We know from The Force Awakens that Kylo Ren is a powerful Force user. What about the warriors he lords over, the Knights of Ren?
While writing an article about Rey’s Force vision, I looked at the above header image (which I also used for the former piece) and realized something I should have long before. The Knights of Ren, who surround Kylo in the middle, are holding either guns or staffs; there are no lightsabers, at least not drawn, in the hands of any of them. The lightsaber is the weapon of choice for a Force sensitive warrior, so it seems curious the Knights of Ren are not in possession of any. Unless, they are simply not Force sensitive.
A lack of Force ability in the Knights makes sense for another, more substantial reason than simply a lack of lightsabers, however. Snoke called Kylo “Master of the Knights of Ren,” perhaps alluding to the fact he is their leader, plain and simple. Alternatively, he could be referring to Kylo’s power over the Knights, who may regard Kylo as more than a leader. Kylo is their Master, a godlike figure with godlike power to whom they owe their allegiance. More deserving of their loyalty, however, is his birthright: he is the grandson of the Knights’ most cherished idol. And why worship someone with whom you have the power to compete with?
This idea of the Knights of Ren not being Force sensitive and worshiping Vader and Kylo has me excited, because we’ve never seen anything like it in any of the previous Star Wars films. Always, non Force sensitive beings are either cowering in fear of their Sith overlords or else bluffing their way to courage with backtalk. We’ve seen some individuals, like General Grievous and Admiral Piett, accept a Sith as a leader while fully aware of their powers, but we’ve never seen a display of loyalty on par with, say, the rebels’ devotion to Mon Mothma and Princess Leia. Essentially, there has been no love in the dark side so far.
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Until, that is, The Force Awakens. Not only do we see Kylo Ren eagerly accepting Supreme Leader Snoke’s dominance over him in the film, we see a group of potentially non-Force sensitive individuals with a literal love for Vader pledging themselves to a dark sider. The concept and the Knights’ worship of Vader are reminiscent of a mentality we’ve seen a lot in the news lately, unfortunately: people being slowly poisoned by evil forces, until they come to believe in what those forces are saying and pledge themselves wholeheartedly to their service. It can happen anywhere, anytime: at school, at work, on the internet, even at home. What’s scary is the passion behind those who ally themselves with the evil. In a way, love exists there, but it’s a love that is selfish and cruel.
That love may have reached the dark side in Star Wars at last. With love comes loyalty, and with loyalty comes the willingness to do absolutely anything for the person or thing or organization you’ve promised yourself to. The Knights of Ren, even if they’re not Force sensitive, are dangerous because they believe and follow the legacy of Darth Vader. Nothing can sway them in carrying out that legacy, however bloody and horrific it may be. And they’ll do anything Kylo Ren says, as long as he, in turn, remains loyal to his heritage.
The Knights of Ren, then, are not a group of Inquisitors like we saw in Star Wars Rebels or dark acolytes trained by a machinating Emperor. They are, I speculate, a group of otherwise normal beings, who worship Vader and are driven by a fanatic passion for the former Dark Lord’s agenda: wipe out the Jedi, wipe out the light. Because of this passion, they will be among the most dangerous non Force sensitive foes the Rebellion heroes have ever faced.