Rey and Han Solo have mostly been credited with the redemption of Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but it turns out, it was initially Chewbacca that gave the first spark of redemption for Ben. You wouldn’t know that by watching the film, but the novelization explains the details of that.
In Rae Carlson‘s novelization for the movie, not long after the Knights of Ren captured Chewbacca on the planet Pasana, Kylo probed his mind in an effort to discover where Rey and the rest of the Resistance were hiding out. While he was probing through Chewie’s mind, he found some old fond memories that offer some insight into the relationship they had when Ben was younger:
“He saw flashes of the Wookiee laughing with a much younger Han Solo than he himself remembers. Felt Chewbacca’s joy when his best friend married the woman he’d come to love like a sister. Saw the Wookiee cuddling a human toddler, teaching an older boy to fly a speeder, target practice with a young man, their blasters set on stun against a haphazard dummy made of rocks.”
The book goes on to explain that as Kylo continues to probe Chewbacca’s mind, he sees that Chewbacca’s quarters are filled with photos and memories of the young Ben Solo rather than his fellow Wookies. It’s at this point that Kylo realizes uncle Chewie doesn’t hate him for killing Han. It’s here that Kylo feels hope again and understands what it would mean to return home.
What a wonderful moment this would have made in the film! It’s a shame that this wasn’t explored. It drives me crazy that all of this cool detailed information that should have been in the film was pushed aside. The trilogy as a whole completely failed to touch on the relationship between Ben and Chewbacca. A lot of fans felt that was a missed great storytelling and character development opportunity.