Entertainment Weekly is a Jedi, like Vanity Fair before it…okay, sorry, that was lame, but I couldn’t help myself and I can’t bring myself to delete it now, so, here we are…anyway, yes, it’s Entertainment Weekly’s turn to chew up Star Wars knowledge and spit it down our waiting gullets and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. In case you haven’t figured it out from the title, I’m going to be focusing on the article about Kylo Ren for this entry. I’ve been holed up in my laboratory since yesterday, digesting the limited, but provocative new information, and I believe I’ve concocted some brilliant theories that will, no doubt, turn out to be true come this December (okay, probably not, but confidence is sexy, right?)…so, make sure you’re sitting down, and prepare to have your mind blown…
What’s in a name?
“Hey, didn’t you do this with Snoke already, you tired, old fuddy-duddy?!?!” Aww, not only are you reading, but you’re paying attention…I’m so proud…yes, I did indeed go over what Snoke’s name could mean and now plan to give our friend Kylo Ren (well, my friend, but I’m evil, he might not be your friend if you’re one of those goody two-shoes types…but keep reading regardless!) the same treatment; however, the caveat here is that, unlike with Snoke, we already know that the “Ren” portion of his name isn’t his given name, so rather than having to speculate as to whether it’s something like Darth Vader is to Kylo Ren as Anakin Skywalker is to Jacen Solo (oh no he didn’t!), we can just separate out the “Ren” part that he’s taken from his mysterious “Knights of Ren” group and see what we can gleen from it.
The first interesting tidbit I found when I ran “Ren” through my googleometer down in the lab, is that it’s a concept in Confucianism dealing with altruism and the Golden Rule (“One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”). I find this aspect of “Ren” fascinating because it’s all a matter of perspective. We can assume from context clues, i.e. the red lightsaber blade and his affiliation with the First Order, that Kylo Ren is a bad guy, so, via the transitive property, the Knights of Ren must also be bad…so why would they be centered around altruism and the Golden Rule? Because if you’re doing to others as you would have done unto you, and you think that the galaxy is in chaos and needs a firm grip and a hard boot heel on its neck to get it in line, then you would want someone else with that power to do it to you if you couldn’t. Abrams says it himself in the article, “Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here.” The Knights of Ren aren’t out for themselves, they’re out for what they consider the greater good of the galaxy, they just happen to have an ass-backward moral compass that’s telling them what’s best for the galaxy is for them to align themselves with a military power and takeover said galaxy by force (and, apparently, the Force). I’m also intrigued by how “Ren” is linked, in general, to Confucianism, which can be considered a religion whose followers are devotees of the teachings of a person, Confucius – could this be a mirror for the Knights of Ren being devotees of someone, perhaps a Ren, and, if so, who is this person? Keep that in mind as I’ll come back to it later, but first, let’s continue down the “what does Ren mean” rabbit hole.
Another meaning of “Ren” that lines up almost perfectly with what we know so far is the ancient Egyptian notion that “ren” was a part of your soul, meaning your name, and as long as your name was spoken, that part of your soul would live. So what better way to keep that part of your soul immortal than to create a cult in your name that then has its members take your name as their own. Perhaps as the Knights of Ren grow in size and power, so grows the soul of Ren himself until it reaches a point where there is an awakening…chills, right? I know…
Now, one more thing that “Ren” often points to is the lotus flower, which also ties in well with Confucianism and many other Eastern Religions as its commonly used as a symbol. In addition, it can also be poisonous, which is pretty self-explanatory so I’ll just leave it at that. The lotus coup de grâce, though, is from 5.10 of the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture in Sanskrit that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharat:
brahmaṇy ādhāya karmāṇi
sańgaḿ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ
lipyate na sa pāpena
Translated, it means, “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.” Paraphrased, this could be the mission statement for the Knights of Ren: As long as you do everything in the name of Ren (or Supreme Leader Snoke?), then, no matter what it is (burning down villages, killing innocent people), your actions are pure. The parallel to the Jedi belief of being without attachment is also worth noting…could the Knights of Ren be a Jedi sect? A branch that broke off from whatever tree Luke was trying to plant…so many questions…but, lucky for you, I have some best-guess answers coming right up.
