Why Kylo Ren’s repaired mask makes sense – and why it’s not a retcon of The Last Jedi

As Obi-Wan Kenobi taught us, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on a certain point of view.

And so, naturally, those who didn’t like The Last Jedi and hope that J.J. Abrams will retcon it found ‘evidences’ in the teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker to support their claims.  Except the problem is that nothing in the trailer even suggested a retcon of TLJ.  But if anything did, it was probably the fact that Kylo Ren’s mask gets repaired.

In the teaser, we see some strange furry hands repairing the mask that Kylo Ren wore for much of The Force Awakens and at the beginning of The Last Jedi.  This time, the repaired mask is held together by a red material.  So the assumption of some is that, since Kylo destroyed the helmet in TLJ and gets it back in TROS, it must be a retcon.  But that’s a far cry from what the reality is, and I think Kylo’s repaired mask actually makes a lot of sense story-wise and is a reasonable next step from TLJ.

In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren is wearing his mask when we first see him – as he’s going to meet with Supreme Leader Snoke.  But when he appears before his master, Snoke mocks him for the mask repeatedly.  First is when Kylo begins to talk but is a bit harder to understand, and Snoke angrily tells him to “take that ridiculous thing off.”  So it’s clear right away, from the first lines that Kylo speaks in the film, that Snoke dislikes the mask and is harsh with his apprentice.  Second is when Snoke chides Kylo for not being a new Vader but for just being a child in a mask.  Kylo leaves and is furious.  What this scene is intended to reveal to audiences is that Snoke is a domineering, harsh, unsympathetic, and cruel mentor.  But given what little we know about The Rise of Skywalker, it’s possible that this scene might take on an additional meaning as well.  Because this scene also goes to show us that Snoke really doesn’t like the mask.  He openly mocks Kylo for it multiple times in this one encounter.

It’s important to note what happens right after this scene: Kylo destroys the mask.  So him destroying the mask is directly tied in to Snoke’s dislike for the mask.  This is very important – because, as we know, Snoke is no longer around in the post-TLJ world.  Kylo Ren obviously likes the mask, and he wants to be the new Vader and even looks somewhat like him with his mask.  But Snoke didn’t like it, which is what led to Kylo destroying it.  With Snoke gone, however, it makes sense that Kylo might return to the mask.

That’s the main reason, and I think it fits perfectly.  Kylo is still trying to establish his own legacy but wants to be the new Vader, and now with Snoke gone, he’s free to go back to the mask (I also suspect that Snoke’s death may be the explanation for the Knights of Ren showing up in this film, too).  But I think a secondary reason is also this: the unmasked Kylo Ren was thoroughly embarrassed by Luke Skywalker on Crait, so it might make sense that he’d want to retreat into the mask (although there would have to be a reason for the time jump for this to really hold true).

So anyway, Kylo Ren returning to the mask isn’t at all a retcon of The Last Jedi.  In fact, it fits perfectly with the story that Rian Johnson was telling in the first place.  My main concern with Kylo’s mask isn’t that it might retcon TLJ but that it will cover up Adam Driver, but since we saw Kylo unmasked in the trailer, I think it’s safe to say that Abrams and company will let Driver shine in this film too.

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