Why, if Kylo Ren is wielding a red lightsaber, is he not carrying the title of “Darth”?
Steve Kovach, our US colleague, raised the question this morning after Disney released the names of a few new Star Wars characters.
“…There’s something wrong with that name,” Kovach writes.
“Kylo Ren is using a red lightsaber, which is what the Sith, the evil Jedi who follow the Dark Side of the Force, use. But all Sith also have the title “Darth” in front of their name… So why isn’t he Darth Kylo Ren?”
Maybe Kylo Ren isn’t a fully-fledged Sith yet, because according to the Rule of Two, there can only ever be a Master and Apprentice. So, according to Kovach, the line ended with the death of The Emperor and Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.
And he was smart just to leave it at that, because anyone who tries to follows the seemingly infinite paths of what happened before, after and in-between the two movie trilogies is in for a world of pain.
But… we’ll try anyway.
The Red Lightsaber
First, let’s get the red lightsaber thing out of the way, because it’s probably the only straightforward part of the problem.
Before we start, if you don’t know already, there’s a few paths that Star Wars fans can choose to take if they wish to follow what the heck’s going on in the galaxy.
After the trainwreck of the second George Lucas trilogy, Star Wars got its mojo back with an excellent animated series, The Clone Wars, which ran for six seasons from 2008 and covered the adventures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi between the movies Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
It was dramatic, extremely well-written and beautifully animated. One of the key characters is an assassin named Asajj Ventress.
She has a desire to be Sith, and despite never getting there, she kills more than her fair share of Jedi with her twin red lightsabers.
And so does Count Dooku, despite not being either Master or Apprentice in Episodes I-III.
He’s Not A Sith
There’s a good chance that Kylo Ren is not actually a Sith Lord, but The Inquisitor.
The Inquisitor was an agent of Vader’s and while trained in the Dark Side of the Force, was never considered a Sith. His job was to kill or convert any kids showing signs of being able to wield the Force, as well as any Jedi trying to train them.
The Inquisitor was also the first new character named for the second major animated series Star Wars Rebels, which is placed between the movies Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. And he wields a red lightsaber.
The glowing cross formed by Kylo Ren’s blades look like a bit of a giveaway here – very Inquistion-like.
There Are No Sith, Masters Nor Apprentices
According to the Rule of Two doctrine, Darth Vader was actually only a Sith Master for a few minutes after he tossed The Emperor.
As the title could only be passed to the Apprentice who killed the Master, Vader was actually a Master for a few minutes, therefore he couldn’t have had an apprentice (Or could he? More on that later).
So it’s possible the Rule of Two lapsed with his death.
Or, if you follow another path, you might be thinking the Rule of Two lapsed during the Emperor’s reign, as he disbanded it in favour of his own “Rule of One”. (It’s complicated.)
The Darth Names Are Taken – A: The Emperor
Yes, it’s possible The Emperor is still alive.
If Luke Skywalker can survive falling down a reactor shaft, so too can the most powerful Sith Lord of all.
The Darth Names Are Taken – B: Darth Maul
Even Darth Maul isn’t exactly dead. Fans of Clone Wars will know that after being cut in half by Obi Wan Kenobi, he somehow ended up living in a cave for 12 years, eating rats and going mad.
In Clone Wars, Maul’s brother eventually rescued him, his mentality was restored by a sorceress and his lower body replaced with prosthetic legs.
Maul actually became quite powerful and caused all sorts of problems for Anakin and Obi Wan, eventually killing a former lover of Obi Wan. There a version which sees the Emperor sort of take Maul back under his wing (actually, he kidnaps and tortures him and forces him back into his service.)
Regardless, Maul is incredibly powerful and was a hugley popular part of the Clone Wars storyline.
And as all this happens before Return of the Jedi, Disney has given the green light for it to be part of the new trilogy’s storyline. In May, it released a statement saying anything in the Star Wars canon after Return of the Jedi, such as the Expanded Universe storylines, could be dismissed and rewritten in the JJ Abrams trilogy.
So, theoretically, even Maul could make an appearance in VII. But it’s unlikely.
The Darth Names Are Taken – C: Starkiller
Okay, now we’re drawing a long bow.
Actually, Vader did have a Sith apprentice whom he secretly trained without Darth Sidious’s knowledge – Starkiller. Sadly, Starkiller died in a heroic act aboard the first Death Star, in much the same manner as Vader would aboard the new Death Star.
But wait, wait – he was cloned by Vader and improved upon. There’s a version of the Battle for Endor in which Starkiller – aka The Dark Apprentice – kills Princess Leia on top of the shield generator bunker. It’s in the video game The Force Unleashed 2 though, so well outside the canon used by Abrams.
The Emperor, just before he brings Vader to his knees with Force lightning, tells Vader he knows of his Dark Apprentice.
If The Emperor is still alive, and the Rule of Two is reinstated, this could be the Apprentice you’re looking for. But the best – sketchy – reason we can give this theory some air time is, well, he wears a hoodie like Kylo Ren’s.
Call Us Crazy
Any of the above scenarios would be fine by us, but the line that Kylo Ren is Darth Vader’s Inquisitor stands up the best.
In fact, there’s many versions that make this story look foolish, and there’s a fair chance we’ll be trolled mercilessly for trying to make sense of any of it. So expect a few updates here, but just know the Star Wars universe is so convoluted that there’s no storyline that can’t somehow be wound into the new trilogy and justified.
For the purists, basically, Kylo Ren can use a red lightsaber without being called “Darth” because JJ Abrams says so.
And he can now leave it up to the millions of fans to make it happen.