While The Rise of Skywalker may have closed out the most recent Star Wars trilogy, it left many fans with more questions than answers, not the least of which is how exactly Emperor Palpatine rose from death at the opening of the movie. Didn’t Darth Vader toss him down a shaft to his death in Return of the Jedi?
Extra details on Palpatine’s resurrection can be found in tie-in media such as The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition novel and the fictional family biography Skywalker: A Family at War. However, information about Palpatine’s return has finally been made available and collated from one official source.
Covering scraps of info collected across various types of media, a new column from Lucasfilm Story Group member Emily Shkoukani over at Star Wars Inside Intel tells the whole story behind “The Contingency,” Palpatine’s plan to cheat death and return to ultimate power.
How Palpatine survived his death in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi
Taking precautions before the events of Return of the Jedi, the ever devious Darth Sidious transferred his consciousness into a clone at the Sith Citadel on the ancient and hidden world of Exegol. It was on this world that he had planned to make his permanent base of power, and he had been conducting such experiments for many years as he continued his efforts to wipe out the old republic.
However, Sidious had not perfected the process, and the clone was unable to fully contain his consciousness., Although weak, the clone began to undertake his own actions on Exegol, including building The Final Order and seeking a host to eventually transfer his own consciousness into; the clone was rotting and taking on a hideous appearance, making his lifespan and effectiveness uncertain.
One of the significant changes to the canon in the column involves Rey’s father. Rey is now confirmed as the daughter of one of the emperor’s genetically engineered beings, with her father no longer being “the son of the Emperor,” as Kylo Ren had claimed. The retcon first appeared in the Rise of Skywalker novelization.
In symmetry with Luke, efforts to hide Rey failed, and a date with destiny and the emperor awaited.
The Rise of Skywalker wanted to show more of Palpatine’s backstory
The Rise of Skywalker would originally have gone much deeper into the backstory behind Palpatine’s survival, with editor Maryann Brandon revealing in an interview last year that scenes featuring the story were cut from the theatrical edit.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Brandon said, “[There was originally] a little more information about it, what was keeping [Palpatine] alive, [but] it seemed to go off-topic. It was kind of a delicate balance and went back and forth a lot about how much we wanted to reveal. Some scenes changed quite a bit, the way that we wanted to present it to the audience. In the end, we ended up showing a lot less of it than we started with.”
The final full story of Palpatine’s resurrection may offer fans some measure of resolution after many harshly criticized the Emporer’s seemingly random appearance in The Rise of Skywalker, and the explanation given by Poe Dameron in the film. “Somehow, Palpatine returned.” That’s it?
While it certainly won’t affect the reception of the movie itself, or even become widely known outside the most hardcore of fans, at least one of the trilogy’s plot holes seems to have been filled.