Original Saga,  Prequel Trilogy,  Skywalker Saga,  The Rise of Skywalker

J.J. Abrams says Palpatine was needed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for the unity of the saga


From the new issue of Empire Magazine:

“Some people feel like we shouldn’t revisit the idea of Palpatine, and I completely understand that”, [Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker writer and director J.J.] Abrams concedes. “But if you’re looking at these nine films as one story, I don’t know many books where the last few chapters have nothing to do with those that have come before. If you look at the first eight films, all the set-ups of what we’re doing in IX are there in plain view.”


    • jpieper668

      Especially since he had his Prequel hating buddy simon pegg in TFA and talked about showing Jar Jars Skeleton JJ DOESN’T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT THE PREQUELS!

  • Star Wars Hexalogy

    Is that why he brought him back at the eleventh hour in the last movie despite him being seemingly dead since ROTJ without anything in TFA/TLJ to ever suggest or hint otherwise?

  • Carlos Cuevas

    Does this man thinks people are stupid? he is acting as if Palpatine return was always planned and makes sense when in reality is a desperate move because his Palpatine rip-off was killed in the previous movie. Palpatine coming back is a clear indicator that he doesn’t know what’s he is doing.

  • Cryogenic

    JJ’s right. The opera scene in ROTS more or less spells it out, via the myth of Darth Plagueis, that Palpatine has set up an insurance policy to make sure, if and when he gets overthrown, he’ll be able to return.

    And in TLJ, Snoke’s chamber is based on an early Ralph McQuarrie painting of the Emperor’s throne room. The chair, for example, is a near-identical design in TLJ to the one in the painting. Snoke also has very similar dialogue to Palpatine when he’s taunting Luke. And when he hoists Rey into the air with the Force, you may not have immediately noticed, but it’s the Emperor’s musical theme that plays! In that moment, it replaces the low chanting which functions as Snoke’s theme, and which otherwise sounds reminiscent of the chanting heard in the aforementioned opera scene. Therefore, musically speaking, Plagueis, Palpatine, and Snoke are intimately tied together. “Tied on a string, indeed.”

    Finally, Lucas originally planned to have Luke confronting Palpatine in a final showdown in Episode IX, and TLJ has strongly implied Luke will be back and able to influence events as Obi-Wan and Yoda did before him. When writing ROTJ, Lucas originally had the Force spirits of Obi-Wan and Yoda assisting Luke in his battle against the Emperor. And Lucas was consulted for this final installment of the Skywalker saga. So what we’re getting in Episode IX is probably a blend of these earlier concepts. Delayed destiny.

    • archdukeofnaboo


      Perhaps the Force Ghosts of Anakin and Luke will be substituting for Obi-Wan and Yoda in IX then?

    • Alexrd

      Cryo, I think that’s reaching for a logic that’s simply not there, even they know it.

      Lucas planned to have Palpatine in Episode IX, yes, before he decided to reduce his story to six chapters and bring Palpatine to V and end his story in VI. That original plan hasn’t been valid ever since 1980.

      As for an “insurance policy” from Palpatine, that’s not spelled out or even hinted at in ROTS. Plagueis was the one who discovered how to keep people from dying. Palpatine, as he eventually admits, is not capable of doing it. And not just that, Anakin fulfilled the prophecy by destroying the Sith in ROTJ.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      I would surmise that Luke will be communing with Rey in the film, as the Episode IX teaser trailer implies (“A thousand generations live in you now”). Not sure if Anakin will also be instructing Rey. It’s certainly possible, and we can probably expect Anakin to put in an appearance, but Rey had no direct relationship with Anakin in VII and VIII. However, that doesn’t mean she can’t connect with him in IX.

      Moreover, some fans have read into Kylo and Rey as being the masculine and feminine halves of Anakin, or reincarnations of Anakin and Padme, and Rian Johnson advanced this a stage further in Rey and Kylo’s “Force chats” in VIII, as well as their fighting together in Snoke’s chamber against the red guards.

      There is also the mysterious medallion on the floor of the First Jedi Temple to consider. Then there is Luke freaking out during the first lesson he gives Rey. She splits the rock and goes “straight to the dark”, followed by Luke starkly intoning that he has seen such power only once before, in Kylo Ren. We’re sort of being teased that they are the key to the universe attaining balance: a sort of dualistic “Chosen One”.

