WARNING: Potential SPOILERS lurk below for Star Wars Ep. VII and perhaps future installments. Proceed with caution.
I'm sure by this point we're all getting tired of Star Wars theories. People have been theorizing who Rey or Snoke actually are for over a year now, and no matter how many convincing theories I read, they just don't seem interesting anymore. Don't worry, though — this theory has nothing to do with the lineage of our characters, but rather serves to clarify some of the confusing and illogical choices that a certain character made during the course of Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens.
This theory was originally created by my older brother, Alex, and I am but a dutiful scribe who has put the theory to paper: What if I told you that Kylo Ren actually won the battle in the forest and succeeded in everything he had planned to do? Some have complained about how weak Kylo Ren was portrayed, but this theory suggests it was all part of a grand plan. Let's take a look at the evidence.
Sith Lords Can Only Be Defeated By The Dark Side
In the movie canon, a Sith Lord has never been bested by a Jedi. Not a single time. Darth Maul was defeated by Obi-Wan only after killing Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Count Douku managed to beat Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda in order to escape. Then Count Douku bested Obi-Wan and only lost to Anakin because he was instructed to do so by Palpatine. Palpatine fought again three Jedi Masters, killed two of them with ease, and then arguably only lost to Mace Windu in order to fully turn Anakin to the Dark Side. Obi-Wan managed to beat a newly minted Sith Lord (Anakin) after Obi-Wan became enraged by the loss of his Padawan and the loss of Padme. Finally, Darth Sidious was only defeated by Darth Vader, another Dark Lord, in an act of betrayal.
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Therefore, it wouldn't make much sense for the incredibly powerful Kylo Ren to be defeated by Rey even after being injured (remember Rey is thrown against a tree and is presumably injured too). All of these defeats have two things in common: multiple Jedi and the Jedi that finally beat them only doing so by turning to the dark side for help. All of them were enraged by the recent endangerment/loss of a loved one. In the same way, Rey was tempted to turn to the Dark Side and her rage when Kylo gravely injured Finn and killed her only father figure.
Kylo Ren Is A Merciless Killer
There is one part of the battle between Kylo Ren, Rey, and Finn that always struck me as odd. Why didn't Ren kill Finn? We already know that Ren is a ruthless killer; he killed the old man at the beginning with no sign of emotion. He ordered the massacre of the village where Poe Dameron was hiding. He even killed his own father with relative ease. So why wouldn't he kill a traitorous ex-Stormtrooper? He wanted to enrage Rey, but not turn her completely against him. He wanted her to feel the power of the Dark Side. The easiest way to do that was to gravely wound Finn and make her feel as if she had to fight him in order to save her friend. Ren is constantly trying to tempt Rey to the Dark Side, and we all know that the endangerment of a loved one holds a lot of sway.
Kylo Ren Is The Most Powerful Sith Portrayed On Screen
One of the biggest complaints I have heard about The Force Awakens is that Rey was able to seemingly defeat Kylo Ren with ease. Yet, Kylo is portrayed as one of the most powerful Sith ever. At the very beginning of the movie we witness Kylo stop a blaster bolt in midair, something we've never seen done before, and he manages to hold it there without breaking a sweat while he allows his focus to shift to Poe.
He also showcases another Force ability we've never seen: the ability to read minds. After Poe was tortured by the First Order, who we can assume have some nasty techniques, Kylo Ren goes in and is able to break Poe in a matter of seconds. Later he even manages to read Rey's mind and, according to this theory, he forced his mind onto her to give her an impression of who he was and what he managed to become due to his willingness to connect to the dark side.
The men and women of the First Order also regard Kylo Ren with fear. We see this in multiple instances. The man that has to tell Kylo that BB-8 escaped is clearly afraid of what Kylo might do to him (and with good reason, too, as Kylo goes berserk). When Rey escapes later in the movie, Kylo Ren flies into a fit of rage and starts destroying the interrogation chair; at this point we see two Stormtroopers hurry away from his anger as they are afraid of him. Furthermore, it has been established that Kylo Ren was a leader of the Knights of Ren, a highly revered and feared order of Knights. It can be assumed that these Knights were extremely skilled in combat, and as the supposed leader, Kylo must have been the most skilled of them all. All of this information comes together to prove that Kylo Ren has power beyond what we can even comprehend, yet he still loses to an untrained Force sensitive girl? That seems highly unlikely.
Rey Is Highly Susceptible To The Dark Side
In order for Kylo Ren's plan to succeed one key factor had to come into play: Rey had to be willing to turn to the dark side. She has everything in place to see the appeal of the dark side. She started out her life in fear. Fear leads to anger, anger to hate, hate to suffering. This is the path of the dark side. What we know about Rey is she is angry about her family abandoning her, she has learned to live on her own and isolated from most people, and ultimately she lives in suffering. She longs for somebody to love. She longs for somebody to make her life worth it. She finally finds that in Finn and Han Solo, people who seem to genuinely care about her. And that is what makes Kylo Ren's plan so genius. He kills Rey's only father figure right in front of her and then wounds a man she has come to love (though, so far it doesn't seem to be a romantic type of love). The loss of a loved one, the fact she doesn't know her family, and her willingness to turn to rage and anger to fight Kylo Ren are clear signs she has felt the pull of the dark side.
While being interrogated, Kylo Ren talks to Rey about it, trying to woo her with his words. She feels it on a few occasions, the power of the dark side; she feels it when she read Kylo's mind and she feels it when she was battling Kylo Ren in the forest. Her fighting style is very similar to that of Chancellor Palpatine (better known as Evil Emperor): she stabs and slashes with angry ferocity, and I believe she would have killed Kylo Ren had she not been forced apart by the destruction of the planet.
Kylo Ren Wants To Sway Rey To The Dark Side
So what exactly was Kylo Ren's master plan if not to beat her? Simple: He wants Rey to join him. To do so, he lets her win. He lets her feel the immense power of the dark side. He shows her what she could do if she only let herself give in to her emotions, if she allows herself to gravitate toward the way of the Sith.
He also knows that she had been abandoned, much like he felt he had been abandoned by his parents; he shows her you don't need a family to find your way. In essence, he realizes that Rey is susceptible to the pull of dark side and makes her unknowingly play along with his plan. At any moment, Kylo Ren could have given up the ruse and killed Rey or Finn, yet he doesn't. This theory makes all of the confusing and illogical parts of The Force Awakens make sense. Sith Lords are known for their manipulative ways, for their secretive scheming, and their sprawling master plans. Perhaps all along, everything Kylo Ren did was just an effort to sway Rey to the dark side. Until Episode VIII comes out we won't know if he succeed. But after feeling the power of the dark side, will Rey really listen to Luke and not give into her feelings?