The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters and there are a lot of questions from fans. One of the main questions involves the return of Emperor Palpatine, who was killed off at the end of Return of the Jedi back in 1983. When the first trailer for the final installment in the Skywalker Saga debuted, it featured the iconic laugh of Ian McDiarmid's Palpatine. Star Wars fans were shocked and speculation instantly started to spread like wild fire. How did J.J. Abrams resurrect one of the most iconic villains of all time? There are SPOILERS for The Rise of Skywalker below, so read ahead at your own risk.
There are a lot of places where J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio could have gone to explain Emperor Palpatine's mysterious return in The Rise of Skywalker. The previous two installments in the sequel trilogy never once hinted at Palpatine's return, but here he is now. While there were no hints on the big screen, Palpatine's resurrection has been teased on the small screen in the animated shows, comic books, video games, and books over the years. As it turns out, Abrams and Terrio didn't go back and reference other items from the official Star Wars canon to bring him back.
In The Rise of Skywalker, it is revealed that Emperor Palpatine has been behind the First Order since the very beginning, orchestrating everything from the shadows of Exogol, the planet where he has been hiding. We know this because the villain tells Kylo Ren his plans in the opening act of the movie. We also see what appears to be a clone version of Snoke in a tank as the Emperor's engineers tend to it. J.J. Abrams does not come out to properly explain how Palpatine is back, but he gives a small hint in a throwback to the prequel trilogy when the villain says, "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be... unnatural." While that is a pretty good Star Wars Easter Egg, some Star Wars fans might find that reasoning to be a bit flimsy and at worst, lazy.
The return of Emperor Palpatine could have been done in a way that looked into the character's past from previous official canon releases, including the world between worlds and the villain's obsession with clones, which just scratches the surface. Having the character alive, though frail (and who wouldn't be from getting thrown into a reactor that explodes in space?), takes away from Anakin Skywalker's sacrifice at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi. In the end, it turns out that Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter, which is more than likely how they were able to bring him back.
Whatever the case may be, J.J. Abrams had a lot of ground to cover in The Rise of Skywalker, and there's no doubting that. With that being said, a little bit more of an explanation about how Emperor Palpatine returned would have gone a long way for Star Wars fans as they try to understand how he fits into the sequel trilogy as a whole, besides just being Rey's grandfather. You can head over to the official StarWars.com website to get ticketing information.