When asked why the Knights of Ren were included in Episode IX, here’s what director J.J. Abrams had to say on the matter:
So from the start of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, there was talk about how the Knights of Ren could play a bigger role in these events. The glimpse of them with Kylo, their master, carrying out mass slaughter in that Force vision showed us how dangerous they were, but there just wasn’t room for them in The Force Awakens’ main story. And The Last Jedi opted not to include them at all, which director Rian Johnson attributed to his movie also being “very full.”
So that left The Rise of Skywalker as the last opportunity to put the Knights of Ren front and center, though we’re still not sure exactly how they’ll be used in the movie. Now that Kylo Ren is Supreme Leader of The First Order, one would imagine they’d be helping enforce his will, but there was also a shot in the Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer showing what looked like Kylo taking down one of the Knights. Was that a flashback or will some/all of the Knights rebel against Kylo during the movie?
The Knights of Ren aren’t the characters who will have Team Dark Side covered with Kylo Ren in The Rise of Skywalker. The movie will also feature the return of Emperor Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, who was last seen being tossed into the second Death Star’s reactor in Return of the Jedi and was reasonably assumed to be dead. Whether or not the Knights of Ren will play any role in Palpatine’s reemergence remains to be seen.
There’s a lot of ground to cover in The Rise of Skywalker, as it not only needs to wrap up the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and the entire Skywalker Saga, but also still work on its own terms, which J.J. Abrams described as an “everlasting challenge.” So it’s nice to hear that Abrams and his team found a way to fit the Knights of Ren into the proceedings, and maybe there’ll be other opportunities down the line to spotlight them in other media.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20. If you’re already looking ahead to what’s showing on the silver screen next year, be sure to browse through our 2020 release schedule.