Let's kick things off with the mandatory spoiler warning for those who don't realise that an article about Star WarsEpisode 8 is likely to go heavy on them.
And just in case you need to see the word itself splashed across Rey's face to really get it, here is a lovely graphic featuring exactly that.
For weeks in the lead up to The Force Awakens (and ever since), Rey's parentage had been the subject of wild speculation. Was she a Skywalker or a Solo - or perhaps a Kenobi? (That's a debate to dive into another time.) The film itself left the question hanging in the air whilst throwing a complete, and quite thrilling curveball with the reveal of Kylo Ren's birth name.
Ben Solo, the son of Han and General Leia Organa, had turned to the Dark Side. We learned that he had eschewed Luke Skywalker's Jedi tutorage and defected to Snoke, the Supreme Leader of the First Order.
The details are hazy, but we see a constant tug of war within Ben which differentiates him from his idol, Darth Vader. Unlike Vader, Kylo has made the choice to switch to the Dark Side, but feels the constant calling of the Light. The duality inside of him makes him a Star Wars villain unlike any other.
That same duality is what will make Ben Solo central to a redemption arc in Episode 8 unlike anything in Star Wars canon.
Of course, that's just one of two options available to Kylo Ren. It could be that an act of such villainy as the murder of his father becomes the catalyst that rids Kylo of any good left in him. But that would create a scenario in which Han died for nothing, and that's bleak even for Star Wars.
Instead, I believe we will see the first true redemption arc play out across Episodes 8 and 9 - but with a twist. (No, Vader did not redeem himself in those final moments.)
My stance takes the theory that Rey is a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi rather than a Skywalker. I also believe she's had some kind of Jedi training, for no particular reason beyond the fact that her Force "awakening" happens insanely quickly in The Force Awakens, and the likelihood that she could overpower Kylo without it is slim. Why her memory has been erased is something I can't answer.
Killing Han was effectively a test, a way to prove to Snoke that Kylo Ren is truly committed to the First Order. In the novelisation, Snoke observes that his protege is torn...
It is far more than that. It is where you are from. What you are made of. The dark side—and the light.
If both sides of the Force live in Ben's DNA, he truly is in a position to "finish what you started" - to bring true balance to the Force. So whilst he may never be a hero (having killed Han, it's already too late for that), he is not truly beyond redemption either.
He's an embodiment of the contradiction of the Force, the temptations and the inner struggle that comes with such power - an acknowledgment that there is no such thing as absolute good or pure evil.
What's really interesting is that we see signs of these same struggles in Rey when she and Kylo do battle in the forest. It's evident in her body language when she wounds him and he lays injured in the snow, prior to the land shifting. And it seems Kylo Ren senses it too, which factors into both his intense desire to recruit her, and the care he takes not to kill her.
They're fighting for different causes, but Kylo Ren and Rey are two sides of the same coin, which makes it almost inevitable that at some point in the future - even if not until Episode IX - they will find themselves fighting as allies.
To bring true balance to the Force, these two need each other.
Star Wars Episode 8 hits theaters May 26, 2017.