Palpatine might’ve turned out to be the big bad of the Sequel Trilogy, but he wasn’t the all-powerful ruler he was back in the day when we met him again in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. With his body (a clone body, we now know) decaying, he lured his granddaughter – Rey – to his lair on Exegol in order to achieve a true resurrection: as part of some weird Sith ritual, Rey had to kill him in anger. Once she did, he would be able to possess her, giving him a genetically-compatible, healthy vessel to conquer the galaxy with.
Of course, this didn’t happen and Rey managed to defeat her evil ancestor by… killing him? Yes, fans have been expressing confusion over this for months now: if Rey killing Palpatine was the key to this ritual, then why didn’t he end up possessing her? Well, a wild new theory suggests that, actually, he did and the Rey at the end of TROS is secretly Palpatine in her body.
Reddit user u/SanityPlanet has voiced their theory that the old Emperor’s plan actually went the way he intended. The crux of it is that Palpatine reveals to Kylo Ren at the beginning of the film that he was every voice he’s ever heard inside his head – most notably, Snoke and Vader. Of course, at the end of the movie, Rey gets the strength to kill her grandfather when she hears a bunch of voices in her head. We believe these voices belong to generations of Jedi, but what if it’s just Palps doing impressions again?
I don’t think many fans will be convinced this theory is accurate, but it’s fun to consider. It would certainly cast the final scenes of Rise in a whole new light, including Rey’s kiss with Ben (who knew Palpatine felt that way about his protege?). As for the intended explanation for why the ritual doesn’t work, maybe it’s got something to do with how Rey turns the villain’s Force lightning against him – so technically he kills himself, thereby rendering the ritual null and void.
Is Rey really inhabited by Darth Sidious’ spirit by the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, though? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.