Fans have so many questions going into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. One of the most discussed mysteries, though, is the enigma of how Emperor Palpatine has returned. Ian McDiarmid’s unmistakable laugh was heard in the first trailer, with the uber-villain supplying a voiceover in the most recent one as well (“Your journey is at… an end.”). But how is Darth Sidious back after he was thrown to his doom by Vader in Return of the Jedi?
Well, director J.J. Abrams has been asked to spill the beans and though he obviously didn’t, he still offered a brief tease during an interview with MTV News, promising that Palpatine’s return will be a key plot point and that he’s going to cause havoc for our heroes.
“I will say that that’s part of what the story is, and also, I will say that with the Emperor around, he’s not going to be your, you know, the cuddly pal. I can’t wait for you to see how that plays out, but he’s in the poster for a reason.”
Abrams’ comments follow on from his leading lady Daisy Ridley’s own words about the Emperor’s shock comeback. The Rey actress teased that he’ll be “instrumental” to the film’s storyline as well as assuring us that it’ll be “explained” how he’s apparently been resurrected and that’s not something that’ll be glossed over.
Fans have various theories about how this could work. Initially, the simplest option seemed to be that he’d show up as a Force ghost on board the destroyed Death Star II, which Rey and Kylo Ren will visit in Episode IX. However, if he’s really a major part of the plot, then maybe one of those other ideas, involving possession or cloning, could be closer to the truth.
In any case, our journey of speculation and agonizing wait will come to an end when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker finally hits theaters on December 20th.