“Darkness rises, and light to meet it.” From the moment Supreme Leader Snoke uttered these words, they’ve fit seamlessly into the pantheon of Star Wars quotable moments. Something about it just works. It fits naturally not only into the moment, but into the mythology.
Light rising to meet the darkness has been an everlasting, though understated, theme in the Star Wars saga. Going all the way back to the first episode, The Phantom Menace, we see the phantom menace, Palpatine, begin his rise to power. Enabling that rise was the Jedi Order, already well on its way to being the “dogmatic” order that Palpatine would later describe them as.
But consider what is happening in conjunction to that rise of darkness. Three of the most pure-hearted characters ever presented in cinema also begin to join the galactic stage. Between them, Jar Jar, Padme, and Anakin, bring the light to rise. While that statement may seem aloof, consider the text alone, outside of fan backlash or opinions. Jar Jar wants nothing more than to be happy and to make those around him happy. The fact that he fails miserably makes him empathetic, not incorrect. Congruently, Padme wants only to protect her people, and tries to do so in the most peaceful way possible. When she has exhausted all such avenues, she humbles herself before the Gungans asking for help. Humility is the essence of purity.
Then there is Anakin, a slave boy who has every excuse in the galaxy to be mad at everyone. Slave. No father. Lives on a desert planet with no hope of leaving anytime soon. No foreseeable way to achieve his hopes and aspirations. What do we see from him? Purity. The purity to put others before himself, knowing nothing of want or greed despite all that is going on around him.
As the story develops and characters grow, we see the shifting of light and dark, pushing and pulling against each other in a desperate attempt to find balance. Palpatine gains more power, the Jedi become more lost. Darkness rises. But at the same time, strong leaders like Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, and Padme Amidala are put into a position that will eventually allow for them to create the Rebellion to fight the darkness brought on by Palpatine’s Empire. Light to meet it.
Even viewing the story on a more micro, personal level, this dichotomy stays true. Anakin Skywalker, as the centerpiece character of the saga, struggles with this. As a child we meet him and he is pure. He wants to do something about the fact that, “no one helps each other.” In him there is no darkness. However, as he grows and gains more experience, the mask of naivety gains scratches and scars.
The next canonical information we have on Anakin comes via the comic about said padawan and his master. In this comic we see Anakin, at around 12, already questioning if being a Jedi is the right path for him. Of course we know that he stays a Jedi, but this piece of information is crucial. This is his first step toward darkness.
Questioning, however, is not the problem. What becomes difficult, and would eventually push Anakin to becoming Darth Vader, is not accepting the answers it gives you. The Force naturally seeks out balance, and therefore will answer one question in a manner that balances another. Anakin had that. He lost Ahsoka, but gained his own children. He lost his mother, but had Padme. Within him was this powerful light to balance the powerful dark, but when he did not like the options the Force was giving him, he tried to create his own answers. That lead him to a place where he couldn’t even ask more questions, let alone receive answers.
This is where Luke comes into play. He is the answer to the question Vader never knew to ask. He is the light to balance Vader’s darkness, and thus the Force takes him on a very similar trajectory. Luke must have similar struggles, and make the right choices in those struggles, so as to balance the checkbook Anakin so selfishly left in the red.
He takes it back to black by throwing away his lightsaber and refusing to kill his father. Anakin committed the ultimate act of betrayal, whereas Luke committed the ultimate act of loyalty and selflessness. By balancing the scales, Luke allowed Anakin to destroy Palpatine and Anakin’s own dark alter ego.
In The Last Jedi, Luke tells Rey that there was a balance for a time. Then something, or rather someone, disrupted it. Snoke: enter stage right and disrupt the galactic opera. No more peace. No more balance. Once again we see the scales tipping in favor of darkness, yet there is still that small but mighty force of light promising that there is morning even after the darkest of nights.
The fall of the Empire came because of a personal connection, as did the fall of the Republic. With the galaxy in flux, and the First Order gaining more and more control, it will be a personal connection that will determine where the galaxy goes from here. Rey. Kylo. Intertwined in a dance that will forever dominate not just there destiny, but the destiny of the galaxy at large. Dark rose. Light met it. But where does balance fit into the picture? And what does it take to achieve that balance? But, most importantly, where do we go from here?