“Corrupt the kyber crystal. Teach it your pain. Teach it your anger. Hear it sing a hymn of darkness. Make it bleed.“
Some people have wondered why the lightsabers of dark side practitioners were red. In Legends, it was because the crystals were synthetic. However, the new Canon provides a far more satisfying explanation. The minerals that power lightsabers, kyber crystals, are living things. In order to submit to the will of a dark side practitioner, the crystal must suffer and bleed. To achieve this, the Force wielder would imprint their own dark side rage and hatred into the crystal. When the crystal and the blade it generates becomes red, it effectively becomes a slave to the will of the dark side practitioner. So far, there are three prominent examples of this ritual.
After claiming the lightsaber of a Jedi he killed, Darth Vader returned to Mustafar to perform the ritual. Initially, Vader’s efforts backfired and the crystal rejected him because his dark side rage was no strong enough to make the kyber crystal submit. However, after renewing his resolve and commitment to the dark side, Vader was able to make his kyber crystal suffer and bleed. The power Vader summoned was so intense that it ravaged Mustafar with earthquakes and devastating storms.
While preparing his Final Order fleet of Star Destroyers on Exegol, Palpatine harvested a mountain of kyber crystals to power the planet-killing cannons of his fleet. He had his Sith Eternal cultists working around the clock to make the mountain of crystals submit to his will. The hellish pain that the crystals were enduring was so intense that you can hear the crystals scream like a damned soul. The dark side energy the bleeding crystals were producing was so powerful that it completely overwhelmed someone of Darth Vader’s caliber. Vader even screamed like he never screamed before as he was bombarded by the crystal’s power. It is possible that Palpatine was feeding off of the crystal’s pain since he was completely unaffected by its energy. According to Palpatine, the dark side energy his mountain of kyber crystals were producing was unlimited power that was strong enough to burn his target’s flesh and mind, ready to incinerate them in an instant.
After his fall to the dark side, Kylo Ren performed this ritual on the kyber crystal of his Jedi lightsaber. Kylo Ren imprinted his rage and hatred so intensely that the crystal cracked in his hand. In addition, the ritual produced a pulse of dark side power that rippled through the Knights of Ren’s ship. Because his crystal cracked, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber was unstable and crackled, which threatened to make the lightsaber explode. To counter this, Kylo Ren remodeled his lightsaber so it would have its cross guard. The cross guard acted as filters that vented the excess energy produced by the cracked kyber crystal.
Overall, I like this explanation for red lightsabers better than the one in Legends. It provided a much deeper look into the philosophy of the dark side. It also symbolizes the cementation of a dark side practitioner’s commitment to the dark side.
“If an Empire cannot protect its Emperor then that Empire must be deemed a failure. It collapses not only because its central figure is gone, but because it must not be allowed to remain!“
After Rise of Skywalker, several fans were not happy that Emperor Palpatine returned. However, after analyzing all the clues and Palpatine’s meticulous mindset, I think I have a complete overview of Palpatine’s machinations that led to his return. The plan makes perfect sense and was utterly brilliant when you analyze all the clues that can be found in the extended Canon. Palpatine was a man who always had plans within plans so it would make sense that he would have a plan for his eventual death as well.
Shortly after the original Expanded Universe of Star Wars was scrapped, we were introduced to Emperor Palpatine’s Contingency program. The Contingency was an insurance policy that would destroy the Galactic Empire if Palpatine died prematurely. In Palpatine’s mind, if the Empire could not protect him then it must be destroyed. Also, Palpatine was so greedy that he did not want anyone to succeed him as Emperor.
Thanks to the information provided by Grand Admiral Thrawn, Palpatine was able to map out a route through the previously unexplored Unknown Regions. Throughout his reign, Palpatine established shipyards and training facilities in key locations in the Unknown Regions. If anything were to happen to the Empire, only he and a select few would know the way to safety.
Thanks to the efforts of Palpatine’s protege Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax, the Galactic Empire imploded. However, only the weakest Imperials and the resources that were deemed unnecessary were wiped away. Those that were deemed strong and useful were spared. After the Battle of Jakku, whatever Imperials remained escaped into the Unknown Regions. Those Imperials would become the founding members of what would become the First Order. However, it was clear in Rise of Skywalker that not all the surviving Imperials went in the same direction in the Unknown Regions. While some surviving Imperials formed the First Order on Starkiller Base, others and members of the Acolytes of the Beyond formed the Sith Eternal and Final Order on Exegol.
As revealed by The Mandalorian, some Imperials such as Moff Gideon, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and their followers did not escape into the Unknown Regions. However, it was hinted that Moff Gideon’s Imperial remnant had ties to the First Order. This was revealed by what looked like failed attempts to create Supreme Leader Snoke floating in tanks. It has also been implied that Moff Gideon may have been using Grogu/Baby Yoda to help create Snoke. This was due to the fact that Moff Gideon was after Grogu’s midichlorians since the Force was strong with him. For all we know, they could have been trying to give Snoke an artificial connection to the Force by transplanting Grogu’s midichlorians into him. Either that or Moff Gideon needs Grogu’s midichlorians to help stabilize Palpatine’s imperfect clone body.
