In what seemed like a blatant attempt to placate a fanbase that had been split right down the middle by Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, Lucasfilm doubled down on fan service when it came to J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in order to try and get them back on side, but the final chapter in the nine-movie saga ended up generating just as much backlash, albeit for different reasons.
One of the biggest retcons made to the Sequel Trilogy was the revelation that Palpatine had been pulling the strings all along, making him the big bad for the third trilogy in a row. It wasn’t exactly the most inspired creative decision to return to the same well yet again, especially when no mention had been made of Palpatine whatsoever in either The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi.
Parachuting him in as the villain on such short notice inevitably created plenty of sizable plot holes, as well as having to awkwardly stitch the mythology back together so that it would at least make some kind of narrative sense. It would be an understatement to say that not everyone was sold on the idea of yet more Palpatine, but a new theory attempts to explain how the infamous Sith managed to assemble an entire fleet of ships with planet-destroying capabilities without anyone finding out that he was even still alive, never mind masterminding an evil plot.
The size of the plot hole is demonstrated by the fact that the theory requires a familiarity with the far reaches of the extended canon, with Palpatine’s ability to create the Final Order in total secrecy being explained by Czerka Arms, a manufacturer from the Star Wars Legends universe who had created weapons for the Sith thousands of years before the events of the Original Trilogy.
According to Inverse:
Czerka Arms is thousands of years old, in the non-canon Star Wars Legends, they were assisting the Sith during the Jedi Civil War more than 3,000 years before the events of the original trilogy, seen in the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. If the Sith can survive that long, it’s not farfetched to say a company as lucrative as an arms dealer in a universe that seems to constantly be at war would hang around as well.
Where were they hiding? Exegol, of course. Palpatine would want to have them on hand and nearby — he’s seen too many betrayals to lose track of his remaining allies. They could have been lying in wait, slowly amassing (and funding) his gigantic fleet for their appearance in Rise of Skywalker.
Admittedly, that sounds like a bit of a stretch, but then again, so does the entire plot of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. If nothing else, it just goes to show how poorly the story was handled when fans are having to use their extensive knowledge of the expanded universe in order to have it make sense.