Star Wars’ Terrifying Tales: Emperor Palpatine and his terrifying grip on the Force

Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Rebels season 4 episode 13 "A World Between Worlds." Photo:
Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Rebels season 4 episode 13 "A World Between Worlds." Photo: /

This Halloween on Dork Side of the Force, we’re taking a look back at some of Star Wars’ scariest moments, be it the movies, books, TV shows, and everything in between. May the Terrifying Tales be with you!

With the recent release of LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales and all of its horror-referenced Easter eggs, it seems quite appropriate to think about other Star Wars scenes that might give fans a fright. Look no further for a terrifying glance into the devastating power of emperor Palpatine and the Dark Side than Star Wars Rebels, season 4 episode 13, “A World Between Worlds.”

In this episode, we see Ezra Bridger emerge onto a star-filled plane of existence where he can walk along a path to various points in time. “A World Between Worlds” allows fans of Star Wars to see the grand scope of what it means to be a Force wielder, while also furthering this long idea wrapped around emperor Palpatine and what his power truly looks like.

Ezra’s instincts kick in when he stops at one of the many windows in this sacred place and sees Ahsoka battling Darth Vader, which took place years earlier in the Rebels season 2 finale. Ezra grabs Ahsoka and pulls her through the portal and then they both exist together in this place that ultimately has no limits on time. What this place doesn’t have limits from, though, is any protection from emperor Palpatine. In the distance, the raspy voice of Darth Sidious projects through all space and time as he is able to see them through one of the portals.

Throughout the films and animated series, this ability to see into the lives of anyone and walk along this path was a secret. Now, upon seeing it firsthand alongside Ezra, we discover the emperor not only knows about this place, but has the ability to see them and reach out with his violent waves of blue flame. Seeing the emperor’s power is unnerving and he is unrelenting in his attempts to pull them both into his portal, despite Ahsoka breaking his grasp of Ezra briefly.

Hearing about the emperor’s power is one thing, and seeing Palpatine exert that force in previous appearances does let us know his power is great. However, this moment is scary and their mad dash to escape from his clutches is thrilling. Yes, he electrified Master Windu into oblivion during Revenge of the Sith, and I still hold out hope for another appearance somehow. Yes, he devastated Maul and Savage in a two-on-one match in The Clone Wars, season 5 episode 16, “The Lawless.” There have been signs of his greatness, but perhaps the greatest notion of his power came from long ago.

Seeing emperor Palpatine’s power in Rebels could translate to earlier films

"“If you only knew the power of the dark side.”"

Darth Vader uttered these very words to Luke Skywalker during The Empire Strikes Back, and it makes me wonder what he knew then that we all know now after this episode. Was this what Vader knew when referencing his master’s power? We watched as the cloaked, darkened expression of emperor Palpatine peered through this window, and we heard his sinister cackle before reaching out for Ezra and Ahsoka with his “power of the dark side.” Is this the power Vader was referring to?

This is a “terrifying tale” wrapped up in one amazing episode of Star Wars Rebels, and the potential tie-in to an iconic phrase from what some argue as the best film in the Star Wars franchise is incredible to think about. With such great power, and seemingly limitless reach, it makes it apparently clear how influential the emperor can be on almost anyone, including Anakin Skywalker. Realizing Anakin was motivated to save Padme’s life, of course the emperor promised to save her, but perhaps it wasn’t a ruse. Although he didn’t mention how he would save Padme in Revenge of the Sith, emperor Palpatine’s words of cheating death might’ve been referring to this great plane of existence, and that insight could be what led to creating the ultimate villain in Vader.

"“To cheat death is the power only one has achieved. But if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.”"

If all you had to do was to reach through a window, through space and time, then cheating death would be inevitable, much like Ezra did for Ahsoka, assuming she would have died during her battle with Vader. Not only does “A World Between Worlds” present such an exciting sequence of events, with Ezra and Ahsoka fending off the reach of the emperor, it helps us to further understand what his plan might’ve been when he nudged Anakin to the Dark Side.

Star Wars Rebels has phenomenal storytelling throughout its run, and this particular episode featuring an alternate plane of existence does so much more than provide a scary chase scene. The creators give fans a chilling look at what emperor Palpatine is truly capable of while amplifying the fear associated with his presence in any other scene. The wicked laughter, the shrouded scowl and the immense power demonstrated in this episode highlights why he seems unstoppable, proving that there’s good reason to fear the dark lord and why it’s always courageous to fight him.

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What do you think of this “terrifying tale” within Star Wars Rebels? Do you think Vader was referencing the emperor’s connection to this plane of existence back in The Empire Strikes Back? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And for more, follow the editorial category on Dork Side of the Force.