      I really like the idea that there is some unfinished business after ROTJ, and that Anakin may still be the Chosen One, but not quite as we thought when we only had two thirds of the larger Skywalker saga to go on.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Alex:

      I think Palpatine was on the road to discovering how to cheat death, if he hadn’t already, when he bagged Anakin as his apprentice. In light of the opera discussion in ROTS, it can be argued he is chasing immortality, and by snagging Anakin into his orbit, he gets closer to that goal.

      But his scheme is interrupted when he tries to replace Anakin with Luke (we know, per Lucas’ words, Palpatine was trying to do this much, at least), and Luke is able to induce Anakin to (literally) overthrow his dark master. But did that mean Palpatine was thoroughly destroyed?

      It seems they’re running with the idea that a being as twisted and powerful as Palpatine can’t be dispensed with that easily. Think of Sauron’s spirit surviving in the One Ring in LOTR. There has to be some final reckoning to rid the SW universe of this ultimate “phantom menace”. Maybe it’s because they’re padding out the story or trying to win fans back round, but I like their thinking here. It can help bring the Sequel Trilogy to a killer conclusion and make Star Wars into even more of a mythic masterwork.

      • Alexrd

        Seeking immortality, yes. Achieving it? I honestly doubt that. Remember that not even Plagueis achieved immortality, his power was that he could prevent others from dying. That’s what he was offering Anakin, and that’s what he admitted only Plagueis had successfully achieved.

        I doubt Lucas would have resurrected Palpatine though. From the little we know about his ST, Palpatine was not part of it.

        This is not a case where someone is maimed like Maul and Vader. Sidious was, for all intents and purposes, vaporized. And because he was killed, Anakin fulfilled the prophecy.

        I despise their decision(s) and can’t like their thinking because I see no thinking at all. I see desperation, pretense and heresy. Desperation because it’s sudden, pretense because this was clearly not in the plans at all (not only there were no plans to begin with, but they created their own Palpatine wannabe with Snoke), and heresy because this goes against Lucas’s established lore and mythology in more ways than one.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Alex:

        I think Palpatine’s plans for achieving immortality were scuppered by Anakin overthrowing him, but by various twists of fate and strange happenings in the “Unknown Regions” of the galaxy, he has been able to retain some form of consciousness and partially reform himself.

        Is it that much of a stretch? Perhaps. But like I said before, think of Palpatine like Sauron pouring his spirit into the One Ring. Middle-earth rests easy for a while, believing Sauron to be vanquished, but he is gradually able to influence events and gather people to his side, until he verges on becoming corporeal and whole again. Thus beginning the main LOTR Hero’s Journey.

        Technically, yes, Sidious was vaporised, but should that really be able to erase a being as powerful as he? He was tellingly transformed into the strange vapours emanating from deep within the Second Death Star. In ANH, Han doubts the Force, but he does say to Luke, “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, seen a lot of strange stuff”, and in ROTJ, Yoda warns him, “Luke, do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor.” As Abrams has said, the pieces are all there.

        Snoke is a loose analogue of Palpatine (his name is also an anagram of the Greek word “kenos”, which means “empty”), and like Palpatine, he is tied to the mystery of Darth Plagueis. Daisy Ridley inadvertently revealed this at Comic Con in 2015. An audience member asks about Plagueis, and she goes to answer, uttering Snoke’s name and getting quickly getting cut off by Abrams and Kasdan. Kasdan then pretends never to have heard of Plagueis, but Abrams tells the audience member that Kasdan is messing with them, explaining that they “don’t want to be talking about story, too much, too soon”. They’ve clearly been planning something like this for a while. Starts at 38:00:


        Much of what is in the sequels — heck, their very existence — could be considered heretical or ascititious, but on some level, that’s the nature of the beast. After Lucas wrapped the saga with Episode III, he publicly declaimed the whole idea of Sequel Trilogy, flatly asserting that there was no Episode VII. At some later point, he obviously changed his mind, and seemingly developed a Sequel Trilogy outline to strengthen the sale to Disney.