Now, we come to the core of Palpatine’s real plan. In the novelization of Rise of Skywalker, it was revealed how Darth Plagueis discovered the secret to cheat death. Unlike his Legends counterpart, Plagueis intended to transfer his essence into a clone body. Plagueis was even in the process of preparing his clone bodies, but Palpatine killed Plagueis in his sleep before he was ready to perform the ritual. Before Palpatine killed Plagueis, he seized his Master’s secret to cheat death for himself, which he later used when Anakin Skywalker killed him in Return of the Jedi. Also, Plagueis was a master at manipulating midichlorians to create life and Palpatine could have used that technique while creating Snoke and later Rey’s father.
Since the Galactic Empire was deemed a failure in Palpatine’s eyes, he resolved to create a newer and stronger Empire to take its place. Thanks to the revelations in Rise of Skywalker, we got a better idea of how he planned to do that. With Snoke as his puppet, Palpatine used the First Order as the vanguard to destroy the New Republic while Palpatine himself was safely hidden and prepared the last touches to the Final Order in the shadows. Thanks to decades of planning, Palpatine’s followers were able to refine and improve technology that was created during the reign of the Empire such as Death Star technology, which resulted in the creation of the Final Order’s fleet of Star Destroyers. The existence of this fleet would have ensured the long term continuation of Palpatine’s reign. Taking out one of those planet-killing Star Destroyers accomplishes nothing since there were thousands more in reserve. After the First Order fulfilled its function to wipe out the New Republic and make the wider galaxy vulnerable to invasion, Palpatine was ready to reveal himself to the galaxy, which was when he released his broadcast.
Unfortunately, despite Palpatine’s extensive planning for his return, he still needed one final piece to complete his scheme: a new body. Even though Palpatine was able to cheat death, the clone body his essence inhabited was imperfect and its composition was worsening due to his immense power in the dark side. If Palpatine was truly going to continue his reign, he needed a stronger and fitter body that would last a lot longer. That’s when he turned his attention to Kylo Ren, the grandson of his final apprentice, Darth Vader.
Through his puppet Snoke, Palpatine was able to orchestrate Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side and his transformation into Kylo Ren. Due to his own experience of killing his Master before he was ready to transfer his essence as well as his own death by Anakin’s hands, Palpatine did not want to train Kylo Ren himself. If Kylo Ren killed Palpatine before he was ready to transfer his essence, all of Palpatine’s plans would be ruined. Therefore, Palpatine used Snoke as his proxy to train Kylo Ren in the dark side. Eventually, Kylo Ren betrayed and killed Snoke and seized the mantle of Supreme Leader for himself. However, this was exactly what Palpatine wanted. Palpatine wanted Kylo Ren to develop the bloodlust and cunning necessary to strike down his Master. As revealed in Rise of Skywalker, the essence transfer ritual required Palpatine to be struck down and his essence would possess his killer. Since Kylo Ren proved able to strike down Snoke, he had the necessary instincts to initiate the ritual even if he was doing it unwittingly. Even though Palpatine said he was making Kylo Ren the new Emperor, but he was actually grooming him to become his eventual vessel. That was one of the reasons Palpatine released his broadcast to the galaxy: partly to spread confusion and fear to the wider galaxy and partly to make Kylo Ren come for him.
After Kylo Ren turned away from the dark side, Palpatine no longer considered him a suitable vessel to possess. This caused Palpatine to turn his attention to his granddaughter, Rey. Rey was selected as a potential vessel for two reasons: for her obvious blood ties to Palpatine himself and possessing her would end the Jedi. When she arrived on Exegol, Rey could feel Palpatine trying to influence her mind and she could see his thoughts and memories. When Rey refused to participate in Palpatine’s essence transfer ritual and sided with the redeemed Ben Solo, Palpatine no longer saw her as a viable vessel.
Palpatine tried to use Force Drain on Rey and Ben Solo, but he discovered that they were a dyad in the Force. As a dyad, Rey and Ben were two beings who were one and made more powerful through their bond. Palpatine quickly discovered that this dyad had the power to restore his ailing body to its full strength and drained Rey and Ben’s dyad. With his body and full power restored, Palpatine had achieved the final piece to his planned return and no longer needed to transfer to another body.
However, Palpatine’s successful return was short-lived as he was permanently destroyed by Rey and the combined strength of all the Jedi of the past. It is unknown if Palpatine managed to transfer his essence to another body before he was destroyed. Considering the only clone body he could inhabit after his first death was an imperfect one and Palpatine had thirty years to try and replace it and failed, it seems unlikely that Palpatine will be able to return this time. Also, the powerful army and fleet he spent decades to build was defeated by the combined strength of the Resistance and the Free Worlds fleet. In the end, Palpatine’s attempt to create a better and stronger Empire failed miserably.
