I got to learn more about the Knights of Ren from Kylo Ren’s origin story comic book. Even though they did not get a prominent appearance in the movies, we did get more insight into this group of dark side practitioners in the comics.
Compared to the Sith, the Knights were weaker in the dark side, described to be clumsy, untrained, and using the dark side like a hammer. Their ideology was also more flexible and liberal than that of the Sith. The Knights of Ren believe in a lifestyle where they can do whatever they want, taking what the galaxy gave them, and consuming what the dark side sent them. Apparently, the Knights tend to find things to burn during their free time. They refer to the dark side as the “Shadow” and you need to be Force-sensitive and able to tap into the dark side to be a member. Like the Sith, joining the Knights of Ren requires sacrificing someone who is close to you. While the rest of the Knights wield primitive weapons, their leader is the only member of the group who wields a red lightsaber, which the Knights call the “Ren” and see it as a symbol of power and leadership. The Master of the Knights of Ren is the strongest of the group and traditionally holds the title “Ren” in their name.
Based on all these facts, the Knights of Ren are interesting and unique, but there is nothing special about what makes them. Unlike the Jedi or Sith, the Knights of Ren don’t have any kind of formal training in either combat or the Force. They are essentially untrained thugs with a natural affinity with the dark side. Due to this, it is very likely, and possibly inevitable, that a similar group of dark side practitioners will rise to replace them in the aftermath of Rise of Skywalker. Either that, or the Knights of Ren left behind some kind of scripture or record that will inspire others to follow in their footsteps and become the next version of the Knights of Ren. If the Knights of Ren continued to be active, I believe their mastery of the Force would grow the more they call on it, which would have eventually turned them into an even greater threat.
I had another idea for a potential story idea for after Rise of Skywalker. As Rey rebuilds the Jedi Order, the possibility exists that she will face the same situation that Luke Skywalker did with Ben Solo. One or more of her apprentices may turn to the dark side and attempt to cause chaos in the galaxy. Will she cope with it the same way Luke did or would she do it another way? Would her fledgling Jedi Order survive such an event or would Rey have to start all over again? Would these fallen students become Sith, Dark Jedi, or some other form of dark side practitioner? These questions are intriguing and will provide challenges for Rey’s new Jedi Order and the galaxy at large.
In Rise of Skywalker, we finally know who and what Supreme Leader Snoke is. He is an artificial life form created by Palpatine to serve as the puppet ruler of the First Order. We saw multiple clones of Snoke floating in vats on Exegol. I rather like these revelations about Snoke because they provide something to the dark side we didn’t see in Canon yet. In Legends, the ancient Sith made frequent use of what is called Sith alchemy, which is the practice of using the dark side to create and distort life. The very first Sith known as the Exiles invented Sith alchemy and used it to create all kinds of unholy abominations that helped them forge the original Sith Empire. In Legends, Palpatine was also a practitioner of Sith alchemy so it would make sense that he would be in the new Canon. Let us not forget that Palpatine’s own Master, Darth Plagueis, could use the Force to create and prolong life. It is possible that Palpatine not only used his old Master’s tricks to cheat death but also create a being that was strong in the Force. Palpatine would make Snoke as strong as he needed to be in order to convince the galaxy that he was the true power behind the First Order. With Snoke serving as his proxy in the First Order, Palpatine himself was safely outside of the reach of either New Republic and Resistance and able to rebuild his true strength with impunity. This is a trick that was used by Padme Amidala, who used her handmaidens as her proxies and doubles. Palpatine, who came from the same planet as Amidala, clearly stole the same idea from his former queen. Some fans may not like this idea about Snoke, but I can see and understand the method behind it. I look forward to seeing or reading a show or book that talks about how Palpatine created and trained Snoke in the dark side. It will be like a Star Wars version of Frankenstein.
