“Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force,” says Lor San Tekka at the beginning of The Force Awakens. But is the force imbalanced? According to George Lucas’ commentary in the special edition of A New Hope (2000/VHS), Anakin‘s offspring fulfilled the prophecy ridding the universe of the Sith and evil. So, that settles the matter. The force is balanced — except that it isn’t. Something went wrong and the balance was lost. Now, we are left to wonder if Kylo Ren and Rey are the keys to restoring it.
An Unseated Question
In The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker admits that the balance remained for a time after his father’s death. But Luke and Snoke destroyed that balance. Snoke through his seduction of Ben Solo to the Dark Side, and Luke through his failed attempt to train his nephew. Luke created Kylo Ren in a single moment when he considered murdering his Padawan in his sleep to prevent the grievous harm he would cause the galaxy.
The light side retreated while the dark side grew. Goodbye, balance.
Exploring the Gray Area
The novelization of The Force Awakens opens with a verse from the Journal of the Whills that implies that “the resolving of gray” will balance the Force. Initially, this verse appeared to be a Gray Jedi reference. This concept hasn’t been explored in the films, though it has been included in the Clone Wars animated series. Grays are neither Sith nor Jedi. They explore both the dark and the light side because they follow the will of the Force itself. They exist to ensure its balance, by any means.
In The Last Jedi, we find out the reason Luke thinks the Jedi need to die is that he blames himself and his Jedi hubris for failing Ben Solo and allowing him to turn to the dark side. Frustrated, Luke threatens to burn his precious historical Jedi books, but Force ghost Yoda calls his bluff and makes him realize that the Jedi are still important to him.
The Whills prophecy says that the balance in the Force will only be resolved “through refined Jedi sight.” Before The Last Jedi’s release, this was a no-brainer: Luke Skywalker is the last Jedi, so logically he is the subject of the Whills prophecy. Then Luke had to tell Kylo Ren that he wasn’t the last Jedi and effectively passing the torch to Rey before becoming a Force ghost.
Will Kylo Ren and Rey Restore the Balance?
At first glance, it seems plausible that Kylo and Rey will restore the balance together. After all, we’ve been given two powerful Force users, one on the light side and one on the dark side. Think of them as the yin and yang of Force. Throughout The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, we see a deep connection between the two. Not only can they sense one another’s presence, they can communicate with and even touch one another across the vastness of space. Let’s call it Force Skyping. The two even fight side by side. Their united front gave fans a glimpse of what two powerful but opposite Force users could accomplish without destroying one another.
If only matters were that simple.
Kylo breaks their truce with a Vader-esque offer to rule the universe together, and that’s just a step too far for Rey. He really believed she’d turn to the dark side and Rey was just as sure Kylo would return to the light. But Snoke was a silent party on this metaphysical three-way call, feeding them what he needed them to believe. Their bond snaps in two and as the film ends, Rey literally closes the Millennium Falcon’s door on their Force Skype — and all hope of Kylo’s redemption.
It’s Up to Rey
Now, it all rests on Rey, the last Jedi. Luke and Snoke are gone. Kylo is hell-bent on becoming the next Vader. Like the Chosen One, Rey must bring balance to the Force. Luke was very clear on the subject to Leia: any chance of saving Ben Solo now is gone. Rey’s only chance to restore the balance is to get rid of the evil in her galaxy.
Kylo Ren must die.