Greetings, Star Wars fans! Most of you know that kyber crystals are the heart of lightsabers. These special crystals amplify energy, thus producing the plasma blade. They are also deeply rooted in Jedi tradition. Luminara Unduli went as far as to say to her apprentice Barriss Offee about the crystals:
“The crystal is the heart of the blade. The heart is the crystal of the Jedi. The Jedi is the crystal of the Force. The Force is the blade of the heart. All are intertwined. The crystal, the blade, the Jedi. You are one.” (Star Wars: Clone Wars Chapter 14)
But what role have kyber crystals played in the broader Star Wars galaxy? Read on for more, and beware of potential SPOILERS for Rogue One and Episode VIII.
Recently, Jason Ward has reported on MSW about a scene regarding kyber crystals in Rogue One. Briefly, there are potential images of crates on the set for Rogue One that have been called “Kyber crystal crates” on the set. The thinking is these crates and the crystals they contain will be featured in Rogue One, likely connected to the construction of the Death Star featured in the film. Possible images for the crates are below, but first, let’s talk a little bit about what role these crystals have played in the saga as as whole.
As we’ve discussed before, Kyber crystals were used to build the main weapon of the Death Star, and enabled it to blast a planet out of the galaxy. From the Tarkin novel, we have the following quote:
So, the orignal Death Star had kyber crystals arranged in a particular configuration. We know from ANH that there are eight large beams, possibly indicating eight crystals arranged in a circle, and presumably this is the aforementioned “optimum configuration”:
The notion of kyber crystals in Star Wars TV and movie content goes back all the way to early Expanded Universe content (now Legends), but they had their first appearance on-screen in Star Wars: Clone Wars, and The Clone Wars. It was introduced in the Clone Wars in the episode “The Gathering” (season 5 episode 6) where it was further explained that every Jedi must find their own kyber crystal, and it is part of becoming a Jedi. Kyber crystals are in a sense a part of the Jedi’s awareness, and are deeply connected to the Force.
In fact, kyber crystals were going to be a big part of some more episodes that were ultimately left unfinished. They were the basis of the plot of “Crystal Crisis” and “The Big Bang“. These episodes are still in very rough form, but someday they might be finished. They present an idea of a kyber crystal as part of a large weapon. In this arc, General Grievous and the Separatists had an enormous kyber crystal weapon on Utapau. The crystals themselves were larger than a person, and about the size of a star ship. Here you can see this unfinished rendering from the episode, with the green crystal at the top of the screen:
At the end of the second episode, Yoda comments:
Not Grievous, the work of the Sith Lord, this is. Better in the end destroyed, this crystal was….Out of the stories of old, this crystal comes. Long ago, in forgotten times, when the Sith and Jedi fought for control of the galaxy, weapons there were of unimaginable power. Always at their heart, a kyber crystal was. Just like the one you described.
So not only do the notion of large kyber crystals used in weapons for galactic domination go back to ancient times, but Darth Sidious knew this and was seeking them out. Yoda continues by telling Anakin:
In legends, we often find great truths, Skywalker. A warning this is. Powerful the Sith Lord has become, with great designs for our destruction. If find one of these crystals he can, another he will seek.
Here we have both the subtle notion of the old EU being somewhat true, later echoed by Ahsoka when she said “There’s always truth in legends”, as well as some foreshadowing of the Emperor’s plans to acquire more of these crystals as he ultimately did.
Later, in the Star Wars Rebels episode “Twilight of the Apprentice”, we see the “Infernal Machine” as part of a Sith Temple, that is capable of sending a laser blast into space. It was confirmed by StarWars.com in a “Twilight of the Apprentice” trivia page (backup link here), in the following image:
So it is therefore known that ancient Sith had the technology of kyber crystals and used them to create super-weapons. As part of his knowledge of Ancient Sith lore, and access to holocrons, Darth Sidious was very aware of this ancient technology and sought to use it to gain complete control of the galaxy. Certainly Snoke and the First Order have access to this information as well. This could be because Snoke may have knowledge going back to ancient times, including possibly some ancient knowledge of how hyperspace works. It’s also possible that Snoke has gotten ahold of some Sith holocrons holding the information about these ancient methods. Of course, Snoke and the First Order took this idea even further, and it is very likely that they built a super-weapon into the planet Ilum, the very planet where the Jedi originally got their kyber crystals from, and where they were first mentioned in the Clone Wars episode “The Gathering”, mentioned above.
Although the theory that Star Killer base was once the planet Ilum hasn’t been completely confirmed (to my knowledge it is only strongly hinted at), there is no doubt that the First Order used kyber crystal weapons. The Star Wars databank entry for the First Order Star Destroyer “The Finalizer”, the ship seen at the opening shot of TFA, gives the following information regarding the ship’s weapons:
“Her turbolasers are more powerful and faster to recharge than Imperial-era weapons, a product of kyber crystals harvested in the Unknown Regions.”
In fact, it is said in The Force Awakens: Visual Dictionary that this ship was constructed in secret in the Unknown Regions. Palpatine sanctioned explorations of the galaxy, and sought out these kinds of crystals as well as powers of the Dark Side in the Unknown Regions. It’s highly likely that Imperial soldiers scientists exploring the Unknown Regions could have persisted after the fall of the Empire, and maybe they even met Snoke in this part of the galaxy. After the fall of the Empire, these brigades may in fact have re-assembled into the First Order.
Although the actual name “kyber crystal” has never been heard in a Star Wars movie, it is increasingly being heard in TV. Even the latest Lego Star Wars TV show “The Freemaker Adventures” has a major plot device called the Kyber Saber. So it would appear that Lucasfilm is keen on putting the crystals into the awareness of fans of all ages, and is making kyber crystals a key part of Star Wars storytelling. This would make sense for them to do if they are preparing to introduce this concept into the movies.
Going back to Rogue One, we now have the rumor that we’ll see crates in the film carrying these crystals, to presumably while the Empire builds them into the Death Star. Max Palas recently followed up on Star Wars Post presenting some possible images of these crates, taken from a batch of drone photos (I think first leaked on mirror.co.uk):
I think Max might be on to something here, and Jason Ward also mentions that these crates may have been seen in some drone photos in the MSW article linked above, possibly referring to the very same images. This, if true, may suggest tall crystals, about 5-6 feet tall, yet significantly smaller than the unfinished Clone Wars episode image above. These crates could involve some scene where the crystals are actually transported into space to be installed in the actual Death Star. This would fit into the scene from the trailer where we see the main weapon put into place:
There are more rumors that Mads Mikkelsen will play a scientist that will be somehow involved in setting up this weapon, possibly taking over the Death Star project after the Empire wipes out the Geonosians. I certainly hope these kyber crystals fit into actual dialogue and are mentioned in some capacity as part of the story. However, not everything in Star Wars is actually stated on film, and much of it only ends up in a Visual Dictionary at some point. However, the MSW report suggests that the crew actually refers to these crates as “kyber crystal crates”, supporting the idea that they are mentioned in the film.
What’s next? Will we see the mention of these crystals in Episode VIII? There is a chance that Rey will have to find her own kyber crystal to construct her own lightsaber, although everything we’ve seen until now suggests that she uses the Skywalker saber throughout Episode VIII. Still, this could be a plot point in the movie, possibly involving Rey searching through a cave on Ahch-To to find such a crystal. Maybe we’ll see Rey emerge in Episode IX with her new saber completed, thus mirroring Luke in RotJ. At this point, we don’t know for sure if and how this will all play out. Sometimes these kinds of theories get blown way out of proportion and end up just being a 3 second throw-away shot in the actual movie. We can have fun speculating about it until then!