Baby Yoda Might Explain Palpatine’s Return In Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

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Having already confirmed the return of Emperor Palpatine in the film’s first trailer, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wastes no time bringing the villain back into the fold, establishing his connection to the larger Sequel Trilogy in the movie’s opening minutes. But as J.J. Abrams’ latest flick charges forward with its exceedingly busy plot, one important question remains largely unaddressed: How exactly is Palpatine back?

Sure, you could point to that scene in Revenge of the Sith where Sheev tells Anakin about the “unnatural” abilities granted by the Dark Side of the Force. But even there, Palpatine implies that these powers have their limits when he recalls how his master Darth Plagueis “could save others from death, but not himself.”

And besides, given Disney’s track record of trying to answer every question and fill in every blank space in the Star Wars timeline, is the Mouse House really going to leave us hanging with such a vague, ambiguous explanation?

Perhaps, but for those hoping for a more detailed justification for Palpatine’s comeback, a recent article from THR speculates that the key may lie in The Mandalorian and, more specifically, the show’s breakout star Baby Yoda. Be warned that spoilers lie ahead for both The Rise of Skywalker and the new Disney Plus series.

Firstly, the article points to the slight difference in the physical appearance of Palpatine in the new movie and his previous big screen outings, noting that he’s now less wrinkled and is missing his “chimpanzee-eyes.” From here, the piece suggests that this is not, in fact, the same physical body that fell down the pit in Return of the Jedi, but perhaps instead a clone that is being occupied by Palpatine’s spirit.

Indeed, this theory seems fairly consistent with what we learn in The Rise of Skywalker, which reveals that the Emperor had working cloning facilities in his lair on Exegol, and that he was capable of possessing new bodies after his current body is destroyed.

What’s more, the concept of cloning is also referenced in The Mandalorian by way of Dr. Pershing, who’s seen wearing a uniform with the Kaminoan cloning symbol on it. In Jon Favreau’s new series, Pershing has been hired by The Client to extract some material from the mysterious Baby Yoda. From here, it may not be such a huge leap to suggest that Pershing and The Client might be planning to use The Child’s DNA to clone additional Force-sensitive bodies, much like we saw with Snoke.

But, to add another complication to the theory, The Mandalorian also introduces us to an intriguing alternative to straightforward cloning: the Strand-Cast. Though the concept has only been touched upon briefly so far, it’s suggested that a Strand-Cast is a bioengineered creature that’s made by taking and altering the DNA strands of another living being.

Taking all the above into account, THR concludes that Snoke and Palpatine’s various new bodies might actually be Strand-Cast creatures, made from Baby Yoda’s Force-sensitive DNA and molded by the unnatural abilities of the Sith.

So, did The Mandalorian really tease the answer to one of the biggest questions left by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? It certainly seems possible, though the ball is currently in Lucasfilm’s court to confirm either way.

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