Star Wars: How did Emperor Palpatine survive?

Ian McDiarmid in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Ian McDiarmid in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

All looked to be over for Emperor Palpatine after the end of Return of the Jedi, but he made his return in the sequel trilogy’s conclusion. How? We have the answer.

One of The Rise of Skywalker‘s most controversial plot points boils down to the return of Emperor Palpatine. As we all remember, Darth Vader threw the Emperor down a deep shaft on the second Death Star, saving Luke and sending the Emperor to his and the Empire’s destruction.

However, that was apparently not the end of Emperor Palpatine. Rise of Skywalker thrusts him into the action but does very little to detail how his new form came to be. We’ll do our best to explain it, but admittedly, it’s complicated.

Before we get into that, here is what the film tells us.

And here is what it doesn’t.

First off, the Emperor we see in Episode IX is not exactly the Emperor after all. It is a clone. In anticipation of his death, Palpatine created multiple vessels to which he can transfer his own spirit and live on through a new body. That is exactly what he did.

Courtesy of The Rise of Skywalker novelization, as Palpatine was falling to his death, he mustered up a great deal of Force powers to send his soul to one of those faraway bodies in what the film refers to as one of the famous unnatural abilities of the Dark Side. From there, much of what we see is ran through in The Rise of Skywalker.

Palpatine prepared for the fall of the Empire and silently conjured up a new power on Exegol to take its place. Henceforth came Supreme Leader Snoke and the First Order, a lame-duck regime used primarily to bring Ben Solo to the Dark Side before the arrival of the Final Order.

Whether that explanation is satisfying enough is left up to the audience’s interpretation, but it would have been nice to receive these answers in the film as opposed to supplemental materials. It can be fitting to have the character pulling the Skywalker Saga’s strings end it, but the way it was done felt like more of a rash decision than anything, and that’s coming from a fan of the film.

Either way, at least we know the philosophy behind it.

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