There’s a crucial, awesome moment in The Rise of Skywalker that deepens one of the biggest twists in Star Wars history. You might not recognize it immediately unless they’ve also seen some Emperor Palpatine-focused episodes of The Clone Wars, and it has everything to do with lightsaber preferences and fighting styles.
Huge spoilers follow for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
If you’re here, then you’ve probably already seen Episode IX and know for a fact that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter. Her parents were “nobodies,” but only because they chose such a life to protect Rey and hide from Palpatine. You must also know that while speaking with Luke Skywalker’s Force ghost on Ahch-To, Rey receives Leia Organa’s hidden lightsaber. So she walks into the final confrontation against Palpatine with two lightsabers.
This is the only time in the main series of movies where this happens, other than when Anakin dual-wields two sabers briefly against Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones and against him again in Revenge of the Sith. But it’s happened at least one other time in Star Wars canon, specifically in The Clones Wars animated series when Palpatine wielded two red lightsabers at once.
With that in mind, Rey facing down her grandfather with two blue lightsabers feels like a powerful inversion of her Sith legacy.
Ever since The Force Awakens, many fans speculated that Rey might be related to Palpatine on account of her fighting style. When she faced Kylo Ren in the snow-covered forest of Starkiller Base, Rey’s lightsaber technique relies on forward-thrusting jabs. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine used the same technique against Mace Windu and later Yoda. (Side-note: Palpatine only duel wields lightsabers in the cartoon because of a plot hole in the movies that the cartoon needed to retcon.)
There are, of course, other characters that wield two lightsabers in Star Wars can. The most notable might Ahsoka Tano, who fights with a reverse grip on each saber.
Still, for Rey to defeat Palpatine while wielding two blue Skywalker lightsabers feels like a perfect symbol of her own dual nature as a genetic Palpatine but a spiritual Skywalker (especially since the saber’s she uses to reflect Palpy’s Force lightning back at him belonged to Luke and Leia).
Palpatine wants Rey to strike him down so that he can transfer his powers to her and continue to Sith legacy. For Rey to defeat him this way instead exonerates her from killing him outright. It’s a powerful moment that almost redeems an otherwise pretty flawed moment.
At the very least, it’s one of the most epic moments in the history of Star Wars. Rey chooses to do the right thing and fight evil even while risking her own life — where have we seen that before?
We guess it turns out the only thing anyone really needed to defeat Emperor Palpatine was a taste of his own medicine in the form of a pair of lightsabers and a powerful blast of Force lightning.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters.