Original Saga,  Prequel Trilogy,  The Rise of Skywalker

Palpatine’s return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “has been in the blueprint for a long time”


Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says that Palpatine’s return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “has been in the blueprint for a long time” in this interview with Yahoo (at 1:37).


  • archdukeofnaboo

    The point that bringing back Palpatine potentially undoes the ultimate sacrifice of Anakin Skywalker after 23 years in bondage is a very valid one. While I find it difficult to name any film as my favourite, I can say with certainty that the ending of Return of the Jedi is unbelievably satisfying – perhaps a perfect ending, if such exists. Of course in the EU we know that it was touched and the Emperor returned, but exceptionalism has to be granted to the case of a movie.

    It’s no wonder Abrams had to turn to Lucas during the writing process. How can Palpatine still be the prime villain whilst remaining sensitive to Episode VI? I can’t fully answer that, but if I had to bet, I would say they’ll bounce off what the Sith puppeteer once promised a native young Jedi at an opera: immorality. But, it may not just be that but another terrifying power, for the “Dark Side is pathway to many abilities”.

    I really hope the end of Episode IX is able to connect with the beginning of I. Like a loop. I don’t know if an updated version of the celebration at the end of VI would be best. A mysterious resolution that would be nice.

    • Stefan K

      Interesting thoughts, I must say, and I agree with them a lot. (You probably meant “immortality,” but “immorality” is still fitting…)
      I also hope that they bring back Anakin (Luke seems to show up anyway).
      My thoughts (and hope) were that Snoke was Plagueis, but it was not meant to be…

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke, @ Stefan:

      I reconnected with a Star Wars/Prequel friend the other night, right after the new trailer came out (Star Wars causes tensions, but it can also unify and bring people back in touch with one another), and he also made mention of Palpatine’s boast at the opera: “The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.”

      And don’t forget: Palpatine was re-animated in the EU, or had clones of himself, which Lucas supposedly disliked; but maybe his thinking has shifted a bit since then.

      Furthermore, as I was saying to my friend when we chatted, the story of Plagueis is introduced to shade Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side in ROTS, but is otherwise just sort of thrown in the film and then dropped.

      If anything, the tale of Plagueis is the prequel equivalent of Obi-Wan telling Luke about the Clone Wars in ANH, or relaying a bit more of his history with Anakin to Luke in ROTJ. The opera scene, even in the way it is framed, clearly resonates against both of these important “exposition dump” OT scenes: A wise mentor/father figure telling the young and curious protagonist, in a sneaky/allegorical fireside chat, about some dramatic event that happened in the deep past, with an ocean of implication for the protagonist’s own journey and what his real origins and connection to the Force might actually be.

      It’s kind of funny: I was chatting to a friend about a scene where people chat, and now here I am, chatting to you guys about it! But anyway…

      I expect this was a thread that Lucas left deliberately unresolved in the PT, with an eye toward some deeper pay-off in the sequels, should they ever get made. And now: Here we are.

      Equally, let’s remember, Yoda re-appears to Luke in TLJ and burns down the sacred tree, so for the sake of “balance”, it’s only fair that Palpatine exert some influence at the end of the story, mesatinks.

      And then there are the midi-chlorians, which also get name-dropped at the opera scene (the only other time they’re mentioned after TPM), so it definitely feels like there is some unfinished business here…

      • Stefan K

        Speaking of Plagueis, I can recommend the “Darth Plagueis” novel (which no longer is considered canon, but still). Who knows whether GL really wanted to resolve the Plagueis story thread in the ST when he decided to make it.
        Still, I have some reservations about Palpatine appearing as a sort of force ghost – as far as I know, Lucas was against this during the creation of the Mortis arc. On the other hand, using a cloning device (or something similar “unnatural”) would be quite in line with the Sith philosophy.

      • Slicer87

        That was the Dark Empire comic. Yeah, Palp used the dark side to transfer his mind into clone bodies, hinting at he had been doing this for decades. Overall, that comic series was a weak retread of the OT, including superweapons and Palpy having out of character Vader like outbursts and fits of rage. Thevold EU had a bad habit of repeating the OT over and over, no wonder the ST has had a similar fate.

