Star Wars fans have been waiting years to see the Knights of Ren, and with The Rise of Skywalker the wait is finally over. But the mysterious order may have a stronger Mandalorian connection than anyone expected.
For those who know the history and role of the Mandalorians in the Star Wars universe, it's a bit of a surprise that they are almost totally absent from the movie series (aside from Jango and Boba Fett, who aren't actually Mandalorian). The animated Star Wars Rebels series showed fans how the Mandalorians reunited in response to the rise of the Empire. But how the society developed after the Empire fell, and as the First Order rose, is completely unknown.
Thanks to one of Kylo Ren's knights, fans can finally have some evidence to support their theories. A new thread has been woven through the Star Wars movies tying directly to the Mandalorians, raising our hopes for how easily The Mandalorian TV show can be tied into the new Star Wars universe. Just to be safe, potential SPOILERS ahead.
The Knights of Ren Have an Ancient Mandalorian Weapon
For those who know the Mandalorians best as the warrior race of Bounty hunters, mercenaries, and armies of conquest, but may have missed out on either The Clone Wars or Rebels series, we're sad to confirm that those days are mostly consigned to the past. Which is precisely the reason why a collection of Mandalorian armor and weapons are included in the personal collection of Dryden Vos, wealthy crime lord and antagonist of Solo: A Star Wars Story. And it's in that very collection that the new link to Kylo's Mandalorian Knight secretly began.
The pristine red suit of Mandalorian armor in Vos' prized trophy room got the most early attention from fans, assuming that its presence in early set photos hinted at Dryden's Mandalorian heritage (or possibly even Solo's crossover with Boba Fett's movie). In reality, it's actually a version of Mandalorian Neo-Crusader armor, adopted by the warrior race by the time of the Great Sith War (thousands of years before the Star Wars movies during the days of the Old Republic). The suit was confirmed to be "Rally Master Armor" in Solo: The Official Guide, with Star Wars loremaster Pablo Hidalgo confirming that the suit, like the weapons displayed alongside it, are "ancient Mandalorian." The design of the massive battle axes mounted on either side are hard to forget--and therefore easy to spot in the new Rise of Skywalker photos of the Knights of Ren.
Theory: A Knight of Ren is a Mandalorian
As anyone can see in the image above, one of the Knights of Ren set to (apparently) appear for more than a single scene in Rise of Skywalker is wielding a battle axe nearly identical to that found in Dryden Vos' collection. The Knights of Ren wield the weapons they do for a reason, but more importantly, a large battle axe like the one above appeared in this knight's hands during Rey's Force Vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens--filmed long before Solo. Even if that was a case of re-purposing a prop, the Star Wars storytellers knew what they were setting in stone with official descriptions tying it to ancient Mandalore.
That it rests in this Knight of Ren's hands must mean something, and when comparing it to the weapon Kylo Ren holds in his own, it may be just as meaningful as a lightsaber. Otherwise known as 'the weapon that shaped the history of the galaxy.' Kylo Ren bears the weapon of both the Jedi and Sith, which communicates two messages in the new trilogy: his reverence for the ancient past... and a reminder that it is still alive and well. The same may be true of this Knight of Ren wielding a relic of Mandalorian conquest. If they are as much a child of the new Mandalore as Kylo Ren was of the new Jedi, then the fact that one serves the other may shed light on the nature of the Knights as a whole.
All that's truly known about the Knights of Ren is that Kylo commands them, and they are apparently elite warriors. But without further insight into their meaning, the references that have been made become more important. None more so than the moment they were introduced, when Supreme Leader Snoke warned Kylo Ren that with his biological father returning, "even you, master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test." The implication--or at least the most obvious--is that assembling and leading the Knights of Ren required Kylo to be tested, and triumph. Merely commanding the Knights, according to Snoke, speaks to Kylo Ren's abilities.
So now that one Knight is confirmed to wield a weapon unique to Mandalore, the most famed warriors in the galaxy, the obvious question is whether Kylo Ren triumphed over him, earning the Mandalorian's fealty (a victory and subservience that could apply only to this Knight, or have far larger ramifications for Mandalore itself). Either way, the fact that Mandalore is so visibly represented in the Star Wars galaxy's future could speak volumes for the story fans will see unfold in The Mandalorian TV series.
Could Star Wars 9 Connect To The Mandalorian Series?
While the culture hasn't been given the spotlight in films, both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels showed that Mandalore never lost its honor or battle prowess, and began to unite against the Empire's tyranny even as Darth Vader and Palpatine's rule solidified. Decades later, after the fall of the Empire's military might, one of the most elite knights on the galaxy wields ancient Mandalore in his hands. Its presence leads every fan to ask what Mandalore actually becomes in this First Order future... and that's a question that only The Mandalorian can answer. Starting in the years after the death of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, The Mandalorian is expected to show how the galaxy began its transformation from being crushed beneath the Empire's boot, to the return of a New Republic (and eventually, a First Order). Given the name of the show, how Mandalorians reacted--either as individuals, or as a people--is likely to be explored.
Which is where the time gap and rumored Mandalorian plot details become so intriguing. According to rumors, the series will follow the titular gunslinger (Pedro Pascal) as he finds and raises a child who may be destined to lead Mandalore. Consider the three decades separating that story and The Rise of Skywalker, and that heir to Mandalore would be the same age as Rey, Poe, and Finn... and the version of the Mandalorians they lead are among the most visibly represented as a Knight of Ren. Fans have no choice but to wonder about the link between Kylo, the Knights of Ren, and the future that The Mandalorian will show taking shape. And since the filmmakers are the ones who drew attention to it in the first place, those may be the exact questions they want fans to be asking.
But for answers... we'll have to wait until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gives more clues about the future Mandalore, and The Mandalorian shows how it came to be.
Source: Pablo Hidalgo
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019