The Rise of Skywalker ended the latest Star Wars trilogy with a bit of a whimper, triumphing at the box office but earning the worst reviews of the saga’s Disney run thus far. One point of contention: How did evil Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) come back from the dead? (Another, related point: Isn’t it kind of lousy the screenwriters dug up an old villain?) Even with a 142-minute running time, there was no room for explanation. But the film’s forthcoming novelization reportedly has an answer.
As per ScreenRant, the novel, which was unveiled at the C2E2 convention in Chicago this weekend, contains a bit of exposition that never made it into the finished film. The stretch comes early on, when Kylo Ren arrives on Exegol and first happens upon the resurrected Palpatine.
“All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh.
“What could you give me?” Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit. It was an imperfect vessel, though, unable to contain his immense power. It couldn’t last much longer.”
The tl;dr version: Palpatine was a clone! Perhaps that’s a bit anticlimactic, although remember this: novelizations are often based upon drafts that weren’t the final shooting script. So unless there’s a deleted scene on the Skywalker‘s Blu-ray edition where Adam Driver’s Kylo stares at some vials and says, “Oh, wow, he’s a clone, how about that?”, technically speaking there’s no explanation in the film. But for most, perhaps this will supply some much-needed closure for a film fans will be hotly debating for decades more.