SPOILERS for STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. From the very first teaser for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, it was clear that Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord who orchestrated the downfall of both the Republic and the Jedi as well as the rise of the Galatic Empire, would be back. Just how he managed to survive being thrown down a bottomless shaft on the second Death Star (which soon exploded) would have to remain a mystery, but surely that answer would be found in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.
Those who have seen STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER know that little explanation is given to Palpatine’s resurrection, although he’s clearly in bad shape, even more deformed and supported by some sort of medical apparatus. There’s a nod to Palpatine’s line in REVENGE OF THE SITH, in which he says that the Dark Side is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural, and some brief theorizing by members of the Resistance, but not much else. While speaking with The Huffington Post, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER co-editor Maryann Brandon revealed that earlier cuts of the film did explain more about Palpatine’s backstory, but that it was “tricky” to find the right balance
“It was kind of a delicate balance and went back and forth a lot about how much we wanted to reveal,” she said. “Some scenes changed quite a bit, the way that we wanted to present it to the audience. In the end, we ended up showing a lot less of it than we started with.” There was originally “a little more information about it, what was keeping [Palpatine] alive,” but, Brandon said, “it seemed to go off topic.” “There was so much information in the film and so many characters that we wanted to have an audience concentrate on. I think we felt we didn’t want to clutter the film up with things you didn’t need to know,” she said.
I’ve no doubt that a book/comic/video-game/instructional web-series will shed a little more light on the Emperor’s return, but it would have been nice to get a little of that in the film itself. Brandon also touched upon another STAR WARS mystery, albeit one which was actually solved in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – the nature of Supreme Leader Snoke. Audiences have been wondering just who Snoke was since his introduction in THE FORCE AWAKENS, and after his death in THE LAST JEDI, it wasn’t clear whether or not we’d get any answers. In the beginning of THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, we see several containers of multiple Snokes, revealing that he was a clone used by Palpatine. “I just think that came up as a visual effect that we thought would be really fun for an audience, to create a visual that would tell that whole story,” Brandon said. “I believe that’s successful. We didn’t have to change a lot of dialogue. You just see one shot […] and you kind of get it. I love stuff like that. We can just have a moment where you just see something in the background and you go, ‘OK, I totally get that.’“