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Explaining How the Emperor Returned
The Rise of Skywalker begins by saying “The Dead Speak!” We are immediately thrust into the story that the Emperor has returned from the dead with the first line of the opening scroll. Not much else is given about how he’s returned. When Kylo Ren finds him on the planet Exagol we see that he’s basically a corpse that can talk. Other than repeating the line from Revenge of the Sith that the Dark Side is a path to unnatural powers, no further explanation is given. This was a huge missed opportunity by the filmmakers.
How the Emperor came back is key to believing he is truly defeated at the end of the movie. Did his spirit live on after he was chucked down the reactor core by Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi? Did he have himself cloned so that he could inhabit a new body in the case of his death? Did he use some sort of Sith magic as he was falling down the core? Or maybe he pulled a Voldemort and put part of his soul in different objects that his followers found and extracted in some sort of ceremony? We will never know.
Without knowing exactly how he died, we can’t be certain he’s gone for good this time. It certainly looked like it when Rey, with the help of all the previous Jedi who lived, deflected his enhanced Force lightning back at him and he disintegrated. One would think knowing how he came back would factor into the plan to defeat him for good. It never was explained, and that was a missed opportunity by J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio.