Study Guide

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Good vs. Evil

Good vs. Evil

LOR SAN TEKKA: This will begin to make things right. I've traveled too far, and seen too much, to ignore the despair in the galaxy. Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force.

Star Wars is big on balance, even when it pushes both halves of the big Force divide against each other. So before the film gets down to talking about the temptations of evil and the difficulty of being good, it reminds us what's at stake…and why.

KYLO REN: Look how old you've become.

LOR SAN TEKKA: Something far worse has happened to you.

Ground zero for the good vs. evil battle in this movie is Kylo Ren, the former Ben Solo who clearly decided that quick and easy was the route for him. In that sense, he's just like his Uncle Luke, who was also tempted by the dark side.

The difference is that we first met Luke when he was pretty much a light side dude, and Kylo Ren clearly drank the dark side Kool-Aid—a big gulp of it—before we got on the scene.

UNKAR PLUTT: Follow the girl and get that droid.

Here's the thing about Star Wars: there really isn't any such thing as a neutral party. You either get redeemed (like Han and Lando Calrissian) or you put yourself firmly on Team Bad Guy (like Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett). Unkar Plutt seems to be on nobody's side, but he certainly doesn't mean our heroes any good at all here.

GENERAL HUX: The weapon. It is ready. I believe the time has come to use it. We shall destroy the government that supports the Resistance, the Republic. Without their friends to protect them, the Resistance will be vulnerable, and we will stop them before they reach Skywalker.

This is an interesting way of pointing out how evil uses bureaucracy to disguise the consequences of its actions. Hux is talking about instantly wiping out an entire planet with billions of people on it. Billions.

Yet, it's all about larger ends, ultimate goals, and destroying a "government" (not countless sentient lives). That's the job of characters like Hux in the Star Wars saga: to represent the kind of evil that doesn't wear a black cape.

KYLO REN: By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced.

SNOKE: We shall see. We shall see.

Back to Ren here, and the fact that he doesn't seem to have the courage of his convictions. The light side tugs at him the way the dark side tugged at Luke, making his the flip side of the struggle we saw in Episodes IV-VI.

KYLO REN: I feel it again. The pull to the light. Supreme Leader senses it. Show me again the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way.

We have to wonder: who is he talking to here? Ostensibly, it's to Darth Vader's charred skull (pause to let skin stop crawling), and the presumption is that Vader's spirit speaks to him the way Obi-Wan's spirit spoke to Luke.

But Vader was redeemed at the end of Jedi, and even shows up as a happy light side spirit next to Obi-Wan and Yoda. So whom, exactly, is Ren communing with, and why is that person/ghost/creepy old dude speaking through Vader?

MAZ: The only fight: against the dark side. Through the ages, I've seen evil take many forms. The Sith. The Empire. Today, it is the First Order. Their shadow is spreading across the galaxy. We must face them. Fight them. All of us.

Leave it to the wizened old lady running the bar to cut to the chase and let us know exactly what this fight is about.

It makes an interesting counterpoint to the emphasis elsewhere in the saga that the Force is all about balance. The First Order intends to throw that balance off and let the dark side rule supreme…but balance also means that the light side needs to accept the existence of darkness in order to keep the Force in the creamy middle where it's supposed to be.

MAZ: That lightsaber was Luke's. And his father's before him. And now, it calls to you!

It's important to note here, again, that Luke's father in this case wasn't strictly Darth Vader (who had a red lightsaber like all Sith Lords do). It was Anakin's, and while it may be touched by some evil deeds (like the slaughter of a school full of children), it's not a weapon of the dark side. The Force has a pretty good idea what it intends to do with this kid.

REY: You...you're afraid...that you will never be as strong as...Darth Vader!

Fear leads to the dark side…even fearing that your grandpa could kick your butt in the Wearing a Black Mask and Killing People department. Rey really cuts through him to the core: that his evil isn't motivated by anger or a need to be strong, but fear…which is where it always comes from.

SNOKE: If what you say about this girl is true, bring her to me.

Woah. We've heard this little nugget before: the Emperor leveled it against Luke Skywalker, intending to turn him to the dark side. We suspect things might be a little different with Rey, but sooner or later, she's going to be tempted by the dark side. It's kind of the way these movies go.

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