Who are the Knights of Ren? It’s tricky.
@gwendy85 and @msheadbanging were discussing the Knights of Ren and came across an interesting quote from Adam Driver that I want to take a closer look at.
Here’s the quote:
Interviewer: “So, who are the Knights of Ren?”
Driver: “It was a group that existed before him, that he was a part of. Their place within everything is maybe more of a satellite group than I would say … This is really tricky.”
The quote was offered as evidence “debunking” the idea that the Knights may be Luke’s other students (presumably because Driver’s words can be interpreted to mean the Knights were a pre-existing group).
I think it’s useful to look at the larger context in which Driver said this. The article is by Meredith Woerner from the LA Times, and was published on December 21, 2015, right after the film was released. Here’s a little more of the transcript, with the Knights question in the middle:
Interviewer: Where does
Kylo Ren stand in the hierarchy of the Empire?
Driver: That’s difficult to say. I think it fluctuates.
Interviewer: So who are the Knights of Ren?
Driver: It was a group that existed before him, that he was a part of. Their place within everything is maybe more of a satellite group than I would say … This is really tricky.
Interviewer: Is that why everything that you have is a bit broken down?
Driver: No, there’s definitely a history that you see in the costume of things in the past right away. They’re kind of like visible scars, on his outfit. In part to intimidate but also because he’s carrying along this history of people.
Who is Driver talking about? He’s talking about his character Kylo Ren, not Ben Solo. In the question immediately before, he says Kylo’s name, in answer to the question about his fluctuating position in the Empire/First Order.
Read Driver’s words again, substituting the character’s name in place of the pronoun:
It was a group that existed before Kylo Ren, that he was a part of.
The two parts of Driver’s sentence don’t even make sense, unless he is saying that the Knights are a group that Kylo Ren was a part of…before he was Kylo Ren. I think this is in fact what he is saying, and that he came perilously close to saying too much.
Driver continues, “Their [the Knights’] place within everything is maybe more of a satellite group than I would say … This is really tricky.”
I wish I had video of this interview. It would be great to have the inflection, pauses, and emphases that would offer more data for
hair-splitting analysis, but even so, you can sense how Driver trails off when he realizes he’s saying too much. I think he might have finished that sentence along the lines of, “their [the knights’] place within everything is maybe more of a satellite group than I would say part of the hierarchy of the Empire/FO.”
Would that have told us much more? Sort of. The implication is that the Knights are not part of the regular military structure of the First Order. They are a satellite group. A group Kylo Ren was part of, a group that existed before Kylo Ren did.
As both Driver and @msheadbanging note, it’s tricky! The interviewer had no way of knowing she was asking a question that sits at the very heart of JJ Abrams’ Big TFA Mystery Box; the truth about Ben Solo’s fall, and by extension his mysterious companions, the Knights of whom he is Master. Over the past five months I’ve watched hours of Driver in interviews (I used to have a different life), and my impression is that he doesn’t lie well, or perhaps at all, when trying to answer people’s questions. He started to answer the question here, realized he couldn’t, and stopped. “…this is really tricky.”
The interviewer takes pity and asks a different question, which Driver is able to jump onto and the conversation goes back onto safe ground.
That we, the obsessed, read this quote as a reference to a group that existed in the deeper past, before Ben Solo’s fall, is probably a reflection of a curious phenomenon of the fandom - we have spent a lot of time with Ben Solo over the past five months. To us, he’s pretty real, with hundreds of thousands of words written and gigabytes of digital paint spilled, but honestly, Ben Solo is barely a construct in TFA. We still know virtually nothing about him, and while Driver does know his character’s back story, he is not in a position to say anything at all about it to us at this time. Driver is talking just about Kylo Ren in this interview, trying to answer a question about things locked in a mystery box, and it results in a paradox statement right away, because the answer concerns Ben Solo.
So, tl:dr: This tricky Adam Driver quote does not debunk the theory that the Knights are Luke’s other students at all. Quite the contrary.