Wanted to share some thoughts on adding to the role of the Knights of Ren in the trilogy.
What if you could somehow alter the rainy scene from Rey’s forceback to imply it is the Jedi massacre? Maybe change the guy with the bowl hat’s staff into a lightsaber. And insert the burning temple in the background. Although Kylo had not yet made his red lightsaber or had his Kylo look by that point, it could just explained by vision symbolism. (Or you could cover Kylo with a new character, hooded with face unseen holding Ben’s blue lightsaber. Implying it is Ben that same night.)
This gets into a whole other topic regarding the massacre and the different ways it could have went. I know the Rise of Kylo Ren comic has backstory on the temple massacre and the Knights of Ren, but I’m ignoring that because destroying the temple with a random Force storm feels like such a wasted opportunity.
There’s two ways I like to imagine how it went:
- The Knights are Sith cultists who were planning to help Ben Solo destroy the temple the night Luke looked into Ben’s mind. He basically saw what they were planning to do. Maybe Ben was on the fence about going through with it, but waking up to Luke holding up his lightsaber forced him to make a choice.
- The Knights are the other students Luke mentioned that left with Ben. Maybe there were already Team Luke and Team Ben camps forming among the Jedi students, and when it looked like Ben had killed Luke, the Jedi began fighting each other and Team Ben came out alive.
While I like both, especially option 2, I think you would have to create new footage to try to get option 2 across, especially since you would have to explain why the Knights no longer use lightsabers. This leads me to think Luke saying that Ben left “with a handful of his students” should be cut from TLJ. Maybe you could give the Knights dialogue to help get either option across in TROS when they show up.
If you implied the Knights just helped Ben attack the Temple that night, maybe you could create a shot where the Knights are looking at the temple from a distance, and it could be placed in a flashback somewhere. You could possibly insert it after that establishing shot of the temple in Luke’s first TLJ flashback, but before it cuts inside the hut. You could take the shot from TROS of the Knights peaking around the rocks looking at Chewbacca, but change the background and regrade it to match that location. You could possibly add a light rain effect to that establishing shot to help connect it with the Force vision, or simply distant thunder of an approaching storm.
This would add a few benefits. One, the Knights of Ren would now appear in all three films (even if it is brief) and gives us an idea of their relevance to the story. Two, if Luke realized there was a predmeditated attack on the temple that night, and Ben was in on that plan, it would make Luke’s anger more understandable. It isn’t just a hypothetical dark future, but a danger right on his doorstep. While Ben perhaps had not made up his mind yet, it appears to Luke that he was in the midst of betraying him.
Three, having another group kill the Jedi, or help Ben kill the Jedi, might help make Ben more sympathetic, that maybe he was pressured into those actions by the Knights of Ren and Snoke, and did not kill the other Jedi alone, or at all.
Apparently in the comics a Force storm destroys the temple and kills most of the Jedi, but I think that is dumb. If Snoke could destroy Luke’s temple and students with a Force storm, why did he need a planet killing device to destroy Luke on Ach-To?
During Luke’s first flashback, he says, “When I came to, the temple was burning. He had vanished with a handful of my students, and slaughtered the rest.”
Maybe the line could be changed to, “He had vanished, and slaughtered the/my students.” I don’t think Luke ever says anything about the Knights of Ren directly.
Maybe you could still imply the Knights of Ren are the other students (maybe one or all of them already secretly work for Snoke), and give them dialogue into TROS to imply that, but some people might find it weird that they’re fallen Jedi, but Kylo is the only one who uses a lightsaber. Maybe Kylo was the only one out of that group who had completed their training and built their own lightsaber, or maybe Luke’s Jedi didn’t all use lightsabers.
If you went with that angle, maybe you could have Luke say, “He had vanished with a handful of my students, and [they] slaughtered the rest.” Again, this just helps make Ben not solely responsible for the death of all the Jedi, as well as provide backstory for the Knights of Ren. The Forceback scene could be interpreted as an event of their past, but with their presents appearances. Basically, the night their new identities were born.
Then again, if they are Luke’s formers students that sided with Ben that night, why doesn’t Ben try to turn them back after he switches sides? Maybe dialogue could be added that shows their minds won’t be changed. Or, they can reveal that they were working for Snoke the whole time.
I’m still not sure. There are a lot of ways you could do it. I’d be interested to hear what you guys might do with them.