How did the Empire become the fundamentalist First Order? We think we have the answer… and it comes from Star Wars Rebels.
A lot has happened in the thirty years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The Rebellion became the Resistance and the Empire retreated into the Outer Rim and reformed itself into the fundamentalist regime known as the First Order.
Led by Supreme Leader Snoke, who has been confirmed as a force user, the First Order seems to worship Darth Vader and freely uses Dark Side users in their operations. Given that Supreme Leader Snoke is rumored to be an alien… we have to ask how that happened when the Empire was racist and xenophobic.
And we think that has to do with the Empire’s Inquisitors.
Who are the Inquisitors?
Introduced in Star Wars Rebels, the Inquisitors are an elite unit of Dark Side users whose sole purpose is to hunt down Force users across the galaxy. Sometimes the Inquisitors will conscript younger Force sensitives into their ranks, but they have standing orders to eliminate Jedi on sight.
They were led by a Grand Inquisitor, who reported directly to Darth Vader. After the Grand Inquisitor was killed by Kanan Jarrus in the Mustafar system, Darth Vader took direct control of the Inquisition.
We know that there are at least two other members, including the “Fifth Brother” and the “Seventh Sister.” Those names seem to indicate that the Inquisitors are put through a rigorous indoctrination program from an early age, stripping away individuality and promoting loyalty to their family (the state).
What happened to the Inquisitors after the fall of the Empire?
We’re not exactly sure, but we can make some educated guesses based on the information we have. While the Emperor and Darth Vader were killed, much of the Empire’s infrastructure survived including high ranking military officers. We also know that since there’s no on screen evidence to suggest there were any Inquisitors at the Battle of Endor, the Imperial Inquisition was more or less intact.
The book Star Wars: Aftermath includes passages that suggested there were parties interested in acquiring Sith artifacts, especially those belonging to Darth Vader. While it’s possible they could be a third part of Force users… we think it’s more likely they are affiliated with the Inquisitors.
How does this tie into the First Order and the Knights of Ren?
We know that Supreme Leader Snoke is a the figurehead of the First Order and that he uses the Dark Side. We also know that the Knights of Ren report directly to him and he’s rumored to be an alien.
All the Inquisitors we’ve seen in Star Wars Rebels thus far have been aliens, so it seems to be the only division of the Empire where humans aren’t the dominant species.
You think Supreme Leader Snoke was an Inquisitor?
Yes, or at least connected to them. We think he eventually took control in the power vacuum left by the Emperor and formed the First Order, placing an emphasis on a religious fundamentalist doctrine.
So, why does the First Order worship Vader and not the Emperor then?
Who did the Inquisitors report directly to?
… Darth Vader.
So, the Knights of Ren is kind of an extension of the Empire’s Inquisitor program?
Essentially, only more hardcore and Medieval to suit the times the First Order was facing. It’s very possible the Inquisition was remolded into the Knights of Ren when the Empire was restructured. That’s why they worship Darth Vader… and that’s why they share the same goals and methods.
If you look at Kylo Ren’s name, it’s clear that’s his “knight name,” which is very reminiscent of the names given to the Inquisitors as part of their indoctrination. That can’t be a coincidence