Who’s Ren and why does he have Knights?
I have two theories on this, one that I think is more likely, and one that I like better…I’ll start with the one I think is more likely: The Knights of Ren were founded by the leftover Inquisitors after the deaths of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Though neither of the Sith Lords actually trained the Inquisitors, they were still molded into their image, so, without them, and with the Empire staggering, they banded together to form a devotee group that would all but worship the Sith and their teachings; however, since they knew they couldn’t call themselves Sith, as the true Sith had both been destroyed, they devised the moniker the Knights of Ren…now this is where this theory gets hazy because I really can’t come up with a good reason why they’d choose the name “Ren”…it could be something as simple as it was the name of the backwater planet they decided to escape to and come up with their grand plan, or maybe the most powerful, charismatic Inquisitor was once named Ren so he decided to honor himself by naming them after him…I’m not sure, but I do think this theory is more likely because it gives validity to the creation of the Inquisitors and inserts them into the story going forward, something I think the story group had to be thinking when they introduced them in the first place; otherwise, they exist only in Rebels and its tie-in books, and not even in the comics (so far, anyway, unless you count Mon Cal Grievous and crew…which I do not).
Now, that theory is all well and good, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if that was indeed the truth, but if this second theory that I like better ends up being true then I may never see another Star Wars movie ever again…because I will have exploded from joy…anyway, here it is: After the fall of the Empire, the citizenry started to have access to something that the Imperials tried desperately to control, information. And with said information they could go back into the annals of history and dig up all sorts of ancient stories and legends about those that came before them…including an incredible story about a man named Revan. Upon reading more about him, they discovered there used to be a group of people that followed his teachings, calling themselves Revanites, or the Order of Revan. Becoming obsessed with Revan and the people who followed him and wishing to do the same, they started their own group, but they didn’t want to just rip off what had been done in the past, no, they wanted to show that they were better, stronger, smarter than their ancient counterparts, that they already knew more about their would-be leader than any of those so-called Revanites had ever known. They knew the great Revan’s true name, Revan Ren, so they started calling themselves the Knights of Ren, and set about to spread the teachings of Reven across the galaxy, increasing in size and strength, building crude lightsabers and touching the Force. They started taking his name in hopes of becoming even more like him, and, as I mentioned above, unbeknownst even to them, they started feeding power into the wandering soul of Revan in the living Force until he became so powerful that he awakened, used his Knights and his growing power to take control of the First Order as Supreme Leader Snoke, and, from his icy refuge at Starkiller base, began developing a plan to create the ultimate weapon to rid the galaxy of all who oppose him…the Starforge…pretty badass, right? Now, I don’t actually think this will be true, but it would be incredibly awesome if it was…like I said previously, though, Revan will be back in some way, shape, or form, and if you didn’t think so before, the rumor that they’re planning to remake/update Knights of the Old Republic for next-gen consoles has to have you wondering. It’s too coincidental to be all about money, though if I’m wrong and that truly is all it’s about I won’t be too surprised…and I’ll still be happy I have a Black Series Revan action figure, so whatever…
As for Kylo Ren fitting into either scenario, that’s easy: he’s obsessed with Darth Vader (because he’s his grandfather) so he joins the Knights of Ren to either be involved with a group that’s devoted to Darth Vader and his master, or to be involved with a group that’s devoted to an ancient member of the Sith, someone whose teachings were more than likely passed down to Darth Vader as well…regardless, it gives Kylo a way to walk in his idol’s footsteps…all theories aside, that is ultimately what Kylo Ren seems to want, and the Knights of Ren seem to be the means for him to do that, so, at the very least, they must be some kind of dark side devotee group. And now you’re thinking to yourself, “I just read through all that just find out that the Knights of Ren are probably dark siders? NO SHIT SHERLOCK!” I know, I know, I’m the worst…but, just think, when Revan winds up in The Force Awakens you can tell all your friends you saw it coming and they’ll think you’re the coolest guy since…well…me. Remember, though, even when you’re gloating, may the Force be with you…