How Emperor Palpatine Survived After Return of the Jedi

Now that some copies of the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization are out in the wild thanks to advance sales by Lucasfilm Publishing at last weekend’s C2E2 convention in Chicago, details from the Skywalker saga finale that didn’t make it into the movie are slowly coming to light. We’ve already gotten confirmation that Emperor Palpatine was a clone and what Kylo Ren’s final words to Rey were, and now we have an explanation as to how Emperor Palpatine survived after Return of the Jedi.

Comic Book Resources discovered these new details in a post to Reddit from someone who got their hands on a copy of The Rise of Skywalker novelization. There’s a moment where Palpatine’s memories of being thrown into the second Death Star’s exhaust shaft by Darth Vader pour into Rey’s mind. Here’s the excerpt:

Falling … Falling … Falling … down a massive shaft, the betrayal sharp and stinging, a figure high above, black clad and helmeted and shrinking fast. His very own apprentice had turned against him, the way he himself had turned against Plagueis … whose secret to immortality he had stolen.

Plageuis had not acted fast enough in his own moment of death. But Sidious, sensing the flickering light in his apprentice, had been ready for years. So the falling, dying Emperor called on all the dark power of the Force to thrust his consciousness far, far away, to a secret place he had been preparing. His body was dead, an empty vessel, long before it found the bottom of the shaft, and his mind jolted to a new awareness in a new body — a painful one, a temporary one.

This isn’t remarkably different from how Emperor Palpatine was revealed to survive in the Dark Horse comics series Star Wars: Dark Empire, which is now part of the Star Wars Legends series that is no longer considered canon. We just wish these kind of details were included in the actual movie since the return of Emperor Palpatine was mostly glossed over with only the opening crawl and a single line of dialogue used to explain away the villain’s surprise resurgence.

The fact that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has required so many details to be revealed by way of post-release interviews, supplementary materials, and books like the novelization is really frustrating. It’s clear that this movie tried to bite off more than it could chew with a single movie. It makes me wish we could have gotten a two-part-finale instead, something that even co-writer Chris Terrio wanted to happen.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization won’t be available everywhere until March 17, the same day the movie becomes available for digital download.

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