the movies. Not sure if you have written anything on Hux, but that would be interesting!
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I really want to see Kylo redeemed, too! So much of Star Wars is about redemption and learning from your failures that I think it would feel especially tragic to end the saga with him refusing to turn back to the light.
I haven’t written anything on Hux yet. I want to, since I do find him an intriguing character, but at this point I think I’m going to wait until we see the last movie and find out how they wrap up his character arc.
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Oh boy . . . can’t wait!
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I’ve been thinking about Kylo Ren and his personality and motivations for a long time and I’m delighted to read that you share a lot of the thoughts I’ve had about him. He’s quite a misunderstood character. The only thing I’m wondering about after reading this article is your stance on Rey and Kylo’s relationship. I can see why he might try to befriend her and make her his ally, but I don’t see their dynamic as romantic or sexual (unlike many people). If Kylo were to enter into a romantic relationship with somebody, I’d think it would be someone who appreciates and admires him just the way he is; he seems to have a deep longing for acceptance. Rey, however, only reached out to him after she found out he was wronged by Luke, and she believed she could change him and bring him back to the very thing he ran away from. She also began calling him Ben, the name his parents gave him, instead of Kylo, the name he gave himself. I personally think a romantic relationship between them would be quite unhealthy. What are your thoughts?
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I think Rey and Kylo have a deep connection and that we will see that develop, though not necessarily in a romantic way. Since writing this post, I have started shipping them more and I would love to see a redemption arc for Kylo/Ben that includes a future for him and Rey (If you’re interested, I’ve written more about this on my Star Wars blog: https://starwarspersonalities.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/redemption-and-hands-in-star-wars-or-can-we-still-save-ben-solo/)
I really appreciate you’re comment. I hadn’t thought about Rey and Kylo’s relationship in that light before. However, Kylo is in such dark, unhealthy place right now that I don’t think a relationship with someone who simply accepts him just the way he is would necessarily be a good thing for him.
I think that if Kylo is going to have a healthy relationship with anyone, then he needs to come back to the light. I actually really admire Rey for looking past the monstrous image Kylo projects and believing that Ben Solo is still in there somewhere and that there’s hope for him. but I also like that she refused to continue a relationship with him while he’s still clinging to cruelty, violence, and anger. Right now, it wouldn’t be healthy for either of them to be in a relationship together.