“Evil Rey” might be the most intriguing moment from the new The Rise of Skywalker footage, but Rey and Kylo Ren’s fight atop the likely remnants of the Death Star might be the final showdown in the Skywalker family saga. It would be Rey’s time to face the same decision Luke did in Return of the Jedi when he fought Darth Vader. But the environment their battle takes place, amid a raging and turbulent sea, recalls another famous duel in the Star Wars films, when Obi-Wan and Anakin faced-off on Mustafar for the soul of the galaxy. Each environment, one fire and one water, connects to the fine line between the Light and Dark sides of the Force and what it means to find balance.
Water and fire naturally seem to stand opposite one another. Water brings life; fire destroys it. The molten lava rivers of the volcanic Mustafar perfectly mirrored Anakin’s complete descent. As he gave in to his anger, he killed the man he was, as well as his friendship with his mentor and the hope he represented for the galaxy. His soul was consumed by the flames long before his body.
It’s easy to think if fire—like their red lightsabers—captures the evilness of the Sith, that water represents the Jedi, who are serene protectors of all life in the universe. It’s an idea that fits with the monk-like imagery of still water and gentle waterfalls. It’s an easy connection, and it’s wrong. Just like water can be ice or steam, it can also take on many forms. When a storm rages and the sea rises it can eradicate entire cities, the same as fire. Like someone wielding the Force, water is neither inherently serene or dangerous; it can take life the same as it can give it. It is defined by how it’s used. Luke came to the same realization as he fought his father in Return of the Jedi. Defeating Darth Vader was not the same as winning. Not letting Palpatine use him as a destructive force defined who he was.
Luke refused to give in to his anger and kill his father, and in doing so he saved both Anakin Skywalker’s soul and the galaxy. And how did he celebrate? By burning Vader’s armor, because while fire can epitomize evil, it can also be a symbol of rebirth. On Mustafar, it turned Anakin into Vader; on the forest moon of Endor, it turned Vader into Anakin. Fire is no different than water or the Force, because it’s defined by what you do with it.
When Rey stands opposite Kylo Ren as the waters rise against them, each will find themselves in the same spot Luke and Vader did, the same as Obi-Wan and Anakin did. The environment will mirror their internal struggle against the Light and Dark Side. Each blow bringing their souls closer to the edge, a storm of self-doubt and passion that could ruin each of them and the galaxy if not contained.
Because while fire and water feel like opposites, they are far more alike than different. Water in one form gives life, but if ice were to consume your home or your heart, you’d need it melted by fire, for it also gives warmth. Only with both do you find balance. And as Rey and Kylo Ren both find themselves fighting amid a raging storm, the fine line between the Light and Dark Side of the Force will be ever-present, just as it was on Mustafar so long ago.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm