Kylo Ren has a secret. He feels the pull to his light side counterpart, Ben Solo. We know it, he knows it, his mother knows it, his grandfather knows it, Snoke knows it, and his father might know it best. Too bad he couldn't live to tell the tale. Kylo Ren is a very strong force-user and demonstrates so holding an energy blast in mid air and force extracting information from his captives, new force capabilities we haven't seen before. But for Kylo to be a double agent of the dark side, his former self had to have been so in tune, and so capable with the force, that he took it upon himself, along with the guidance of his grandfather, Anakin, to infiltrate the dark side and finish what he started- which was after all, a tremor in the force.
Now we don't know yet why Ben would take it upon himself to do this, especially having come from a Solo and Skywalker lineage and being part of (probably top student) Luke's Jedi Academy. Not a bad place to be in, right? And surely, Ben was aware of the history and times before him. Ben would have to have been so weak, so insane, or outright evil for him to give in to Snoke and the dark side. For the sake of this theory, we can agree Kylo Ren is not outright evil. Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren has even gone as far to say that not only does his character believe that his actions are morally justified, but that he himself has never seen his character as evil.
Was Ben weak enough to fall under Snoke's control? We hear Kylo say that Ben was weak and foolish like his father so he destroyed him, and thus became Kylo, the new baddie and Master of the Knights of Ren. Because being on the dark side is more fun and has cooler titles? Yeah. No. But we also hear Han say that his son is still alive, and while we can take his word for it, we know Kylo's pull to the light is strong. He can't ignore it. And while a few other characters know this, the essence of Ben would have to be alive deep down for Kylo to continue his mission as a double agent anyhow. No matter how dark he becomes, there will always be a part of him saying "What am I doing?" Much like Anakin/Lord Vader. The Emperor never doubted Vader but deep down his light was alive, Anakin was alive, and a rather sudden act born out of the love for his son pulled him back. And once Kylo is completely cloaked in darkness, it is his fathers love that will pull him back in the end. That is not weakness, that is the power of will.
It's important to understand that if Kylo is in secret, a double agent, he knows he will succeed in his mission, but is more concerned how he is going to do it. This uncertainty makes him afraid, afraid of possible failure after everything he's worked for. This fear, is a natural bodily response. And we know that fear is the path to the dark side: it leads to anger, hate, and suffering. He displays these emotions most evidently throughout the story. And while it may appear to him as a disadvantage, it is inversely pulling his dark side, bringing him closer in his mission. He is still going through the phases. Once he realizes that it's okay in not knowing how, but to trust that his choices will get him there, will he have already phased into darkness and have the certainty he's desired. This will help conceal what's left of his inner light to become a reliable apprentice and then seemingly outwit his wise Supreme Leader. He will not let Supreme Leader doubt him.
Kylo believes he will feel secure in his mission if he becomes as strong, or stronger than Vader. Because Vader did what Kylo is aiming to achieve. Only Kylo is aware of how he will bring balance to the force, Vader did not until his final moments. That is there difference, though they share a similar fate. This is why Kylo develops an obsession with his grandfathers and why he confesses to his remains. He is constantly seeking the power of the darkness, the power Vader possessed, that which he desperately needs, to feel more okay with what he's doing and that he's fully capable in doing it. He would like to not doubt himself, but he's not fully there yet. Rey clearly states Kylo's feelings towards this matter in their interrogation scene together. "Your'e afraid... that you will never be as strong as Darth Vader...." Very powerful words from Rey and very powerful emotions from Kylo.
This could also explain why Kylo wears a mask. We know he doesn't need it, unlike Vader. But Kylo wants to completely hide from the truth that is his family. And though he cannot deny it, he sure can cover it up, from himself and others, especially if he feels stronger towards the dark side underneath, and he needs that in his mission. He would also be emulating Vader, which would only bring their spiritual connection closer to each other. Now we only saw Kylo unmasked several times in the film. But in those we see him weakened, having a difficult time in taking what he wants: the map from Rey, his fathers life, the Skywalker lightsaber, Rey's diplomacy. "You know I can take whatever I want?" I believe there's a part of him that can, but more so with the mask on. He's clearly more confident and badass throughout the film while he's wearing it. And after losing it from the destruction of Starkiller Base, and his face scar from Rey, we will no doubt be seeing him wear one a lot more. That will make him a force to reckon with.
