If you’re having trouble remembering exactly which planet The Rise of Skywalker begins on, you’ll be forgiven. Not only does Kylo spend approximately 30 seconds on this planet before Ben Solo jets-off to Exegol, but the planet itself also is never properly identified. And yet, from orbit, many fans probably thought it looked pretty damn familiar, and it turns out, they were right. The very start of the last Star Wars movie in the Skywalker saga is, basically, the birthplace of Darth Vader. But is that just a cool Easter egg, or does it mean something bigger?
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In the officially released book, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, it turns out that Kylo is raiding Mustafar. That’s the same lava planet Obi-Wan and Anakin dueled on in Revenge of the Sith, and the same spot where Vader built a castle, briefly glimpsed in Rogue One.
The creepy people Kylo’s taking out are called Alazmec. They’re basically Darth Vader cultists, who also apparently decided to plant some trees on Mustafar — because there’s no way this was originally supposed to be a different planet when the scene was originally filmed and this explanation wasn’t just slapped on later, right?
From an excerpt from the book, via Entertainment Weekly.
Kylo soon outpaces his stormtrooper escorts as he cuts a swath of destruction through the Alazmec who attempt to block his path to Vader’s castle — or rather, its crumbling ruins. Kylo enters the castle grounds with purpose and finds an ark containing an artifact that will lead him to answers.
So, all kidding aside, it seems very strange that this planet wasn’t just identified outright as Mustafar. It’s so strange in fact, it’s almost as though the only people that know they are on Mustafar are the cultist Alazmec who live there, and probably, Kylo Ren.
The opening text crawl certainly doesn’t seem aware that we’re on Mustafar, and, despite being a big Darth Vader fan Kylo Ren doesn’t seem interested in lingering there to commune with the spirit of his grandpa(or maybe just look at some of Vader’s cool stuff in his castle, like, I dunno, his Sith hot tub or something).
The point is, Kylo Ren loves Darth Vader. So why did he let these weird assholes live on the “grounds” of Vader’s castle in the first place? And how did he figure out to look for the Sith Wayfinder on Mustafar in the first place?
Because we learn the other Sith Wayfinder was located on the second Death Star, it seems like the Emperor and Vader were just carrying these things around with them and dropping them off where it was convenient. For example, the Emperor was on the second Death Star for, what, like a day? During that time, he was apparently able to get a secret room built for his Sith Wayfinder, and then apparently have the door coded to his DNA so only he could get to it.
To be clear, this is what I’m assuming, because the door opens for Rey (someone with Palps DNA), and the ark Kylo finds on Mustafar, opens for him. The rule with the Sith Wayfinders seems to have been “keep it secret. keep it safe. Use a weird DNA-scanning lock.”
Again, I’m just guessing about the DNA-scanning lock, but it makes sense considering Kylo was able to open the Vader-Wayfinder super-secret hiding spot, and Rey was able to open the Palpatine one. Because if these hidey-holes didn’t have some kind of DNA-scanning lock, then basically, what we’re seeing is the Emperor just kind of throwing his Wayfinder into a hotel closet, and Vader putting his in one of those lockboxes people use when they rent their apartment out on Airbnb.
Thank god only two of these Sith Wayfinders were made. Can you imagine if there were even more copies?
So, in terms of in-universe questions, the way in which the Wayfinders were hidden has a reasonable answer, though the fact that Mustafar wasn’t clearly identified in the film is still baffling. And even more baffling, because this exact same thing happened three years ago.
In Rogue One, every single planet is identified with text-on screen except when Krennic goes to visit Vader on Mustafar. In the context of Rogue One, this was probably done to hide the surprise of seeing Vader in the next scene. (Maybe?) But in The Rise of Skywalker it’s totally confusing.
Sure, The Mandalorian has been playing fast and loose with not really telling us which planet is which, but that’s a little different. Rise of Skywalker revealing that Kylo Ren hits up, perhaps, the most pivotal planet in all of Star Wars, but then making us go look for that detail in a book is totally backwards.
Then again, it’s not as ridiculous as burying a fleet of spaceships on a planet that is impossible to find and then giving the only two trackers to a couple of dudes who insist on being called “Darth” and dress all in black. If The Rise of Skywalker has taught us anything, it’s that the Force is with us again, and it is freaking weird.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Where Did Vader Hide His Wayfinder? is out everywhere now.