Ben solo defends himself from his master and leaves with a handful of other Jedi students. They slayed those who would not join them. Luke claims Snoke had turned Ben’s heart, but we don’t know from what to what. Kylo tells Rey he didn’t hate his father and claims he killed him because he is a monster.
Recently I alluded to a frightened child calling upon the image of a great evil to give them the strength to face obstacles they feel inadequate to handle on their own. Han and Snoke both tell Kylo Ren to take of his mask. In The Force Awakens, Han tells his son he can let go of the visage of Darth Vader. He tells Ben that he doesn’t need to rely on it or to ally himself with the dark side of the Force. He offers him a chance To return to his old life. Kylo chooses to reject the offer and affirm that Ben Solo is dead, that Kylo Ren killed him. In The Last Jedi, Snoke tells Kylo Ren to remove his mask and face him and his failures head on. Ren listens, more than Snoke had intended. To hide his identity and invoke the spirit of his grandfather to change his destiny, Ben solo not only changed his name, but wore the mask of Kylo Ren to help him resist the call of the light. The apparatus he wore was a secondary mask, the first was Snoke himself. Somehow Snoke warped and twisted Ben’s perception and then arrogantly clued him into that during their confrontation with Rey.
Because Lucasfilm decided to start the sequel trilogy when they did, as far as the timeline of the Star Wars universe is concerned, we are at a loss for so much background. In light of that, it seems fairly clear to me that Ben Solo struggles with his identity. I don’t know if it’s possible that Snoke was manipulating him and influencing him for so long that he doesn’t know who he really is. However, that is an interesting idea I would like to see explored after seeing The Last Jedi. If Ben is in fact suffering from an identity crisis and he needs to find who he is, that makes him even scarier to me. He spoke of letting the past die and killing it, I think Snoke disparaging his Vader-like mask and admonishing him to remove it because of his failure shook him from complacency. Ben was content to play Vader and subordinate himself to a Sidious, as his grandfather had, until Snoke forced him to really look at himself.
Talking with Rey helped him to think about and process where he came from, where he was and where he was going. In Snoke’s throne room, Kylo faced a choice: execute Rey and affirm his allegiance to his master, or stand with her and reject Snoke and the First Order. I wonder what thoughts lead Kylo to his surprising decision. Why run back to those who rejected and betrayed him? Why be faithful to an unsupportive superior who treated you as a tool? Why not kill the past, wipe the slate clean and serve your own ends alone as you have never done before? Ultimately, he boldly chose a third way. Kylo’s choice to pursue his own path is one of the most satisfying and interesting elements of The Last Jedi.
In a perverse way, I am proud of Kylo Ben (that wasn’t a typo) for stepping out of his grandfather’s shadow and choosing to be on his own. He is becoming his own person and a stronger person for it, setting aside the fascist dictator aspects. He has faced his inadequacies, admitted to the crutches he used and is committed to standing on his own, and perhaps even finding out who he really is and what he really wants out of life. I look forward to seeing who Kylo Ben really is in Star Wars Episode IX.