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What Are Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's Red Sith Troopers?

Lucasfilm has finally given a storied name to the mysterious new red Stormtroopers first seen in April in a leaked poster for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Sith Troopers, described by the studio as "the next evolution in Imperial/First Order soldiers," with a "more menacing look befitting its namesake."

The evocation of the Sith, the ancient enemy of the Jedi, is of course no accident; few things in the Star Wars universe are. However, these new Stormtroopers seem to have succeeded Snoke's Praetorian Guard, who were dispatched by Kylo Ren and Rey in The Last Jedi following the Supreme Leader's assassination.

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Still, other than a seemingly resurrected Emperor Palpatine, there are no more Sith in the galaxy -- at least that we know of. Kylo Ren is the First Order's new Supreme Leader. Snoke wasn't a Sith, either. The Sith are famous in Star Wars canon for working only in teams of two -- "no more, no less" -- with a Master and an apprentice.

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Does that mean this new elite Stormtrooper is able to tap into the Force, or that they are able to sustain Jedi attacks? Or are they "Sith" in name only? In continuity now relegated to Legends, there were Sith Stormtroopers during the era of the Sith Empire. They wore black armor instead of white, and their standard weapon was the E-11 Blaster Rifle, not the melee weapons brandished by First Order Stormtroopers since The Force Awakens.

Sith Troopers also appeared in the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, no longer part of canon. They served as foot soldiers under Darth Revan during the Jedi Civil War.

However, there is one red Stormtrooper in the current continuity: Cardinal CD-0922 or Archex, Captain of the First Order, born and raised on Jakku. Before the Battle of Jakku, the final large-scale military engagement of the Galactic Civil War, he and other orphans joined the cadet program of General Brendol Hux (father of Armitage Hux).

He was absolutely loyal to Brendol Hux, who believed red was a color of power. He was also rivals with Phasma during their stint aboard Finalizer, a First Order Star Destroyer destroyed in The Last Jedi. Cardinal Archex was killed by Phasma after he discovered she poisoned Brendol Hux, on Armitage Hux's orders. He appears both in the Phasma novel and in the upcoming Galaxy's Edge novel, Black Spire.

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So, to whom do the new Sith Troopers owe their allegiance? If Kylo knew about Hux's assassination of his own father, there's a chance he might revive the uniform Archex wore to intimidate the general. If not, then maybe Hux himself is behind the red guard, initiated by his father, to contain -- under the guise of protection -- Kylo's powers as Supreme Leader.

However, given Hux's dislike for Kylo, and Kylo's Dark Side allegiance, we're more inclined to believe they are working directly under the Supreme Leader, with the namesake being a tribute to his beloved grandfather's Order. Perhaps Kylo can't "let the past die," after all.

Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives Dec. 20.

NEXT: How the Emperor Could Return in The Rise of Skywalker

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