Star Wars has always had fascinating planets with beautiful – if not deadly – scenery and ambiance, but nothing in the Original Trilogy prepared me for seeing the beauty of Naboo for the first time back in 1999. The land was lush, with bright green grass and architecture that spoke of grandeur and elegance, even to a nine-year-old. It seemed fitting to me and my youthful sensibilities, that that’s where Padme Amidala came from, a beautiful, elegant planet for a beautiful, elegant woman. And when we were lucky enough to return to that shimmering world in Attack of the Clones, I was not only thrilled, but immediately entranced and mesmerized by the sheer tranquility of the Lake Country where Padme and Anakin took refuge after her deadly assassination attempts.
To me, Naboo symbolizes the very best the galaxy has to offer. I’s an Eden amongst the almost hellish desert and frostbitten worlds we more-often find our heroes in — and no disrespect to the Ewoks, but it’s a little more upscale as forest worlds tend to go. From what we see of its landscapes, cities, and hideaways, Naboo has a near perfect blend of nature and man, with man-made structures that enhance natural beauty, not attempt to overpower or overshadow them. And after reading Queen’s Shadow and even Leia: Princess of Alderaan, I feel like I understand its people and cultures better, their desire to be of service and to create art, celebrate life, and sustain peace.
With its rounded edges, shimmering waterfalls, quiet strength, and above all tranquil peace, Naboo is what is missing from the sequel trilogy. We began TFA with our core cast on the desert planet of Jakku, a callback to Luke and Tattooine from the originals, but Luke was always the middle of the story – the real beginning was on Naboo itself in Episode I. Over the course of the first two trilogies, we’ve gone from Naboo to Tattooine, in essence from Eden to Hell/ Paradise to the Underworld, and now in the last trilogy we’re back again in the desert, and there’s only one place I can think of that the saga can truly end, coming full circle, and that’s back where the story began: Naboo – paradise.
The story of Star Wars is timeless and cyclical, it mirrors and repeats itself in a thousand intricate ways, and what it’s ultimately shown us is the fall of the hero. Both Anakin and Luke start off strong in their heroic journeys, but overtime they stumble and fall, each going into their own isolated versions of the Hell/the Underworld: a volcanic, firepit of a world, and a lonely isolated island with no one to admire and love either of them for their heroic deeds. And neither truly escape those self-imposed Hells, Anakin dies in space, and Luke dies still on his spit of land in the middle of a raging sea. Both achieve redemption and glimpse the bright peace of the Force, either in the love shining in his son’s eyes, or the majestic double sunset that cries of home, but the audience and the redeemed characters are never taken back to the ultimate peaceful calm of Naboo. I think that is purposeful.
What better way to end the saga of the Skywalkers than where it all began – and with another Skywalker male in dire need of redemption, forgiveness, and love. To most, Kylo Ren’s redemption is the one that is most uncertain, but that’s why it is the most needed. Anakin committed many heinous deeds and actions, but because we met him as a child and saw the conditions he lived in and the suffering he faced, we are much quicker to forgive him. And Luke is so universally revered as an untouchable hero that most miss his failings all together, so his redemption is admittedly glossed over because the majority of the SW audience can’t see past the young hero we were given 40 years ago.
But Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo is another matter altogether. Kylo is someone we met when he was already an adult, we have no cute or endearing memories to put beside all the bad things he’s done. And he’s committed arguably the most heinous crime of all: he took Han Solo away from us. Let’s be honest, the majority of non-Kylo fans hate him, not because he killed his own father, but because he took something from the audience themselves, he took someone from us that we’ve had for almost a lifetime. He took our Han away. And that is unforgivable.
So, of our three troubled Skywalker men, no one needs more forgiveness from not only their own world, but from the audience and our world, than Kylo Ren. He needs something truly epic to shift the tide of favor but once it’s been done, he needs what no other redeemed hero has been given yet: the peace and healing that is found on Naboo. The story needs to complete itself, it needs to end with the fairytale quality that it’s always showcased so well, and loop back around to end at the beginning. Because that’s the beauty of Star Wars, whether you start at the beginning or dive in at the middle, you are always led back to the brightest hope for a happy ending, so that no matter how many times you tell the story, you are left with hope and a glimpse at what might be happily ever after.