In a film as dense but also short on explanations as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, fans have had to turn to tie-in material for additional information on various elements of the storyline of the Skywalker Saga’s finale. The recently-published novelization by author Rae Carson is a hugely helpful resource in this way, as it helps clear up many of the mysteries of the movie – mostly involving Palpatine, his resurrection and his son.
Yet another thing it reveals, or at least implies, though, is how much Kylo Ren knows about his grandfather Darth Vader. When Ren travels to Mustafar near the beginning of the tale, in order to retrieve the Sith wayfinder that will lead him to Sidious on Exegol, the narration explains his grudging respect for the planet, with the First Order villain noting that he could see why Vader decided to make it his HQ.
Here’s the relevant passage:
“Kylo Ren showed mercy to nothing and no one, but he had a grudging appreciation for things that struggled to survive. Even though the nearest lava flow was many klicks away, it seemed as though the air ought to be too hot, too chemical, for life to truly thrive here. As they’d landed, Hux had proclaimed the planet a ‘desolate hellscape,’ and Kylo hadn’t bothered to correct him. The truth was, Mustafar was teeming with life – all connected through the Force. Like those hapless cultists he’d just killed, who’d been obsessed with protecting Vader’s legacy. Or this forest of twisted irontrees they endeavored to cultivate. Or even the extremophile organisms that swarmed the lava flows. All fragile but determined, mutilated but indomitable.
It was no wonder his grandfather has chosen this place for a home.”
Of course, as any fan knows, Vader’s connection to Mustafar is far more personal than just an appreciation of the environment. The dark world is where Anakin Skywalker truly became Darth Vader, as it’s where he killed his beloved wife Padme in a fit of anger, where he battled his best friend and master Obi-Wan and where he was rebuilt as a cyborg after his fateful fall into the lava.
This window into Kylo’s thoughts heavily suggests that he isn’t all that familiar with his idol’s origins story. Fans have long suspected that the truth about Vader’s downfall (and likely his redemption) was kept from him, either by his parents because the story’s too grisly or by Snoke/Palpatine to keep him loyal to the dark side, and this passage tells us that Kylo didn’t really understand his granddad at all. If he did, maybe he would have made different choices.
In addition to the novelization, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out now on Digital HD and arrives on Blu-Ray/DVD from tomorrow (March 31st).