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Warning: The following contains mostly rumors, but it might turn out to be true from a certain point of view. So potential SPOILERS for Star Wars: Episode IX to follow!
The Super Bowl has come and gone without a Star Wars: Episode IX trailer, so we remain completely in the dark about December’s final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. But in the absence of official evidence, there are plenty of rumors as to what we can expect in J.J. Abrams’ film. So grab a fresh handful of Crait’s finest sodium chloride as we dive into the rumors surrounding Star Wars: Episode IX and separate the wheat from the chaff.
Last time, we discussed the chances that the Star Wars franchise’s most iconic villain, Darth Vader, would show up in Star Wars: Episode IX. Today we are looking at villains so hyped and enigmatic that two movies into this sequel trilogy and we still haven’t even really seen them. I’m talking, of course, about the Knights of Ren.
The Knights of Ren have been mentioned in both films in the sequel trilogy, yet our only look at them (we assume it was them) onscreen to date came in Rey’s lightsaber vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That could change in Episode IX because a variety of rumors about the mysterious group indicate that we might not only see them in the next film, but that they could actually play an interesting role in the story.
The latest rumor has a few components to it. The first part is that a threat from ‘The Beyond’ will reveal itself, making Kylo Ren vulnerable would drive his and Rey’s relationship in the movie. We don’t know what The Beyond is exactly, but it seems pretty likely that this is a synonym for the Unknown Regions, a largely unexplored section of the galaxy where the remnants of the Empire formed the First Order and built Starkiller Base. A threat from outside the well-traveled part of the galaxy naturally brings to mind the Yuuzhan Vong from the Expanded Universe; a powerful race that invaded the galaxy after the Empire fell.
The second part of the rumor is that the Knights of Ren will return from The Beyond. There is also talk that there will be new stormtroopers that answer exclusively to Kylo and the Knights of Ren, and that the new Supreme Leader will be shoring up his support and bolstering his forces against any opposition to his rule.
Alright, so there’s a lot to that. On the one hand, if the Knights of Ren were in The Beyond this whole time, that would explain their absence thus far. I think we’ve assumed they were off handling some kind of business, but as opposed to a single line of dialogue saying they were putting down a rebellion on such and such a planet, this story would give their absence and return relevance to Episode IX's plot.
It sounds like this rumor could play out one of two ways. One would be that the Knights of Ren return and they herald the coming of a greater threat that unites Rey and Kylo. The other possibility is that the Knights of Ren themselves will be the threat when they return.
It seems kind of late in the game to set up an entirely new threat and have that conflict resolved in one film while also bringing closure to the threads established in The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. So let’s rule out the Yuuzhan Vong or anything like that (although Palpatine or Snoke’s other apprentice could work). But if that new threat is the Knights of Ren themselves, they have already been established and we have been eagerly awaiting their full debut.
While Kylo and his Knights are not technically Sith as far as we know, Dark Side users aren’t known for their loyalty and are always trying to take away power that the other person has. Maybe the Knights see the light in Kylo like Rey does. Maybe they find him weak and take issue with what he did to Snoke. Maybe their experience in The Beyond has changed their perspective and their priorities.
Another rumor about the Knights of Ren from Making Star Wars is that they will have “many special abilities.” So, if we put those rumors together and make some assumptions, the Knights of Ren will return from the Unknown Regions, maybe with their own armies and special Force powers that threaten Kylo’s rule of the First Order and the galaxy at large, thus forcing Rey and Kylo to unite to defeat them.
Making the Knights of Ren the final bosses would give Episode IX a potentially scary big bad now that Snoke is gone (Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is a fascinating character, but he is not an intimidating villain). And if they unite Rey and Kylo, that provides a story path to redemption for Ben Solo, which is how I think many suspect his arc will conclude.
Even if the latest rumor is completely false, it still seems likely the Knights of Ren will appear. There have been rumors that the Knights of Ren would make a fourth quarter appearance in Episode IX ever since they didn’t show up in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. With Kylo now in charge, it would make sense that he would bring his Knights, those closest and most loyal to him, back into the fold to act as his generals and help him exert his will over the First Order apparatus and carry out his mission.
If the Knights of Ren just show up to act as villains alongside Kylo, it would bolster the threat the Resistance faces and perhaps make Kylo look more badass as their leader. At the very least, they could provide an opportunity for a great lightsaber battle with Rey and perhaps some other Jedi in training.
The most obvious reason the Knights of Ren will play a role in Episode IX is because they have to since this is the last chance. We have heard about these characters and they have been built up for two films now, but we still know little about them.
I think it’s generally assumed that they are the handful of students that left Luke’s temple with Kylo, but we still don’t know what their deal is. Snoke mentioned Kylo’s title as the master of the Knights of Ren, as if it was some kind of accomplishment. But what have the Knights of Ren done? What acts have they perpetrated that resulted in that being a position of esteem?
For them to not at least make an appearance after all this build-up would be a massive let down, like if we heard about the Emperor for the first two Star Wars and never saw him in Return of the Jedi. I think, like several of the dropped plot points in The Last Jedi, J.J. Abrams set up the Knights of Ren and he wants to finish what he started.
We'll find out for sure when Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters on December 20. Check our our release guide for all of the year's biggest movies and let us know what you think about these rumors in the comments and poll below.