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Han Solo may not have a physical presence in Star Wars: The Last Jedi , but his “figurative ghost” informs Rey’s dynamic with Kylo Ren in the film. Breaking from Star Wars tradition, Episode VIII takes place just moments after its predecessor, meaning the events of The Force Awakens are still fresh in everyone’s minds. Few scenes in that film were as emotional as the death of Han Solo at the hands of his son, the former Ben Solo. It was unquestioningly a pivotal sequence that laid the foundation for the remainder of the sequel trilogy, setting up the arcs for both the main heroine and the villain.
As a loner living on the wasteland of Jakku, Rey yearned for the day when her family would return. That’s why she formed an instant bond with Solo shortly after meeting the smuggler. Seeing how much she appreciated the Millennium Falcon , Han took Rey under his wing and even offered her a job as part of his crew. He was the father Rey never had, which is why his death hit her so hard. And because of what happened, her hatred for Kylo has become much more personal.
Speaking with EW as part of their cover story on The Last Jedi, Daisy Ridley discussed how Kylo’s actions factor into Rey’s continuing evolution as she tries to make sense of how her life has changed:
“She just doesn’t understand Kylo. When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It’s so beyond comprehension, it’s ridiculous. So she has grief for the loss and then there’s anger. To be honest, she couldn’t understand doing something like that – let alone to your parents.”
It’s easy to see why Rey feels this way. She grew up hearing stories about the Galactic Civil War, some of which involved Han’s exploits as he helped save the galaxy from the Empire. Getting the opportunity to meet him and go on an adventure by his side was the ultimate thrill. Ridley has already gone on record to say Rey’s relationship with Luke isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy , which will only add to the despair the young scavenger feels over Han’s loss. These comments also make Rey’s expected confrontation with Kylo Ren all the more interesting, hinting at another high-stakes character-driven lightsaber duel that Star Wars does so well. And with Rey possibly not learning the virtues of the Jedi (never use the Force for attack, etc.), anything is possible.
For many, Kylo Ren was the most fascinating part of The Force Awakens ; an antagonist feeling the “pull of the light” before choosing to embrace the darkness out of some misplaced belief. Following his humiliating defeat at Starkiller base, the villain will be on a mission to prove himself to Supreme Leader Snoke, probably diving even deeper into his unhealthy obsession with the dark side and the turmoil that will cause. Like all the best sequels, The Last Jedi looks to be building upon what came before in exciting ways to push its characters, meaning fans should be in for quite the treat when December rolls around.