        And honestly, I doubt they threw out all his ideas. The whole Palpatine-Plagueis mystery was probably in there in some form. George never formulated a good idea he wouldn’t later re-use. And they do claim to have consulted with him for Episode IX. So if they went a little off-track in VII and maybe VIII, they have surely aspired to round the trilogy off in a more ambitious and correct manner. TFA really slowed everything down, but there are obviously some pieces in there meant to be picked back up later in the trilogy.

        Episode IX, if even half the rumours are anywhere near accurate, could be quite the mind-bender. I mean, yeah, it’s not George Lucas, obviously. But it could still be something. I’ve had many issues with Disney/LFL, but right now I’ve decided to keep hope alive.

      • Stefan K

        I think that Cryo makes some fair and/or good points. Because of all (more or less) dropped story treatments, I will probably always consider the ST as “not my SW,” but that does not mean that some good stuff cannot be found in this trilogy.

        I remember the fan speculation during the release of TFA that Snoke was Plagueis. I considered this to be a good way to link all three trilogies (personal problems mentioned above notwithstanding). JJ Abrams & Co. may indeed have secretly planned this or something similar (see Cryo’s indications). Even if not and if they only decided during the pre-production of TRoS to finally use this or a similar concept, I would still approve.

        That said, I will have problems if they come up with something simple as “Anakin was not the real Chosen One” or “Balance of the Force simply means that the Sith are destroyed.” But that should be discussed another time.

    • maychild

      @ Cryo
      Hey dude!

      I’ve seen it said that ROTJ is Episodes VII-IX squished into one movie. Lucas was exhausted after nearly a decade making the OT and was uncertain he was up to six more episodes. Three more, sure, once he took a break (hence the 16-year gap between ROTJ and TPM), but six seemed very daunting. So you could say the “repetition” of the ST isn’t entirely Disney’s fault; Lucas kind of set it up that way when he condensed the ST as he saw it at the time into a single movie.

      This is off topic, but I’ve seen the PT-bashers (who almost always tend to be ROTJ bashers as well) say that the PT could/should have been condensed into a prologue for ANH, or even that the PT and ANH could/should have been condensed into a prologue for ESB, and ROTJ into a epilogue. ESB is the only SW movie they like; they only let ANH slip in under the wire because it was the first and because Gary Kurtz directed it and Willard Hyuck and Gloria Katz wrote it — they refuse to cop to the fact that Lucas wrote AND directed it.

      • jpieper668

        there have been edits of 1-3 on youtube as one movie cutting out stuff they don’t like Then there’s The Phantom Edit which removed Jar Jar Entirely

      • Cryogenic

        @ maychild:

        I wish I wasn’t invoking that repugnant den of leftist groupthink, TFN, but there was a post I ran into, the other night, that has an interesting (if basic) take on the saga, suggesting that all the episodes pivot on ANH in their own way, and that we may see a break from this pivoting (to some degree) in Episode IX — or at least after the main “Skywalker Saga” is wrapped up…


        To be fair to OT purists and those who “fanboy” over TESB in general, it is widely regarded as the movie where Star Wars matured and became more mythologically interesting (and more visually sumptuous); although, I would argue, this didn’t really happen until TPM. And I already do look at the PT as a series of reverse-expanding footnotes to the folksy fable begun in the OT. You can start at ANH and then run the tape backwards, literally stepping back through ROTS, then AOTC, and culminating with Episode I, the crowing glory of the saga. After all, in Lucas’ own words, TPM is the story of a queen, as seen through the eyes of two Jedi — a fiendishly fascinating take on the whole saga.

        I suspect that the outlines Lucas handed over to Disney were fairly sparse. Pablo Hildago said as much on Twitter, and Lucas himself admitted there were lots of blank spots in his treatments in that announcement video interview with Kathleen Kennedy. Of course, he has since protested they made a “retro movie”, and then, more recently, he elaborated with James Cameron that he intended for the sequels to focus more on the midi-chlorians and the Whills. These things, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive. His treatments could have had many blank spots, which he intended to fill in with lots of thematic meat and glistering filigree. We may never know his exact intentions. Even Lucas may not know.

