Emperor Palpatine may have some major competition in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The new Sith Troopers have long been rumored to serve Palpatine and, all things considered, that makes a lot of sense with the word “Sith” right in their name. However, a leaked Sith Trooper t-shirt might mean that they’ll actually be reporting to Kylo Ren.
Photos of the Disney merchandise, which was hidden on the official Star Wars website, first appeared on Reddit earlier this week. The stylized t-shirt clearly states the Sith Troopers are loyal only to Kylo and the Knights of Ren. You can check out the image below.
Previous leaks have presumed that the Sith Fleet belongs to Palpatine and that’s why they’ve taken so long to emerge, their ships floating somewhere in space undetected. But this piece of merchandise, which declares that the “finest troopers” in the galaxy are “under strict command of Kylo & the Knights of Ren,” completely changes the narrative surrounding the Sith Fleet, Palpatine, and Kylo’s roles in The Rise of Skywalker. Keep in mind the usage of the word “strict,” which implies they couldn’t possibly be working under anyone but Kylo and his knights.
The leak seems disproves all speculation that Palpatine will be commanding the Sith Troopers. Perhaps the previous leaks were presented to throw fans off and the real twist is that Kylo will lead the fleet. It would definitely explain the role of the Knights of Ren in Episode IX. Perhaps they’ve been in charge of keeping the Sith Fleet in hiding all this time and will finally receive the signal to bring them out into the open.
But why would the Sith Troopers be loyal to Kylo and not to Emperor Palpatine? Well, Kylo’s been a member of the First Order for a long time and a part of the Dark Side for longer. And while J.J. Abrams has insisted that Kylo is not a Sith, Episode VIII essentially made him a Sith Lord or, at the very least, he’s on his way to becoming one. Kylo being in charge of the Sith Fleet doesn’t come as a complete surprise either, especially considering his journey over the course of the new sequel trilogy. He’s been building towards something for awhile now and our first glimpse of that came with the mysterious Knights of Ren back in Episode VII.
There’s been so much focus on Kylo’s redemption that the notion of him having so much power over an entire army would certainly throw anyone off. This leak would also work alongside the theory that Kylo went in search of the Sith Troopers prior to Palpatine’s reappearance. What if (and it’s a big if) the Sith Troopers were specifically created by Kylo?
We already know Kylo had been trying to turn Rey towards the Dark Side and was the one to kill Snoke. Maybe it was to get the supreme leader out of the way so that he could properly lead and command the Sith Fleet against the Resistance — and possibly even Palpatine. Then again, maybe the T-shirt is the lie here, and The Rise of Skywalker’s biggest twist will be the moment that Emperor Palpatine takes control of the Sith Troopers from right under Kylo’s nose.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20, 2019.