      • archdukeofnaboo


        You are spot on about Obi-Wan’s story in IV being equivalent of Palpatine’s tale of Plagueis in III. It is what you might describe as “lore within lore”, a literary device that develops the mysterious side of the Star Wars mythology to a level like no other. I devour it – it gives Lucas’ saga the quality of a fable of old, where you hear the important details but realise there may be more hidden. And often its these unresolved questions that get us pondering about Star wars, keeping us attached when we might otherwise not be.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Stefan:

        It’s very hard to say what Lucas ever intended with the Plagueis story thread. What was the full extent of his thinking when he came up with that? Two things hold true, however:

        i) He wrote out a lengthier explanation of Anakin’s origins, or Palpatine telling Anakin about his origins, in earlier drafts of the ROTS screenplay. “You could almost think of me as your father”, as Palpatine craftily says to Anakin in the “reveal” scene, in one such draft, provoking a similar response of disbelief from Anakin as Vader does from Luke on Cloud City. See Rinzler’s “Making Of” book (p.42) for more.

        ii) Midi-chlorians. These come up in the opera scene, and Palpatine implicitly ties them to Anakin’s origins via the Plagueis tale. And then, last year, Lucas suggested his version of the sequel trilogy was going to reprise the midis, in a big way, and that the sequel trilogy would delve into the “microbiotic world” of the Force.

        So, if they truly went back to Lucas at the beginning of the Episode IX drating/storywriting process, then he could have reminded them of his earlier treatments and nudged them a bit more in the direction he planned to take the sequels in. In that same interview with James Cameron last year, in fact, he said: “Of course, a lot of the fans would have hated it, just like they did Phantom Menace and everything, but at least the whole story from beginning to end would have been told.” So who knows…

      • Cryogenic

        @ Slicer:

        It’s funny you talk about the EU in relation to the ST…

        I must admit… *sigh*

        That’s one of the things I (sort of) like about the sequel trilogy — in that “guilty pleasure” sort of way.

        Seeing an EU-ish treatment of Star Wars on the big screen, in the “saga” mould, slightly tickles me.

        It’s ridiculous, in many ways, and yet there is something mildly compelling about it. A grubby grandeur. The ghost of the EU has somehow come to dwell deeply within a “Skywalker” trilogy; and I’m finding some vague satisfaction in that.

        Of course, I’d much rather have had Lucas’ “off the chain” version, but I guess that is now the ultimate ephemeral non-happening; as mystical and mind-blowing as a remote extraterrestrial civilisation; perhaps forever out of reach…

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Agreed. One of the key fascinations of Star Wars — when it was still under Lucas — is that self-same “wheels within wheels” quality it had, and the sense of stories, side quests, and reams of esoterica, stretching off to a far-away vanishing point. It was never about the story being told; but about the way in which it was told. And that has since degraded under Disney to a shocking (if drearily predictable) extent. It’s like going from Van Gogh or Picasso to a “Tom And Jerry” cartoon.

        Me: We lost something.
        Other Me: Not to worry. We are still flying *half* a ship.

  • Slicer87

    A rejected idea for ROTJ was instead of killing off the emperor, he would have turned into a dark side force ghost and become the main villain of the ST. But then Lucas decided to shoehorn most of his ST ideas into ROTJ and set it up as the grand finale instead, and nof do a ST. So it looks like Episode 9 will somehow recycle this rejected plot point.

    There are rumors that Episode 9 will likely use time travel, as the spinoff cartoons and comics introduced force time portals, which are somehow created by force wolves, wish I was kidding.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Slicer:

      In a way, the whole saga is about time travel.

      Or, more accurately, displacement in space and time:

      “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

      I suspect Episode IX is going to be doing a lot of recycling in general.

      Some of the EU/spinoff ideas are pretty goofy, but maybe the saga needs to go out, a la ROTJ, on something of a “goofy” high. I don’t know if any of it will amount to a hill of beans (or Daisy Ridley covered in beans — mmm), but I’m keeping an optimistic outlook. Well, that’s wrong. Optimistic yet jaded. Closer to the mark.

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