Star Wars Rebels May’ve Set Up Palpatine’s Return In The Rise Of Skywalker

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One of the biggest surprises that came from the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – other than that title, of course – was the reveal that Ian McDiarmid is set to return as Emperor Palpatine. Just as Luke was heard to say that “no one’s ever really gone,” the terrifying cackle of Darth Sidious was heard over a black screen.

Seeing as we last saw him being thrown to his death by Vader back in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, fans are simultaneously excited and confused by his reappearance. Interestingly, though, the manner of his return may have been set-up in another piece of Star Wars canon from another medium: Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels animated series.

The show was never afraid of making its own additions to the mythology and one of its final episodes before its fourth and final season came to a close last year dropped a huge new concept. Titled “A World Between Worlds,” the outing saw young Jedi Ezra Bridger discover another plane of reality which allowed Force-users who entered to cross time and space. Essentially, it introduced time travel into the Star Wars universe.

So, what if Palpatine was able to enter the world between worlds before his death, allowing him to visit the future and encounter characters from the Sequel Trilogy? The Rebels episode was even all about Ezra’s attempts to foil the Emperor’s schemes to enter the realm, so we definitely know that the villain was familiar with the place.

If you’re thinking it’s unlikely that a movie would follow up on a concept first introduced in an animated series, remember that Solo revealed that Maul survived The Phantom Menace and was now a figure in the criminal underworld, which screenwriter Jon Kasdan confirmed was done to follow the continuity of Rebels and The Clone Wars. 

This is just one possibility, though, to explain Palpatine’s unexpected return, and we’ll likely have to wait until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in cinemas on December 20th to find out the truth.

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