In my December blog for Coffee With Kenobi, I talked about the often overlooked connections between my two favorite Star Wars characters, Darth Vader and Han Solo. With December’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the family connections that were revealed, it may be possible that Vader and Solo mirror each other more than any other two characters in the Star Wars saga. And it seems that with the path Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is taking, their connection will continue in episodes VIII and IX. The balance between the Dark Side and the Light Side are clearly balanced in these two orphans’ stories.
The obvious connection between Han Solo and Darth Vader is the family relationship. Han is Kylo Ren’s father, while Vader is Kylo’s grandfather and Han’s father-in-law. (Yes, according to The Force Awakens novelization, Han and Leia are married.) In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader is searching for his son, Luke Skywalker, and in The Force Awakens Han is searching for his estranged son, Ben. In The Force Awakens novelization we also learn that Snoke had been watching Ben for many years before he seduced him to the Dark Side. Just like Yoda had been watching Vader’s son, Luke, for many years before he trained him as a Jedi. But that is where their stories diverge and mirror each other.
When Vader learned that he had a son, he promised Emperor Palpatine that he would turn Luke to the Dark Side or kill him. Vader was overconfident (which can be a weakness for a Sith) that he could turn Luke and didn’t realize that his son’s love for him would overcome the temptation of the Dark Side and allow both of them to live, if only for a short time for Vader. Luke resisted the Dark Side. But before Han left for Starkiller Base, Leia told him if he sees their son to bring him home, but Han was not confident he could help Kylo find the light in himself, and Han couldn’t bring himself to promise Leia that he would or could bring their son home. And when Kylo and Han finally met on the walkway (just like Vader and Luke in the second Death Star) even his love for his son isn’t enough to overcome the Dark Side of the Force that Kylo Ren has embraced.
“Come with me,” is Luke’s plea to his father on Endor in Return on the Jedi, but Vader is not easily swayed. Neither is Kylo when Han tells his son to come home with him. At both times it seems like Vader and Kylo take pause to consider turning from the Dark Side, but neither can. Their dark masters have too much control over them. But in Luke’s case he is able to deny Palpatine’s overt order to kill his father and join the Dark Side. In that scene Luke delivers one of my favorite lines in the saga: “Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You have failed, your highness.” Han’s son is not able to do the same. Snoke never orders Kylo to kill his father, but Snoke subtly expresses his lack of confidence that Kylo can do what must be done to extinguish the light in him. And as Snoke’s hologram fades out he leaves Kylo with, “We shall see. We shall see,” which likely motivated Kylo to prove himself to his master.
After Darth Vader throws Emperor Palpatine down the second Death Star’s shaft Luke pulls him away from the shaft and holds his redeemed father in a moment for which they both have likely waited a long time. As Luke struggles to pull Vader onto the Imperial shuttle Vader asks Luke to help him remove his mask so he can for once see his son with his own eyes. After Vader sees his son clearly for the first time he is ready to die at ease. He sacrificed his own life to save his son. Basically Vader was saved by dying.
Contrast Vader’s final meeting with his son and Han’s final encounter with his, an encounter Kylo says he’s waited for a long time. As Han approaches Kylo he tells his son to take off his mask so he can see the face of his son, and Kylo seems apprehensive to do it, maybe afraid that his father may strengthen the light in him. As Kylo and Han each hold Kylo’s Lightsaber there is inward contention and struggle, unlike when Luke looks into Vader’s eyes. Kylo then ignites his lightsaber, kills his father, and pushes him into the Starkiller Base shaft. As he does this, Kylo seems to solidify his connection to the Dark Side. He has put himself into a perpetual purgatory by living after he killed his father. Vader’s son didn’t kill him when giving the chance. Han’s son did.
Have I missed any other connections between Han Solo and Darth Vader? Let me know on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to hear. Thanks so much for reading my blog! I really do appreciate it. And remember:
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