Also, Kylo's character is clearly unfinished in the Force Awakens, and therefor lacking the complete confidence and control he would need to finish with- only 1/3 of his way there. It explains why he unleashes in a fiery rage when things don't go as planned. Plus, in killing off some of his strongest connections to the light, like his uncle, or father, he would believe that this act would consume him in darkness and bring him closer in his mission. Though it may, later we learned from the novel that his act in killing Han actually makes him weaker. And after he gets his ass kicked by Rey. Mask off. Bowcasted. Ouch. So his development as a confident and collected double agent still has some ways to go, but he will be getting closer to Snoke!
Or perhaps Kylo Ren is just insane? A monster? While joining the dark side, killing his own father, on top of his conflicting emotions and his ways of dealing with them point in that direction, that would make for a one-dimensional villain and that's not who Kylo Ren is. He is unpredictable, reckless, rather multi-dimensional, qualities that make for a (bad driver) terrifying-yet interesting villain. Also, we know that Kylo is heavily driven throughout the story to locate his uncle, Luke Skywalker. Either for reasons unknown, or to wipe out his former master, the last Jedi, and claim the darkness and his full apprenticeship under Snoke. Only to become Darth Ren, and live his destiny on the dark side? Would someone insane even be capable in achieving this? I think it's safe to cross insanity off the list, and go with determined and complex. He must have had deeper motivations behind going over to the dark side.
Besides, one does not simply join the dark side with the blind faith that he/she will infiltrate and destroy it. That is where one will fail. For this theory to hold ground, Ben must have somehow known that he would be capable of doing so, as would anyone else attempting this. How could he have known? This is brings me to my own theory of why he became a double agent of the dark side.
I believe, as a youngling, before going to Luke's Jedi Academy, Ben Solo was experiencing a plague of dreams. A series of visions that would haunt him in sleep, much like Anakin's towards the death of his mother and wife, those which made him suffer greatly and take extreme measures in preventing. Though for Ben, while sharing the same tragedy as Anakin, these were extreme measures to encourage upon. Ben saw the outcome if he had dismissed them, and he never lets it go.
Now remember, Anakin's dreams all came true. The force was not deceiving, and would not be towards Ben. This was no delusion. This was also not the deceiving from a dark side figure, such as Supreme Leader. This was the force communicating with him, to finish what started with Anakin. They are the chosen ones. Agents of the force. Necessary evils for the greater good- the balance of dark side and the light. This is Kylo's secret, one he kept from the likes if his mother and father and one he shares with Vader. What he will go through is his own misfortune, and makes the story of this character very heart-breaking. We will feel for him, like how we felt for Anakin. It is important to visualize that Ben is the other mass across from Anakin that would level the force again, for a time. As pictured below on a metaphorical scale.
Angry and alone, with the dark path laid in front of him, he sees the light in the end. He embraces this. He chases the light with the darkness. He chooses to act as the nightmare in his own dreams, so others may dream. Even if there is suffering and demise along the way, including his own. And so he swore it upon himself, along with the guidance of his grandfather, to see his vision through. I'll say he foresaw: Luke's Jedi Academy massacre, the death of his father, a mysterious girl, the fall of the leader of the dark side- and took his first steps over. And with knowing what will eventually take place, and what will follow, he has to make sure that he does his part, weather he likes it or not.
Co-writer Lawrence Kasdan reflected, saying that Kylo Ren is simply dealing with the emotions that he feels to the best of his ability with what is available to him. This could explain why Kylo is such a conflicted character and why his actions are morally justified from his choices. He is so driven by his emotions, his dreams, that he will let nothing stand in his way. Not anything.
Kylo's secret emotions takes me back to when he singled out Finn in the village on Jakku. Lets remember that the Stormtroopers were trained from birth to do one thing, obey the first order, weather they like it or not. And Finn, who was then identified as FN-2187, was having a conflicting experience in following through with an order. This turmoil seemed to have been caused after the traumatic loss of his fellow Stormtrooper and friend. This is probably when he realizes that he has nothing left to fight for, until he meets Rey of course.
