This article tries to clear up any confusion and explain how Emperor Palpatine defied death to terrorize the Star Wars Galaxy once more in The Rise of Skywalker
Unless some of you had been in a galaxy far, far away, most of us probably know that Star Wars alpha antagonist, Sheev Palpatine, had recently returned to terrorize the Galaxy once more in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
However, there was a slight problem. Last we saw of Ol’ Palpy he had supposedly gotten executively discharged by his former enforcer, Darth Vader, onboard the second Death Star.
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Forewarning: This post contains SPOILERS so, please read with caution in case you haven’t seen the recent film.
My original expectation when I heard of this character’s return was, ‘ Oh, he cloned himself. ‘ After all, Palpatine did have access to cloning technology through the same source that had created his Grand Army of the Republic. Besides being the most logical of returns, this was actually something that Palpatine had already done in the Legends Dark Empire comic book series.
However, Big Evil’s actual return was via something much more sinister, something that you might would say was unnatural. As seen in the video clip below, back in Revenge of the Sith, then Chancellor Palpatine had a conversation with Anankin Skywalker that helped seduce the Chosen One to join the Dark Side.
"“The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities that some would consider…unnatural.”—Sheev Palpatine, Revenge of the Sith"
Among these ‘unnatural abilities’ was preserving life. This claim seemed at first to be a lie, used to seduce the Jedi’s Chosen One; after all, it didn’t seem to work out too well for Darth Plagueis who supposedly discovered it. However, as seen in the recent film, Rise of Skywalker, the Sith can indeed cheat death, although it comes with a heavy price.
Unlike the Jedi, who become Force Ghost’s, the Sith-version of being immortal is basically becoming a zombie. Also, whereas the Jedi transcend their mortal bodies to become something much more powerful than can be imagined, the undead Sith lord continues to exist inside the same body he “died” in.
How did he do it? The most likely answer is a combination of Sith Alchemy and pure hatred. Remember, Palpatine isn’t the first Sith to defy death. The Emperor’s former apprentice Darth Maul showed that his kind are notoriously hard to kill, after he was found by his brother Savage Opress on the junk planet of Lotho Minor. Besides, if a guy like Maul can survive being cut in half, imagine then what his master would be capable of.
Seriously, what could be worse than to have your soul stuck inside a decaying body with dead eyes and mangled hands? Actually, it does get worse for the former ruler of the Galaxy, as he’s now paralyzed, and has to rely on an odd-looking machine that resembles a droideka to move around.
This, as it turned out, was just a temporary setback. It’s revealed that The Emperor’s plan of escaping this damnable fate was to have himself struck down by his granddaughter, Rey. But, it had to be done through hatred. The reason for this was that it would have weakened her defenses enough to become a vessel to contain not just Palpatine’s corrupt spirit, but apparently the essence of other deceased Sith as well. Interestingly, it actually gives new meaning to why he was taunting Luke in Return of the Jedi.
Palpatine’s nefarious plan changed, though, following the timely arrival of the recently redeemed Ben Solo. By accident, the undead Emperor realized that through siphoning some of the life-force of his granddaughter and former rival/apprentice he could prolong his own existence, and thus restore his decaying flesh back to life.
Fully resurrected, the Emperor began to unleash his Sith Lightning on the Rebel Fleet, causing their ships to shut down and fall from the sky above Exegol. Meanwhile, Ben and Rey attempted to mount an offense, but the dark lord swatted them down.
Fortunately, Rey is able to muster the will to take one last stand against her evil grandfather. Ironically, in this final confrontation between the two Palpatines, Rey pulled a Mace Windu and caused the Emperor to be obliterated by his favorite Sith attack.
In the aftermath of this epic showdown, one thing was certain: The reign of Darth Sidious was finally over. (For real. Sorry, Sheev, no more resurrections for you.) Not only did his existence end, but so did his lineage, as Rey decided to adopt the Skywalker surname as her own.
What do you think about the return of Palpatine? What about how he was finally destroyed? Any comments and/or thoughts can be left in the comments section below.
Further reading: If you would like to know more about Palpatine and/or the Sith, two books worth reading are James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, detailing the origins of the Emperor, and Daniel Wallace’s Book of Sith.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now playing at theaters across the world.