The Evil Emperor Palpatine has been a repulsive yet powerful fiend in cinema for 40 years.
Original Star Wars buffs watched Palpatine as Darth Vader knelt before his holographic image in The Empire Strikes Back, almost deifying him and serving his every word.
In the original trilogy, Palpatine is the driving force behind pinning Vader and Luke Skywalker, father and son, against each other. He commands Vader with the weighty task of making Luke succumb to the Dark Side or else destroy him.
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When he finally confronts Luke, Palpatine seeks ever to plant the seeds of anger and hatred in the young Jedi’s heart. It is a most fateful moment in the history of the struggle between the Dark Side and the Light.
Again, in the prequel film series, the then-Chancellor is the one pulling the strings, manipulating Anakin Skywalker’s thought process and philosophy. He causes the strife that divides Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi. He uses people as chess pieces toward his goal of unlimited power.
Given his track record, it makes good sense to reprise the long-deceased but ever menacing image of Palpatine in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Palpatine’s Return Makes Sense
One popular line of thought among members of the Star Wars fandom is that Palpatine’s return utterly undermines Darth Vader’s sacrifice. It’s easy to be sympathetic to this notion. But the essence of Vader’s sacrifice remains intact even though it is now known that the goal of his sacrifice was, in fact, never realized.
Nevertheless, Vader still did the right thing in the end, conquering evil in the moment while defending the life of his son.
While it seems that nostalgia and familiarity are emotions the latest Star Wars films seem to rely too heavily on, I can wholeheartedly support a return of Palpatine.
J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker marked the climactic close to the entire Skywalker Saga. Just as Palpatine was the prime enemy of Skywalkers in the prior two trilogies, it makes perfect sense that he returns for the end of the Skywalker franchise.
While it’s intriguing to have had the possibility of a real backstory to Snoke’s character, it fits the universality of the Skywalker Saga to have Palpatine make a comeback. As with Anakin and Luke, Palpatine once again is discovered to be orchestrating the decisions that Rey and Ben Solo make along their journey.
Palps Is Not Only Back, But Creepier Too
On another point about Palpatine’s character, The Rise of Skywalker succeeded in doing something prior installments had not tapped into. In Episode IX, we see Palpatine in a different light – as a decaying wretch still bent on getting his way. The movie succeeds in portraying the Evil Emperor creepier and more disgusting than ever before.
Between the missing digits on his hands and the mangled mechanism he is attached to, he has an even more menacing aura about him than in Revenge of the Sith or Return of the Jedi.
Palpatine looked like a wrinkled lizard in the holographic message in Episode V – before the digital remastering. And even when compared to that, his appearance in Episode IX is much more repulsive.
Ultimately, with the combined strength of Rey and Ben, Palpatine falls once more on Exegol, and this time for good – hopefully. But his cackle will continue to bring out the goosebumps in fans for years to come.
What did you think about the creators of The Rise of Skywalker bringing the Emperor back? Even better, what did you enjoy most out of Episode IX? Hit us up in the comments!