Palpatine's Return Was In The Plans For A Long Time, Says Kathleen Kennedy

The end of the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker came with a shocking revelation: Emperor Palpatine is back in some capacity. It's not something that's abundantly clear on first watch, but with the appearance of actor Ian McDiarmid, who has played the villain since 1983's Return of the Jedi, at the film's Star Wars Celebration panel, it was all but confirmed. But now Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that not only is it Palpatine we are hearing in The Rise of Skywalker trailer, but that his Episode 9 return had been planned for a long time.

It turns out Palpatine's return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not part of director J.J. Abram's slavish devotion to the original trilogy, but a revelation that had always been planned.

"This has been in the blueprint for a long time, yeah. We had not landed on exactly how we might do that, but yes, it was always [to be in Episode IX]," Kennedy told Yahoo Entertainment's Kevin Polowy.

Until Kennedy's comments and Abrams' explanation of why he brought Palpatine back, it had seemed unlikely that the villain of the original and prequel trilogies would play a large part in final installment of the Skywalker Saga. But since he appears to have been long a part of the original plans for the new trilogy, it's starting to give more credence to the speculation that Palpatine has a greater impact on the story at large — possibly pulling the strings behind Snoke since the events of The Force Awakens.

I'm still not too fond of the idea that Snoke was this grand puppet master behind all the events of the new trilogy, especially considering where The Last Jedi boldly took the series, but it would make sense that Abrams would want to follow through on the seeds of Palpatine's return that he might have planted in The Force Awakens.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20, 2019.