The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrived last night after much build-up. Fans had speculated that there was a good chance we’d get our first look at the returning Palpatine in the promo, but as it happened, the trailer kept the big unveiling of Ian McDiarmid’s villain back for the actual film itself. However, we did get a brief glimpse at him, which may tell us more about the nature of the Emperor’s comeback than it first seems to.
Towards the end of the trailer, a shot of Rey standing in a snowy landscape appears. In the foreground, we see a cloaked figure sitting on some kind of mechanical throne. So no, we don’t get a peep at the Emperor’s pale face, but it’s still pretty clear that this is Palpatine, right?
We certainly think so, as other shots in the trailer give us a better visual of this throne. From those, we can see that it’s a direct match to some classic unused concept art from Star Wars legend Ralph McQuarrie, which was a design for Palpatine’s throne room in Return of the Jedi.
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Secondly, the close-up on the throne in the above shot seems to reveal that Darth Sidious is wired into some sort of life support. This may confirm the theory that Palpatine actually survived his fall at Vader’s hands in the aforementioned Episode VI and has been recuperating in secret ever since. Now, he’s apparently well enough to make his survival known.
Rey’s reaction to the figure on the throne is also curious. We clearly see the heroine take a step back, presumably out of fear at who she’s looking at. So far, Rey has faced the worst of the First Order without once retreating. Surely only the shock of discovering that the most evil man in the galaxy is still alive would provoke that reaction, right? We’ll find out for sure when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands on December 20th.