Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may have brought Emperor Palpatine back from the dead but, to the surprise of fans, it steadfastly avoided actually explaining how he returned. After all, we distinctly saw Darth Sidious being chucked down a reactor shaft on the Death Star by Vader in Return of the Jedi. Not only that, but he was swallowed up by a big fireball. There’s no way he survived that, right? Well, it appears that he did and the movie itself hinted at a couple of possibilities as to how, with Palpatine’s vat of Snoke clones suggesting he may have used cloning on himself to create a second body.
What’s more, a pulled quote from Revenge of the Sith seemingly tells us to remember the tragedy of Darth Plagueis and how he could master death. No definitive answer was ever given to fans, though. At least, until now, as the ever-enlightening Visual Dictionary for the movie delivers the broad strokes of how the resurrection works.
The Episode IX tie-in book explains that it was all down to the Sith Eternal, the robed loyalists to the Dark Side who are seen filling Palpatine’s temple on Exegol in the film. The fanatics are said to have brought the Emperor’s corpse to the hidden planet after the events of RotJ and were able to revive him using “technology and occult” methods. So, you could speculate that it was a combination of cloning and Plagueis’ dark secrets.
Sure, this explanation is still pretty vague, but at least it gives us the bare bones of what happened. The Dictionary was likely intentionally left without all the answers so that a future piece of SW media could have the freedom to fill them in, too. After all, We Got This Covered has previously reported, for instance, that The Mandalorian season 2 may dig deeper into the uber-villain’s resurrection.
What started as a plot hole in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, then, might end up creating interesting new story potential elsewhere. But for now, this little bit of insight provided by the Visual Dictionary is certainly welcome.