        I will say there is some interesting stuff at work in the new films. “The Last Jedi” has some bizarre incidental scene details, for example. Google “attendants snoke” and “oculus snoke”. I think some of Lucas’ more abstract ideas are still in play. But they’re doing it in a sneaky and cautious fashion. So that they’re not truly bound to anything. It can all be developed much later, in other projects and ancillary material, at their pleasure. And if that sounds disappointing, I think the sequels themselves are constructed in such a fashion as to still contain their share of intrigue. They’re certainly not the prequels, but they do exist and were made in light of the prequels. Recycling and bland choices aside, there is gold to be found here. The prequels *do* end up infusing the sequels — especially the more arcane take on the entire saga mythology in “The Last Jedi” (which I more and more see as a strange, fungoid movie, barely suppressing its offbeat, arthouse dimensions beneath a banal plot surface).

  • archdukeofnaboo

    “But if you’re looking at these nine films as one story”

    Since when? Tell me, Abrams, where did all this “Skywalker Saga” idea originate? Because clearly that is not what you set out to do in Episode VII – something, mind you, you preferred the call “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, dispensing with the Roman Numeral, unifying tradition of Lucas (I don’t care if it’s in the operning crawl for a handful of seconds).

    You’ve done a huge U-turn, and are simply too frightened to admit the truth. You wanted to re-do the Original Trilogy with a modern twist, and now you’re half abandoning that.

    You’ve demonstrated a very poor, meagre understanding of the prequel trilogy thus far, and I’m worried about how you’ll handle its prime villain.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      I understand your cynical disdain, and I’ve shown plenty of it myself. But at some point, maybe we need to cut them some slack.

      Abrams didn’t want to re-do the Original Trilogy with a modern twist. I mean, okay, yes, he did — but only “The Force Awakens”. He said when TFA came out, it was designed as a bridge, and that VIII and IX were going to get into much more interesting territory.

      Here are some fresh remarks from Abrams that were reported just a few days ago:


      “I never found myself trying to repair anything. If I had done VIII, I would have done things differently, just as Rian [Johnson] would have done things differently if he had done VII. But having worked on television series, I was accustomed to creating stories and characters that then were run by other people. If you’re willing to walk away from the thing that you created and you believe it’s in trustworthy hands, you have to accept that some of the decisions being made are not gonna be the same that you would make. And if you come back into it, you have to honor what’s been done.”

      I’m also not sure that Abrams was behind the decision to de-emphasise the numeral system for the sequels. That seems to have been more a marketing decision that probably came from higher up. Then again, Abrams is a producer on these films, and obviously a major creative influence, so perhaps he suggested it or was happy to go along with it and didn’t fight it.

      He definitely has more taste for the originals than the prequels, however. And you know I haven’t been too happy with some of his remarks that were made around the release timeframe of TFA. But I think we’re in slightly different territory now, at the close of the trilogy, and I’ve made a measure of peace with the whole thing. I’m looking forward to a more ambitious film from Abrams this time around. And, hopefully, a fitting and thought-provoking close to the overall saga.

    • jpieper668

      He Never Cared About the Prequels just the Holy OT again he talked about showing Jar Jar’s Skeleton? and His buddy Simon Pegg Hates the prequels Comparing Lucas to a Child Murderer F**K THEM!

  • Slicer87

    Did anybody hear about the new Dr. Aphra comic wherethey retconned Palps into being an incompetent leader of the Empire? Turns out there was some old woman who was really running the Empire and keeping it together for him. After she was killed, the Empire began to fall apart on its own, regardless of the efforts of Luke or the rebels.

    So Disney and JJ are depending on Palps to save episode 9, while at the same time they are shitting on Palps to push their innane woke SJW agenda. Disney should just remame it Clown Wars at this point.

      • Slicer87

        Sadly it isn’t Jocasta, as that would make too much sense for Disney’s NuWars. The woman who has been retconned as the real leader of the Empire is Imperial Minister Pitina Voor. Basically, Palps has been retconed as a hack, who sits on his butt all day collecting Jedi artifacts, building super weapons, ordering Vadef to kill people, andvtake out high interest loans to pay for it all, forgeting that the Empire was nationalizing trade in the films. He was even failing at using fear to rule and depended on mommy Voor to hold his hand. Once she was killed, Palps was doomed to self destruct himself, making Luke’s mission of stopping him pointless. Also means the ST is even more pointless as there is no need for Rey to stop Palps as he will cause his own downfall from incopetence. Seems all Disney can think of doing with the classic characters is too shit all over me.

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