Prior to his return in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, the last time we saw Emperor Palpatine (chronologically) was in RETURN OF THE JEDI, when Darth Vader turned against his master in order to save his son and tossed the Emperor down a reactor shaft. Recent reveals have confirmed that the Emperor we encountered in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER was a clone which housed the consciousness of the Sith Lord.
The official novelization of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER will be released later this month, but a few people have gotten their hands on a copy early, and have revealed a few tidbits not found in the film. One such tidbit flashes back to RETURN OF THE JEDI from the Emperor’s point of view and explains how he managed to survive.
Falling … Falling … Falling … down a massive shaft, the betrayal sharp and stinging, a figure high above, black clad and helmeted and shrinking fast. His very own apprentice had turned against him, the way he himself had turned against Plagueis … whose secret to immortality he had stolen.
Plagueis had not acted fast enough in his own moment of death. But Sidious, sensing the flickering light in his apprentice, had been ready for years. So the falling, dying Emperor called on all the dark power of the Force to thrust his consciousness far, far away, to a secret place he had been preparing. His body was dead, an empty vessel, long before it found the bottom of the shaft, and his mind jolted to a new awareness in a new body — a painful one, a temporary one.
It was too soon. The secret place had not completed its preparations. The transfer was imperfect, and the cloned body wasn’t enough. Perhaps Plagueis was having the last laugh after all. Maybe his secret remained secret. Because Palpatine was trapped in a broken, dying form.
The heretics of the Sith Eternal toiled, splicing genes, bolstering tissue, creating unnatural abominations in the hope that one of these strandcasts would succeed and become a worthy receptacle. The heretics would do anything, risk anything, sacrifice anything, to create a cradle for their god-consciousness. Nothing worked. But their efforts were not entirely in vain.
It might have been nice to have seen a little of this in the feature-film, but STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER already felt over-stuffed as it was. The final installment of the Skywalker Saga will hit Digital on March 17th, followed by a DVD/Blu-ray/4K Ultra HD release on March 31st.