Star Wars: The Knights of Ren
by Joel Fernandez
Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga was divisive, to say the least. The Last Jedi ended in such a way that it left the SW fan base polarized. Some people thought it was the best SW movie ever, while others took it as a personal affront. Regardless of which side of the argument you stand with, we should all agree that the future of the Star Wars galaxy should not be held hostage by its own cinematic history. That is precisely why we must rejoice for those who have joined with the force. Mourn them not, miss them not. Today we will discuss why the immediate future of SW rests on the shoulders of the knights of Ren.
There will be spoilers for episode VIII after this point. You have been warned. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s begin. In an attempt to appease the hardcore fans who felt that Rey was being handed ultimate victory on a silver platter by the writers, director Rian Johnson brought in the biggest gun of them all, Yoda. Although it was not quite enough to remove Rey’s Mary Sue status, Yoda helped many of us accept that she will ultimately save the galaxy singlehandedly. So when we inevitably see her vanquish at least a half dozen dark Jedi that were trained by Luke Skywalker himself from childhood to adulthood, we probably won’t fight our instinct to go along with whatever master puppet Yoda says is right. Even if it means accepting that two Jedi lessons will be enough to overcome the lifetime of training and overwhelming numbers that are on the other side of the conflict.
Since we already know who is going to save the day against all odds. All we can do now is try to enjoy the twists and turns that the writers will throw at us on the way to the inevitable conclusion. The knights of Ren present an interesting opportunity because Darth Bane’s rule of two prevented us from seeing several dark side practitioners congregate on screen at once. Now that the Sith are gone until the next time that a wayward Jedi discovers a fascinating Sith holocron (hologram message inside of a mini pyramid), we can get a glimpse of how the social dynamic of a dark Jedi group really is.
Think of the level of fascination that audiences experience when they watch movies about gangs and drug lords where an anti-hero takes center stage. That whole “root for the bad guy” element might be exactly what episode IX needs to avoid having it’s premise labeled as a one dimensional cliché. Even if they shamelessly trot out the deus ex machina ending to the current trilogy, the dark side warriors in the film can give enough spontaneity to distract us until the final act when we realize that Rey will somehow save the day.
Ideally, the dynamic among the knights of Ren will be similar to a gang. Part time camaraderie, part time sibling rivalry, full time bravado. The social dynamic among gang members is very much about hierarchy, but that structure is subject to change if the leader is not demonstrably strong enough to tame the brash environment. Portraying the knights of Ren in that way will kill two birds with one stone. It will fascinate the audience because it gives people a chance to visualize a social dynamic that most people avoid if given the choice. What’s more it makes room for a Kylo Ren redemption.
The likelihood that Kylo Ren and Rey end up romantically involved seems higher than some might think. The father son dynamic was done masterfully in the original trilogy. The prequels provided the back-story that was necessary in order for us to understand what made character’s like Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Emperor Palpatine, Mace Windu and Boba Fett so special in the overall Star Wars context. The Romeo and Juliet angle is something that Star Wars has never done before. It presents a rare opportunity to unite the fan base in a way that will be significant enough to overcome the potential loss of the stubborn, golden age fans that refuse to let new stories take the SW galaxy forward in the decades to come.
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