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The Kylo Ren Moment In Rise Of Skywalker That Mirrors The Empire Strikes Back

Contains spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker

It's one of the most famous moments in Star Wars history: Han Solo (Harrison Ford) being lowered into the chamber to be frozen in carbonite before being returned to Jabba the Hutt for a bounty, and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) desperately calling out to tell him she loves him. How does Han respond? No touching return of affection for this scruffy Nerf-herder, oh no. Instead, in his typical cocky, devil-may-care fashion, Han responds with, "I know."

Decades after that moment in The Empire Strikes Back, Han hadn't lost his confidence — but this time, he's speaking from beyond the grave in The Rise of Skywalker. Han's own son, Adam Driver's Ben Solo (better known by his villain moniker Kylo Ren), murdered him in cold blood in The Force Awakens — a killing that completed the former Jedi apprentice's path to the dark side as he watched his father fall into the abyss. But unbeknownst to the millions of Star Wars fans at the time, Harrison Ford and J.J. Abrams had one last trick up their sleeves: Ford agreed to make a very short final appearance in The Rise of Skywalker, showing up to finally put his son back on the right path in a scene that reflects the iconic one from The Empire Strikes Back.

Saved by his parents

In The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren engages in a battle with Rey (Daisy Ridley) atop the remnants of the Death Star. Just when Kylo's about to strike Rey down, his mother, Leia, uses the last bit of her Force strength to reach out to her wayward son. The connection stops Kylo in his tracks, allowing Rey to get the upper hand and mortally wound him. Instead of allowing him to die, however, Rey she uses her Force healing abilities to stitch Kylo's wound back together, then escapes on his ship while he processes the fact that she has just saved his life. While Kylo has a crisis of confidence, unsure whether to continue on his dark side path or return to the light, he hears a familiar voice behind him: that of his father.

With Han having died years earlier at the hands of the young villain, and having not been a Jedi who would have been able to learn how to come back as a Force ghost, the figure that stands before Kylo is simply a figment of his memory come back to speak with him. Kylo uses the moment change what he would do to his father in their final meeting, echoing the exact words he used before killing him in The Force Awakens: "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it." 

But this time, he uses the words as a prelude to finally shedding the skin of Kylo Ren and tossing his Sith saber into the raging waters around the fallen Death Star.

Han Solo's famous "I know" line

Before he can let his dad go, however, Kylo has to tell him something. Except, he can't quite get the words out. "Dad," he says, leaving the rest unspoken. 

Whether the words he wanted to say were "I'm sorry" or "I love you" will likely be up for debate for years to come given their true final encounter — but it matters not that Kylo couldn't actually say them, because Han finished the sentiment for his son. Echoing his words to Leia decades earlier as he was about to be frozen in carbonite, Han looks at his son one last time and, without hesitating in the vulnerable moment to let his son struggle to say the words, responds once again with "I know," before caressing Kylo's cheek and disappearing for good.

The exchange is all Kylo needs to revert fully back to Ben Solo, knowing his turn to the dark side has cost not only his father his life, but also now his mother hers as well. Han Solo, full of his usual confidence, is finally able to set his son on the path to redemption he tried to turn him towards in his final moments alive. It's a moment Han Solo's fans from the last four decades will appreciate as just so fundamentally him.