How Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Homaged The Franchise's Most Iconic FIght
"Water" way to go
While fans thought Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the most divisive entry in the Skywalker Saga since Attack of the Clones, that was nothing compared to J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Despite criticisms the ninth (and final) entry was thrown together as a desecration of the franchise, one potential Easter egg confirms it was more than just Babu Frik and creepy kisses.
One of Episode IX's most impressive scenes saw Rey and Kylo Ren fight aboard the half-sunk wreckage of the Death Star -- well, one of them. Their watery lightsaber battle took place on the water moon of Kef Bir and led into the pair's final showdown on Exegol. Was Rey and Ren's duel a clever nod to Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's iconic Battle of Mustafar and and actually more than just the moment Adam Driver's brooding villain saw the error of his ways?
Posting on Reddit, u/BigSpicyMeatBOI claims it was no coincidence that the Battle of Mustafar and Battle of Kef Bir shared a few similarities. With George Lucas making Darth Vader the tragic villain of his original trilogy, it was clear things weren't going to end well for Anakin when the prequel trilogy rolled around in 1999. It didn't take long for Lil Orphan Ani to turn from Jake Lloyd's bowl-cut kid to Hayden Christensen's scowling teen. This culminated in the particularly dark Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Anakin's evolution into Darth Vader.
Revenge of the Sith was just as controversial as the rest of the prequels, however, the fiery Battle of Mustafar kicked things up a notch. Per the Reddit theory, the fight on Kef Bir is almost the reverse of Mustafar. Apart from swapping burning lava for crashing waves, both fights were a turning point for the Big Bad. However, whereas Anakin was lost to the dark side amidst Obi-Wan's screams of , "You were the chosen one", Kylo Ren turned to the light side. As the theory states, "They use water instead of fire and lava. Water meaning life and peace vs lava showing hate and suffering".
Not that you'd know, but Mustafar actually featured in The Rise of Skywalker. Kylo Ren's opening search for the Sith Wayfinder took him back to the fiery planet that was also home to Darth Vader's castle. Sadly, like so much of Episode IX, a lot of this backstory was cut, along with General Hux and General Pryde also accompanying Kylo Ren on his journey. For the time being, Mustafar was left behind with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The Kef Bir connection is an interesting idea that adds another layer to The Rise of Skywalker and could do something to dampen the Mustafarian fires of its critics. One complaint was the Driver's Kylo Ren was just a pale imitation of Vader. Although there were a few nods to the legacy of his grandfather and Kylo Ren kept his charred helmet, the sequel trilogy largely steered away from Darth Vader. This would've worked fine on its own if Episode IX hadn't thrown Emperor Palpatine in the mix for no apparent reason.
There have been some great lightsaber duels over the nine movies. From Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul to Mace Windu vs the Emperor, Luke vs Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back to The Last Jedi's climactic throne room, but just where does Rey and Kylo Ren's Episode IX brawl fit into it?
Love it or hate it, the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren was one of the most complicated to grace the galaxy far, far away -- especially with THAT kiss. Ultimately, it's unclear whether the Mustafar allegory was always planned by Abrams or just a happy coincidence, but either way, it's worth a rewatch.