If you’re avoiding any and all information on Star Wars IX, well run away! Also, plot details for the Aftermath trilogy, Shattered Empire Battlefront II and Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 25 will be spoken of here.
Well then! If you weren’t excited for Star Wars Episode IX, I’ll bet you are now. At a public convention held today in Chicago, Star Wars Celebration pulled the veil back ever so slightly on the concluding chapter of the Skywalker Saga. The title definitely points to it, being unveiled as “The Rise of Skywalker“. While it doesn’t roll off the tongue like The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, the consequences and questions it raises alone warrant debate. Oh-and there’s the whole ending to the trailer.
So, let’s get the title out of the way. The Rise of Skywalker. What does it mean? Rian Johnson established that Rey is the daughter of junkers who sold her into slavery for money, which threw away the idea that she was a long lost daughter to Luke, something fans were hoping for. But can the idea of the Skywalkers rising again still be possible? In theory, yes. I think the name Skywalker will become a title of great significance passed down from one bearer to another. Luke was such an important figure that his name became the stuff of legends, as evident by the novel The Legend of Luke Skywalker. By the end of the film, I would not be surprised if Rey takes on the name Skywalker much like how Roman Emperors took on the name of Caesar. She has the sacred Jedi texts and was given the final tutelage of Luke, so she’s essentially their final hope.
Final hope against what you say though? Glad you asked because the trailer dropped one helluva bombshell on us and that’s the fact that Sheev Palpatine, the Emperor, is somehow alive. Reinforcing this fact, aside from his signature cackle in the trailer, was Ian McDiarmid showing up on stage himself after the trailer rolled, ordering the production to play the trailer again. So yeah, the Emperor is back. Did he ever leave? Well, maybe not. There are a few ways I can think of that could allow Palpatine to be alive. One is that he was able to find a way to live on after death, much like how the Jedi can do this with Force Ghosts. The Sith, however, don’t believe in life after death so to cheat death is both something that would be unique and something that would tie into the prequel trilogy with Plagueis’ Tragedy. If you need a refresher on that, check out the video below!
I think it’s quite possible that Darth Plaguis taught Palpatine how to cheat death. JJ Abrams stated that this film would somehow tie into the prequel trilogy, so this makes perfect sense. This whole time, Palpatine has been pulling the strings yet again. Whether he’s simply a disembodied spirit or has his body again remains to be seen but one thing’s for certain: he’s back.
“To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but, if we work together, I know we can discover the secret”
It’s also worth mentioning the bombshell revelation from the Dark Lord of the Sith comic, where Charles Soule dropped the bombshell that Palpatine may have actually used the Force to create Anakin Skywalker. This means that Luke, Leia and Kylo are all byproducts of the Emperor, assuming the information is accurate and not a delusion. But if it is true, then the title “The Rise of Skywalker” may take on a whole new meaning.
In the canon thus far, which are the stories being told outside of the films, there has been a great deal of focus on Palpatine now that I think about it. As it turns out, the Emperor had a contingency plan set for the off chance he should meet his end unexpectedly. If that were to happen, the Empire was to carry on under some strict rules left behind by their Emperor. The plan was called Operation: Cinder, and we’ve seen it appear in Shattered Empire and the campaign for Battlefront II. The contingency itself was established during The Clone Wars, so you know he was planning well in advance.
The whole operation basically came down to intentionally stripping away most of the Imperial Forces, leaving only the strongest and most extreme survivors alive. The Battle of Jakku was designed with the loss of the Empire in mind, with the desert setting being used to weaken the Imperial Forces. He used a chess metaphor to state his point in the Aftermath book, Empire’s End, stating that if the King if lost, the game is over and those left alive are not worthy to be kept alive. At the same time, the Empire would decimate home worlds loyal to the Empire, wiping out all traces of the Empire. The final piece of the puzzle was to lead the survivors to the Unknown Regions and rebuilding in secrecy. This is why the First Order units look so much like the Empire: they are the Empire reborn.
We now have to ask “who was Snoke?” We never got the answer to that questions in The Last Jedi and that has rightfully angered some fans. Snoke was powerful and was said to be ancient, having witnessed the rise of the Empire. Is it not impossible to think that Snoke was either under the control of Palpatine or that he was Palpatine, just in a new body? Both seem to like throne rooms with red guards after all, so there’s definitely a theme here and I think a connection between Snoke and Palpatine grows even more likely now.
Another possibility is that Palpatine has discovered a way to pass through The World Between Worlds as seen in Rebels. Towards the end of that series, Palpatine was trying to gain access to it, which is a plain of existence not bound by linear time. So in theory, one can time travel (sort of). The world isn’t a simple thing to explain but essentially, events that have already happened may have been influenced by the future (which in turn is just another present). Perhaps Palpatine has figured how to gain access to it before Return of the Jedi and has thus been able to slip through space and time, allowing him to theoretically, live forever. Yoda can pass through the doors into the world, so maybe there was a way for Palpatine to enter it? This seems less likely than the Plageuis angle but it’s still worth mentioning.
What do you think about the title for Episode IX and the return of Palpatine? Let me know what you think in the comments and be sure to check out our post on Rian Johnson soldiering on and Spielberg’s misguided war on Netflix.