In Rise of Skywalker, we saw a massive plot to resurrect the Sith try to unfold. However, their fleet, military, and cultists were all destroyed before their scheme could truly take shape. In addition, the First Order suffered a colossal defeat in the end. Still, even though the Sith are permanently gone and the First Order is crippled, there will always be ways for the dark side of the Force to rear its ugly head again. As Maz Kanata pointed out, the dark side has ways of evolving and changing. As the Galactic Empire proved, there will always be remnants of the First Order that will never surrender. Since the First Order originated in the Unknown Regions, it is very likely they have strongholds and outposts that are beyond the reach of the known galaxy. Those strongholds will likely rebuild their strength in the Unknown Regions like they did the first time and one day renew their efforts to conquer the galaxy. Since Palpatine established no Contingency plan this time, whatever remnants of the First Order that remain will not implode and will last a lot longer than the Imperial remnants. Palpatine’s Sith Eternal cult may have been destroyed in the Battle of Exegol, but the chances of them being the only dark side cult in the whole galaxy are extremely slim. When the Galactic Empire collapsed, a dark side cult called the Acolytes of the Beyond emerged. With this in mind, it is very likely that more dark side cults will rise in the aftermath of the First Order’s defeat. Even though the Sith are permanently extinct, their dark legacy will ensure a new breed of dark side practitioners will rise to replace them. The ancient Sith left artifacts saturated in the dark side across the galaxy. Several were either recovered or destroyed, but it is unlikely that they were all found, which opens the door for Sith-like Force-users to rise. Overall, Rey Skywalker’s new Jedi Order will have no shortage of enemies to fight as they recover their strength.
I just discovered something mind-blowing regarding The Rise of Skywalker! They released some footage of Kylo Ren confronting Darth Sidious, which is in the following link. In that footage, we learned that Sidious truly IS Supreme Leader Snoke! To be more specific, Snoke was Sidious’s puppet and mouthpiece. In addition, Sidious had been communicating with Kylo Ren through the remains of Darth Vader’s helmet. Throughout the footage, as he was talking to Kylo Ren, Sidious’s voice changed between his own and those of Snoke and Vader, saying, “I have been every voice you have ever heard inside your head.” This shows that it was Darth Sidious the entire time who manipulated Ben Solo into turning to the dark side. It appears that Sidious has been grooming Kylo Ren to be his new Sith apprentice from the shadows, using Snoke and Vader’s helmet as proxies. After Vader “killed” him, Sidious saw him as a failed apprentice so he turned his attention to Ben Solo, who had just as much potential in the Force as Vader. With Vader’s helmet, Sidious was able to tug on Kylo Ren’s sentiment towards his grandfather. Through Snoke, Sidious was able to do test trials with Kylo Ren, teaching him basic dark side knowledge before he was ready to fully commit to him as his Sith apprentice. Also, even if something were to happen to Snoke, Sidious himself would remain hidden until he was ready to reveal himself. Now, Kylo Ren has proven he has something his grandfather lacked: the ability to kill and overthrow the master and usurp his power, which is the prime principle behind the Rule of Two. With this in mind, Sidious wanted Kylo Ren to kill Snoke to prove that he is capable of completing the Rule of Two. Afterwards, Sidious would leave Kylo Ren to his own devices to see what he would do once he gained real power. Clearly, Sidious liked what Kylo Ren became and has called to him through the dark side to officially become his new Sith apprentice. Just thinking of the lengths Sidious went through to orchestrate the formation of the First Order and discreetly grooming Kylo Ren into his new apprentice makes my mind blow! Up until now, we have only seen the puppets, but we will soon see the puppeteer. With these new revelations, I look forward to see the movie in its entirety to see what plans Sidious has for his new apprentice.
I have always been fascinated by Kylo Ren’s mask. While Darth Vader’s mask was both functional and symbolic, Kylo Ren’s mask was purely symbolic in nature. Kylo Ren’s mask is not just a common prop. It is a representation of his identity as a dark side practitioner. The first version of the mask in The Force Awakens represented Ben Solo’s initial turn to the dark side. When the mask was shattered in The Last Jedi, it represented Kylo Ren’s soul being shattered as a result of him killing his father. Now, in The Rise of Skywalker, the mask is being rebuilt. The mask looks like the original mask, but its numerous pieces are held together by red cracks. This symbolizes that Kylo Ren’s previously shattered dark side identity was reforged into something stronger. This transformation started when he killed Supreme Leader Snoke, which allowed Kylo Ren to complete the Rule of Two. Upon his ascension as the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren’s reforged dark side identity solidifies. Those red cracks represent the fragments of his soul being held together by his dark side rage. His identity may be reforged, but the flaws of his old identity as Ben Solo are still there. Now, Kylo Ren is not as conflicted as he was when we first met him and his turn to the dark side is closer to completion.
At the Launch Bay, I got to see many models and figurines. Here are some from the dark side.