Here Is How Palpatine Returned in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’


The entire storyline of ‘Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker’ is one of the most controversial movies in the history of Star Wars due to the fact that Emperor Palpatine, who we thought had died in ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,’ suddenly returned without any prior storylines detailing how he was able to cheat death. So, how did Palpatine return in ‘The Rise of Skywalker?’

  • Article breakdown:
  • Palpatine always prepared for his death because he had a hunch that Darth Vader was eventually going to betray him one way or another.
  • In order to try to cheat death, Palpatine ordered his Sith Eternal to research cloning and create different clones that could serve as the new vessel of his soul in case of his death.

Palpatine had a contingency plan in place

We all know that the one person who has had a hand in the entire storyline of the Skywalker Saga was none other than Sheev Palpatine, who manipulated all of the events in the galaxy to destroy the Jedi Order and make way for the rise of his Galactic Empire. Of course, while he wasn’t in ‘Star Wars Episode VII’ and ‘Star Wars Episode VIII,’ he suddenly reappeared in ‘Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker,’ where it was explained that he just somehow returned.

It was never properly explained in the movie how or why Palpatine was still alive, which was one of the reasons why ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ was a polarizing movie for many Star Wars fans. The fact that the sequel trilogy lacked coherence was a problem, and Palpatine’s sudden return was something that was never addressed in any of the previous movies, where he was obviously absent.

But the thing is that the books and the comics were able to make sense of Palpatine’s return in ‘The Rise of Skywalker.’ Even the shows that take place during the New Republic era are trying to make it more understandable to fans that Palpatine was able to return due to his long-term planning. And it all goes back to the fact that Sheev was always a cunning and manipulative individual who never did things without a plan in mind.

Consistent with the very nature of the Rule of Two, Palpatine understood that his apprentice, Darth Vader, would eventually betray him one way or another. The Rule of Two was designed to allow the apprentice to eventually try to overthrow the master. And while Palpatine understood that Vader was no longer strong enough to overthrow or defeat him, there was still a good chance of his apprentice doing so, and that happened when Vader betrayed his master to save Luke Skywalker’s life.


Here’s How Palpatine Hid in Plain Sight & Jedi Couldn’t Sense Him

So, in preparation for the possibility of Vader or even the Rebels killing him, Palpatine had a contingency plan that he installed as early as the first decade of the Empire. As old as he was, he knew he wouldn’t live for very long, so he already prepared for his death.

There were already a lot of different contingency plans in place for Palpatine’s death, and the most important plan involved his Sith Eternal cult, which operated on the secret planet called Exegol. In Exegol, the Sith Eternal operates to try to find a way to give Palpatine the immortal life he always wanted.

So, while it was never explained in the movies that Palpatine already had different plans for his return, the comics, and the novels detailed them well enough to make Palpatine’s sudden return in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ quite understandable.

Cloning was Palpatine’s goal for immortality

The one thing that Palpatine wanted his entire life was to become immortal so that he could rule the galaxy as the emperor forever. After all, the Sith yearned for power above everything else, and it only makes sense for the Sith to want to hold on to power forever. And that was why Palpatine and all of the other Sith Lords of the past spent their entire lives trying to become immortal.

One of the methods of immortality that Palpatine discovered was soul transference, which would allow a person to use the dark side of the Force to transfer their soul to another. The one he had his eyes on was Anakin Skywalker, who was born with the highest potential in the Force in the galaxy’s history.

Taking over Anakin’s body would have allowed Palpatine to extend his lifespan and become the most powerful Sith Lord of all time. But that could no longer happen because Palpatine realized that Darth Vader became weaker after he was maimed and burned in his fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

So, because he could no longer take over Vader’s body, Palpatine sought an entirely new method to extend his life or, at the very least, cheat death if there was someone who would kill him. And this involved cloning.

As such, Palpatine ordered the Sith Eternal to focus their efforts on finding a way to clone a suitable vessel that would serve as Palpatine’s new body in case he were to die. That was how the Sith Eternal developed strandcasts, which were genetically modified bodies created using cloning technology. And this was how Dathan, Rey’s father, was created.

None of the strandcasts that the Sith Eternal created were suitable enough for Palpatine. As such, he could never transfer his body to a powerful clone. Instead, after he died, his essence had to be contained within the body of a clone that couldn’t contain his incredible power and malice. As such, the Palpatine we saw in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ was simply a rotting clone that was falling apart because it couldn’t contain Palpatine’s soul.


Darth Vader vs. Palpatine: Who Was Stronger & Who Would Win in a Fight?

But because Palpatine had no choice, he had to move into this body temporarily while he and his Sith Eternal searched for a new vessel to contain his soul. As such, for many years, he spent his days hiding in Exegol without the ability to do much of the usual things that his original body allowed him to do.

When he discovered Rey existed, he decided that her body was the most suitable candidate as she was basically his daughter, given that Rey was the daughter of Palpatine’s genetic clone.

So, in other words, Palpatine was able to return in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ thanks to the efforts of the Sith Eternal to produce a clone that would serve as his vessel. Nevertheless, the clone that they were able to create was only temporary because it wasn’t strong enough to contain his power and soul.

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