Overall, Palpatine’s plan to cheat death and create a more powerful Empire was indeed brilliant and carefully planned out. It reveals the full extent and true nature of the Contingency program. It almost succeeded, but it was thwarted at the very last minute. One can only imagine how the galaxy would have turned out if Palpatine’s plan did succeed.
I know a number of fans did not enjoy the sequel trilogy and they are entitled to their opinions. However, I wish to express my own opinion regarding the sequel trilogy. The haters and critics can say what they will of the sequel trilogy, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. They may have had their respective flaws and plot holes, but every Star Wars movie has those in one form or another. Fortunately, these plot holes paved the way for more stories to be told that would fill in the blanks that were left in the movies, which further increased my sense of fandom and devotion to the franchise. I enjoyed the chemistry of the characters, the action of the battle sequences, and the notable references to the Legends Expanded Universe. I liked that they were not one hundred percent CGI and had animatronics in them like the original trilogy. I also enjoyed the concept of passing on a legacy. The First Order were the heirs of the Galactic Empire’s legacy, the Resistance were the heirs of the Rebel Alliance’s legacy, Kylo Ren was the heir to Darth Vader’s legacy, and Rey was the heir to the legacies of both the Jedi and Emperor Palpatine. Also, I like how the trilogy ended because even though the bloodline of Anakin Skywalker was severed, his name and legacy would endure through Rey Skywalker. This left the door wide open for new stories to be told in the future. As I said, some fans are entitled to their opinions about the sequels, but regardless of what we think, these films will be the story that new generations of Star Wars fans will come to accept.
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.
I heard a rumor of how Kylo Ren will evolve in Episode IX. J. J. Abrams will be taking over in the film’s creation and he has HUGE ambitions in Kylo Ren’s character development. A year after becoming the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren is said to become more powerful and more evil than his grandfather, Darth Vader. J. J. Abrams wasn’t kidding when he said he had big ambitions about Kylo Ren’s character development. Making him more evil than Darth Vader, the most infamous Star Wars villain of all time, is definitely as ambitious as you can get. Some may find this to be impossible, but I can see the method to their madness.
Ever since Revenge of the Sith, we wondered just how powerful Darth Vader would have been if he never became more machine than man. The Force is generated by living things and it took living flesh to manipulate it. Because of this, Vader lost most of his Force potential after he was maimed and burned alive on Mustafar. With most of his power gone, Vader never had the strength he needed to overthrow Palpatine and rule the galaxy under his own power.
Kylo Ren’s limitations in the Force are mental instead of physical, but he apparently overcomes these limitations by Episode IX. Also, unlike his grandfather, Kylo Ren has all his flesh and blood, which means his Force potential is at full power. If Kylo Ren overcomes his psychological restrictions, he would finally have access to all the power at his disposal and become the dark side practitioner he was meant to be.
In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren said, “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That’s the only way you can become what you were meant to be.” Maybe the reason Kylo Ren became more powerful over the last year was because he was destroying anything that could be linked to his past as Ben Solo. It is as the Sith say, “Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.” By destroying anything linking him to his past, Kylo Ren is effectively breaking his chains, becoming stronger and more sinister with each chain broken.
In addition, with the Knights of Ren at his side, Kylo Ren’s new dark side order will be a force to be reckoned with. Like Kylo Ren, the Knights of Ren are said to become even more powerful and dangerous than they were before. They could be the makings of an order that could rival the Sith. If Kylo Ren is defeated and a single Knight of Ren survives, then their order can start anew. If that happens, then the Jedi will rise again through Rey and the Sith will rise again through Kylo Ren’s legacy.
Overall, Kylo Ren will represent what Darth Vader could have been if he overthrew Palpatine and ruled the Galactic Empire in his stead.
I was surprised as anyone when Kylo Ren killed Supreme Leader Snoke, but I am not displeased. This provides us with a very interesting scenario because Kylo Ren succeeded where his grandfather failed with Palpatine. Throughout Palpatine’s reign, Darth Vader remained the Emperor’s loyal enforcer and did not take significant opportunities to overthrow him. Now, the Sith may be gone, but Snoke and Kylo Ren obviously continued Darth Bane’s Rule of Two, which dictates that there can only be one master and one apprentice: one to embody power (Snoke) and the other to crave it (Kylo Ren). It was clear that Kylo Ren was no match for his master in a direct contest of raw power. However, knowing Snoke was constantly reading his mind, Kylo Ren was able to manipulate his own thoughts so that he would thinking of something that was technically true. That was what allowed Kylo Ren to outsmart his master. It is as Palpatine once said in the Legends continuity, “Choose someone more cunning and you won’t be able to block the blade at your throat.” Kylo Ren may not yet be as powerful as his grandfather, but he is certainly more cunning. Now, Kylo Ren is the Supreme Leader of the First Order, which will be a way for us to see what it would have been like if Darth Vader overthrew Palpatine and became Emperor.