The Knights of Ren have a dark, violent past — and Star Wars: Episode VIII could show us every tortured moment. The Knights’ backstory is so wrapped up in Sith apprentice Kylo Ren’s fall from grace that Episode VIII might just make patricide look like peanuts.
Episode VIII won’t pull any punches for a sentimental audience’s sake. Adam Driver told Collider that director Rian Johnson “trusts his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.”
Driver said Episode VIII would be similar to The Empire Strikes Back, a tonal departure from the adventurous world-building of The Force Awakens or A New Hope. It will preserve the world and mythology, but in short, things are about to get much, much more dark — which probably means we’re going to see the Knights of Ren. Just as you needed to have seen Star Wars to get into The Empire Strikes Back, Rian Johnson is going to assume you’ve seen The Force Awakens and not hold anyone’s hand through the backstory.
Thus far, Rey has only caught a glimpse of the ominous Knights of Ren during a vision in The Force Awakens. Though Supreme Leader Snoke mentions that Kylo Ren is the “master of the Knights of Ren,” we still don’t really know who they are or how they figure into his backstory of turning to the Dark Side.
“Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way,” Driver said. “He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing.”
Now, the Knights of Ren were certainly “set up” in the previous movie, and Kylo’s association with them could mean anything at this point. Were they a group of jerky dark side users who brought him into the fold, leading him away from the light? Or were they fellow students of Luke Skywalker, each part of a shared conspiracy to overthrow the good-hearted Jedi Master?
In The Force Awakens, Han says, “One boy, an apprentice, turned against him, destroyed it all.” But did Kylo really do that alone? If Driver has truly learned things about his character, his association with the Knights of Ren seems like the most likely piece of information to flesh out.
Up until now, the ambiguity of Kylo Ren is what has made him so compelling: He’s a villain with good inside him or a bad person with redeeming qualities, depending on how you look at it. But if Driver is hinting at what we think he’s hinting at, certain things about Kylo Ren — formerly Ben Solo — won’t be ambiguous anymore.