How Palpatine Survived
When I watched the first teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker and heard that familiar evil cackle at the end of it, I was excited but also concerned. I was okay with bringing the Emperor back as long as we got a cool and thorough explanation for it.
We got nothing.
The opening scroll said that the dead speak and the Emperor is alive and then we go from there.
The only line of exposition that we get is when Palpatine rehashes the line from Revenge of the Sith that the Dark Side is a pathway to unnatural abilities. Okay, that kind of worked in the fast-paced context of the story, though it brought up one major problem. If we don’t know how he came back, how can we be sure he’s finally beaten in the end?
When excerpts from the novelization were released it turns out there was plenty of explanation to how the Emperor survived. He apparently sensed that Darth Vader could turn on him and prepared to transfer his essence into an already prepared clone body on Exegol. As fate would have it, these cloned bodies weren’t strong enough to contain his evil spirit and his minions had to keep making more.
The one we see in The Rise of Skywalker is his last one and that is why he decides to announce his return to the galaxy.
Okay, that’s a little better than no explanation at all. Now we know that Rey needs to kill all of Palpatine’s clones, and the factory to make sure he never comes back. That’s a pretty important detail to leave out, and supposedly there was more explanation that was cut out of the film and not just left to the novelization.