In the following moments, Finn will not do what is instructed, but attempts to blend in with the rest. This is an inner battle between the dark and the light, an experience that Kylo can empathize towards and explains why he quickly sensed it; because he is constantly with this feeling and must keep it hidden. Much like Finn in this given scene. While both can be seen as a traitor, they are each the hero in their own story. Though Kylo fights for something much deeper than a change of heart. And in thinking that nothing will evolve from Finn's feeling, he later regrets letting his senses go after he becomes the first-turned Stormtrooper and the events affected from his influence.
Further, the secret emotions of Kylo Ren seems to coincide with his relationship with General Hux. While Kylo's main focus lies on locating Skywalker, Hux is rather fixed on destroying the Republic and the Resistance; and having the First Order reign throughout the galaxy. This dispute is hinted to us when Kylo takes a brief look at Hux when he's asking Supreme Leader to use the Starkiller weapon. And later when Hux fleetingly stares back at Kylo after he's granted permission to do so; an opportunity he's been waiting for and an order he knows will object to Kylo's agreements. Is this why he is not on the base when it fires? Does Kylo not wish to be a part of the end of the Republic? Does he wish to protect the Senate and his mother? It is more evident during Hux's speech upon firing the weapon that he wishes them the end and appears, at his core, evil. And while they remain allies, they clearly share a different point of view.
Now, back to dreams, I believe Ben experienced them long ago based on story elements from the Force Awakens film and novel. One of the more disturbing visions Ben would've had was the death of his father on Starkiller bridge, a scene where the essence of Ben Solo is deeply portrayed.
The fact that Han and Ben's last moments together takes place on a bridge is highly significant. Why does Kylo walk there in the first place? Was he crossing to the other side? (We sure don't see one!) Or perhaps just searching for Rey? I believe he subtly recognizes this place from his dream, and follows it. Han steps in, we finally hear Kylo's true name. "I've been waiting for this day for a long time." Ben knew that their paths would cross and end here long ago. Han sees Ben for the first time as a grown man. But Ben has seen this before. It's now or never. And now that time has come, Ben is being torn apart, he wants free of this pain. He has always loved his father, but he cannot escape his dream. It's his burden to live with. He doesn't want to see it through, but he must. "Will you help me?" Ben can't do this alone. "Yes, anything." A father that would die for his son. Sound familiar?
It is clear to me that more is happening than what we are aware of. And it is this entire scene from the film that's going right over our heads, something to reflect on in the next installment.
After the heartfelt exchange between Han and Ben, he offers his lightsaber to him, and before grasping it, I believe he force speaks to the mind of this father telling him to do so. How else would he get that idea? While synchronously, a star dies, which represents symbolism for a great light going out deep in the darkness of Kylo's heart. It is in this moment that Ben finally comes to terms with what he's about to do. But upon grasping it, I believe Han receives a vision, much like when Rey receives a vision upon touching Luke's lightsaber. There is a deep silence. Han is shown the past: the early moments upon his sons turn, his dreams, his inner battle between the dark and the light, his reasoning- the son he never knew. And the future: the fall of the Supreme Leader, the rise of the Jedi, a balance in the force, and his own role amidst it all. A vision of truth, a vision of the force.
Han has now seen the truth. It gives him closure. It's tragic, but he's shown the light at the end of the tunnel. In his final moments, he is not struck down from hate, or anger, but from hope. This is not a path to the dark side. Han reaches out and lovingly touches his sons face for the first and last time in decades, all the while Ben is again using a power of the force unaware to the audience. Ben force reads the mind of his father thinking of his love for him, or "I love you..." We don't hear it or see it but we feel it. And it is this moment that will ultimately "bridge" Kylo's connection from the dark to the light, and allow Ben to finish his mission. And from Kylo's force abilities used earlier in the story, I believe he's more than capable of doing such a thing.
It is important to note that Kylo is more torn from this act, shocked, and somehow weakened by it. Not what he expected to feel. But it's too late to go back, too much has happened. It was his next step, and it's time for him to move forward.
