A new hint regarding Emperor Palpatine's return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may have been unearthed. The first trailer for the final chapter in the new trilogy was released during Star Wars Celebration in March and it brought with it the revelation that Palpatine will be making his return to the franchise, thanks to his signature laugh being featured at the end of the footage. The big question now is, how could this be possible? As it turns out, a recently released novel may hold the key.

Author Claudia Gray's Master and Apprentice was released in April and contains some old Jedi prophecies within. During one particular passage, Qui-Gon Jinn and his former master Count Dooku had been studying the holocron of prophecies. For those who maybe don't know, holocrons are Sith and Jedi relics that contain important information and secrets within. Dooku, specifically, was obsessed with one passage, which was recently shared by user Franzman86 on Reddit. The passage reads as follows.

"He who learns to conquer death will through his greatest student live again."

While there are certainly many ways to read and interpret that, it's no doubt fascinating. One way to read it could relate to Sheev Palpatine. Hear us out. Recently, a theory surfaced online suggesting that Palpatine was pulling Snoke's strings behind the scenes and was actually teaching him the ways of the Sith from beyond the grave, perhaps as some sort of dark side Force ghost, the likes of which we've never seen. If that is true, then could Palpatine live on through Snoke, his possible greatest student?

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How that would work in practice remains to be seen, even if this does prove true. Another theory, one that Franzman86 himself posits, is that this could relate to Darth Plagueis. A little refresher. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine was speaking to Anakin Skywalker about the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Force user who had supposedly become so powerful that he was able to cheat death. It's easy to see how this new passage from Master and Apprentice could tie into the ever-mysterious figure from Palpatine's past. Whether or not this does have any bearing on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it's a fascinating passage to ponder for hardcore fans.

For now, all we can do is theorize hopelessly. Director J.J. Abrams, as per usual with his movies, is remaining as tight-lipped as possible. And Lucasfilm is very much on the same side of the fence. One way or another, Palpatine is coming back to help close out the Skywalker saga. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to arrive in theaters on December 20. For those who maybe want to dive deeper, Claudia Gray's novel Master and Apprentice is out now. This news first surfaced over on Reddit.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott