The Star Wars extended universe is a treasure trove of interconnected fiction, with various books, graphic novels, games and now TV shows telling untold stories and filling in plot gaps. And it seems Darth Vader is going to be getting a new narrative that links him more closely to the events of The Rise of Skywalker.
Writer Greg Pak has teased that the continuing Darth Vader comic book storyline will see the Sith Lord embarking on a quest that will have him explore “some great unexplored territory.” Further details on what they may involve remain unclear, but a new theory says that the writer might just have been hinting at an adventure in which Vader discovers the Sith planet of Exegol, where the final battle of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker took place.
Exegol was once a fertile planet that was bled dry of its resources by Sith explorers, which explains its barren appearance in the movie. And the planet was hidden in the Unknown Regions, a hazardous expanse of space with solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells and such space-faring dangers. It was also home to the cult of the Sith Eternal. While we assumed that Palpatine was always aware of the planet and its inhabitants, that might not have been the case.
Palpatine was always interested in unraveling the mysteries of the Unknown Region, to uncover the source of the “origin of the Force.” This snippet from the Star Wars novel Aftermath: Empire’s End echoes the sentiment that the Emperor thought he was onto something, too:
“The Emperor was convinced that something waited for him out there — some origin of the Force, some dark presence formed of malevolent substance. He said he could feel the waves of it radiating out now that the way was clear. The Emperor called it a signal — conveniently one that only he could hear. Even his greatest enforcer, Vader, seemed oblivious to it, and Vader also claimed mastery over the dark Force, did he not? Rax believed Palpatine had gone mad.”
But while he was interested in finding it, that doesn’t mean that he went looking for it himself. What’s an apprentice and right-hand man for, after all? Enter Vader, one of the galaxy’s most elite pilots. But that isn’t the only thing that Vader is known for. In Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn: Alliances, the former Jedi unlocks a Force power called “Skywalking” that allows him to block a blaster bolt, something that we’ve also seen in Star Wars video games. This ability essentially allows a Force wielder to perceive both present reality and future danger.
And here’s the important bit: it also allows a Jedi to tap into the power like a mystical GPS, ideal to navigate the minefield of danger surrounding the Unknown Region. With Vader being one of the only beings to have mastered the ability, he would be a prime candidate to go on the exploration mission, with a high chance of success.
This could then have resulted in Darth Vader returning to his master after successfully charting the route, like a space-age Christopher Columbus. Leading to the narrative arc presented to us in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, where Palpatine took up the seat of power on Exegol and developed his cloning chambers for his eventual return.