While it remains unclear, could Han have ignited the light saber into himself, with Kylo taking the final push? "Thank you." I couldn't have done this without you? It would make more sense for Han to do this if he actually saw a vision from grasping the light saber. And from that made a noble and loving sacrifice for his son and the future of the galaxy. Maybe, though unlikely that he was the one to ignite it. Han simply may have let it happen.
Subsequently, Kylo intercepts Rey and Finns escape in the snowy forest. He is not afraid to kill Finn, he now stands in his way. And he needs to bring Rey back to Snoke. He knocks out Rey and disarms Finn of the Skywalker lightsaber after a fight, and attempts to force call his "birthright" into his hand. Failing to do so, the lightsaber spins through the air landing in the hands of a mysterious girl, Rey. He stands in disbelief. "It is you." Kylo has seen this before, the gaps are filling in. He's ready to do whatever he must. But he fails, severely, and its awesome to watch.
Could this be why Kylo was so interested that a girl lead the escape off Jakku with Finn and BB-8? "What girl?" Has Kylo anticipated some girl since his turn? Are they meant to join up for a greater purpose? "You... A scavenger?" Kylo would not want to believe his vision showed him a nobody. Is this why he explores Rey's thoughts and emotions? "So lonely. So afraid to leave. At night, desperate to sleep. You imagine an ocean. I see it, I see the island." This is a power of the force not yet seen before, to visualize ones inner memories. And while this is clearly not what he's after, I'd say he's very curious who this girl is, the girl he's heard so much about and who he's possibly been waiting for. "I know you've seen the map. It's in there, and now you'll give it to me".
He disregards her as the girl from his dream, but is in such dismay after Rey demonstrates a force-sensitive ability in the interrogation room. And later, after further demonstration by Rey in the snowy forest, Kylo's words, "It is you", seems to confirm that she is the girl he's been waiting for, who he dreamt force calling that lightsaber long ago. Though that line was left out of the film, according to a bit from the novel, and how this is a theory, I would say it's quite possible.
And while Snoke wants Rey either for reasons unknown, or to locate Skywalker himself from the map she's seen, Kylo offered his own teachings to her. "You need a teacher, I can show you the ways of the force." Though rejected, why would he say anything that went against Snoke's order? Could that indicate that he is not fully dedicated to Snoke? That he has a secret agenda?
It should be noted that after there fight and separation from the trench, Snoke channels his voice using the force telling Rey to kill Kylo. While this indicates a temptation to the dark side within her, this also hints to us that perhaps Snoke is actually just using Kylo for his power. Han knew this, Kylo denied this, but I believe he knows it too. "No. The Supreme Leader is wise." Could Snoke have been watching over them at Starkiller bridge? He certainly knew what was happening with Rey and Kylo in the snowy forest. Kylo may have been aware of Snoke's presence on the bridge and chose not abandon his cover, and instead shows his father the truth from his lightsaber, a power of the force that is not yet explained. This brings me to say that not only is Kylo an agent of the force, but a shadow of the force, an illusion of darkness. And Rey, still growing strong with the light, lets him live, and they will meet another time.
It will be interesting to see how these stories and characters will develop into episode VIII and beyond, especially Kylo Ren, who's tragedy seems to greatly mirror the shadow of Anakin Skywalker. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Is Kylo a double agent? If so, how will his vision see through? Is Supreme Leader actually Darth Plagueis? What's the deal with lineage ties and visions to one's light saber? What has become of Luke Skywalker? Who is Rey?! And how does her role play into the bigger picture that Kylo possibly envisioned long ago? Will Han Solo return in Kylo's dreams? We only have 1/3 of the story, and all we're left with is questions, and more questions- they will be answered. There's a while now before Star Wars Episode VIII: Vision of the Force? And we're all very nervous and excited where Rian Johnson will lead this galaxy, but in the mean time, I will hope for something dreamy.
PS: If you're reading this, please note I am not a die hard Star Wars fan like many of you, I love the stories, but my Star Wars knowledge of the films, including the Force Awakens is not right on the money. So there may or may not be some inaccuracy in this from the films/novel. This is a theory. It is my own take on it. I had fun with it. I hope you enjoyed it and please share your thoughts and theories on the matter. May the force be with you.