Palpatine owed his return in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy to the contingency plan that he’d put in motion in case the Rebellion won and the Empire fell. Though now we’ve learned that Darth Sidious failed once again after his spirit arrived on Exegol.
In The Star Wars Book, a reference book that explains the phenomena of the galaxy far, far away, we discovered that Snoke was more than just a vessel for the Emperor’s will. In fact, the Sith Eternal artificially created the Supreme Leader to act in Palpatine’s stead until the dark lord was powerful enough to announce his return. Though what necessitated Snoke in the first place remained ambiguous.
Now, however, the same book reveals why Palpatine had to resort to a puppet instead of commanding the First Order himself. Apparently, the process which the Sith loyalists used to transfer the Emperor’s spirit from Endor to Exegol was not as easy as we’d imagined.
“The processes are far from protected, and Darth Sidious’ cloned body rapidly deteriorates, trapping [Palpatine] on Exegol as his frail form is unable to leave. In the confines of his recuperative sanctuary, he plots the next phase of ultimate Sith vengeance, and the final defeat of the Jedi,” the new book reads.
As we saw in Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, Sidious initiated Operation Cinder after his fall. This sent Sentinel Droids to the far corners of the galaxy, giving orders to Imperial loyalists who’d go on to cause havoc and weaken the New Republic. The operation culminated in the Battle of Jakku, where the plan was to detonate a planetary weapon and destroy the Alliance fleet. The remainder of the Imperial Army was then commanded to retreat to the Unknown Regions, where Palpatine would join them.
Luckily, the phantom Emperor’s contingency plan failed as well, since the Rebels found the explosive weapon and dismantled it in time. Additionally, Palpatine realized that he was too weak to leave Exegol and continue the fight, so he ordered the Sith Eternal to stark working on Snoke, someone who’d act as his proxy, leading to the creation of the First Order.
In the light of this new information, the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy has come full circle in terms of explaining Palpatine’s sudden return and the story’s numerous plot conveniences, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it all ultimately failed to impress diehard fans as a compelling and coherent narrative.