Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gave us a climactic finale between Rey and Emperor Palpatine. Let’s talk about that ending and what happened between the two.
Warning: MAJOR Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ahead.
It’s been just over two years since The Last Jedi burst onto the scene and shook up the Star Wars universe. With J.J. Abrams at the helm, The Rise of Skywalker looked to put a button on the series as best it could.
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Unfortunately, there seems to have been some confusion about one of the film’s most climactic moments. Much of the film centers on Rey’s complicated lineage, as we find out that she’s actually Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter.
Assuming you’ve seen The Rise of Skywalker, you also saw the trials and tribulations Rey had to go through before finally getting to the final showdown with Darth Sidious aka Emperor Palpatine aka Grandpa. However, when she finally did get to Palpatine, Rey was faced with what seemed an impossible choice.
Emperor Palpatine believed hatred and rage were bubbling inside of Rey, and told her to strike him down with those feelings at heart. According to Palpatine, when Rey struck him down, it would cause Palpatine’s own soul and the power of all the Sith to pass into Rey and make her into Empress Palpatine.
Of course, Rey resisted striking him down because of those very reasons. Earlier in the film, we’d seen the “death” of Kylo Ren and in many ways the rebirth of Ben Solo. Having turned away from the dark side, Solo rushed to Exogal to aid Rey against Emperor Palpatine.
Unfortunately, once they were both together standing against Palpatine, that was when the Emperor realized their value. Ben and Rey are a “diad” in the force, and Palpatine capitalized on this by sucking the life force right out of them.
Palpatine then tossed Ben Solo seemingly to his death, and began to utilize the power he’d pulled from them to restore himself. The Emperor used force lightning at a scale and power none of us has seen before, and that ultimately turned out to be his undoing.
Despite Palpatine’s actions, Rey was not dead. Instead, she fought to her feet with a thousand generations of Jedi pushing her from within and raised a single lightsaber to block force lightning from Palpatine.
Amazingly, despite everything she’d endured, Rey was also able to use the force to pull Ben Solo’s lightsaber to her from the distance. Rey crossed both lightsabers in the form of an ‘X’ and used them to reflect Palpatine’s force lightning back at him.
Earlier, Palpatine had told her to strike him down in anger and hatred, emotions that fuel the Sith. Now, Rey wasn’t doing that at all. Instead, she was using the force to protect and defend.
Palpatine increased his power and tried to break through Rey’s guard, but Rey powered through and was able to reflect the force lightning back into Palpatine. We’ve seen this kind of damage only one previous time, in Revenge of the Sith.
All the way back in Episode III, Mace Windu faced off with Emperor Palpatine and was able to fend a force lightning attack with his own lightsaber. The reflecting force lightning is the reason Emperor Palpatine became so scarred and deformed.
When Rey reflected all of that power back on Emperor Palpatine, she watched her grandfather’s body be eaten away and disintegrated by the force lightning. It’s probably the same thing that would’ve happened to Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith if Anakin Skywalker wasn’t there to muck it all up.
While Rey’s actions may have led to the death of Emperor Palpatine, she didn’t strike him down. In truth, Palpatine killed Palpatine. Much the way that “Bret screwed Bret” at WWF Survivor Series in 1997, Palpatine screwed Palpatine.
Rey didn’t become a Sith Lord imbued with the soul of Palpatine because she didn’t kill him, he ultimately killed himself. His greed, recklessness, and thirst for power were his undoing.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently in theaters.